nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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When primary doesn’t mean school

In the UK the word primary usually gets associated with he word school. When I was a kid I went to primary school from age 5 to 11, then I went to secondary school until age 18. Here in NY primary schools are called elementary schools, then kids go to middle school and then on to high school.

The only reason I think of this today is because it’s primary election day today. This means that a load of candidates are trying to get the nomination for their party to stand for the real election in a few months time. Here in New York City that means a lot of people are vying to get the democratic nomination for various spots on the State government, including the Assembly, the Senate and a number of other posts I don’t really understand.

This does mean that getting down the street is quite hard without being assailed by a leaflet toting campaigner who thrusts leaflets at you. I’ve given up telling them I can’t vote, it’s just too much hassle, so I collect them all, have a bit of a read and discard them. A lot of trees have died for this campaign.


One of the more interesting races is that for the nomination for New York State Governor. Currently, it’s a man called Andrew Cuomo, whose father was also Governor in years gone by. He reminds me of the character played by Chris Noth (previously Mr Big in Sex and the City) in The Good Wife, which is a ridiculous legal based drama that R and I like to watch and laugh at, but secretly like. Mr Cuomo is not quite as handsome as Mr Noth.

Andrew Cuomo has done little to campaign for re nomination and I haven’t seen any campaign posters for the Governor’s race. But he is being opposed by a woman with the best name ever: Zephyr Teachout. She’s a law professor from one of the city’s universities and she’s focusing on anti corruption and drawing attention away from Cuomo. It’s been interesting following her campaign and it’s unlikely she’ll get much of the vote today.

The New York Times was wonderfully sniffy about it all and refused to endorse Cuomo, saying he hadn’t lived up to his promises to sort out corruption in the State Government. But they refused to endorse Teachout because she has no legislative experience. So, we’ll see what happens when the count is over and if Cuomo is tarnished at all. Whatever happens today, New York State will elect a Democrat as Governor, it’s just that kind of state.

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And the winner is…

Bill de Blasio. He will be the 109th Mayor of New York on 1 January 2014. He won by a landslide, with his Republican opponent only scraping a small percentage of the overall vote. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d have even known about the election yesterday, it was so low key around here. R said it was because the Democrat was so likely to get in that it would have been a waste of money to plaster the place with posters. There are 4.3 million voters in New York; 700,000 of them are registered Democrats, so I suppose that makes sense, but even so, there hasn’t been a Democrat mayor in 20 years.

I saw a lonely de Blasio poster out in Queens on Monday and a lot of City Councillor posters locally and that was about it. Public school kids got the day off as their buildings got used as polling stations. R shook hands with Joe Lhota and Rudy Guliani (Mayor before Bloomberg) who were hanging around the subway station in the morning, which was about as exciting as it got.

Here’s today’s newspapers, just to prove it actually happened.


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When Corey was just an 80s teen film star name

Remember Corey Feldman? He was the little boy in the Lost Boys, my favourite vampire film, mostly because of the presence of a young Kiefer Sutherland, but also I just loved vampires when I was a teenager. He also starred alongside the long departed River Phoenix in Stand by Me. The last I heard of Corey he was surrounded by porn stars, but that’s another story. Remember Corey Haim?  He was the other Corey in the Lost Boys, sadly he died back in 2010.

But this post isn’t about them, although it is fun remembering the Lost Boys. No, this post is about Cory (no ‘e’) Booker. Not sure if his fame has spread to the UK, but here in the US and in New York and New Jersey mostly, he is incredibly well known. Cory Booker just got sworn in as one of the two senators for the State of New Jersey. The seat became vacant earlier this year on the death of the long term incumbent, 89 year old Frank Lautenberg.

Why do I care? Well, I have been following his campaign with great interest. Cory Booker was the Mayor of Newark in New Jersey. And like the other Coreys, and me,  is in his early 40s and probably loved the Lost Boys too (I speculate there). Cory Booker doesn’t love vampires (I don’t think, it didn’t come up during the campaign) he loves Twitter.

He has 1.4 million followers. He lives on Twitter and he’s really good at it. I don’t know how he manages to respond to so many tweets, but when he does he comes across as a really decent bloke. He is brave enough to re-tweet all the horrible tweets and respond in such a way he comes out the better for it. I’m not so keen on his quotes from various sources, they can come across as a  bit sanctimonious, but I’ll forgive that.

If I lived in New Jersey, I would have run with him – he did night time runs all over New Jersey with his supporters. If I lived in New Jersey I probably would have donated some cash because he asked me to so many times (I subscribed to his emails). And I was tempted by the Cory Booker For Senate T shirt and the bumper sticker – he knows how to get people interested. He told me each week how much cash he needed and told me that his opponent was horrible, so I needed to give him more cash. I didn’t, but I like the approach: it’s begging but it’s done nicely.

So, here he is on his first day as a senator. Have a look at the link below to a 90 second video  to see what you think of him. Seems like a good bloke, let’s hope he can keep that up in Congress. Oh and by the way, he only gets the seat for a year (he’s finishing Lautenberg’s term and has to stand again to sit for the full six  year term) before he has to go through all this again. I think one Cory Booker for Senate campaign is quite enough for me.

“I will keep working in 2014”

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Got that wrong, then

So, Christine Quinn didn’t win the Democratic primary yesterday. There’s a great map on the New York Times website showing the blast of blue for Bill de Blasio, who won the primary, just, with a smidgen over the required 40 per cent to take the nomination. I am slightly surprised how scattered Quinn’s support is. I am not in the least bit surprised that in the Yorkville area of the Upper East Side she got nowhere as locals vociferously campaigned against her support of the proposed local waste transfer station. And as for Anthony Weiner, he made no friends during his campaign, with just a tiny smattering of pink showing the precincts that didn’t mind his sexting history. Here’s hoping he takes the hint and gives up the idea of public office now.

It’s Bill de Blasio versus Joe Lhota in the elections for New York Mayor on November 5th. Given there are very few Republicans in New York, de Blasio is going to have a nice new job come January. But what will ex Mayor Bloomberg do? Maybe his $27bn fortune will keep him company.

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Levering for votes

You’d think that a sophisticated city like New York would have a sophisticated system for dealing with elections: no pieces of paper folded up and shoved into antiquated boxes in musty church halls here, you’d think. Err, well you’d be wrong.

“Dented, dinged and dated, New York’s battleship-gray lever voting machines have been hauled out of retirement because the city can’t seem to get the hang of electronic voting.”

This is what the New York Times had to say on in its front cover story in today’s newspaper. Machines from the 1960s have been dusted down, lubricated, given some TLC and shunted off to the 1200 voting locations for tomorrow’s primary elections. The primary elections are to decide who gets the Democratic and the Republican nominations for the race for Mayor and the other election in the city (that’s five Borough Presidents, the Public Advocate, the Comptroller and various City Council seats). You cannot escape the candidates and their supporters as you walk around the city, the number of trees that have died because of election literature must be huge!

The Executive Director of the Board of Elections, Michael Ryan – appointed a month ago –  goes on to say on a more cheery note in the same article:

“The machines have all been tested, and they’re functional. I think that there are naysayers in every walk of life, and some people just like to harp on the darker side of life. We’re a lot more optimistic here about this election coming off, and the election coming off successfully.”

Fingers crossed, eh?

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What is he up to now?

Blimey. I thought old Anthony Weiner had got over his leacherous ways, but apparently not. The press here has been all over the confessions of his sometime ‘sexting’ partner, Suzie Leathers – what a great name, it has to be made up. Seems that he created an alias for himself – Carlos Danger (!) so that he could carry on his pervy ways. I’m not sure whether the UK press would have done what the New York Post did here. Through their Twitter account they published the text ‘conversation’ between Carlos and Suzy. They blacked out the rude words, but you didn’t need to think very much to know what they were. It was soft porn for the masses. Apparently he has a thing about high heels. Naturally there has been intense speculation as to whether he can continue in the race to get the Democrats to nominate him as their candidate for the election for Mayor of New York. So far he is still in, but his campaign manager has legged it, but he’s only 31, so I’m sure he’ll be just fine. It’s hardly comforting when your main man clears off a few weeks for the all important primary election on 10 September. I am quite addicted to following Mr Weiner now, shame I can’t vote.

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An all-perv ticket

Ah, what a great headline on the front page of this week’s New York Observer. ‘Dems brace for an all-perv ticket’. This is reference to two politicians here who have recently tried to resurrect their political careers after some rather dodgy behaviour in their recent pasts. Anthony Weiner is a former New York US Representative who resigned after he sent sexually explicit pictures of himself via Twitter to one of his followers. He is now, two years on, trying to get the democratic nomination to become Mayor of New York and giving Christine Quinn a run for her money. He is also interesting because he is married to Huma Abedin, who is a key aide to Hillary Clinton. There was an article in the New York Times Magazine earlier this year about them, which is worth a read, if you’re interested.

And just this week Eliot Spitzer, former Governor of New York, also put his hat into the ring for the race to become Comptroller of New York State (the chief fiscal officer of the state, responsible for pension funds and payroll amongst other things). His controversy stems from 2008 when he had to resign the Governorship after he was found to have a bit of call girl habit “costing him tens of thousands of dollars in legally questionable transfers” according to the New York Observer. I’m not entirely sure that’s a great CV for a finance post. The Huffington Post confirmed that he had got the required number of signatures to get on the ballot for the democratic primary in September, so someone obviously thinks he can do the job. It’s a hilarious part of this year’s elections and I’m sure will have plenty of food for the headline writers as we get closer to voting day.