It seems only Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio out of all the mayoral candidates of both parties care about public safety. At least that was the message sent to an audience of a few hundred people in Morningside Heights' Riverside Church. This event was sponsored by Communities United for Police Reform and the Amsterdam News and drew bus loads of people from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as well as locals. So it seems a particularly bad forum to blow off. And yet only John Liu and Bill de Blasio showed up. This almost certainly got both their campaigns something of a boost with the audience since you can't really convince people to vote for you at a forum if you don't show up.
Public safety is a big issue for all voters and there are widely differing views on the topic, particularly issues like stop-and-frisk. Riverside Church is a hugely symbolic and influential venue which has hosted speakers including Martin Luther King, jr., President Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan. And Amsterdam News is one of the oldest newspapers targeted to the black community in America and remains influential. It seems to be a particularly bad forum to blow off.
John Liu and Bill de Blasio were able to discuss public safety with each other and the audience for 45+ minutes. The Republican candidates basically admitted it wasn't their audience and they preferred focusing on Republican opponents and communities for the primaries (honest and reasonable, though re-enforces the Republican/black community divide). Sal Albanese blamed traffic (I like Sal, but a mayor has to be able to deal with NYC problems like traffic and still get the job done). Adolfo Carrion and Bill Thompson said they were too busy elsewhere to attend. And Christine Quinn, Erick Salgado and Joseph Lhota didn't even bother yet to give an excuse.
Meanwhile, also this week a Democratic club covering Morningside Heights, the Broadway Democrats, endorsed John Liu for mayor and Tish James for Public Advocate. The mayoral endorsement was particularly contentious with John Liu and Christine Quinn being the top two candidates. I wonder if more would have voted for Liu had this forum right in their neighborhood occurred before the vote.
John Liu's campaign Tweets that he has gotten the endorsement of the Village Independent Democrats tonight. That is the second progressive club in Manhattan that has endorsed John Liu this week (the first being Three Parks Independent Democrats.
Other endorsements so far from Village Independent Democrats:
City Council 1st District- Jenifer Rajkumar
City Council 2nd District- Rosie Mendez
City Council 3rd District- Corey Johnson
Manhattan District Attorney- Cyrus Vance, Jr.
New York City Comptroller- Scott Stringer
Village Independent Democrats describes themselves:
V.I.D. was founded in 1957 and is one of the oldest Reform Democratic Clubs in the City and the first one in the Village. It plays a significant role in shaping a progressive agenda for the Village, the City and the State
through helping to elect public and party officials who are committed to change, and by public testimony, lobbying, political action, and working with community groups and Community Boards...
Village Independent Democrats general membership meetings occur at 7:30 pm on the 2nd Thursday of every month. Check our calendar and postings for location and agenda.
Another mayoral forum, this time in Manhattan and focused on community safety and civil liberties. From the New York Civil Liberties Union:
NYC Mayoral Candidates Forum on Community Safety
New York City's next mayor will face a host of issues that implicate community safety and New Yorkers' rights and liberties -- ending the NYPD's stop-and-frisk abuses, agressive policing in city schools, indicriminate surveillance of the city's Muslim communities, better oversight of the Police Department -- to name a few.
A candidate forum on Thursday, May 9 at The Riverside Church in Manhattan will focus on these and other issues concerning the safety and rights of all New Yorkers.
The forum, which will begin at 5 p.m., will be moderated by NY1 Notcias' Juan Manuel Benitez, host of Pura Politica. All candidates have been invited to attend the forum. The church is located at 490 Riverside Drive in Manhattan.
Come find out where the candidates stand on the Community Safety Act (PDF) -- landmark civil rights legislation that will ensure that the NYPD treats all New Yorkers with courtesy, professionalism and respect.
The forum is being presented by Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), Amsterdam News, Gay City News and GlobalGrind.com.
The forum is free, but seating is limited. If you plan to attend, please visit CPR's website to RSVP.
Interesting exchange between John Liu and Bill Thompson over stop and frisk:
Some background on stop and frisk can be found at the NYCLU website. An excerpt:
he NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino.
An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.
Libraries are among the foundations of civilization. Whenever I got to any of our local libraries they are always in use despite inadequate facilities, often no AC in the summer, etc. NYC cuts libraries as fast as they can, it seems. To me there is something fundamentally wrong with a city that doesn't value its libraries. Seems at least one mayoral candidate agrees with me...
From Comptroller John Liu:
PRESS CONFERENCE: CITY COMPTROLLER JOHN C. LIU TO CRITICIZE UNDERFUNDING AND SELL-OFF OF NYC PUBLIC LIBRARIES TO PRIVATE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS
WHO - City Comptroller John C. Liu, Citizens Defending Public Libraries, Committee to Save the New York Public Library, Historic Districts Council
WHAT - Press Conference regarding the City Administration’s sell-off of public libraries to private real estate developers
WHEN - April 18 at noon
WHERE - The steps of City Hall
On Thursday, April 18th at noon on the steps of City Hall, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu will speak at a Citizens Defending Libraries press conference in protest of the sell-off of public libraries to private developers eager to build luxury condominiums and hotels on their sites.
Liu has decried the proposed sales that include in Manhattan the Mid-Manhattan and SIBL branches, and in Brooklyn the Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill libraries. The Donnell library in Manhattan was closed in 2008 for sale to a developer who bought it for the site of a future luxury hotel. The sell-offs, which will result in shrinkage of the library system and assets owned by the public, include destruction of the famed research stacks of the 42nd Street library on Fifth Avenue behind the lions Patience and Fortitude.