de Blasio Press Q&A: The Hunger Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray joined in at a food pantry distribution hosted by Caldwell A.M.E. Zion Church Tuesday.  The pre-Thanksgiving distribution featured frozen chickens, along with a variety of vegetables, rice and other food.  de Blasio was accompanied by McCray at the food distribution, but she did not join him for a post-distribution press conference.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and newly elected Assembly Member Michael Blake also participated.

Q&A:

Here is de Blasio’s full press Q&A:

de Blasio Discusses Ferguson (Updated)

Mayor Bill de Blasio today gave his first comments on the grand jury declining to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.  de Blasio spoke during a press conference at Caldwell A.M.E. Zion Church in the Bronx, after he and his wife helped distribute food at a church-run food pantry.

Update – Family:

Mayor de Blasio was also asked about the circumstances of how he learned of the grand jury decision, whether he was with his family and whether he’s had a family conversation about the decision and it’s aftermath.

Grimm Discusses Immigration

Rep. Michael Grimm today voiced a more optimistic view on immigration reform than many of his fellow House Republicans.  He described the existing immigration system as “completely broken” and “unsustainable” and said that on the question of “deal[ing] with those that are here” there’s “more common ground than you think” in the House of Representatives.  Grimm was dismissive of President Obama’s recently announced executive order, but expressed a belief that legislative action is possible.

We spoke with Grimm in Port Richmond, just after he handed out free turkeys to a group that likely included undocumented immigrants.  The distribution was in conjunction with the Rev. Erick Salgado and was held at the site of Rev. Salgado’s church on Staten Island, which was destroyed by fire several months ago.  I began by asking Grimm how a moment like this affects his thinking on immigration.  He did not respond directly on that point, but gave a detailed response on the broader issue of immigration.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Workforce Development Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a press conference today promoting changes in and expansion of the City’s workforce development efforts.

On Topic Q&A:

Here is the on topic portion of the Q&A:

Off Topic Q&A:

Off topic questions were predominantly focused on the Thursday night NYPD shooting of an unarmed man in Brooklyn’s Pink Houses, the ongoing grand juries in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and police/community relations.

Excerpts of the mayor’s full comments on the NYPD shooting are here.

de Blasio on NYPD Shooting

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the overnight shooting of an unarmed man in Brooklyn’s Pink Houses, a New York City Housing Authority complex.  Speaking at a press conference announcing expanded job placement efforts by the City, de Blasio was asked several questions about the shooting and City efforts at improving NYCHA conditions and security and about police-community relations.

The full Q&A is here.

de Blasio Discusses Wife’s Role

Mayor de Blasio was asked today about his wife’s role in his administration and why it’s appropriate for her to have City staff.  Since his election, de Blasio has frequently discussed the important role Chirlane McCray plays in his own decision making and, among other actions, named her as chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.  McCray’s chief of staff, Rachel Noerdlinger, announced Monday that she is taking an indefinite leave of absence in the wake of a number of widely-reported personal difficulties.

de Blasio spoke at a press conference/media roundtable focused on City efforts to address problems in the Corrections Department and the jails it operates on Rikers Island.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The DOC Edition

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a “media roundtable” today to discuss ongoing problems in the City Department of Correction and the jails it operates on Rikers Island.  Joined by Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte and First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, de Blasio spoke at length about those problems and City plans to address them.

Off-Topic Q&A:

Questions in the off-topic portion of the Q&A included the role of Mayor de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and her having City staff, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos’ criticism of de Blasio’s involvement in recent senate elections, whether de Blasio supports a tax on grocery bags, an update on the recent change in NYPD practice on marijuana possession, why the average person should care about conditions on Rikers Island (an on-topic question, but posed during this off-topic portion of the press conference), whether de Blasio is troubled by Al Sharpton’s tax troubles, what the expected executive action President Obama on immigration will mean for the City, an update on the City’s municipal ID program, preparations for a rally being organized by Al Sharpton upon the completion of the Ferguson grand jury, a possible mail-in response for marijuana summonses and whether mayor supports regulating costumed characters in Times Square.

de Blasio Responds on Sharpton Tax Issues

Mayor Bill de Blasio responded today to longtime ally Al Sharpton’s tax troubles, distinguishing between Sharpton’s professional/public work and personal tax issues.  While not excusing Sharpton’s tax troubles, de Blasio did minimize their consequence on Sharpton’s public role.  de Blasio was asked about Sharpton at a press conference/media roundtable focused on City efforts to address problems in the Corrections Department and the jails it operates on Rikers Island.

de Blasio’s full off-topic Q&A is here.

Sharpton Comments re Noerdlinger

At a press conference addressing his tax troubles and the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, the Rev. Al Sharpton was asked whether Rachel Noerdlinger, who worked for Sharpton before becoming chief of staff to Chirlane McCray, is welcome to return to working with Sharpton.  His reply included dismissively raising rumors that he is the father of Noerdlinger’s teenage son.  His response clearly treated those rumors as false, although Sharpton did not expressly deny it.

Sharpton on Ferguson & Staten Island

At a press conference which mostly focused on his tax troubles, the Rev. Al Sharpton also addressed the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island.

Sharpton criticized the length of time that each grand jury has been working without a decision and what he termed grand jury roles that “appear to be improperly expanded to where it is about trying to prove or disprove the accused rather than to see if there’s probable cause to go to trial”.  Sharpton stated that he has “pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced.”   He also said that National Action Network has organized “vigils and nonviolent demonstrations” at “federal buildings” in 25 cities to call for the federal government to “begin formal criminal investigation on Officer Darren Wilson.”

In response to the sole press conference question on these cases (posed by Henry Goldman of Bloomberg), Sharpton described Ferguson as “very tense” and Staten Island as having “tension” but not “as high yet as Ferguson.”  He observed that a lack of indictment in Ferguson “could inflame Staten Island and incidents around the country.”

Here are his complete remarks on Ferguson and Staten Island:

Sharpton Press Conference (Updated)

The Rev. Al Sharpton dismissively derided as misleading and old news a New York Times story detailing the tax troubles of Sharpton and his National Action Network.  Speaking at a news conference at NAN’s House of Justice on 145th Street, Sharpton suggested that the focus on tax debts that are several years old was politically driven and related to his support for and from President Obama and Mayor de Blasio.

Conclusion:

Although Sharpton spent 30 minutes talking with reporters, he brought the press conference to an abrupt end.  The final question was whether he is still negotiating with the federal government over the amount of his tax debt.  Here’s how it ended:

Update – I Do Not Curl My Brain:

Rev. Sharpton gave a memorable quote when he dismissively suggested that the recent Times story and media focus on his tax debts is driven by Rachel Noerdlinger’s woes.

Update #2 – Statement on Back Taxes:

Here is Sharpton’s opening statement on his delinquent tax obligations.

His opening statement also addressed the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown/Ferguson and Eric Garner/Staten Island cases – that portion of his opening statement is here.