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Sunday, November 8, 2009

And Now The Buy-Outs...OOPS, Pay-Offs, Begin

Whatever you want to call it, Bloomberg is giving money to people who need to work with him for another four years. Makes life a little bit easier, perhaps.

Bloomberg holds out $850G olive branch to de Blasio for office budget
By Frank Lombardi, DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU, November 6th 2009

Bill de Blasio hasn't taken over as public advocate yet, but his new office just got a budget increase.

In a peace gesture to the public advocate-elect, Mayor Bloomberg promised to pump an additional $850,000 into the office's budget to offset severe cuts.

De Blasio, who was elected Tuesday, will take over the office in January, but most of the office's skimpy $1.7 million annual budget already has been used up under Betsy Gotbaum.

The funds will help overcome an immediate budget crunch for de Blasio, who was sharply critical of the mayor during his election campaign and had said he would run a more assertive advocate's office than Gotbaum, who did not seek reelection to a third term.

Gotbaum's $2.8 million budget was cut by $1.1 million by Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn during last year's budget process.

Former Mayor Ed Koch is Angry That Newly Elected John Liu Cant Meet Bloomberg

Every once in a while I get struck by a ridiculous headline. The article below about Ed Koch captured my eye...I mean, with the economy hurting just about everyone, and wars going on, do we really care that Ed is angry that John Liu could not put Mike Bloomberg on his calendar?

Is this a "Thank you" note from the Bloomberg campaign for Koch's help?

C'mon, NY Magazine, let's talk about real people doing something relevant to our lives that we should know about.

Betsy Combier

Ed Koch Doesn’t Appreciate John Liu’s Snubbing of Mayor Bloomberg

Just a day after his less-than-spectacular victory over Bill Thompson, Mayor Bloomberg has already begun reaching out to two of his fiercest critics — public advocate Bill de Blasio and comptroller John Liu. Bloomberg grabbed a very public cup of coffee with De Blasio earlier this morning, but Liu, apparently, isn't ready to make nice just yet. As the Times reported today, "when the mayor tried to meet with John C. Liu, the Democratic comptroller-elect, Mr. Liu said he could not find time on his schedule, a highly unusual slight." Hizzoner is taking the snub in stride, though, telling reporters later this morning, "Well, he’s been very busy, but we’ll get together. You can rest assured that we will all work together." Less forgiving was the last man to serve three terms as mayor, Ed Koch. "His effort to embarrass the mayor is outrageous," Koch told us. "I don't know if there is any way he can be held accountable except for the public to denounce him. The rudeness is incredible, and it's a harbinger of his unwillingness to work with the mayor on the problems confronting the city." When asked if he'd relay his thoughts directly to Liu, Koch told us, "The people who should be writing him letters are the people who voted for him."
By: Jacob Gershman and Dan Amira

Bill Thompson has no regrets about failed campaign; warns Mayor Bloomberg win was no 'mandate'
BY Adam Lisberg, DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF, Thursday, November 5th 2009

William Thompson Jr. sat down with the Daily News for his first interview after losing the race for mayor.

Mayor Bloomberg should see his slim victory Tuesday night as a call for change from a worried city, Controller William Thompson told the Daily News.

"It was definitely not a mandate," Thompson said Thursday, referring to Bloomberg's 50.6% win.

"It was the people of New York saying and speaking loudly, 'We want to go in a different direction.' And I think he should pay attention to that."

In his first newspaper interview since his narrow 4.6-point loss, Thompson said his campaign gave voice to New Yorkers who believe the city is going in the wrong direction - and Bloomberg should listen.

"It wasn't just the term limit issue. You talk about the affordability issue in the city of New York and people not being able to afford to stay and live here," Thompson said.

"He should listen to what the voters said on Tuesday night."

Bloomberg claimed after his win that it was a mandate from a majority of voters, and said Thursday that he plans no changes in his approach to governing.

"In terms of myself, you know, I am what I am," Bloomberg said. "I want to make sure that we keep reaching out, making sure people have the ability to give us input and to listen to that input and to improve the city."

Thompson said he plans to deliver that message directly to Bloomberg if they sit down to talk next week, as the mayor said they would in their election night phone call.

Thompson tried to strike a magnanimous tone, and said he wouldn't complain about the negative ads and mailers that Bloomberg's campaign produced all year, even as the mayor said Thompson did a good job as the city's chief banker.

"The distortions? The lies? Those little things?" Thompson said. "While I can be angry about it, the mayor - he's the one who has to live with, you know, how negative his campaign was."

Thompson said he had no regrets about his run, which brought him far closer to victory than most expected.

For a few tantalizing moments as the votes were tallied Tuesday night, Thompson was just 2,000 votes behind an incumbent mayor who had outspent him more than 13 to 1, buried him in an avalanche of negative ads and cultivated an aura of inevitability.

As the results turned decisively against him that night, Thompson said he ran through some what-ifs - what he could have done with more money, more prominent endorsements and more professional staff instead of volunteers - but dropped that line of thought quickly.

"I just stopped that. That's not helpful," Thompson said. "When I woke up Wednesday, I would have liked to have woken up having won. But I was proud of the campign."

Thompson insisted he has not thought about his own future next, even as he has to start packing up to leave the office he has occupied for almost eight years. Earlier Thursday, he said, he met with Controller-Elect John Liu to start planning their transition.

And Thompson would not fan any flames by discussing any private-sector job offers, running on a statewide ticket next year or running again for mayor in 2013.
With Frank Lombardi

Of course, we, the "general public" can never know ALL that goes on behind closed doors:

Real Estate Races For Mayoral Graces
By Eliot Brown, New York Observer, January 22, 2008

At the midtown Hilton last Thursday, an absolute who’s who of New York City real estate descended upon the building’s grand ballroom to nibble on crab cakes, rub elbows with competitors and chow down a big hunk of steak at the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual awards gala. Milling among the tuxedo-clad crowd—with seats alongside REBNY’s executive board, no less—were three individuals who have been getting to know the real estate industry rather well recently, the leading potential Democratic mayoral candidates, City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

For the first time in over a decade, the real estate industry is flexing its muscle in the early stages of a mayoral race, with developers and landlords dumping dollars into the campaigns of the three leading contenders.

Mr. Weiner, Ms. Quinn and Mr. Thompson have together raised at least $2 million from the real estate industry, more than one-fifth of the total $8.76 million raised this cycle by the trio as of Jan. 15, according to campaign finance records examined by The Observer. (Ms. Quinn and Mr. Thompson have not officially filed to run for mayor in the 2009 election.) This is about twice the amount raised by the three leading Democratic candidates at the same point in the 2001 race, the last time when there was no incumbent running and the leading Republican candidate, Michael Bloomberg, was self-financed.

The dollars seem to speak to the industry’s desire to have its voice heard in the corridors of City Hall at the very time when a confluence of forces that could work against real estate appears to be descending upon the city. The crisis in the credit markets is crimping the ability of would-be buyers and developers to find the needed cash to make deals; a possible national recession could lead to cuts in the financial services sector, decreasing the demand for office space; and a fatigue of large-scale development seems to be gripping many neighborhoods in the city, especially outside of Manhattan. It’s probably safe to assume that any political obstacles, such as added zoning restrictions or new regulations on landlords, for instance, would be especially unwelcome today.

And so it goes that developers, landlords, brokers and contractors have found a desire to donate, hoping that maybe when they phone over to City Hall in two years, the call might just be returned. If not, perhaps in the least the mayor will understand and look sympathetically upon the wants and needs of the mighty real estate industry.

A candidate could indeed win without the support of the industry, said former Mayor Ed Koch, citing his successful bid in 1977 as a prime example; but it’s not unusual that those in the industry offer large donations to all viable candidates.

“They don’t really care who wins so long as they think that they will have access,” Mr. Koch said.

With the city having a billionaire mayor the past six years, it’s been quite some time since real estate has had a chance to gain mayoral friends through donations.

“This is really the first time in a while that there’s been an opportunity for real estate to weigh in,” said Kenneth Fisher, a former Brooklyn city councilman and now a real estate attorney.

Mr. Bloomberg, whose views are often in line with those of the industry, did not accept any contributions in either of his campaigns; and the more pro-development Democratic candidates in 2001, Alan Hevesi and Peter Vallone, were seen as less viable, Mr. Fisher said. The industry gave less to the third leading Democratic candidate—and eventual nominee—Mark Green.

Now the industry seems ready to jump at the opening, lest candidates form antidevelopment platforms based on citywide woes about affordable housing and overdevelopment.

“You’ve got a different dynamic than New York has had at any time since parts of the 80’s, where there is a pushback against development,” Mr. Fisher said. “I think that’s what’s causing the real estate industry to mobilize.”

Furthermore, a change in the city’s campaign finance law has led those who do any business with the city to rush in with contributions, as starting next month their donations to mayoral candidates would be capped at $400, a pittance compared with the $4,950 allowed now. The law, which was pushed through the Council last year by the mayor and Ms. Quinn, applies to lobbyists and those that have pending zoning changes and other contracts with the city.

Surely aware of the coming restrictions, many developers poured money into campaigns citywide in the past six months, bringing their total donated to all campaigns far past the same point in previous elections.

“I think it’s the pressure of the campaign financing law, and the candidates, not just for mayor, are asking for money earlier than before,” the president of REBNY, Steven Spinola, said. “The dollars are going earlier because the candidates are pushing for it earlier.”

Employees of the Related Companies, for example, one of the city’s most active developers, led by REBNY’s chairman, Stephen Ross, donated more than $60,000 total to Ms. Quinn and Mr. Weiner, part of the $143,000 they gave to candidates citywide. Eight years earlier, in the 2001 election, Related employees contributed almost one-third of that, $53,950, to all citywide candidates.

But grabbing the crown for the most in contributions was Rudin Management, the longtime family-run firm led by Association for a Better New York chairman William Rudin. The firm, which gave $84,150 total to all three potential mayoral candidates and $194,000 citywide, is vying to build a 650,000-square-foot residential development as part of a new medical building at St. Vincent Medical Center in the Village (part of Ms. Quinn’s district).

Whatever the reasons, candidates are raising a tremendous amount from the real estate industry, with Ms. Quinn and Mr. Weiner each taking in about one-fourth of their donations from those in the real estate and construction industries. A tally of their donations, which lists donors’ employers, shows that Ms. Quinn raised at least $680,000 of her total $2.47 million from the industry; Mr. Weiner took in at least $915,000 of his $3.6 million. Mr. Thompson, who’s looked more to the financial industry than his potential rivals have, took in at least $400,000 from the real estate industry, about 14 percent of his total raised this cycle. (Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, exploring a mayoral candidacy, also has relied heavily on the real estate industry for the $850,000 he’s raised.)

And in raising such money, old feuds seem to be put to rest. Listed as an intermediary—or bundler—for Ms. Quinn was Jay Kriegel, the executive director of NYC2012. Now at Related, the onetime booster of the city’s failed Olympics bid brought in $27,595 for the onetime opponent of the West Side stadium that was central to the bid. Related is vying for numerous projects that would go before the City Council and mayor, including the redevelopment of Pier 40 and the West Side rail yards, both in Ms. Quinn’s district. Ms. Quinn has rejected money from lobbyists, though she accepts donations from those who do business with the city.

In a statement, Stefan Friedman, a consultant for Ms. Quinn, said they were proud that “nearly 2,000 donors support Chris from all industries and all walks of life.”

Messrs. Thompson and Weiner did not respond to requests for comment.