Let's Stop the Violence

BY Bob Hardt

“Psycho killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?” – Talking Heads

When Bill de Blasio was elected mayor in 2013, New York City’s naysayers predicted our collective downfall, warning that the sun would soon turn black like sackcloth and the bad old days would be upon us.

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Political Buzz: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Machine is Burning

BY Bob Hardt
UPDATED 8:00 AM ET Jul. 21, 2020

“And it’s all over, baby blue.” – Bob Dylan

Eliot Engel used to be the congressman who would be first in line to get a good seat for the State of the Union address so he could shake the president’s hand. But those handshakes are now long over; Engel’s last job in Washington will be turning off the lights when he leaves his office for the final time later this year.

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Independence Day Doesn’t Include COVID

BY Bob Hardt

“If you will it, it is no dream.” — Theodor Herzl

I get it: it’s been a long four months. But do I have to wear a Tom Hanks T-shirt along with my facemask to remind people to ease up on the parties?

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Andrew Cuomo’s Mountain

BY Bob Hardt

“In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” — Erasmus

The biggest float in Andrew Cuomo’s long parade of coronavirus briefings arrived yesterday in the shape of a massive foam mountain:

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And the Winner Is...

BY Bob Hardt
UPDATED 6:00 AM ET Jun. 24, 2020

“It’s political party time, going down, going down.” – Talking Heads

It’s weird writing about Election Night when more than 700,000 absentee ballots could still be out there floating in the mail, a weight heavy enough to tip the balance of any race.

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The Coronavirus Primary

BY Bob Hardt

“Gimme gimme shock treatment.” – The Ramones

We’ve had at least 22,000 deaths from COVID-19. We’ve had protests. We’ve had lootings. And today, tens of thousands of New Yorkers will head to the polls.

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New York’s Finest Election for 2021

BY Bob Hardt

“Karma police, arrest this man. He talks in maths.” — Radiohead

For more than 50 years, the central political question dangling over New York City has been the safety of its streets and the conduct of the people who are paid to keep them safe.

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Cry, The Beloved City

BY Bob Hardt

“We’re idiots, babe. It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.” – Bob Dylan

At this point, it’s just a matter of time before the murder hornets finish us off.

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Local Heroes and Villains

BY Bob Hardt

“Keep your distance. Keep your distance. When I feel you close to me, what can I do but fall?” – Richard Thompson

It’s not always easy to love thy neighbor.

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Back to Normal on the Beach

BY Bob Hardt

How can it possibly be a good thing when you’re the victim of a crime?

It’s taken me a couple of days to process the theft of my bike and its toddler trailer — along with two stuffed bunnies — on the sands of Far Rockaway and I’m pretty OK with it now.

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After the Curve

BY Bob Hardt

“I want to live alone in the desert I want to be like Georgia O'Keeffe I want to live on the Upper East Side And never go down in the street.” – Warren Zevon

It’s been one of the darkest springs in New York City history, with 18,231 residents felled by the coronavirus in March and April. That’s like if everyone at a sold-out crowd for a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden dropped dead in two months. Or, if you follow crime in New York City, think of all of those stories about a particularly gruesome murder that gets plenty of attention in our tabloids. Well, New York City has seen 9,532 people classified as homicide victims – for all of the 21st century.

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A Virus Runs Rampant on Rikers

BY Bob Hardt

How do you safely run a large jail in the time of Coronavirus? In New York City’s case, the sad answer is you don’t.

On any given day, close to 4,000 New Yorkers are being held on Rikers Island – many of them convicted of no crime while awaiting trial. But being behind bars right now in New York City could be a possible death sentence because of Coronavirus.

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A Return to Fun City?

BY Bob Hardt

You totally get a coronavirus pass if you didn’t notice that Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his $89 billion budget last week.

Sure, $89 billion probably sounds like a lot of money, but it’s $3.5 billion less than the city’s current budget. In an age where budgets typically only ever go up, this is already a big deal.

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Gotham City Shall Rise

BY Bob Hardt

“Honey, I’m tougher than the rest.” – Bruce Springsteen

The Coronavirus death toll in New York City is now higher than what we lost on 9/11. It’s higher than what we lost in 1990 – when there were more than five murders a day, mostly because of crack cocaine.

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More Than We Can Bear

BY Bob Hardt

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. – T.S. Eliot

It would have been just another quiet early spring night in the neighborhood if it weren’t for the surgical gloves on my hands.

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Citizen Bloomberg

BY Bob Hardt

When Michael Bloomberg was a nine-year-old boy in Massachusetts, his spiritual godfather died 3,000 miles away in a Beverly Hills mansion with his longtime mistress by his side.

One of the richest and most powerful men in the world, William Randolph Hearst built a media empire across the country and then tried to leverage it into winning the hearts of voters. Serving two terms as a New York Congressman, Hearst couldn’t get further, losing two races for mayor and one for governor. And long before there were presidential caucuses or primaries, there were smoke-filled rooms where Hearst was unable to push his name forward with Democratic fixers as a presidential or vice presidential candidate.

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A Terrifying Viral Moment

BY Bob Hardt

We’re officially in a real-life scary movie today as a deadly virus has found its way to New York City while the nation’s political elite is in full Bickersons mode.

It’s less of a statement about the power of Michael Bloomberg than the weakness of Donald Trump when the former mayor purchases three minutes of prime-time TV last night and almost sounds like Jonas Salk compared to Vice President Mike Pence – at least when it comes to Coronavirus.

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Bloomberg Steps Over a Low Debate Bar

BY Bob Hardt

Don't call it a comeback.

While he'll never sound like Pericles (unless there's a Pericles from Medford), Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday night gave a debate performance that showed he can actually defend himself when he's attacked rather than looking like someone who took a vow of non-violence before his first debate in Las Vegas.

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Don’t Break Our Ballot Box

BY Bob Hardt

It’s lucky that the Nevada Democratic presidential caucuses weren’t that close.

More than 24 hours after voters in the Silver State headed home, less than 90 percent of the actual vote had been counted. Maybe that doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but if Bernie Sanders had been stuck in a dogfight with Joe Biden instead of trouncing him, we’d likely be reliving the uncertainty of the Iowa caucuses where both Sanders and Pete Buttigieg were calling themselves the winner for days.

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Bloomberg's Disastrous Debate Date

BY Bob Hardt

If it was a fight, Michael Bloomberg might have been saved by the bell in Las Vegas.

Looking every bit like a rusty fighter who hadn't been in the ring in more than a decade, the former New York City mayor struggled mightily in his first presidential debate as five more-seasoned rivals swung away at him, hitting him with questions about policing, lawsuits by former employees, and his immense wealth.

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The Mayor Gets Berned in Nevada

BY Bob Hardt

It’s Bill de Blasio’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” moment – he finally gets to share the stage with Bernie Sanders, only to get a little laryngitis.

Despite his faltering voice, de Blasio made the trip to Nevada over the weekend to try to talk up his endorsement of Sanders in advance of the Democratic caucuses there this Saturday. Whether voters in Reno know anything about the current mayor of New York City apparently isn’t the point when a former mayor of New York City is gaining steam in the polls. Even if he’s muzzled and a little muted, de Blasio sounds like he wants to be Sanders’ attack dog when it comes to Michael Bloomberg.

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A Tale of Two Mayors

BY Bob Hardt

If you had just beamed down from the planet Neptune and turned on the television, you might be confused by a new campaign ad that features Barack Obama and a man who apparently was his vice president for eight years, Michael Bloomberg.



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A Tax on Both Your Houses

BY Bob Hardt

We interrupt your Monday-morning reflections about the Super Bowl, impeachment, and the Iowa presidential caucuses to tackle a far-sexier topic: property taxes.

Wait, hear me out! If you’re really concerned about inequities in society and thoughtfully nod along with the mayor whenever he starts talking about “a tale of two cities,” there’s no better place to start than looking at how hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers pay property taxes on their homes, apartments and condos.

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Gone Daddy Gone

BY Bob Hardt

Quick, it’s pop quiz time: can you name the last five people who ran the city’s subways?

If you were able to come up with a name besides Andy Byford, you probably deserve a MetroCard made of real gold rather than a plastic one. And while even Byford was hardly a household name in New York City, there’s a fair chance that plenty of straphangers could actually identify him if he strolled through their subway station. (And odds are that he had at some point.)

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Please Stay

BY Bob Hardt

Devoting a Martin Luther King Day speech in Harlem to telling people to go back to where they come from was a curious decision by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who all but turned into a one-man lightning rod after his appearance at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Speaking about gentrification, Adams let loose on newcomers who – in his mind – aren’t interested in saying hello to their neighbors or supporting longtime local businesses.

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ABOUT BOB
Bob Hardt

In the NY1 Political Buzz, Political Director Bob Hardt shares his analysis and opinions on the week in city politics.

Hardt has been a fixture at the 24-hour news channel since 2003, overseeing NY1's coverage of state and local politics. 

He supervises the production of Inside City Hall, NY1's nightly hour-long news and opinion program. He also has planned coverage of major events at NY1, including its mayoral debates and the presidential conventions.

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