Who Is The Rave Candidate? Mayoral Hopefuls Conspicuously Quiet On Electric Zoo

The final tally from two days of Electric Zoo: two dead, 19 “stricken,” 31 arrests, at least one sexual assault.

When the third day of the festival was called off, angry ravers directed their rage at Mayor Bloomberg for recommending the cancellation. In the days since though, Bloomberg has forcefully defended Electric Zoo’s organizer, Mike Bindra.

The Mayor told reporters on Tuesday, “we’ve been working with this promoter, organizer, for the past five years and they have a stellar record.”

He added, “The city will have to take a look at every concert to see if the concert can be run safely.”

Whether Electric Zoo will return next year or not won’t be Bloomberg’s choice to make in the end. The decision to continue festivals in public parks like Randall’s Island will be up to the next mayor–and, so far, none of the leading candidates will address the issue.

Of the 10 candidates contacted by the Voice, only two agreed to weigh in. Not coincidentally, they are the two longest shots for the democratic nomination, the candidates who did not poll high enough to participate in the final debate earlier this week.

Sal Albanese agreed with Bloomberg’s decision to shut the festival down. “It was the right move. No event is more important than a person’s life, and, unfortunately, it seems like not enough was being done to keep people safe,” he said.

As for future festivals, Albanese said the added revenue is tempting, “but we have to be careful not to turn parks into constant concert venues. Parks are supposed to be completely open to the public and provide a place for New Yorkers to get a break from the bustle of the city.”

In an emailed statement, Erick Salgado called the deaths at Electric Zoo “tragic,” and “the result of society’s [sic] embracing a drug culture.”

“We cannot be weak on drugs, as many of my opponents are. When our young people continuously hear politicians pushing for decriminalization or legalization of drugs they get the message that there’s nothing wrong, or worse something positive, in using drugs which leads to tragedy,” Salgado said. “Drugs are the enemy, not young people gathering to enjoy a concert. The music should be allowed to continue, but the city must make certain that future events are drug-free.”

And the other candidates? So far, they seem unwilling to take a stand either way.


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?”


N.Y. Politicians on Zimmerman Verdict: We’re Pissed, Too

On Saturday, a Florida jury shocked the nation by acquitting George Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting death teenager Trayvon Martin. In New York City, politicians and candidates for office made sure voters heard their opinions of the verdict loud and clear.

Mayor Bloomberg used the occasion to criticize Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, the key piece of legislation keeping Zimmerman out of jail.

“Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known. But one fact has long been crystal clear: ‘shoot first’ laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns,” Bloomberg said in a statement on Sunday. “Such laws–drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington–encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue ‘justifiable homicide’ later.”

The candidates vying for Bloomberg’s job–former Representative Anthony Weiner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John C. Liu, and Erick Salgado–issued their own statements about the verdict on Twitter.

City comptroller candidate and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer added his voice to the calls for justice both on Twitter and at the Union Square rally on Sunday.

Today at 1 p.m., New York Congressmen Gregory Meeks, Hakeem Jeffries, and Charles Rangel will gather outside Manhattan’s federal courthouse and call on the Department of Justice to investigate whether the verdict violates civil rights.

Jeffries and Meeks both issued statements earlier this weekend. Meeks said he was “deeply disappointed” in the jury’s decision, adding, “I hope that our common humanity compels us to say that we cannot be content that a 17 year old youngster, who did nothing wrong–absolutely nothing–will never go home to his family while George Zimmerman is free to go home to his family.”

Jeffries struck a similar tone. “Once again, the court system has failed to deliver justice in a racially-tinged matter that involves the killing of an innocent, unarmed African-American male,” he said in a statement. “The Justice Department must open an immediate investigation to determine if George Zimmerman can be charged with violating our nation’s civil rights laws in the cold-blooded killing of Trayvon Martin.”

Both men repeated those sentiments on Twitter, where they were joined by fellow Congressman Jerry Nadler.


Which NYC Mayoral Candidates Think Spying on American Muslims is Unconstitutional?

On Sunday afternoon, seven mayoral hopefuls gathered for a forum co-hosted by the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) and the Islamic Center at New York University. Community organizers hailed it as an historic moment. Nearly three weeks after the Boston bombings–and in the heat of the debate on civil liberties that ensued–moderator Errol Louis posed the question to the candidates: By a show of hands, which of you think the current NYPD surveillance program is unconstitutional?

John C. Liu and Reverend Erick Salgado, both Democrats, raised their palms in front of a room of roughly 400 members of the Muslim, South Asian, and Arab American communities. “How could you think it’s okay to surveil or spy on someone just because they’re Muslim?” Liu asked.

“It is counterproductive to alienate communities, because if you do that, it means a less-safe city,” Salgado added.

Not every mayoral candidate was present–many, Louis pointed out, turned down the invitation. Noticeably absent were Republican candidates, with the near-exception of Adolfo Carrión, a former Democrat turned Independent hoping to run on the GOP ticket.

Still, all candidates present–including Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, and John Liu–stressed the need for a new and different kind of relationship between the NYPD and the Muslim community, emphasizing zero tolerance for racial profiling. After the AP discovered in 2011 that the NYPD had been sending “rakers” and “crawlers” into New York cafes and mosques to monitor activity of the American Muslim community over the past decade, community organizations and civil liberties groups raised hell–hosting rallies, boycotts, FOIL requests, and “Know Your Rights” workshops across the city. Several NYPD-monitored Muslims in New Jersey also filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the surveillance program infringed on their civil liberties. That case, however, is still pending.

A report put out by CUNY’s CLEAR project in March qualitatively highlighted the Muslim community’s fear and mistrust of the administration and NYPD as a result of the program.

“Everybody I see in the mosque, if they act a little abnormal, I always wonder whether they’re an informant, or just a regular person,” a Muslim Sunday school teacher told CUNY researchers. “This is really sad: sometimes when we get converts, and they are finding all this interest in Islam, I start wondering if they’re an informant.”

Bill de Blasio laid out a three-point plan to address these concerns. “Just in this week, the mayor of this city gave a speech which I can only describe as fear-mongering, trying to resent the notion that if we respect people’s civil liberties, if we change the overuse of stop and frisk, that somehow it’s going to be a less-safe city,” he said. De Blasio went on to propose that the city implement a bill to prevent racial profiling, hire an inspector general for the NYPD, and find a replacement for current police commissioner Ray Kelly. De Blasio also criticized Christine Quinn for saying she would keep Kelly on board.

“I believe we can keep this the safest big city in the America and put policies in place that are going to bring the police and the communities back together,” Quinn replied, adding that she was for the inspector general bill. “But I do have concerns about giving the state court the potential to rule on issues of racial profiling. The federal court is involved in the Floyd case, as they should be. And I have concerns adding more courts into this will create confusing rulings where we already have court jurisdiction.”

In 2011, the White House released a paper outlining how the federal government might better community policing practices and partner with local organizations to prevent violent extremism. “Countering radicalization to violence is frequently best achieved by engaging and empowering individuals and groups at the local level to build resilience against violent extremism,” it read. “Rather than blame particular communities, it is essential that we find ways to help them protect themselves.”

“I think passing the banning of racial profiling is an important step for the community,” AAANY’s executive director Linda Sarsour told the Voice. “Right now, relations with the NYPD are not good. And if the NYPD tells you that they’re good, they’re only good with a few select members of our community.”