Holly Leicht, the executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, announced today that she is leaving the non-profit to work at HUD, where she will be the federal agency’s regional director for New York and New Jersey, filling a position that has been vacant since former Bronx borough president and Office of Urban Affairs director Adolfo Carrion stepped down as Region 2 director in 2012.
Mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and Adolfo Carrión faced off last night at a televised debate, but it was somewhat awkward because the race’s front-runner, Democrat Bill de Blasio, was nowhere to be seen.
It turns out that Mr. de Blasio, who is dramatically ahead in public polls and fund-raising, was using the time to raise still more cash, a campaign spokesman told Politicker today after repeated questioning.
Two of the city’s three leading mayoral candidates debated on live television last night. But the most prominent one was MIA.
Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate and the Democratic nominee, who is leading by as many as 50 points in public polls, skipped the first major debate of the general election–despite repeated requests from NY1.
With the colorful Democratic and Republican primaries now out of the way, third-party mayoral candidate Adolfo Carrión Jr. is trying to push himself into the spotlight, unveiling his first major policy proposal and insisting he has a shot at Gracie Mansion, despite what the numbers and pundits say. “Many members of the press and other folks have cast this as a two-way race between a Democrat and Republican and then there’s everybody else. Well I am here to let you know that this year we have a three-way race with an independent candidate for mayor of New York City,” the former Bronx borough president told reporters on the steps of City Hall.
Playing the Field
In the middle of a mayoral forum in the Bronx last night, Anthony Weiner announced, for unexplained reasons, that he would be leaving early.
The murmurs in the crowd erupted into outright disgust as a phalanx of cameramen and reporters stampeded from the second floor church room to grill Mr. Weiner on his way out, leaving the forum, once packed with media, virtually uncovered.
hirings and firings
New York City’s last two mayors each left an indelible mark on the city. Rudy Giuliani’s eight years are remembered for his crime crackdown, the Disneyfication of Times Square and millions weeping as one after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Mike Bloomberg’s town is an emerging tech hub, dotted with modern public spaces and glass towers, and packed with tourists and ex-smokers riding their bikes to Whole Foods. All that, plus a yogurt store on every block, $4,500 one-bedroom apartments in once-forsaken Brooklyn neighborhoods and a growing class divide that makes Downton Abbey look like a socialist commune. On the positive side: there’s still no Walmart here.
Among all public officials, the mayor is the one who shapes our day-to-day lives the most: not just our subways, schools and streets, but our ethos and identity as a city. This mayoral election, New York City’s first with no incumbent in more than a decade, has attracted a slew of hopefuls eager to remake the city in their own images. And what images they are. Assembled at the starting line are a quartet of formidable Democrats, alongside a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, a man with his own catchphrase and action figure, and a vibrator-wielding, marijuana smoking, alligator-hugging YouTube ranter.
Best Laid Plans
“I think having visited so many cities around the country, folks need help to get themselves repositioned for this global economy for the growth that is occurring,” Adolfo Carrion told The Observer a few months ago. Mr. Carrion was preparing to leave HUD, where he had landed after helping put together the White House Office of Urban Affairs, which followed his stint as Bronx Borough President.
Mr. Carrion said that he would be striking out on his own, forming a consultancy called MetroFutures to further his own urban agenda, and today he took his first big step.
Best Laid Plans
Friday was Adolfo Carrion’s last day working for the Obama administration. He had been ensconced for the past two years in a corner office on the 35th floor of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building downtown, serving as director of HUD Region 2, which is where The Observer met him a few weeks ago to discuss the president‘s flagging urban agenda.
Bronx paraphernalia filled the glass-line space. Near the doorway was a green highway sign, WELCOME TO THE BRONX. On a bookshelf behind his desk, beside family photos, books (Sonia Sotomayor’s biography, Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat) and hardhats of special significance, rested a miniature subway sign for the 161st Street-Yankees Stadium stop. Along the wall stood a T.V. tuned to CNBC, framed newspaper clippings, and not one but two Yankees groundbreaking shovels, one of which had a bat for a handle. Pinstriped paraphernalia was everywhere, declaring the Manhattan-born, Bronx-bred politician’s on-field allegiance.
Mr. Carrion left the Bronx to go work for the administration, first on the campaign trail, then as the inaugural director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. He left that position to come work at HUD, a move many saw as a demotion, though he insists it was always part of his plan.
From his corner office on the 35th floor of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building downtown, Adolfo Carrion could once survey much of his domain. The regional administrator for HUD Region 2, Mr. Carrion was responsible for the federal government’s housing and urban development projects in New York and New Jersey. Stretching out before the floor-to-ceiling windows is lower Manhattan. Brooklyn and Queens are off to the left. Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty peek out from behind the towers of downtown. Out across the harbor to the right is Jersey City and, off in the distance, Newark. Glory and destitution in one vista.
Peering down, it is easy to see a century’s worth of transformational urban development. The redbrick monoliths of the New York Housing Authority, the brainchild of Robert Moses and the WPA, abound. Idyllic towers propagated by LaGuardia, Rockefeller, Lindsay and a thousand other urban dreamers, these are the projects that deteriorated into The Projects. Ringing the Battery and over the bridges to Long Island are the FDR, the West Side Highway, the BQE and the rest of Moses’s great interstate network. After four decades, Battery Park City is nearly complete, built on the landfill dredged up by the World Trade Center. More than $20 billion in Liberty bonds is at work rebuilding the Trade Center and other pieces of lower Manhattan, ravaged on 9/11.
Yet for all this work, it is hard to recognize a marquee project, a bright shining beacon of the Obama administration on the scale of those that came before.
Adolfo Carrion, Jr., the former White House czar on urban affairs, talked about the local emphasis of the administration’s urban development plans in a conversation with Columbia University graduate students today.
He stressed the impact that urban planning has on America’s competitiveness, linking low-income housing placement and low education standards to the nation’s global economic Read More