Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Past City Mayors Haven't Always Left Albany With What They Wanted

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Mayor Bill de Blasio heads to Albany Wednesday to watch Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech and to likely lobby lawmakers about his request that they boost taxes on high-income earners. It's a familiar path for mayors, and history shows they don't always leave the state Capitol with what they wanted. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Both are wintertime Albany traditions. A governor delivers a State of the State speech, and the mayor from the state's largest city walks the Capitol's dim corridors, seeking something.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio heads north this week, he'll be after higher taxes on wealthy city residents for expanded pre-k and after-school programs, and he says it's only fair that state lawmakers grant it.

"We're a city of 8.4 million people. We're larger than most states. Of course we should have the right to make our own decisions on revenue," de Blasio said.

Albany, though, has a funny way of deciding what's right.

"It's always been a matter of consternation, for at least the mayors that I worked for, that they would have to go back to Albany," said Skip Pisticelli, who was a lobbyist in Albany for three city mayors.

Those mayors asked for a lot of things in Albany. Some they got. Some they didn't.

David Dinkins got an income tax hike and a lottery for more police officers.

Michael Bloomberg gained control of city schools. His predecessor wanted that for years.

Speaking of Rudolph Giuliani, the 107th mayor tried, and failed, to keep a commuter tax. The legislature stripped it in 1999, depriving the city of hundreds of millions annually.

"The fact is that the people who represent New York City should be the ones that are out there fighting for this most of all, without playing politics," Giuliani said at the time.

Politics arguably helped Bloomberg, to a point. He gave thousands to state Senate Republicans to sensitize suburban and upstate lawmakers to city issues.

It wasn't enough when dreams failed for a west side stadium and congestion pricing. And Bloomberg really let loose when three Senators rejected a bid for city speeding cameras. He said it would mean death.

"Maybe you want to give those phone numbers to the parents of the child when a child is killed," Bloomberg said in March of 2013. "That would be useful so that the parents can know exactly who's to blame."

When it comes to his goals, soon, de Blasio will have some to blame, or maybe even someone to thank.

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