Political Arena

Cabrera eyes Rivera's seat


After easily winning a second City Council term, Fernando Cabrera is considering a much tougher contest to take away state Senator Gustavo Rivera’s seat.

Mr. Cabrera has formed an exploratory committee weighing his options, according to news reports last week. Mr. Cabrera’s office did not make the councilman available for an interview for this article.

With Mr. Cabrera’s 10th City Council district overlapping with Mr. Rivera’s 33rd state Senate district, there are likely many voters who voted for both legislators in different ballots.

Welcoming the possible challenge as part of the democratic process, Mr. Rivera discussed key differences with his prospective challenger in a phone interview.

“When it comes to a lot of social issues, I’m a lot more liberal than he is,” Mr. Rivera said, pointing to his support of abortion rights and gay marriage compared to Mr. Cabrera’s public criticism of both issues.

Further, Mr. Rivera won his seat as a reformer following a corruption scandal that consumed his predecessor, Pedro Espada. But while some news outlets paint Mr. Cabrera as vulnerable for perceived backroom dealing over the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Center, such minutiae are unlikely to sway voters months down the road.

With state Sen. Jeff Klein facing a possible challenge from former Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, 2014’s elections could be a trial by fire for Bronx Democrats’ loyalties.

Mayor reroutes NYCHA funds

Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving to end a Giuliani-era policy of making the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) pay for police services.

Mr. de Blasio’s 2014-2015 budget allocates $52.5 million NYCHA previously gave the NYPD to address thousands of repair requests by residents at sites such as Marble Hill.

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, whose 31st district includes Marble Hill, applauded the move.

“We want to bring about a quick response to repairs that tenants often ask for,” Mr. Espaillat said. “This is money that is much needed in the housing complex that I think can go to other types of services.”

Asked how NYCHA, which is often criticized for inefficiency, can successfully address a reported backlog of more than 400,000 repairs, Mr. Espaillat said the authority “needs to implement a very seamless process that will reduce the waiting time for tenants.”

While NYCHA undergoes changes to its police funding, the senator added the NYPD should switch its emphasis on policing of public housing from using patrol cars to deploying more officers on the ground.

He said new Police Commissioner Bill Bratton should consider a policing model from former Mayor David Dinkin’s tenure that followed such a pattern.

“I think there’s always room for improvement and having more police officers in the NYCHA complexes in general,” Mr. Espaillat said.

Klein maintains pre-K stance

Last week saw former Councilman G. Oliver Koppell affirm his stance as a prospective primary challenger to state Sen. Jeff Klein. Mr. Koppell criticized Mr. Klein as enabling Senate Republicans to block Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to fund universal preschool through a tax increase.

Subsequent reports suggested Mr. Klein was reversing his previous stance that he would not support any budget that excluded a tax increase of universal pre-K.

But that’s nonsense, says Mr. Klein.

His spokesman Eric Soufer gave a statement affirming Mr. Klein’s support of the de Blasio pre-K tax.

Senator Klein remains firmly behind Mayor de Blasio’s pre-K plan and will not approve a budget that fails to adequately fund it,” Mr. Soufer said in an e-mail. “We hope that Senate Democrats like Tim Kennedy will stop abandoning the Mayor’s plan and will finally start helping us pass important policy goals like quality universal pre-K.”

Mr. Kennedy recently said he supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approach funding universal preschool without any tax increase. 

Schumer recuses himself

Senator Chuck Schumer, who previously enthused about a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner, has recused himself from congressional talks on the matter since his brother helped broker the deal.

A spokesman said Mr. Schumer learned of his brother Robert Schumer’s role in the matter from an article in American Lawyer.

“Now that he’s aware of his brother’s involvement, Senator Schumer will recuse himself from congressional consideration of the matter to avoid any appearance of bias,” Max Dworin said in an e-mail.

While critics say the proposed $45 billion sale of Time Warner to Comcast could create a telecommunications monopoly, Mr. Schumer previously praised the move as an economic boon to the state.