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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Joe Lhota’

Mayoral Candidates Salute Israel and NY Jews

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

More than 35,000 marchers and 17 bands marched Sunday with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the city’s mayoral candidates in saluting Israel and the Jewish community in New York.

Mr. Weiner, who is the only Jewish candidate running in the Democratic primary, was cheered by many marchers and onlookers, but many also booed by some who still remember the Twitter scandal. “This is a great day,” the candidate said as he marched, according to Politicker. “Before I stepped aside, I had come to this parade every single year. It’s one of [the] real joys of my schedule, so it’s great to be back.”

“Am Yisrael Chai! Am Yisrael Chai!” he bellowed every few feet. “God bless America! Am Yisrael Chai! Welcome to New York!”

Bill de Blasio. Photo: Jacob Kornbluh

Bill de Blasio. Photo: Jacob Kornbluh

Joe Lhota. Photo: Jacob Kornbluh

Joe Lhota. Photo: Jacob Kornbluh

Test Poll: Kelly Would Shake Up Race

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Throughout the current mayoral race, Democrats in NYC have expressed their eagerness to take control of the city after 20 years of Republican rule. However, there is one guy that could destroy the dream for the Democratic hopefuls: Ray Kelly.

A new test poll of 600 likely voters in New York City shows the entrance of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly into the mayoral campaign would dramatically shake up the race and catapult him to instant front runner status in both the Republican primary and the general elections.

As an undeclared candidate, Kelly already edges out two leading Democratic candidates tested in head-to-head match-ups in this survey, conducted by the polling company, inc/Woman Trend. As the Republican nominee in the general election, Kelly would likely beat both Christine Quinn (41 to 38) and Bill Thompson (40 to 39).

Kelly also has a decisive lead among Independent voters. He leads Ms. Quinn by 9 points (40-31) and Mr. Thompson by a whopping 25 points (51-26).

Against Quinn, Kelly leads in four of the five boroughs and only trails by three points among women . Against Thompson, Kelly leads in three of the five boroughs and has an edge among both men and women, eliminating the gender gap.

Voters were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidates: more voters said they were favorable toward Kelly than anyone else tested (49% favorable to 19% unfavorable), including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other announced candidates. His support is wide and deep, with a positive image among every age group, ethnicity, income level, in all five boroughs, even among liberals and Democrats.

To the dismay of John Catsimatidis and Joe Lhota, Ray Kelly is also in a great position to win the Republican nomination, should he enter the race. On the Republican primary ballot, Kelly leads with more than 50% of the vote and is ahead of all other candidates tested. Similarly, 54% of Republican primary voters say that Kelly has the best chance to win in November.

But there is one major barrier standing in Kelly’s way, if indeed he decides to shake up the race by running. To get on a major party line, he’d need a Wilson-Pakula, or permission from three out of five county committees from any given party, Azi Paybarah notes.

A critical number of Republican county officials are at the moment committed to John Catsimatidis, who has donated a substantial amount of money to their organizations.  That ain’t happening.

In a statement responding to the poll, Catsimatidis said, “I think the world of Ray Kelly, and I hope he would stay on as Police Commissioner in a Catsimatidis administration. I’m in this race to stay and, frankly, with petitioning starting next Tuesday, it’s really too late in the game to enter the race.”

Joe Lhota, in a previous conversation, told this reporter that as far as he was aware, “Ray Kelly is focused on his job as Police commissioner.”

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly would not rule out running for mayor when asked Tuesday about the telephone poll.

Kelly told reporters “I’m not aware of who’s behind the polling,” and added that he’s focused on his job as commissioner and has no plans to run for office.

When pressed on whether he was ruling it out, Kelly would only say: “no plans.”

And now, as promised, Anthony Weiner’s message about trust at The Jewish Press candidates forum Wednesday night:


Exclusive: Joe ‘Yoely’ Lhota on his Relationship With the Jews

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota has never been to Israel.  He didn’t join Mayor Rudy Giuliani on his trip to Israel in 1997  because he was acting mayor when Giuliani was overseas. Nevertheless, Mr. Lhota  shares something in common with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: they both have faith in Arthur Finkelstein. For those who don’t know, Arthur J. Finkelstein masterminded the merger of Likud and Yisrael Beitenu in the most recent Israeli Knesset election, which retrospectively granted Netanyahu his third term as Prime Minister (but also cost both parties more than 10 seats). Mr. Finkelstein also helped Netanyahu get elected as Prime Minister in 1996. Among his current clients are Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, who is running for reelection in the upcoming municipal vote, in October.

The Brooklyn born Finkelstein, who was raised in Levittown and Queens, scored his first significant win as a pollster/strategist in 1970, when James Buckley ran on the newly minted New York Conservative Party line and unexpectedly won a Senate seat in a three-way race. Finkelstein went on the help elect New York Republicans to office such as Alfonse D’Amato and George Pataki.

According to the latest Campaign Finance Board filing, the Lhota campaign paid Mr. Finkelstein $49,500 for polling. In a conversation with this reporter, Mr. Lhota confirmed that Mr. Finkelstein was hired as a pollster for the campaign.

Interestingly enough, John Catsimatidis, Lhota’s rival in the Republican primary, hired John McLaughlin, who worked as a pollster for Bibi Netanyahu in the Likud primaries in 2005, and later as a Likud campaign adviser in 2009.

Mr. Lhota also recalled his personal relationship with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who served as mayor of Jerusalem at the same time Mr. Giuliani was mayor of New York. “He used to come to New York all the time. He would spend time in my office. We used to go cigar smoking,” Mr. Lhota recounted.  “I was so proud when he became Prime Minister,” he added.

Joseph Lhota, born October 7, 1954, is considered a Jew according to Jewish law. His maternal grandmother, Ita Steinberg, was born in the U.S. to a Russian Jewish family but married a Roman Catholic. She died in 1964. In an extensive interview with this reporter, Mr. Lhota said he had been aware of the fact since he was a very young man, but wouldn’t use it as a tool to court Jewish votes. “I think that would be patronizing,” he said.

“I am extremely respectful of the Jewish community. You know, I am Christian. I think of Jews as my older brothers. I mean, there wouldn’t be Christianity without the Jewish religion. There is a direct connection between the two of them,” he added.

Asked about his personal relationship with the Jewish community, Mr. Lhota spoke of his time as budget director and deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration. “As budget director, I had great personal relationships with the folks at the MET council; With Agudath Israel; With various different COJO’s, in various different parts of the city. It was very instrumental in making sure daycare vouchers were made available, and I continued that when I was deputy mayor. I maintained those relationships throughout the community. During the Giuliani administration, the Jewish community was understood, and I think there was a reciprocal affection in the administration for the Jewish community,” Mr. Lhota noted.

How do you intend to earn the Jewish vote? We asked.

“I had been spending, since mid January–when I announced–a significant portion of every day  fundraising, because I have to. I am running against a guy who is self funding. I am also against people who have been fundraising for the last 3 and 4 years. So I have a lot to catch up,” Mr. Lhota said, explaining his absence from Jewish events. “I am making more and more inroads in very different parts of the Jewish community as the summer develops.”

Speaking of the issues that are of great concern to the Jewish community, Mr. Lhota acknowledged that he still has a lot to learn. Nevertheless, he  expressed great knowledge of the issues the individual in the Jewish community faces in daily life. “Every time I go to the Jewish community, the issues are the same. It’s about education. Not just public school education, but also how unfairly yeshivas are being treated in comparison to others; it’s about affordable housing; it’s about jobs! The unemployment rate in the Jewish community is not really talked about. And crime. Even though the number of murders has dropped, other felony crimes are up.  And last but not the least, treating the community fairly and equitably,” Mr. Lhota said.

Mr. Lhota promised to fight hard for school choice vouchers. “The mayor can use the bully pulpit to advocate in Albany for private schools,” he said. “It’s important that our children are properly educated. The role of the government and the role of the state is making sure they have the proper textbooks; making sure they are secure; making sure that they have transportation. The children that go to parochial schools and yeshivas are residents and the children of taxpayers in the city of New York, and they are not getting their fair share. They are just not,” he asserted.

“On the issue of tax credits, I have been in favor of that. I have yet to find a way that it would cover the full tuition, but some form of a tax credit, to give relief to parents who pay for property tax as well and all the other taxes in New York, and are also paying tuition,” Mr. Lhota proclaimed.

Would you pledge to fight for it and get it done in your first term? We pressed.

“Would I start fighting for it in my first term, using my bully pulpit? I will start  doing it in my campaign. However, the mayor doesn’t have a vote in Albany. But rest assured, I will fight as hard as I possibly can to make sure it happens in Albany,” he pledged, adding, “I couldn’t make a commitment  that I will get it done in the first term.”

With regard to affordable housing, Mr. Lhota said he’s in favor of returning to the Mitchell-Lama program that gave tax credits to private developers as long as they remained in the program, and low-interest mortgages, subsidized by the federal, state, or New York City government.”We need to the same thing again. Those programs have lapsed. The government needs to partner with the private sector. The government shouldn’t build the houses; the government should provide the financial incentives to developers who build the housing, and keep the rentals affordable,” he said.

Mr. Lhota also raised the issue of City and State owned vacant properties, as a possible option to get more land to build affordable housing.

The third area is the federal government, Mr Lhota pointed out. “The federal government talks about closing most of the post offices. There are about  30 post offices in New York City they want to shut down. I want that property. Most post offices are surrounded by tall buildings. We would be able to take those buildings and use them as a location to put new housing, and coordinate that with some tax incentive plan.”

In conclusion, out of many conversations this reporter had with Jewish voters, the following story is the weirdest so far: on the first night of Shavuot, as I was walking home from Shul, I came across a cousin of mine who asked me what I do for a living. When I told him I cover the race for mayor he started asking me this and that etc. A friend who was following him interrupted the conversation, saying that out of all the candidates, Yoely Lhota stands the best chance.  “I am telling you, this Yoely Lhota knows what he’s talking about. He was already in government. He’s a fiscal conservative. I trust him,” the stranger said.

As I was walking home, I was thinking why would this guy call Mr. Lhota, whose real name is Joseph,  ”Yoely?” I came to the conclusion that when uttered in one breath, Mr. Lhota’s full name sounds like Joel Lhota, especially among Hasidim, whose every second or third child, if born to a Satmar family in the 80′s and 90′s, is named Joel (affectionately: Yoely).

When I recounted the story during our sitdown with Mr. Lhota, he laughed. “Call me Yoely from now on,” he said.

Mayoral Candidates Tweet Holiday Greetings to Orthodox Voters

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Last week, in a pitch to NYC Jewish voters, some of the mayoral candidates opted for the least expensive, but often most appreciated, gesture, and tweeted a greeting to the Jewish community celebrating the holiday of Shavu’ot.

Sal Albanese impressed with an extraordinary tweet in Hebrew:

Sal Albanese

Republican hopeful Joe Lhota tweeted his greetings from his private account, receiving a lot of Retweets:

JOE LHOTA

Public Advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill de Balsio tweeted, this time not the first, a short message pronouncing Shavuos in Chasidish:

Bill de Blasio

Few Mayoral Candidates Stand Up to Chassidim on ‘Metzitzah B’peh’

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

When it comes to the mayoral candidates’ stances on the controversial Jewish circumcision practice known as metzitzah b’peh, Rev. Erick Salgado and City Comptroller John Liu pledged to outright abolish the city’s regulation of the practice, The Forward reported.

“For thousands of years, this has been a practice that has been observed by people,” Liu said. “As with most procedures, some risk is inherent. But I would certainly defer to the rabbis on this, as opposed to thinking that, well, we know better after thousands of years of this practice.”

The metzitzah, translated as suction, is one of the steps involved in the circumcision rite, and is intended to renew blood flaw in the traumatized organ. But in recent years several babies became sick and at least two died, and it has been strongly suggested that the culprits in those cases were ritual circumcisers suffering from herpes simplex – and the NY City Dept. of Health is seeking to curb the practice, if not through legislation then through education.

In a meeting with an Orthodox Jewish crowd in Brooklyn that was posted online in March, Democratic candidate Bill Thompson was told by one of the attendees that any mayoral candidate who didn’t take a stand against regulation of MBP would be a candidate for whom people wouldn’t feel comfortable voting. In response, Thompson said, “The government needs to respect the religious beliefs of people.”

Thompson added that he had heard there was no discussion between members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the city, and that he would be “absolutely willing to sit down and talk” about balancing safety and religious practice.

Another Democratic candidate, Erick Salgado, in a speech to the Rabbinical Alliance of America, called MBP “a practice that was commanded by God,” one that had been practiced “since God told Abraham to do so.”

Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota, was reportedly quoted by The Forward as a supporter of the regulation. Based on a video taken by Photo Journalist Shimon Gifter, the Forward concluded that Mr. Lhota’s assessment that the signed consent forms was “a reasonable approach” to tell parents what the risks are, was an expression of supporting the regulation.

However, in a phone conversation with this reporter, Mr. Lhota claimed The Forward took his words out of context. Pointing to the video, in which he says he is opposed to the government regulation or banning religious practices or tradition. Mr. Lhota also said it was the first time he was asked about the issue, and that he intended to study it, and meet with religious leaders in order to solve the issue.

“Look, it requires education,” Mr. Lhota told Jewish students in April, according to the video posted. “Originally the mayor wanted to outright ban it. Now he wants you to sign a piece of paper that acknowledges that you understand it. That’s a reasonable approach. Banning it, no. It’s a reasonable approach to tell you what the risks are. If you understand the risk, and you sign that you understand the risk, then the burden is on you. That a good thing to do. Government shouldn’t tell people what to do, but direct you,” he said. Adding, “I Follow the issue. I have an enormous respect to religion, tradition and culture and all of that.”

Mr. Lhota’s Republican challenger, John Catsimatidis, apparently supports the regulation. A representative for the campaign told the Forward that Catsimatidis “believes a mohel’s work should be regulated by the health department, just like a variety of other procedures are,” and that “we understand the religious implications, but there also has to be a balance with the health implications.”

When this reporter called the Catsimatidis campaign for a response, we were told that Mr. Catsimatidis himself didn’t come clear on the issue yet.

In a statement to the Forward, Democratic front-runner Christine Quinn said the use of signed consent forms to perform MBP “protects religious freedoms” and is the “right policy,” but that the city’s health department “must do a better job in the future with its outreach on sensitive issues in which public health and religious practices intersect.”

Democrat Bill de Blasio said that while the city “has a solemn duty to protect the public health, and we will never compromise on that.” He added that Mayor Michael Bloomberg “was wrong to simply dictate to a community on a matter of religious tradition.” De Blasio added that he would find a solution “that protects the health of newborns and allows freedom of religious practice.”

Giuliani Pitching Lhota as Only Candidate Ready to Be Mayor

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

The Republican mayoral hopeful couldn’t of chosen a better advocate, making the case for his candidacy, than former mayor Rudy Giuliani in his home turf – Staten Island. In a 30 minute speech to supporters, who gathered at a minimum of $175 per person at the Excelsior Grand in Staten Island, Mayor Giuliani pitched the case for Joe Lhota, whom he said is the most qualified person to serve as New York City’s next mayor.

“Joe understands the budget of the city in detail, from his work in my administration and from his work as a financial analyst, working on municipal finance for many years before he came to city government,” said Mayor Giuliani. “Joe brings with him a great deal of knowledge of the financial market and business. That’s what we need. Not these career politicians who have never really held a job. Like our president who really never held a job.”

“The Democratic candidates are going to be owned by the unions,” Mayor Giuliani said, as he turned to deny the Democratic candidates from obtaining the job at City Hall. “When I ran for mayor the slogan was: ‘With all the crime, all the deficits and all the unemployment, vote for me, you can’t do any worse.’ You know something? That slogan applies today. You can’t do any worse. And in fact you will do worse, a lot worse, if you don’t elect Joe Lhota.”

At another point of the speech, Mayor Giuliani referred to the Democratic candidates as being sold out to the unions or lack the conviction of dealing with the economic crisis. “We need an strong man with strong convictions as mayor of New York city. Not someone who’s going to change his mind just because one union yells very loud. Just because his opponents are saying: ‘oh, you didn’t the support the bill to give people all the money they want. Now you’re supporting the bill to give people all the money they want because you’re running for office.’ That alone should disqualify you for office,” said the mayor.

Mayor Giuliani also addressed Mr. Lhota’s ties to Staten Island, a stronghold for Republicans, especially in the primaries. “There are other Republican candidates. They have pluses. They have minuses. But as far of understanding Staten Island, none of them.. none of them.. comes close to Joe Lhota. He knows more about Staten Island than all of those Republicans combined X2.”

“But he can’t do it alone,” said Mr Giuliani.”Here is your job. You got to raise money for him… The rules are so difficult that we need a lot of people making small contribution in order to get the money that’s necessary to make Joe a viable candidate. Money is very very important. Because the message that I just gave to you here, is the message that people all over New York City have to hear. And if they do, he will be elected as mayor of New York City.”

Mr Giuliani also addressed the Boston Terror attack, the 9/11 attacks, public safety and the war on terror as a reason to put Mr. Lhota at the helm, in order to keep New York City a safe place to live in and avoid future terror attacks.

“New York City still is as we know, and as we have been reminded in the last couple of weeks, New York City still is the number one target of terrorism in this country,” Mr Giuliani said before turning the focus at Islamic terrorism in general. “There were some people in Washington, who when we captured Bin Laden thought that the war on terror was over. They even announced it. I believe that some of these attacks that have recently taken place, have taken place because there is in Washington a process of denial. A Process of not really understanding what is against us. It is almost silly to say that there is no war on terror, because the Terrorists are at war with us.”

So we need a mayor who’s going to be very strong about this. We need a mayor who is not going to be confused by so many of these liberal ideas that say: ‘Oh, I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t classify this person as an Islamic extremist terrorist. Maybe it will offend somebody if we do it’. We need a mayor who understands that from having been at my side virtually every moment for 40 days, from the moment the bombs hit until the moment we left office.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/giuliani-pitching-lhota-as-only-candidate-ready-to-be-mayor/2013/04/30/

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