Up Close With NYC's Mayoral Candidates: Anthony Weiner...
The 48-year old ex-Congressman sure has a difficult time staying out of the media spotlight, and he’s been on the cover of the Daily News and New York Post more times than he’d probably like. But despite a second sexting scandal (the first being in 2011 when he resigned from Congress) and numerous calls to drop out of the mayor’s race, Anthony Weiner continues his run for the New York City throne.
He was born in Brooklyn and grew up a New York Mets fan, a fact he boasts about when he mentions going to the old Shea Stadium. His father was a lawyer, but he talks more about his mother and her 31-year tenure as a teacher in New York City. Weiner got his start in politics in 1985, right out of college, when he joined the staff of Congressman Chuck Schumer. After about six years working in Schumer’s camp, the Brooklyn native won a seat in the New York City Council. In 1999, Weiner made the jump to national politics when he made the move to the US House of Representatives. He held onto his spot in Congress until 2011, when a sexually explicit picture of himself emerged on his Twitter account.
After ducking out of the limelight for two years, Weiner stepped back into the political world when he announced his bid in this year’s mayoral race. In early July, some polls showed Anthony Weiner leading the pack with a slim lead over rival candidate Christine Quinn. But his time as king of the hill came to an end after a sexting scandal emerged on July 23rd. Some of the other candidates called for Weiner to resign from the mayoral race after the scandal, but he’s brushed off criticism and says he’s committed to his campaign. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University has Anthony Weiner finishing fourth in September’s primary.
Anthony Weiner’s stance is all about two words: middle class. His website says: “New York City is the Capital of the world for the middle class and those struggling to make it into the middle class.” His stance is to the left, but it’s not as liberal as some of his Democratic opponents (see: Bill de Blasio, John Liu). Don’t expect Weiner to take a strong, drastic stance on any of the issues, and that’s the plan. His goal is to come off as the “rational” Democrat and make his opponents look like loony liberals. Of course, his biggest obstacle is just getting his political platform to New Yorkers, especially when Late Night TV is constantly cracking jokes about his alter ego – Carlos Danger.
Anthony Weiner says that if he were elected mayor, he’d “put a Kindle in every backpack.” The current king of New York City established mayoral control of the public school system during his reign. Weiner says he’s not only in favor of the initiative, but he’d expand mayoral control. Another issue the next NYC mayor has to deal with is the new Common Core system. When test scores came out in early August, as expected, they weren’t too good. Weiner’s plan includes establishing a Common Core ‘Boot Camp’ for city teachers which would bring in veteran professors to educate those unfamiliar with the CC.
Safety and Crime Prevention
In the mayoral forums, the New York Police Department’s practice of stop, question, and frisk has already come up, and the controversial topic certainly won’t go away any time soon. Where does Weiner stand on the issue? He’s stood up and criticized the practice, saying it hurts race relations with the police department, but Weiner doesn’t have plans to abolish stop, question, and frisk. He, like a majority of the mayoral candidates, says it should simply be reformed. Weiner also wants more police officers on bikes and foot patrol, which he says will improve the relationship between cops and the community. When it comes to safety and crime prevention in subways, Weiner wants to put cameras in all city stations.
Anthony Weiner has said he wants to create a system similar to Medicare to help New Yorkers who aren’t covered by the Affordable Care Act. He wants city residents who smoke to pay higher insurance premiums. He also has plans to raise the insurance premiums for some retirees and city workers. Weiner has the idea for a tax credit that would apply to those who take care of aging family members at home, he says this would keep seniors in their homes and out of institutional care centers.
Anthony Weiner touts himself as a candidate who “works for the middle class and those struggling to make it” in New York City, so when it comes to economic development, his plans are focused on improving small business. He says fewer incentives should be given to big businesses, while there should be more benefits for employees who take jobs in the Big Apple. On an interesting note, Weiner wants to open more call centers in the city which he says would give more job opportunities to bi-lingual New Yorkers.
An intriguing idea Weiner has put forward on the small business front is creating a website and mobile app called www.shopnyc.com. The site would give New Yorkers the ability to shop online for products in the five boroughs. In other words, shopnyc.com would be a special Yelp for New York City. A small business idea Weiner has been advertising heavily is a mobile van that goes to NYC businesses to settle disputes over fines.
Anthony Weiner’s goal for tax reform is summed up in his booklet, “Even More Keys to the City” – “We need to lower taxes on the 95% of our population that makes up the middle class and stop squeezing low-income families for more revenue.” That sounds good, but what does his tax reform plan actually look like? Well, his ideas include raising the property tax for those who own property more than $10 million and eliminating income tax for New Yorkers who make $40,000 or less. At the end of the day, his tax reform is pretty simple: slightly lower the tax for the middle-class and raising tax a little for the rich.
Weiner has an idea to pair private housing developers with the New York City Housing Authority to improve NYCHA, a sector that’s billions of dollars in debt. Another plan includes the construction of homes for seniors near hospitals. Of course, Weiner has a middle class focus when it comes to his housing initiatives. Right now, homes for low-income New Yorkers are built for those who make less than $36,000/year. Weiner wants to create some housing for those who make up to $78,000/year. He says that’ll give middle-class New Yorkers a decent, affordable place to live in the city.
Weiner’s transportation plan includes ferry service to all five boroughs, including permanent boats traveling to the Rockaways and Harlem. He also proposes cell phone service in subway stations, “Going down to catch the train should not mean you lose the ability to check on a meeting, run an app, or report a crime.” His transportation plan promotes biking in the Big Apple, with the expansion of Citi Bike to all five boroughs, more space for designated for parking bikes, and a tax break to those who take their bike to work.
His plans for the environment aren’t going to blow anyone away. Weiner has the idea for a trash reduction competition which gives the winning property owners tax credits. He also doesn’t exactly criticize the “Taxi of Tomorrow” that’s coming soon to New York City streets, but he says there should be more hybrid or electric cabs. Nissan, who designs the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” has plans to unveil a hybrid version of the cab in 2015.
Post-Sandy Recovery and Rebuilding
Superstorm Sandy dealt a hard blow to some communities in New York City. How does Weiner plan to prevent future storms from packing a similar punch? He says he wants to build ecological barriers that protect infrastructure near the shoreline, including the creation of jetties on beaches. Weiner has visited residents in the Rockaways as a way to reach out to those still struggling to get back on their feet after Sandy. On one trip to the Rockaways, he criticized the Parks Department for repairing “hipster” concession stands while failing to renovate other parts of the area.
Most of Weiner’s plans to combat hunger involve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also called SNAP or referred to as food stamps). One of his ideas includes giving parents easier access to the SNAP program by letting them sign up for food stamps at their child’s school. Following in the footsteps of Bloomberg’s push for a healthier NYC, Weiner also has the idea to increase the value of food stamps that are spent on fresh produce.
Anthony Weiner took some heat in June when a New Yorker made a gay slur to him about his rival Christine Quinn. Weiner responded by ignoring the comment and asking the woman to sign a petition to get him on the mayoral ballot. Some gay advocacy groups came out strongly against Weiner after news of the encounter surfaced. He responded by saying he’s pushed for gay rights throughout his political career. When it comes to abortion rights, Weiner was a proponent of pro-choice legislation during his time in Congress. A social issue that may resonate with young, liberal voters is Weiner’s stance on marijuana, he proposes that there should be no arrests for possession of small amounts of the drug. While he’s not coming out asking to “legalize it”, his stance has generated buzz in the media and pro-pot circles.