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If Your Rent Is Too Damn High, Blame Anthony Weiner

Twenty-five years ago, it was unthinkable that New Yorkers would routinely pay $3,000 a month for an apartment, except maybe for a penthouse on the Upper East Side. At the time, the city still had more than 200,000 rent-stabilized apartments that rented for less than $400 a month. But on March 21, 1994, the City Council cast a vote that would begin to bring that era to an end: By a 28-18 margin, it approved a bill that let landlords take vacant apartments out of rent stabilization if their monthly rents were at least $2,000.

The council debate, which lasted less than ninety minutes, was contentious. The bill’s supporters claimed it would affect only a few wealthy people in Manhattan who didn’t deserve such a “subsidy.” Opponents argued it would fatally erode rent regulations and the tenant protections that come with them.

“The real death knell of rent stabilization is going to be the decontrol of any rent that reaches $2,000 at any time, which is what this bill does,” said Lower Manhattan councilmember Kathryn Freed. Upper West Side councilmember Ronnie Eldridge said that while $2,000 might seem like a lot at the time, soon enough middle-class apartments renting in the $1,200 to $1,400 range — where “two working professional people live with children” — would reach that threshold as well. Upper Manhattan councilmember Stanley Michels warned that it would create “a great incentive for owners to encourage vacancy” and that the unscrupulous ones would do that “by engaging in harassment.”

But Antonio Pagán, a Democrat who memorably fought on behalf of developers in his East Village district, responded that regulation of high-rent apartments was “a subsidy for people making a quarter of a million dollars a year.” John Fusco of Staten Island, one of the six Republicans then on the council, said complaints that “this is the beginning of the destruction of rent control” were “an insult to this council.” Housing Committee chair Archie Spigner of Queens noted that the average apartment in the city was under $600, and “the likelihood that it will be raised to $2,000, I think, is rather remote.”

The result was, as the bill’s critics feared, a hemorrhaging of rent-regulated apartments. The city’s Rent Guidelines Board estimated last year that New York lost more than 152,000 rent-stabilized apartments to high-rent deregulation between 1994 and 2016, peaking in 2009. Adding in co-op conversions and other means of getting apartments off the rolls, more than 284,000 apartments were legally deregulated during those years, more than double the number of units that were added via new affordable housing programs.

Those numbers don’t include apartments that were illegally deregulated. As landlords are not required to report destabilizations, “the true rate of deregulation is certainly much higher,” the Community Service Society wrote in a 2011 report. It estimated that by 2008, the city had lost more than 450,000 affordable apartments primarily because of “vacancy destabilization and excessive rent increases.”

“People assume it was the Republicans in Albany who did it, but it was Peter Vallone and the Democrats in the City Council,” says Michael McKee, one of the tenant-organization leaders who lobbied against the 1994 bill.

***

The 1994 high-rent vacancy decontrol law was the first major crack in the rent-stabilization system set up in 1974. Rent stabilization had been superimposed on the city’s older rent-control system after another vacancy-decontrol law, passed by the state in 1971, led to almost 400,000 rent-controlled apartments being deregulated within three years, with their rents increasing by more than 50 percent on average. And those rent increases failed to stop owners from abandoning thousands of buildings.

The real estate lobby and the city’s political establishment began pressing to again weaken rent stabilization in the early Nineties. In 1993, the state had deregulated vacant apartments renting for $2,000 or more, but only if they were vacant during a window of less than three months that summer. The bill the council passed would apply at any point in the future.

In today’s political climate, it would be unimaginable for an overwhelmingly Democratic City Council to vote to drastically weaken rent regulations. In 1994, however, the speaker was Vallone, a machine Democrat from Astoria who had close ties to the real estate industry. Joseph Strasburg, Vallone’s former chief of staff, had just become head of the Rent Stabilization Association landlord-advocacy group. Spigner, who during the debate on the bill claimed that fifty years of rent control had caused “vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and foreclosures,” and that rent regulations were a disincentive for people to invest in or maintain buildings, represented a mostly black homeowner area in southeast Queens. In 2000, City Limits would call him one of the councilmembers who were “sure friends of landlords.”

Antonio Pagán, the only Manhattan member to vote for deregulation, had been elected on a backlash against homeless people in the East Village, and was backed by landlords and developers in the fast-gentrifying neighborhood. The Republicans who argued for the bill were ideologically opposed to rent regulations.

Outer-borough councilmembers provided the margin of victory. Of the twenty-four Democrats who voted for the bill, eleven came from Brooklyn, seven from Queens, and five from the Bronx. The four Republicans from Queens and Staten Island voted “yes,” while the two from Manhattan voted “no.”

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“My interpretation was that it was not going to impact my district,” Martin Malavé Dilan, now a state senator, tells the Voice. Malavé Dilan at the time was a councilmember representing Bushwick and Cypress Hills, where rents averaged $400 to $500 a month; he says he saw the measure as solely affecting Manhattanites who were “taking advantage of rent-control laws that were intended to protect lower-income people.”

“I thought it would provide greater access,” adds former Brooklyn councilmember Una Clarke, who also voted for the bill. She did not elaborate.

Democratic councilmember Lucy Cruz of the Bronx said just before she voted “aye” in 1994 that she had “been assured, as my colleagues have been, that there are extensive protections.”

“Rent regulation is a complicated issue, and a lot of councilmembers didn’t bother to educate themselves about it,” says Jenny Laurie, former executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, who lobbied against the bill. “They were easy votes for the leadership.”

One of the few who “totally got it,” says McKee, was Anthony Weiner of southern Brooklyn. “Unlike most councilmembers, who had no clue, he understood that this would erode tenant protections.” The future sext maniac, he adds, voted for the bill after twice promising tenant groups that he would vote “no.”

The landlord lobby was very effective at framing the issue as about rich people living in rent-stabilized apartments, says Laurie. The Wall Street Journal in 1994 singled out actress Mia Farrow, who was paying about $2,900 a month to rent the ten-room rent-controlled apartment on Central Park West she had grown up in; the paper also cited an investor paying $350 for a two-bedroom apartment with a solarium on Park Avenue.

The law contained a separate provision called “luxury decontrol,” which more directly affected affluent renters, by allowing landlords to deregulate occupied apartments if the tenant was paying more than $2,000 a month and earned more than $250,000 a year. Although the state lowered that income threshold to $175,000 in 1997, only about 6,200 apartments have been taken out of rent regulation since 1994 under it, according to the Rent Guidelines Board.

“It was a fake issue, but it was effective rhetoric,” says Laurie. In reality, according to the 1993 federal Housing and Vacancy Survey, half of the 212,000 rent-stabilized tenants who were paying less than $400 had incomes below $10,000 a year, and less than 0.1 percent made over $100,000.

***

The key to the passage of the 1994 law, some councilmembers at the time argue, was Strasburg, the council insider turned landlord lobbyist. “The guy who really made it happen was Joe Strasburg,” says former Bay Ridge councilmember Sal Albanese, who voted against the bill. “Strasburg was a visionary. He knew the city was beginning to gentrify, and apartments were going to reach that threshold.”

“Politics is about relationships,” says Tom Duane, who then represented the Chelsea–Greenwich Village district, and Strasburg had good relationships with councilmembers. Albanese adds that Strasburg was very good at finding people in black and Latino communities friendly to big real estate.

A few days before the vote, McKee recalls, the bill lacked the 26 “yes” votes it needed to pass. Speaker Vallone had a reputation for twisting arms. “If you voted against a bill that was considered a ‘leadership vote,’ you’d lose your committees,” says Albanese.

Others disagree with that assessment. There was no “iron-thumb leadership,” says former Brooklyn councilmember Stephen DiBrienza, who voted “no.” You could go against the leadership, he explains, as long as you gave a good reason and didn’t surprise them.

In any event, the council’s 1994 vote would have been less momentous if not for what it inspired 150 miles to the north and three years later. In 1997, the state decontrolled vacant apartments renting for $2,000 or more, after a three-way wrestle among Albany’s “three men in a room.” With the state’s rent-stabilization laws expiring that June, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno threatened to use his control of the chamber’s Republican majority to completely block renewing them. Governor George Pataki took the more “moderate” path of wanting to weaken them, such as through complete vacancy decontrol. A few days after the deadline, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agreed to major concessions, including vacancy decontrol, allowing a 20 percent rent increase on vacant apartments, and creating what was effectively a four-year statute of limitations on tenants’ claims that their rents had been illegally increased.

“If the council had not passed this, it may not have passed in Albany,” says Albanese. Worse yet, the 1997 state law made it impossible for the city ever to repeal its own 1994 law: A provision in the 1971 vacancy-decontrol law, commonly called the “Urstadt law,” prohibits cities with over 1 million people from enacting rent regulations stronger than the state’s. “But they can pass weaker laws,” notes Duane.

All attempts to strengthen rent regulations since then have had to go through Albany. Tenant groups gradually moved toward a strategy of trying to defeat all senate Republicans, on the grounds that even the few moderates who supported rent regulations would still vote to put the GOP leadership in control of what bills got to the floor.

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In 2008, on Barack Obama’s coattails, Democrats won a majority in the state senate for the first time since 1964. The next year, the assembly passed a bill to repeal vacancy decontrol. But the day before the Senate Housing Committee was scheduled to send it to the floor, Democratic state senator Pedro Espada, from the Bronx, switched to the Republicans, ending the Democrats’ one-seat majority. Since then, whether at the ballot box (in 2010) or via the splitting off of the Independent Democratic Conference to caucus with Republicans (starting in 2012), the senate has remained in GOP control. In the years since, the assembly has regularly passed bills to repeal vacancy decontrol and otherwise strengthen rent regulations, but none have ever made it out of committee in the senate.

The renewal of rent stabilization in 2015 raised the decontrol threshold to $2,700, adjustable for inflation; it also clarified that for apartments to be decontrolled, the previous tenant had to be paying that much before they moved out, so landlords could no longer legally deregulate them solely via hikes in legal rents following renovations and vacancy increases. (On April 26, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that that principle didn’t apply to apartments deregulated before 2015, reversing a lower-court decision that could have re-regulated up to 100,000 apartments.)

***

Today, the threshold for vacancy decontrol is $2,733.75 a month, and there are deregulated apartments far beyond Manhattan and the brownstones of Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. One real estate site advertises more than eighty two-bedroom apartments that cost more than $2,740 in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Deregulated apartments can also be found in five-story walkups in Harlem and Washington Heights and 1950s-vintage buildings on Queens Boulevard. And as Duane points out, renters in deregulated apartments not only face higher rents, but they have no right to renew their leases — unlike rent-stabilized tenants, who can only be evicted for cause. That means they risk losing their homes if they complain to landlords about poor conditions.

Meanwhile, the 1994 law’s selling point that New Yorkers would never pay more than $2,000 a month to live in the outer boroughs has become ancient history. In Mott Haven — the city’s third-poorest neighborhood in 2016, with a median household income of $2,276 a month apartments in a new luxury building are now being offered for around $2,900 to $3,500. 

“Boy, were we right,” says Kathryn Freed, now a Civil Court judge.

“Looking back, it’s definitely had a negative effect on affordable rents,” says Malavé Dilan, who has co-sponsored unsuccessful attempts to repeal the state vacancy-decontrol law. “If I were clairvoyant, I would have perhaps voted ‘no.’ ”

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If Anthony Weiner Sexted a 15-Year-Old He ‘Almost Certainly’ Will Be Charged

Anthony Weiner’s dick-pic-sending habit may have transitioned from being merely uncouth to something much more serious. The Daily Mail reported yesterday that the former Congressman, mayoral candidate, and married person has been sexting not only with adult women, but also with a fifteen-year-old girl.

According to the tabloid, Weiner’s relationship with the girl began in January, and he was well aware that she was underage. Using Twitter, Facebook, Kik, and Confide — a “confidential messenger” that erases posts after they’re sent — the fallen politician sent a barrage of messages that started with small talk and quickly escalated into something much darker, culminating in him allegedly sending naked photos, porn, and sharing his rape fantasies.

If the girl’s story is true, Weiner would “almost certainly” face charges of child endangerment, said Hermann Walz, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. That particular charge is a misdemeanor, but it could also have an impact on his relationship with his own child — which is reportedly already under investigation by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services after Weiner was found to be sending messages to women that included images of his four-year-old son.

“In a custody battle, endangering the welfare of a child is probably going to have some impact,” Walz said. In the event that the girl sent him naked photos — and while he asked for them, she never said that she did — it could turn into something much more serious, like possession of sexual performance of a minor.

The conversation between Weiner and the unidentified girl began on January 23, when she DM’d Weiner on Twitter. She found him fascinating, she later told the Mail, and her goal was write a book about him.

Weiner responded, of course, and the conversation, initially about such innocuous subjects as the weather, turned sexual in short order.

“You are kinda sorta gorgeous,” he wrote, before adding her on Facebook and continuing the exchange there.

“How did you sleep?” she asked.

“Not great. Woke up very, uh, eager,” he replied.

The flirtation continued, with Weiner at one point writing that “[I]f anyone would get the wrong impression we should say goodbye now.” He didn’t, though, instead switching over to the app Kik, where Weiner adopted the name “T-Dog.” Next came the shirtless photos, including one with his face. “Maybe delete that,” he wrote.

The two also communicated over Skype, apparently to the detriment of Weiner’s child.

“[Weiner’s] son was in the bathtub at the time just downstairs,” the girl told the Mail. “So he would yell at his son to check on him, and then he asked me to take my clothes off, and just started saying these really sexual things.” He also sent her naked pictures of himself over Confide, which as advertised, deleted them — but not before the girl took screengrabs.

The messages got increasingly explicit (“I would bust that tight pussy,” he wrote in one), but the girl said she was on board until Weiner brought up his rape fantasies.

“It would just be him showing up at my house when my dad was out of town,” she told the tabloid. “And just start undressing me, being forceful, asking me if I want to be dominated, strange questions.” She said he stopped when she expressed that she was uncomfortable.

In April, she told her father and a trusted teacher about her relationship with Weiner, though she continued to talk with him.

“After I told my teacher about the relationship, [Weiner] wanted me to email my dad and my teacher and tell them that was I said was false,” she said. “That the conversations were appropriate and were never inappropriate, and he was very helpful.” Weiner even wrote a letter in her voice for her to send to her teacher, explaining that their interactions were perfectly respectable.

In July, the girl decided she’d had enough, apparently grossed out by him using his son in his sexual escapades. Escapades, by the way, that he also shared with her.

“He talked about women he would meet up with and have sex with, women he would meet at the gym, women he would chat with online,” she said. (It’s worth noting that Huma Abedin didn’t file for divorce until the end of August.)

Weiner did not deny the exchanges, and has sent the following statement to several news outlets:

“I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgement about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent.

“I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt. While I have provided the Daily Mail with information showing that I have likely been the subject of a hoax, I have no one to blame but me for putting myself in this position. I am sorry.”

It’s unclear what the “hoax” aspect of the story would be. The girl mentioned her age repeatedly, telling Weiner that she was in high school, that she couldn’t talk until her parents were asleep, that she had her learner’s permit. “I like older guys. Mature men. But that’s illegal,” she wrote at one point. That she was a teenager wasn’t a topic that was casually mentioned once — it was imbued into nearly every conversation they had.

The Manhattan DA declined to comment on the charges Weiner potentially faces if the girl’s story does indeed turn out to be true. It’s unclear whether the NYPD has opened an investigation — as a spokesperson told the Voice, “We don’t know where he was at when he sent the texts, nor do we know where this girl is.”

The girl said she didn’t want to press charges since her relationship was “consensual,” but that outcome will, of course, be out of her hands.

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Goodbye, Anthony Weiner

There are still people who want to believe the best about Anthony Weiner. Some of them are in his old congressional district, where I now reside, and they’ll still tell you about the bantamweight fighter for the middle class hustling to get their potholes paved or their beachfronts freed of litter. They probably voted for Bill de Blasio or Bill Thompson or Christine Quinn because they were the adults in the room, but they wished their old congressman could have just stayed offline.

August 29, 2016, may finally mark the end of Anthony Weiner’s career as a political creature. Make no mistake: After a second sexting scandal destroyed his 2013 mayoral campaign, as documented in the exhilarating Weiner, he could never return to elected office. He would be the first to tell you that, as someone who understood New York Democratic primaries as well as anyone, his ship had sailed. But Weiner post-2013 was working on another reclamation project. He was undertaking the gradual process of becoming a respectable public figure, appearing weekly on NY1, penning op-eds, getting quotes in newspapers, and sparring with Donald Trump and his princelings on Twitter, his favored medium and the site of his repeated undoings.

Now Weiner has deleted his Twitter account. The Daily News is dropping his column. NY1 has put him on “indefinite leave.” His indefatigable wife and top adviser to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, announced today she is separating from him. Weiner owns another New York Post cover today, this time for sexting he carried out with a buxom Donald Trump supporter through a long chunk of last year, long after he had told the public he was in therapy to get his habits under control. He even featured his five-year-old son in one of his underwear shots.

We can pretend to understand the dynamics of the Weiner-Abedin marriage, though we really don’t, and even the intimate shots in Weiner can only be an approximation of what these two people feel about each other. In the documentary, released to critical acclaim in May, we see Abedin and Weiner as a team, willing to put aside the strife of his original 2011 sexting scandal for the goal of redeeming his career and capturing the ultimate prize, City Hall. When it all goes to hell, Abedin appears as disturbed by the prospect of her husband’s campaign failing as she is by his pathological sexting.

Abedin, though, stuck with him for reasons we’ll never understand. Tempted as the media and the public might be to analyze their marriage, we cannot know its interior, even though it lived and died in the camera eye. Did she truly love him? Did Hillary’s camp want to avoid another ugly headline, until they couldn’t any longer? What matters now is what’s left for Weiner in the public, where he’s constructed his life as a politician and talking head. From the age of 27, when he was elected to the New York City Council, until now, he was always someone we wanted to hear from.

Yet there was a hollowness to the Weiner brand, as much as we’ll fondly remember the gusto he brought to elected office and the way, for a time, he captivated the outer-borough taxpayers who dreamed of Ed Koch’s resurrection in the curly-haired kid from Park Slope. He was an indifferent legislator who played no role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, despite the screaming he did over universal healthcare. He could be an astute observer and a quick study of policy, but his political career always seemed a triumph of charisma over substance, the idea of a great leader over an actual one.

Weiner has admitted his emotional wiring is faulty, that there is some deficit inside of him. He is incapable of feeling shame. Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, was felled in a prostitution scandal and attempted a political comeback the same year as Weiner, running for city comptroller. Spitzer was defeated too and retreated into private life, running his family’s real estate empire and declining most interview requests. He seemed to understand that his time as a public figure had come and gone. Weiner, with a self-destructive craving to be at the center of every conversation, is built differently.

Maybe it isn’t fair to say this is the end of Weiner. He could reactivate his Twitter account in a few weeks. He could get back onto some television shows. He could subject himself, in a year or two, to a fawning, all-access magazine profile that details his time in seclusion. He can get a celebrity therapist, a new girlfriend.
But the grim truth for Weiner, and one he’ll have to face in the days to come, is that even if he’s unwilling to walk away from the public, the public will walk away from him. His story will have an expiration date. The New Yorkers and national political junkies who, despite everything, took his opinions seriously won’t anymore. Most galling for the former politician is that people will eventually stop talking about him. There are still people who want to believe the best about Anthony Weiner. There’s a lot fewer of them today.

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Tail! Spin! Hilariously Demonstrates How the Latter Follows the Former in Politics

Tail! Spin! is an amusing vaudeville of spliced-together soundbites from a Top 4 of recent political sex scandals, reconstituted in the spirited performances of improv/comedy professionals including former SNL player Rachel Dratch. Enacting transcripts of embarrassing press conferences and TV appearances by ephebophile senator Mark Foley, Idaho’s Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (“hiking the Appalachian Trail”), and New York’s own Anthony Weiner proves once again the old adage about history repeating itself first as tragedy and then as farce.

We’ve already heard or seen these politicians on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and elsewhere trying to verbally wriggle out of blame. But the distance brought by time and impersonation reinvigorates the cringey thrill of hearing them for the first time, most strikingly in the case of Nate Smith’s uncanny impression of Weiner, who gets to deliver many of the evening’s most memorable one-liners. These mostly consist of extramarital sexts Weiner sent — “I need to highlight my package,” he insists. Dratch tackles the thankless roles of the put-upon wives of these turkeys (Jenny Sanford in particular) with delightfully deadpan aplomb.

While Mario Correa skillfully stitches these verbatim texts into comedy gold like a pop-song version of Arguendo (Elevator Repair Service’s recent SCOTUS-transcript staging), the show leaves a strange aftertaste in the conscience: Some of these slippery rakes still have viable careers. Maybe the joke’s on us.

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Anthony Weiner’s Law & Order: SVU Episode, Headline by Headline

The moment we’d all been waiting for finally happened last night: Anthony Weiner’s campaign was ripped from the headlines, and remixed into an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

Which headlines, exactly? Glad you asked! We put together a list. While the episode took most of its inspiration from Weiner’s tragic downfall, it also borrowed elements from Bill de Blasio’s campaign and Eliot Spitzer’s, too. SVU‘s writers even threw in a little Amanda Bynes for good measure.

]

The episode introduces audiences to Alejandro Muñoz, a community organizer from the Bronx on track to become the first Hispanic mayor of New York — until the detectives of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit uncover the sordid details of his many, many electronic affairs.

Here are all the details, along with the headlines from which the details were ripped. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Law & Order detail: Lindsay Anderson is an online opportunist who targets wealthy older men using social media. One of her previous victims tells the detectives, “She friended me on Facebook, after I started the charity. I thought she was at the perfect intersection of hot and crazy. I underestimated the crazy.”

Headline: Anthony Weiner Began New Sexting Affair After ‘Sydney Leathers’ Berated Him on Facebook for Old Affairs

Law & Order detail: Sensing Lindsay is getting out of hand, Muñoz dispatches a childhood friend, Eddie Garcia, to do damage control with his online fling.

Headline: Anthony Weiner’s brother accused of freaking out Sydney Leathers with message

Law & Order detail: Muñoz’s other old friend, Rafael Barba, now works in the D.A.’s office, and he is initially hesitant to believe Muñoz’s might have done anything wrong — but when he sees the evidence, he is convinced otherwise.

Headline: Jon Stewart went easy on his pal Anthony Weiner. He was the only one.
And Jon Stewart Torches Old Pal Anthony Weiner in Brutal Takedown

Law & Order detail: Introducing Muñoz at a campaign lunch, a reverend tells the audience, “For far too long we’ve been a tale of two cities — one rich, one poor”

Headline: Bill de Blasio Tells ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ at His Mayoral Campaign Kickoff

Law & Order detail: Six restraining orders have been filed against Lindsay Anderson, including one from “an ex-shrink who said he kept getting texts demanding that he come back and ‘murder her vagina’–whatever that means.”

Headline: Amanda Bynes: “I Want Drake to Murder My Vagina”

Law & Order detail: When detectives start following up on Anderson, she’s whisked off to Tel Aviv, where Muñoz’s political consultant has secured her a job. They’ll later learn that Muñoz has placed his other flings in jobs, too–he had a former porn star appointed to the New York Gaming Commission, and a stripper put on the state’s tourism board.

Headline: Some Lady: I Did Sexting With Anthony Weiner and All He Offered Was Help Getting Me on This Lousy Politico Panel

Law & Order detail: Introducing his wife at a campaign event, Muñoz says, “She’s not only prettier than me, she’s smarter.”

Headline: Anthony Weiner Always Wanted to Marry Somebody Smarter Than Himself

Law and Order detail: Wanting to catch him in the act, the detectives set a honey trap for Muñoz. One sends him a message saying, “When you talked about the pension system I got so excited.”

Headline: Sydney Leathers: Anthony Weiner Talked Politics During Phone Sex

Law & Order detail: Muñoz takes the bait, but asks detectives to switch to a less public site, PleasureWithoutConscience.com, where he goes by the handle Enrique Trouble.

Headline: What Is Formspring and Why Was Anthony Weiner Playing With It?
And Anthony Weiner revealed as ‘Carlos Danger,’ Internet explodes

Law & Order detail: Confronted by his friend about the explicit selfies, Muñoz’s first defense is “I’ve been hacked.”

Headline: Anthony Weiner Says He Was #Hacked, After Briefs Shot Tweeted From His Account

Law & Order detail: When his friend in the D.A.’s Office confronts him about his online extracurricular activities, Muñoz says, “You’re going to judge me? Like you’re my priest?”

Headline: Anthony Weiner to Voter: ‘You Don’t Get to Judge Me’

Want more imitation Weiner? Here’s the full SVU episode…[

Let us know if you find any details we missed, and check back Friday, when we’ll be recapping Scandal‘s Weiner-inspired episode, airing Thursday. (Kidding. Kind of.)

Send story tips to the author, Tessa Stuart

Weiner’s performance was enough to remind voters that, for all his failings (and there are so, so many), but he remains a natural politician with a strong command of the issues. There is a reason why in a simpler, pre-Carlos Danger era, he was poised to win this race.

The rise of de Blasio, the fall of Carlos Danger
The rise of de Blasio, the fall of Carlos Danger

It was also a reminder that the primary is less than a week away, and Weiner has never had a job outside of politics. What happens to him when the race ends? Could he get a cable news gig, like Eliot Spitzer? Or angle for a teaching post at CUNY, like David Petraeus?

Maybe Weiner could he convince whoever is elected that he is a strong enough ally to deserve some kind of cabinet post. Maybe that’s what was he was imagining when he helped de Blasio fend off attacks Tuesday night.

Maybe.

Although, to be fair, he did defend John Liu at least once, too, and that guy has an even worse shot at becoming mayor than Weiner himself (just 4 sad percentage points in the polls), so it’s possible he was just focused on appearing as somewhat less of a jerk during the last big televised moment of the campaign.

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Your Post-Debate Mayoral Race Power Rankings

It has been a long, tumultuous democratic primary in New York City. Candidates have leapfrogged each other in the polls so many times it’s hard to keep track who’s in first place these days. We’re here to help.

Here are your mayoral race power rankings, based on candidates’ performances in Wednesday night’s debate, as we trudge toward primary day.

1. Christine Quinn
Quinn had clear command of the room from the start, welcomed by a thunderous round of applause so long and loud it drowned out introductions for John Liu, Sal Albanese, and Anthony Weiner. She gave long answers too, scoffing in the face of the little red light that blinks to tell candidates they are over time, and no one–not the moderator, the panelists, or the other candidates–dared to call her on it. The speaker also demonstrated an adroit skill for playing the other candidates off of each other–tag-teaming Bill de Blasio with Bill Thompson, then teaming up with de Blasio against Weiner when Weiner tried to implicate the public advocate in Quinn’s slush fund scandal–and managing, all the while, to appear somehow above the fray. The sense that Quinn controlled the debate was compounded by the fact the Daily News announced its endorsement of the Speaker immediately after the debate.

2. Bill de Blasio
De Blasio towered head and shoulders above the competition in this debate. Literally, if not figuratively–the guy’s 6-foot-5, about a foot taller than anyone else on stage. Whether it was his height–making dwarves of all of them–or his impressive showing the polls the last few weeks, it was clear that the other candidates had pegged de Blasio as the man to beat. When they were given the chance to ask questions of one another, almost every candidate seized the opportunity to poke de Blasio–including Quinn, who used her question to ask Thompson if he was “satisfied” with the answer de Blasio had just given him, giving Thompson another chance to beat up on de Blasio while she kept her hands clean. De Blasio took the other candidates’ fire, though, and he didn’t cede any ground.

3. Errol Louis
The moderator didn’t hesitate to put the mayoral hopefuls in their places when they talked out of turn. He issued stern warnings to Erick Salgado, Liu, and the audience itself–earning the ardent affection of at least one woman online.

4. The Audience
First it was the applause for Quinn, then heckling so loud it momentarily drowned out a question from NY1’s Grace Rauh, and then cheering so loud that Louis had to reprimand them–the live audience really threw its weight around on Wednesday night. Bonus point awarded to the guy in the back who yelled out “DANJA!” when Anthony Weiner copped to texting while driving.

5. Bill Thompson
Thompson came out guns blazing, demanding de Blasio remove an advertisement portraying himself as the only anti-stop-and-frisk candidate and demanding he “stop lying to the people of New York.” He hammered a proposal of de Blasio’s as “a tax in search of an idea.” He also revealed himself as the city’s unlikeliest Eminem fan when he asked, “Will the real Bill de Blasio please stand up?” (… please stand up, please stand up.)

6. John Liu
The comptroller’s shining moment came when he delivered his closing remarks in both English and Spanish, showing shades of El Bloomblito.

The parody Twitter account responded in kind.

7. Anthony Weiner
Weiner had lots of serious ideas he wanted to discuss at Wednesday’s debate–instituting a single-payer healthcare system, protecting the middle class, and … other stuff too. But, as it became painfully apparent to the erstwhile frontrunner, no one wanted to hear about his ideas. Audience members couldn’t even keep a straight face when Weiner, asked a question about hurricane preparedness, said New York wasn’t ready for “a stiff wind.” There were even louder laughs when, during a lightening Q&A round, he copped to texting while driving–tee hee hee, oh, yes, we know how much you enjoy the text messaging–and again when he was the only candidate to say the city did not need more surveillance cameras.

Weiner did briefly win the audience over with his assertion that New Yorkers should not only be allowed to enjoy a beer on their own stoop–they should be allowed to enjoy their beers in public parks and on beaches, too. That answer played well on Twitter.

8. Erick Salgado
Even Salgado admitted on Wednesday night that he had no shot at winning the election–he was really only in the race to influence the other the candidates. He was a winner in the audience’s heart though, with some of the most memorable quotes of the evening.

On undocumented immigrants: “I believe slavery has not been abolished. Slavery has been transferred to my people.”
What would he do if New York was hit by a natural disaster? “Pray.”
When he was veering off-topic and panelist David Chen tried to go to another candidate, “Why? I may have an accent but I can talk.”
Would he move into Gracie Mansion? Yes: “Me, my wife, and my six children!”
And, apropos of nothing: “I got stopped by the police this evening.”

9. Sal Albanese
Things are really bad when your most memorable moment of the evening is blurting out “So, do I get to talk at all?”

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Even Weiner’s Alleged Sexting Partner Loves Anthony Weiner Jokes

Who doesn’t love a good Weiner joke? They’re simple, yet effective, and since Tuesday–the day New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner publicly confessed that “some” of the explicit photos and chat logs unearthed by TheDirty.com were legitimate–comedians (and people who just think they are comedians) have been going nuts with the dick jokes.

Last night, Comedy Central hosts Stephen Colbert and John Oliver had a good old-fashioned Weinie roast, adding several new jokes to the Weiner canon.

Luckily for them–and us–these jokes a) have universal appeal and b) don’t ever seem to get old. Case in point: Way back in 2011, during Weinergate I, the young woman embroiled in the latest scandal retweeted a few jokes of her own.

Here are the ones that Sydney Leathers, the young political activist identified as Weiner’s alleged sexting partner, retweeted using her Twitter handle @sydneyelaineXO, and preserved for posterity by a social media research firm.