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Mayor’s Race

Steven Wishnia Aug 23

Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years as mayor have been very good for some classes of New Yorkers. Luxury housing is popping up all over the city, and the Yankees and Mets have gleaming new stadiums where getting a hot dog, French fries and an only-16-ounce soda costs more than the concession-stand worker makes in an hour. But what about the people who aren’t benefiting from Pharaoh Bloomberg’s efforts to turn New York City into Dubai-on-the-Hudson?

On September 10, voters in the Democratic primary will choose among eight candidates. The five who have held major political offices are Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, and former Rep. Anthony Weiner. Also in the race are former City Councilmember Sal Albanese, political comedian Randy Credico, and minister Erick Salgado, with Credico and arguably Albanese significantly to the left of the top five.

Here’s a summary of the top five’s records and positions on key issues. You can also download the full chart and related mayoral race cover from Issue 189 in PDF.

Housing: Everyone knows that “the rent is too damn high.” The five leading candidates all promise to build more “affordable” housing and support repealing the state law that prevents the city from strengthening its rent regulations. On the other hand, all except John Liu have taken substantial contributions from the real-estate lobby.

  • Bill DeBlasio
    Created “Worst Landlords Watch List” website as public advocate
    Would use city pension funds and a tax on vacant lots to finance housing construction
  • John Liu
    Supports extending rent controls to commercial spaces
    Supports mandatory inclusionary zoning in exchange for letting developers construct taller buildings
    Says rents in affordable housing should be based on the median income for each borough instead of on the metropolitan area’s Opposes Bloomberg plan for “infill” luxury development in public housing projects
  • Christine Quinn
    Most outspoken on strengthening rent regulation
    Got bill for stricter code enforcement through City Council
    Has taken the most money from real-estate interests, and supported massive luxury development in her district
    Promises to build 40,000 new middle-income apartments
  • Bill Thompson
    Would finance new affordable housing with tax breaks
    Leading recipient of money from the Real Estate Board of New York, a lobby for the city’s big developers
  • Anthony Weiner
    Still defends his 1994 vote to deregulate vacant apartments
    Introduced City Council bill to let landlords “self-certify” that they’ve corrected violations
    Seems to think that the city Rent Guidelines Board is a state agency
    Would require developers getting tax credits for low-income housing in the “80-20 program” to include 20 percent for people making $36,000-$78,000 a year.

NYPD: Crime has dropped dramatically since the crack epidemic of the late ’80s and early ’90s. But under Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, cops have stopped and frisked millions of innocent young black and Latino men without probable cause, trampled the civil rights of protesters and led the nation in petty marijuana arrests, again mostly of young black and Latino men.

  • Bill DeBlasio
    Would appoint an inspector general to oversee the Police Department and replace Kelly as police commissioner
    Would treat possession of marijuana found by police searches as a violation, not a misdemeanor
    Would increase number of surveillance cameras in high-crime areas in the outer boroughs
    Would expand alternatives to incarceration for those involved in the criminal justice system
  • John Liu
    Would abolish stop-and-frisk, says it’s “almost like some Third World dictatorship”
    Would replace Kelly — and other top police chiefs
  • Christine Quinn
    Would keep Kelly as police commissioner
    Would create a separate system within the courts for trying 16- and 17-year-olds
    Supports having an inspector general for police, as long as it does “not pose any kind of threat to the authority of the mayor or the police commissioner”
    Suggested that Zuccotti Park should be put under city jurisdiction — which would have made it easier to evict Occupy protesters
  • Bill Thompson
    Says stop-and-frisk is an important tool, but current policy “all but requires our police officers to treat young black and Latino men with suspicion”
    Would replace Kelly
    Would put inspector general within the Police Department
    Would hire 2,000 new cops
  • Anthony Weiner
    Would have police take DNA samples from people arrested, “as many as practicable”
    Would require beat cops to wear cameras and put cameras in every subway station

Education: New York City has some of the best public schools in the nation. But thousands of students drop out of high school or graduate marginally literate. Mayor Bloomberg’s answer has been to test, test and test while blaming teachers for failures and pushing charter schools and privatization.

  • Bill DeBlasio
    Would raise taxes on people making over $500,000 to fund pre-kindergarten and expand after-school programs
    Supports moratorium on charter schools “co-locating” in public school buildings; would charge them rent
    Wants more funding for arts education, but won’t say how much
    Says lowering class size is a top priority
  • John Liu
    Criticizes the city’s high-school admissions system as “unfair and deeply flawed”
    Would charge charter schools rent for co-locating in public-school buildings
    Wants program for businesses and tech companies to donate old and refurbished computers to students
    Wants free CUNY tuition for the top 10 percent of city public high-school graduates
  • Christine Quinn
    Would replace textbooks with e-books
    Says charging charter schools rent would destroy them
  • Bill Thompson
    Supports expanding “our city’s many extraordinary charter schools”
    Would stop Bloomberg’s school closings
    Wants more funding for arts education, but won’t say how much
    Accuses Bloomberg of “demonizing” teachers
  • Anthony Weiner
    Would give kids Kindles to replace textbooks
    Would pay “master teachers” more for moving to troubled schools
    Would let teachers give up pensions in exchange for higher salaries
    Would make it easier for schools to expel kids

Labor: If New York City were a country, it would be one of the most economically unequal in the world, as thousands of people work for less than $10 an hour. City workers haven’t gotten a raise in years, as all the 152 labor unions that represent them are working under expired contracts — so the next mayor will have to decide whether to give them retroactive increases. Bloomberg has also increased outsourcing of city services, such as taking 311 calls.

  • Bill DeBlasio
    Supports $11.50 minimum wage for workers on city contracts, but says citywide minimum should be $9
    Says he’ll be a tougher negotiator because he’s “unburdened by the support of the municipal labor unions”
    Says he’s “not opposed to the concept of retroactivity”
    Accuses Bloomberg of “practicing union-busting with a velvet glove in the form of privatizing and contracting out”
  • John Liu
    Wants to raise city minimum wage to $11.50
    Worked against city outsourcing jobs done by public employees
    Supports retroactive pay increases for some city employees
    Says Bloomberg should have worked out contracts “a long time ago”
  • Christine Quinn
    Blocked paid-sick-days and living-wage bills until they were watered down
    Got an exemption for the Related Companies in living-wage bill
    Led City Council in overriding Bloomberg’s veto of a bill banning outsourcing jobs that city workers could do more cheaply
    Won’t say if she supports retroactive pay, because she doesn’t want to “negotiate contracts in the press.”
  • Bill Thompson
    Supports $9 minimum wage
    Says city workers can’t afford to pay more for health care, but he’s “not going to negotiate contracts in public”
    Will not say if he supports retroactive pay
    Says Bloomberg is “outsourcing for outsourcing’s sake,” and city workers should be trained to do those jobs
  • Anthony Weiner
    Says city workers “have to start paying” for more of their health-care costs, especially if they smoke
    Wants to “create an industry/education initiative via CUNY” to encourage corporations to set up call centers here
    Would ask unions to help set up vocational programs in schools
    Says minimum wage should be increased, but it’s state’s responsibility

Did you know?

  • Bill DeBlasio
    Says economic inequality is creating “a tale of two cities”
    Arrested protesting the planned closing of Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital
    Bloomberg surrogate charges that he’d bring the city back to the 1970s
  • John Liu
    The only candidate not to take significant sums from real-estate lobby — and the only one to have campaign-finance scandal so far; city denied him matching funds after two staffers were convicted
    Helped to uncover more than $500 million in fraud by CityTime, the private company to which Bloomberg outsourced computerizing the city’s payroll
  • Christine Quinn
    Inflicted four more years of Michael Bloomberg on us, by ramming the temporary repeal of term limits though the City Council in 2009
    Wrote the law banning smoking in bars
    In 2012, walked off stage at a rally protesting Bloomberg’s veto of a living-wage bill when a heckler called the mayor “Pharaoh”
  • Bill Thompson
    Almost upset Bloomberg in 2009, despite his $9 million campaign being outspent by $100 million
    Says more than 70 percent of New Yorkers “have felt ignored for 20 years,” under Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani
    Backed by former Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who says he “doesn’t frighten business”
  • Anthony Weiner
    Loud supporter of single-payer health care in Washington, but proposes much narrower plan for city
    Voted for Iraq War, says Israel is not occupying the West Bank
    “Carlos Danger” was more effective at persuading women to have cybersex than Anthony Weiner was at getting other legislators to work with him