Andrea Stewart-Cousins' second chance
Better late than... ?
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins finally made the decision she might have been better off making weeks ago, when she recommended State Sen. Michael Gianaris to sit on the Public Authorities Control Board, a move that led to the implosion of the Amazon HQ2 deal in Long Island City.
After withdrawing her recommendation of Gianaris, Stewart-Cousins chose State Sen. Leroy Comrie of Queens to serve on the board.
It’s an interesting choice, because like Gianaris, Comrie represents an area that will be affected by a large economic development project that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo supports.
But that, it seems, is where the similarities with Gianaris end.
Comrie said he is familiar with dealing with and negotiating on large development projects from his time on the City Council, where he chaired the land-use committee. He said he tries to be “inclusive and deliberative.”
Comrie told The Point he was generally supportive of Amazon’s effort to come to Long Island City – and that he’s generally supportive of the plans near his own district, to develop Belmont Park by building an arena for the New York Islanders, along with a retail village and hotel, as long as community concerns are addressed.
And he said he wasn’t willing to make a call now on what he will do from his perch on the PACB when Belmont’s redevelopment comes before the board, but added that he thinks the remaining concerns, like traffic and transit, are “solvable.”
Comrie said he didn’t see a comparison between the collapse of the Amazon deal and the plans at Belmont, mostly because Empire State Development, he said, has done a good job of community outreach and involvement on Belmont. He told The Point he expected Belmont to move forward “on a reasonable timetable.”
By contrast, Comrie said of Amazon that he was “disappointed in the company’s reaction to a little bit of "tsuris,” or trouble. But, he said, if the company were to choose to try again, he’d welcome the opportunity. “I think we are more than willing to see them come back. We’d hope they do come back,” as long as they are willing to work with the community on any concerns, Comrie said.
Is a more open-minded voice enough to give Amazon reason to try again in Long Island City?
If not, perhaps it’s at least reason to expect Belmont might not suffer the same fate.
Randi F. Marshall
What’s the lesson from City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s second-place finish in NYC’s public advocate race?
Ulrich was the lone elected Republican in a field of 17, so on the surface finishing behind Jumaane Williams is pretty good for a city where there are nearly seven times as many registered Democrats as Republicans.
Ulrich was full-throated in his support of Amazon’s HQ2 deal, essentially alone among the candidates, and political observers wondered if that would boost him in a crowded field.
That didn’t help Ulrich win the Long Island City Assembly district that would have been most affected by the deal, an area represented in the Assembly by a Democrat.
According to unofficial results, he did win in Queens and Staten Island and conservative swathes of Brooklyn like Borough Park, areas typically home to GOP voters.
It’s hard to make exact comparisons to past races as this was an unusual citywide special election. For what it’s worth, Ulrich’s overall percentage of the vote -- around 20 -- is not that different from recent Republican efforts. Nicole Malliotakis garnered just under 30 percent in her 2017 challenge to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Republican public advocate candidate J.C. Polanco got around 15 percent that year, and Conservative candidate Michael O’Reilly nabbed close to 8 percent -- together, the two right-leaning candidates got around the same as Ulrich.
That makes it difficult to say whether a big shift against left-leaning policies is underfoot in NYC. In a low-turnout and low-wattage election, does his traction show dissatisfaction with de Blasio and other city Democrats? Did the lack of an “R” next to his name in the nonpartisan election add an unusual boost?
Either way, Ulrich in his first citywide run proved capable of appealing to key parts of the GOP’s city base and holding his own while debating Democrats. That might be a future to build on. As Borough Park District Leader Stuart Balberg wrote to The Point during the campaign, “If the new yuppie agenda is to be revolution against Bible-believing Christians, Jews, Israel, patriots and old -fashioned males, Eric as mayor is the antidote.”
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AOC at a comics stand near you
Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it's… Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
That’s right. The member of Congress known as AOC, who now has more than 3 million Twitter followers, is about to go toe-to-toe with evil-doers and her Republican rivals in a new comic that is set to debut on May 15. According to Comic Book Resources, the book depicts the first-term congresswoman in her now-famous white pantsuit and wielding her weapon of choice, a smartphone. It's titled “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force: New Phone, Who Dis?” and is being published by indie comic house Devil’s Due Comics. An alternate cover shows Ocasio-Cortez in a “Wonder Woman”-like outfit in a clear reference to DC Comic’s most famous heroine.
Although the book is being billed as satire and is not officially endorsed by AOC, she is sure to be pleased by her inclusion in the comic book lexicon — last month, she tweeted a quote from the groundbreaking 1986 comic series Watchmen that was co-created by industry legend Alan Moore. The tweet was in response to a Politico article titled “Exasperated Democrats try to rein in @AOC.”
But AOC is hardly the first politician to be featured as a comic book hero: Devil’s Due Comics previously published a book about President Barack Obama called “Barack the Barbarian” in homage to famous pulp warrior “Conan the Barbarian.” Even President Donald Trump has gotten the comic-book treatment, most notably in a collection titled “The Unquotable Trump,” which features the 45th president in parody versions of some of comic-dom's most famous covers.