Weiner's ideas: beat-cop cameras, marijuana reform, not talking about Boston Weiner
Anthony Weiner wants to try putting lapel cameras on police officers as they patrol their beats. He wants to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, end helicopter rides over the city, and bring back "the Barnes Dance."
Weiner, whose standard response to questions about his behavior is to talk about talking about ideas, unveiled 61 new policy ideas on Monday afternoon, to a relatively calm crowd of reporters at the breezy Gantry Plaza State Park on the Queens-side of the East River.
By Weiner's standards, it was a relatively low-key appearance. Reporters flipped through stapled copies of his new booklet, titled "Even More Keys to the City," copies of which were handed out by his communications director, Barbara Morgan, just before his arrival. A few non-reporters walked up and watched quietly during the event.
Weiner embarked on another round of local T.V. interviews on Friday of last week, hoping to air out all the scandal-related questions before the weekend.
Today, most of the questions were about the booklet.
Asked about the police cams, Weiner said, "This is a way to protect police officers from false accusations, to document the exchanges they have, to help have a training. It's not unprecedented. There are police departments all around the country that do it. It's not expensive. Small recordable cameras are relatively inexpensive items at this point and they're getting cheaper every single day."
Asked about the potential opposition from police unions, he said, "I'm not trying to do things that I think are going to be easy, and I'm not trying to do things that I think are gonna have a 100 percent consensus, but I think it's a problem solving document and that's what I want it to be viewed as."
There were questions about his proposal to lessen the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unsuccessfully tried to change at the state level.
"I can tell my police officers and my police commissioner, that's not a priority for my administration," Weiner said, adding that it "damages lives, and very rarely do you catch a master criminal that way."
There was one question about how he'd wring money from the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transit Authority to put cameras in subway stations.
"The M.T.A. is one of the least responsive, most moribund organizations that there is, because of the lack of accountability," he said. "This is something that if I'm running against Joe Lhota in November, he's going to have to answer for. But I think the matter of resources is not the biggest problem. Cameras are not like laying new tracks or building new stations. They're relatively inexpensive, and considering we have fewer station agents, I believe it's imperative."
There was also a question about whether Idea 78, to end helicopter rides over New York City, was a shot at Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"He'll still be able to do it, he'll just have to follow the waterways," Weiner said.
Weiner parried questions about his recent scandal, telling New York Post reporter Beth DeFalco when she began to ask about it, "Let me just do people who are following the campaign seriously," as he fielded several more about his ideas booklet.
"I'm following it very seriously," she replied as he proceeded to call on someone else.
The roll-out for Weiner's second booklet, staged as his candidacy is listing from a new round of revelations about his personal behavior, seemed to go more smoothly than the first one, which he unveiled in an interview with a reporter from the New York Times, only to grow exasperated when the reporter asked him questions about it.
At today's event, the Post reporter objected when Weiner called on someone else first during the off-topic portion of the press conference.
"This man was next," said Weiner.
"No," she said to the other reporter as they tried to ask their questions at the same time. "Do you mind? I'm not getting any questions in because he doesn't want to take questions from the Post."
"He'll probably go to you next," said the other reporter.
"Good call," said Weiner, who responded to that reporter's question by saying that he didn't have any comment on Boston's Anthony Weiner, before calling, as promised, on DeFalco.
"So, you went to a campaign event earlier today and nobody asked you any questions at the event, but they did want to take pictures with you, because they seemed to look at you as ... a celebrity," she said. "How do you resolve that with the fact that you're saying that voters only want to talk about your ideas. They obviously don't."
"You somehow have divined what citizens want when they talk to me," Weiner said. "I'll leave it to them to tell me what they want."
Later on, there was a question about Sydney Leathers, the latest woman to come forward as an online paramour of Weiner's, and who apparently released a pornographic video today and has promised to confront him on the campaign trail.
"I'm going to keep talking about these things, you in the press have to decide what you talk about," Weiner said. "Thank you very much."