On the day before Independence Day, Anthony Weiner promised to make New York City independent of Albany’s control once and for all.
“Every July 4th, we should all think not only about the independence of our country, but we should think a little bit about the independence of New York City from the shackles of Albany,” Mr. Weiner said today on the steps of City Hall.
To push the conversation, Ms. Weiner unveiled a New York City “Bill of Rights” that includes giving the mayor voting control of the MTA board and giving the city control over rent laws, liquor licenses and traffic regulations, including red light cameras and fines.
“So much of our lives in New York City are governed by legislators in Buffalo, legislators in Schenectady and legislators in Plattsburgh. On this day, I want us to think a little bit about something that the next mayor should think about every single day: the way we push back on the way that New York City is increasingly governed by a heavy hand of Albany and how we should try to change that,” he said.
While many of such changes would have to be approved by the State Legislature–an uphill battle, observers noted–Mr. Weiner pointed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s successful initiative to wrest control of the public school system from the old Board of Education, and implied that stronger advocacy could accomplish the goal of giving more local control to New York City.
Mr. Weiner, however, did not hesitate to bash Mr. Bloomberg when asked by Politicker if he could have fought harder for New York City in Albany.
“I think [Mr. Bloomberg] has got a spotty record,” Mr. Weiner said, not long beforea smirking Bloomberg spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, coincidentally strode down City Hall steps. Mr. Weiner pointed to Mr. Bloomberg’s decision to bypass the City Council by asking the State legislature to grant permission for a new class of city cabs.
“Just recently, he didn’t like the outcome on the taxi issue in the City Council, he went to the State Legislature and had it overturned there. Now I ask you, the next time I go to the State Legislature as mayor and say, ‘I need some help on controlling pension costs or get out of our way so we can control more Ground Zero development,’ they’re going to say, ‘Well, you seem to want it both ways,’” he said. “So, he really set us back.”
At times struggling to name upstate towns and cities as examples of areas that shouldn’t hold sway over the five boroughs, Mr. Weiner also conceded that certain proposals, like giving New York City control of the MTA board, would be a tough sell to suburban and upstate dwellers, who elect the lawmakers who would have to approve the change.
Mr. Weiner also said that, unlike the city’s current billionaire mayor, he would not help prop up State Senate Republicans who “rarely, if ever” have the city’s “best interests in mind.”
“I can say, and you can write this down, I will not be giving millions of dollars to Senate Republicans. I can say that with certainty,” Mr. Weiner said.