The Future of Ranked Choice Voting

The Future of Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) got its big Broadway debut last summer but is it ready to open wide? RCV is a way to vote that allows voters to rank candidates by preference on ballots. The ... Read Now >

9/10: Bloomberg, His Political Aspirations, and the Islamic Center

By John Sparks

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken some heat for his support of building an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center site.  Has the mayor contributed to that criticism?  Hear what political reporter Jay DeDapper had to say about this and Bloomberg’s job performance when he spoke with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

John Sparks
Jay, as we’re speaking, the Marist Poll is out in the field polling New Yorkers on how they would rate the job Mayor Bloomberg is doing in office. I know you talk to the Marist people frequently, as do a lot of other folks, just curious what you hear about how he’s doing on the job and how you feel about his performance in his third term.

Jay DeDapper
Well, I think his people think that he’s doing the job that he has always set out to do, which is to stick by his guns.  He certainly has done unpopular things and stood for unpopular things on principle like stopping smoking or banning smoking in bars. That was an early thing that he did that a lot of people I think thought, “You’re crazy. It’s going to kill you politically.”  And, it didn’t hurt him, and I think that he and his people have taken from that or took from that many years ago that a man of principle is someone that voters will reward in the long run.  That being said, I think right now after the flap about the Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan and all the attention that that’s gotten, the fact that the mayor has been a very staunch proponent of allowing that Islamic Center to be built even when a majority of the public in many cases has been shown to not approve of that, I think it’s probably going to hurt him to some degree.  But remember, he’s not running for anything. He has won three times. He has shown no intention running for a fourth, and even if he were to, nobody’s going to remember this by that time.  I think New Yorkers feel like they do about a lot of their mayors they have in the past that he’s our guy and unless he crosses us in some meaningful way, he’s our guy and he’s doing a pretty good job.

John Sparks
You know there’s been some misinformation about this Islamic Community Center. I know that some folks confuse it, think it’s a mosque, and so do you think that that misinformation contributes to the attitude toward the mayor’s support of it?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean absolutely.  I think the mayor went on Jon Stewart, for instance, and called it a mosque.  That doesn’t help his cause of trying to be someone who stands up for the First Amendment rights, religious liberty, and things like that.  He has never been the best spokesman for his own causes politically.  He has lots of misstatements. He’s never the best with words, and I think this is a case where he hasn’t helped his own cause. A lot of people think it’s a mosque.  A lot of people think it’s on Ground Zero, it’s being built in the actual site of where the twin towers fell, where neither of those things is the case, and I think the Mayor has not really stood very firmly about the misunderstandings and the misstatements and instead pushed this position that “hey, it’s about religious freedom.”  Well, it’s about religious freedom, but at least get people to get their facts straight, and I don’t think he’s done a particularly good job of being a spokesman for get your facts straight.

John Sparks
Now you alluded a moment ago to his political future, do you think he has any ambitions for president or any other higher office?

Jay DeDapper
I mean, I think it’s a fool who would say that a guy like Mike Bloomberg would never run for another office.  That being said, he has said that he doesn’t — he’s not really thinking about it, and he’s going to leave public office after this — public life — public office anyway after this — after his third term, and he’s going to run his foundation.  You can take him at his word, but he did say that after — in the middle of his second term, and then he forced to change in term limits so he could run for a third term.  So, I don’t think anything’s off the table with a guy like Mike Bloomberg.  He hasn’t made it in business and made it in politics by being predictable, and I think that holds true.  Does he have ambitions?  Sure, lots of people have ambition.  Does he practically have a path to the presidency or really even to another term as mayor?  I’m not so sure about that.  He probably could figure out a way to run a fourth term for mayor.  President, it’s just hard to see how a guy who is by all accounts around the rest of the country would be measured as a moderate to liberal Democrat, it’s hard to see how a guy running as an Independent but having the views that he has would be able to collect enough votes to beat mainstream party candidates, and I don’t think the Republicans are going to welcome him back into the fold, and I would – – it’d be hard for me to see how Democrats would bring him into the party when they – – when they’re going to be coming off of a Barack Obama presidency.

John Sparks
Thinking about being mayor of New York City, there’s still a significant amount of time left in his third term.  But I’m just curious though, we got folks lining up that would like that job?

Jay DeDapper
Oh yeah, absolutely. The race for mayor for 2013 started on election day of 2009, and the Democrats have been lined up.  Remember, Democrats haven’t won the mayoralty since David Dinkins in 1993 — in 1989, excuse me. It’s been an incredibly long dry spell, and Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to run in a city that is overwhelming Democratic and not have to face an opponent that has a billion dollars at his disposal.  So, yeah, they’ve been lining up. They’re lining up their supporters.  They’re lining up financial support. The race began on Election Day in 2009.

John Sparks
We have an off-year Congressional election coming up. There are also some other races on the New York ballot, but I don’t get the sense that these races are creating a whole lot of interest among voters. Is that the case?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I think the only interesting race is going to be the gubernatorial race, and the reason for that is that there’s a guy named Cuomo running.  I don’t think any of the other races are getting a lot of attention in New York anyway right now whether it’s the comptroller race or any of the others.   I don’t get the sense that there’s a lot of interest in those, and polling indicates that Andrew Cuomo’s way out in front as well.  I mean, it’s a heavily Democratic state, and it takes quite an effort for a Republican to win a statewide office, at least in the last 10 or 15 years.  George Pataki being the last of them able to do that. But I don’t think… I think the only marquee race this time around is the governor’s race, and I think it’s a marquee only because there’s a marquee name in it, a marquee political name, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how voters after all these years of rejecting Mario Cuomo for a fourth term, how they embrace or fail to embrace his son, Andrew.

John Sparks
So at this point from the numbers that you see, you think he’s got a significant lead, will not have any problems?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, I mean even in this anti-incumbent year where Republicans and Independents and Tea Party activists and people like that seem to be gaining a lot of traction, it’s really hard to see how in New York with it’s overwhelming Democratic registration advantage, how a guy like Andrew Cuomo is going to lose to either of the two Republicans who are running, especially when the no-name Republican is a guy who has some Tea Party support and he’s closing the gap against Rick Lazio who is kind of the standard bearer for the Republican party.  He ran against Hillary Clinton for God’s sake.  I mean, this is a guy who is a real party Republican who has done the right things. He’s falling on the sword, who’s taken the shots for the party, and now, he’s got the shot at running for governor, and the primary looks like it could be a lot squeakier than he was expecting. It’s hard to see how Andrew Cuomo doesn’t claim the advantage in that kind of intra-party scrimmage on the Republican side.

John Sparks
It’s interesting you mentioned Lazio. He has been trying to make a lot of political hay out of the Islamic Community Center as I recall.

Jay DeDapper
Well, you know when you are a politician who’s not getting any press, and someone hands you an issue like this, and you recognize that you can get on the cable news networks, and you can get in the tabloids, and you can get your name splashed all over, you do it, and I’m not saying he doesn’t believe what he’s saying. I’m sure he does, but this is an issue that has in a slow news vacuum of August, and there have been many of those over the years, this is the issue that has taken center stage.  For him as a politician not to take advantage of that would be malpractice.

9/10: September 11th Nine Years Later

By John Sparks

Nine years have passed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  Are New York City residents concerned about another attack?  How much progress has been made in rebuilding the World Trade Center site?  Political reporter Jay DeDapper spoke with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Read the full transcript below.

John Sparks
Let’s talk about Mayor Bloomberg’s predecessor just for a moment, Rudy Giuliani.  Rudy was certainly at center stage following the attacks on 9/11.  You and I were there at NBC covering it that day, and we’ve got the ninth anniversary of the attack coming up next week.  The Marist Poll asked New Yorkers if they’re worried about another major terrorist attack in New York City.  I’m no longer in New York. I don’t have any idea.  You are.  Any thoughts on that?  Are they in fact concerned about another attack?

Jay DeDapper
I mean, I haven’t seen any polling on this, so this is more of a gut check than it is something based on any data.  I don’t really hear that.  I don’t hear it from anybody in conversation that I overhear, in conversations I have with people, in policymakers, in cocktail party conversations, whatever.  Wherever I hear people talking or wherever I talk to people, I don’t really hear that. I think that that moment, that that fear has, as you would expect, has ebbed pretty substantially even.  And, the reason I think that is that with what happened in Times Square not long ago with the truck that — the pickup truck attempted bombing, it was very, very quickly that things returned to normal.  It wasn’t like after 9/11 where normal was many years later.  It was within a week people were back in Times Square.  People weren’t talking about it, being worried about it.  People… you didn’t hear people fretting about what would happen, put together your emergency kit.  Do you have your plans in case something happens?  None of that was discussed as it was after 9/11, so I don’t think that New Yorkers right now are particularly concerned about that.

John Sparks
Now, what’s going on down at the site of the Towers?  Where do things stand right now as far as any rebuilding?

Jay DeDapper
The rebuilding has obviously taken a very long time to get going. But the Freedom Tower, which is the — kind of the centerpiece of this in terms of the rebuilding that is most obvious and most visible … the steel is well above the ground.  There’s several hundred feet above ground, and it is on track for an opening in a couple of years.  They’ve signed some big leases to have tenants in there, and there has been talk among private real estate interest in buying into it, in buying some sort of a way into it from the Port Authority because … you’ve got to believe that private real estate investors are interested.  They see this as a viable building.  That’s the commercial side of it. There are three other towers. One of them is also going up.  Two others are delayed, and there’s a long battle that’s been going on with Larry Silverstein who’s the leaseholder of the World Trade Center, and that has not been resolved. All these years later, two of the four towers, who knows if they’re ever going to be built.  The actual site, though remember, most of the actual site is going to be turned over to the memorial.  And if you go there now, you can see not just the outlines of the reflecting pools that are going to be built where the two towers stood, you actually see the entire form. They are very far along on the memorial. It took a very long time to build the understructure of this, because there’s parking garages, there’s security, there’s a PATH train system, there’s all kinds of things that had to be built underground. They have done that, and they’re at ground level and the memorial, if you go down there now, the memorial, you can see what the memorial’s going to look like because the structure is in place.  It’s going to take awhile to finish, but they’re on track to open that on time now as well.  So, there’s been real progress in the last year and a half, real visible progress, that I think for people who visit the site, I think it’s reassuring that finally they’ve gotten past the morass of four or five years of nothing happening, and things seem to be happening pretty quickly now.

John Sparks
As you and I are speaking, Marist is also polling asking people if they feel the government has done too much or too little take care of the families of the 9/11 victims and those first responders who worked in the days following the attacks. We really don’t have an idea of what those results will tell us. Do you have any feel for this from the people that you talk to?

Jay DeDapper
Well, I mean nationally or locally, I think that it’s hard to find …  you would be hard pressed to find people who are going to vociferously talk about how the first responders haven’t — we haven’t done enough for the first responders. Whether people think privately though that that is the case, I don’t know, and I don’t know if you’re going to find that in polling. It’s a super sensitive issue. It’s a live wire still. I think that we’ve seen, at least politically, that bills that have been advanced to fund to the tune of several billion dollars additional medical help and other kinds of help for first responders that were there and that are suffering medically, I think you’ve seen opposition of that and politically from politicians who aren’t from the Northeast and aren’t from New York. Whether that reflects a broader measure of their constituents’ feeling like this is welfare for first responders on Ground Zero, I don’t know. I don’t know that you’re going to get that answer in polling, but certainly there has been evidence of that, at least politically there’s been evidence of what’s been called first responder fatigue by some commentators.

John Sparks
I’d like to ask you one more thing.  A number of folks I talk to miss seeing you at NBC and I’m just curious about what kind of things you’re up to these days.

Jay DeDapper
I’ve been running a production company, video production company, and we’re making videos, especially for the Web, for lots of clients — nonprofits, organizations, companies, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun to make videos that are different than what I’ve done for the 20-25 years I was in television news. Branching out from everything from doing cooking things with chefs to a biography of a huge soccer star for a sports network, so it’s been a lot of fun doing different kinds of things and I’m enjoying that a lot.

John Sparks
So if anyone was interested in engaging your services, do you have a Web site, a company name?

Jay DeDapper
Yeah, dedappermedia.com.  Last name D-E-D-A-P-P-E-R Media dot.com.  That’s the Web site.

9/9: Top Ten Reasons Cuomo Has Not Endorsed a Democrat for AG

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

Here are the top 10 reasons Andrew Cuomo has not endorsed a candidate for the Democratic primary for Attorney General:

miringoff-caricature-43010.  Thinks all five of the candidates are equally qualified
9.    Unaware of candidates’ shoe size so logically doesn’t know who would best follow in his footsteps
8.    Says he doesn’t know enough about the position to make a selection
7.    Doesn’t think any is likely to be the greatest attorney general in the greatest state in the only world we know
6.   Plans to write in Bob Abrams… what was good enough for Mario…
5.   Never endorses in Democratic primaries except in the summer of ‘82
4.   Is still thinking it through
3.  Promised he would pick Eliot Spitzer to fill a vacant AG seat in exchange for Spitzer’s vote this November
2.  Wants to leave his options open in case he changes his mind about running for governor to stay as attorney general
1.  Thought the Marist Poll would have already identified the front-runner instead of ducking a difficult prediction

Irwin Redlener, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Irwin Redlener, M.D., is professor of Clinical Population and Family Health and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and is one of ten members of the congressionally-established National Commission on Children and Disasters. Dr. Redlener speaks and writes extensively on national disaster preparedness policies, pandemic influenza, the threat of terrorism in the U.S. and related issues.

Dr. Irwin Redlener

Dr. Irwin Redlener

Dr. Redlener is also president and co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund and has expertise in health care systems, crisis response and public policy with respect to access to health care for underserved populations.

Dr. Redlener, a pediatrician, has worked extensively in the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina where he helped establish ongoing medical and public health programs. He also organized medical response teams in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 and has had disaster management leadership experience internationally and nationally. He is the author of Americans At Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared For Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now, published in August 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.