Capital Playbook: Cuomo does post-disaster rounds

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ON THE SCENE of the Bronx derailment yesterday morning that left four dead and 63 injured were Councilman Oliver Koppell, Rep. Charlie Rangel, M.T.A. chairman Tom Prendergast, and one chief executive: Governor Andrew Cuomo.

One official who was conspicuously absent from the early response: outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is known to decamp to Bermuda on the weekends, and whose location was not disclosed by aides. Bloomberg didn’t appear in the city until hours later, when he arrived unannounced at a Bronx hospital to check on the victims. “What can I do?” Bloomberg asked reporters, saying his role was to make sure the right people were on the scene. “I’m not a professional firefighter or police officer. Nothing I can do.”

Cuomo, who lives in nearby Mount Kisco, arrived on the scene within hours of the accident and went into full disaster-relief mode. The governor makes a point of avoiding the national press, and television interviews generally, but he’ll be on TV three times this morning before 8 a.m.: on the ‘Today’ show, on Fox’s ‘Good Day New York,’ and on CNN. The last time Cuomo appeared on national television was during the response to Hurricane Sandy.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who has been critical of Bloomberg for spending his weekends away, was not on the scene of the derailment. De Blasio will hold a press availability after a lunch meeting with Assembly Democrats. Bloomberg’s schedule does not include a Q-and-A with reporters.



It’s unclear how fast the train was traveling when it jumped the tracks about 100 yards outside the Spuyten Duyvil station. This is the first fatal accident in Metro North’s three-decade history, but it’s the second serious Metro-North derailment since May. Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal said Sunday “riders are losing patience with this railroad and so am I. These severe accidents and service disruptions are unacceptable.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is on the scene investigating. Until the problems are resolved, Metro North service will terminate at Yonkers.

Info on delays and shuttle buses:

--THE FRONT PAGES: Daily News, “DEATH ON THE TRACK” … Newsday, “DEADLY CURVE” … am New York, “DEATH ON THE CURVE” … N.Y. Times, “Commuter Train Accident in the Bronx Kills 4 and Injures Dozens” … (Albany) Times Union, “A rolling nightmare along the river.”

BLOOMBERG’S M.O. – A recollection from Mort Zuckerman, in a Q-and-A with the Washington Post’s Thomas Heath on the front of Sunday’s Business section: “I was on the board for the Institute for Advanced Study. He came on the board after me. … He went to the board, and he said, ‘What are your major issues?’ And there were four or five of them. He said: ‘Just let me handle this one. I’ll get it done within a year.’ Within 11 months, he got the thing done and did it brilliantly, including the fundraising for it. He did everything. Then he said: ‘I’ve made my contribution. I’m going off the board.’”

--WashPost : “Do you ever wish you ran for office?” Zuckerman: “Yes, I do.”

JOHN COLLINS, a campaign spokesman for Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign, is joining Mercury Public Affairs as a senior vice president. Partner Michael McKeon: “He’s whip smart, driven, and he’ll focus on what’s important – delivering effective solutions for our clients.” Collins previously worked for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Rep. Anthony Weiner.

THE DEAL DE BLASIO MIGHT DO – ‘NYC mayor-elect will face immediate fiscal crisis,’ by AP’s Jonathan Lemire: “If de Blasio were to fully acquiesce to the unions [seeking current and retroactive raises], … [a]gency budgets would be slashed … City workers would be laid off. And de Blasio would have little choice but to raise the one tax he can control, the property tax.”

The Times’ editorial board sketches an education plan for de Blasio: Less seniority and inactive teachers, and more flexibility on class time, like charter schools have.

**From the National Retail Federation and #thisisretail: An estimated 131 million Americans will shop online today for Cyber Monday. Here’s what it takes to get all those packages shipped this holiday season. **

HOUSEKEEPING -- Lots happening here at the moment. We’ve relaunched our morning email newsletter as Capital Playbook (tips, news, feedback and corrections,,, please). We’re debuting the new-look TOMORROW And, finally, we’re launching a subscription news service in early 2014; for more information and to get free access, email Lauren Englander at

TODAY: Cuomo will be in New York City, and has scheduled morning interviews on NBC, CNN and Fox 5. At 12:15 p.m., de Blasio has lunch with the Assembly Democratic Conference at 250 Broadway in Manhattan, followed by a Q&A with reporters. Bloomberg will sign legislation at 3 p.m. And Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy is in Toronto today for a business recruitment summit.

Numbers: Members on De Blasio’s Transition Committee: 60; Inauguration Committee: 73.

OFFICE POLITICS -- For rent: Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ campaign office.

Preet Bharara takes the Times on a tour of his office : “I probably uttered something that’s not printable, when it sank in that a guy like me gets to have an office like this.”

PETER KAPLAN, BELOVED EDITOR, FATHER, HUSBAND, 1954-2013 : Most famous for editing The New York Observer for 15 years beginning in 1994, Kaplan, who died Friday evening after a battle with a rare form of lymphoma, was also a mentor to this website. He consulted on the name, encouraged the strategy, looked at the early designs, and helped co-founders Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran through some rough patches early on. He was at one time or another the boss and mentor of Capital staffers Benson, McGeveran, Gillian Reagan, Joe Pompeo, Reid Pillifant, Dana Rubinstein, Peter Lettre, Matt Lynch, and two of us, Azi and Jimmy. Some of the many things we've read about Kaplan that we liked the best:

--NATHAN HELLER , writing on The New Yorker's website: "As the Observer’s longest-serving chief—he edited the paper from 1994 through 2009—Kaplan championed a high-style, low-piety voice that harked to the snappy broadsheets and point-of-view magazines of mid-century … Kaplan’s interests were as broad as his sensibility was narrow, and, for many journalists, his death, at fifty-nine, feels like the last footbridge across the gorge falling away. He believed that even tiny publications could be great if they nurtured a voice and a community …"

--EDMUND LEE , writing for Bloomberg: "Manhattan’s elite -- whom he saw as both his subject and reader … included real-estate billionaires, municipal pols, old-money socialites, restaurateurs, movie stars, investment bankers and, perhaps most critically, the knot of editors, producers and publishers who sat at the helm of some of the most powerful media organizations in the country. In Kaplan’s eyes, they all congregated regularly at the same bars and restaurants. 'You could follow them week-by-week like characters in a 19th-century novel published in weekly installments, showing up, disappearing for a few weeks, returning much changed with a new wife or a business triumph or a nice embezzlement,' [Kaplan once wrote].”

"Kaplan saw the Observer as a necessary alternative to the New York Times’ dominance, and it offered competing interpretations on the city, what Kaplan likened to the catholicity of viewpoints found in the film 'Rashomon.'"

Kaplan is survived by his wife, Lisa Chase, and their son, Davey, as well as his previous wife Audrey Walker and their children Caroline, Charles and Peter Walker, as well as his brothers Robert and James, and legions of reporters and editors.

KAPLAN'S FUNERAL tomorrow morning is expected to be packed with New York media of every rank and file. All are said to be welcome. 10 a.m. at the Larchmont Temple, 75 Larchmont Ave., Larchmont, N.Y.

DAVID CARR reports New York magazine switch on A1 today: Six weeks ago, when Keith Kelly reported that New York magazine was considering a switch to biweekly publication (read it here:, executives suggested it was a seasonal intellectual exercise and not much more. Well, 'tis the season: Via David Carr's weekly 'Media Equation' column the magazine has announced its new strategy of publishing 26 issues per year, plus three special theme issues. It is said the move will save over $3 million in annual operating costs, money which will be poured back into the publication on the digital side. Expect the new magazine to look 50 percent more like Vanity Fair, with fewer thingamabobs like the Approval Matrix that rely on fast action in the news cycle to generate knowing laughter, and more thousand-foot dives on the topics New York is known for covering: media, celebrity and institutional intrigue.

GILLIBRAND BLASTS HAGEL -- Senator says Defense secretary hasn’t done enough on sexual assault -- POLITICO Magazine’s Glenn Thrush: “He has not shown leadership… I think he has not lived up to his promises, the promises of having the passion and the drive for rooting out the scourge of sexual violence,” Gillibrand tells Thrush. “I don’t think that he has lived up to my expectations.” Gillibrand provided key support for Hagel’s confirmation, along with senior senator Chuck Schumer, who isn’t quoted (or even mentioned) in Thrush’s story.

Gillibrand is still short of the 60 votes she needs for her reforms, and her Hagel comment ratchets up the rhetoric, which could be a signal to other senators that she’ll be unsparing against opponents. Some male senators are already worried a ‘no’ vote could be used to paint them as anti-women. Gillibrand pitched her military reforms on Univision’s ‘Al Punto’ on Sunday:

DICKER QUESTIONS CHRISTIE -- Post columnist pushes governor to line up behind Cuomo challenger: “Christie already has a problem with many Republicans refusing to forgive him because of his embrace of [President] Obama and his socially liberal policies,’’ said a nationally prominent G.O.P. operative.

BOOKER LAYS LOW -- Keeps quiet, focuses on fund-raising, and turns to Schumer -- POLITICO’s Manu Raju and Burgess Everett: “Twice recently, Booker has sat down for separate 30-minute sessions to pick Schumer’s brain on how to navigate the arcane and clubby Senate. … ‘He’s made up his mind: He’s going to learn how the Senate works. And he’s doing a good job of it,’ Schumer said. ‘He’s the type of person who welcomes advice.’” Booker, a prodigious fund-raiser, is already being mentioned for Schumer’s old post as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “He certainly is a big draw,” Schumer said.

ANTI-CORRUPTION REPORT COMING— Newsday’s Yancey Roy: The commission is scheduled to report to Cuomo Sunday, and Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he expects the recommendations to be made public Monday or Tuesday. Lawmakers aren't slated to return to Albany until January to kick off the 2014 legislative session, but the governor could call them back at any time if there's a deal. Conversely, Cuomo has threatened to use the issue against lawmakers in next year's statewide elections -- a signal that he may view a fight with the legislature as a good political move.

Just before Thanksgiving, Senate Republicans cut a deal with the commission in which they agreed to answer a narrowed subpoena for records at their political committee. Cuomo crowed that this undercut their resistance to requests related to legislators’ outside income, but the Senate and Assembly are holding firm.

Ken Lovett reports that “In an unusual move, multiple sources say a number of Cuomo appointees to the panel, at the urging of top aides to the governor, were considering Sunday submitting a dissenting opinion to the public financing recommendation. One source said Cuomo is hoping he can shut down the commission by getting the Legislature to agree to its other recommendations, allowing the governor to argue that even the panel was split over public financing. … A Cuomo source denied any involvement.”

HAPPENING THIS WEEK -- "Madoff's right-hand man ready to take the stand," by AP's Tom Hays: "The way Frank DiPascali tells it, [his longtime employer] Bernard Madoff planted the seeds of deception for his $17 billion Ponzi scheme back in the 1970s, when his firm was in a small office at 110 Wall Street. Madoff 'would very loudly proclaim' that he had made a killing on an investment in Europe ... DiPascali ... began to suspect the words were calculated to give the impression the business was 'somehow backed up by his deals and investments overseas.' Whether Madoff's inner circle actually believed that lie or not has become central to a trial in federal court in Manhattan in which DiPascali is the government's star witness."

NOW YOU KNOW: “A cop-turned-rabbi is on a quest 2 toughen up city Jews being targeted by 'knockout' thugs.”

SPEED TRAPS: Southampton collects the most traffic fines of any municipality in New York

TWITTER QUESTION: Sandra Lee wonders, “Which dress should I wear to Andrew’s bday party Tuesday night?”

THE HOME TEAMS -- Capital’s Howard Megdal: Pelicans 103, Knicks 99: The Knicks were at home, facing a mediocre Pelicans team, whose best player, Anthony Davis, broke his hand and left in the first half. They still lost. The Nets are basking in the glow of Saturday night's 97-88 win over the Grizzlies, a win that did not require Jason Kidd to spill anything. Dolphins 23, Jets 3: No Dan Marino trick play required. Giants 24, Redskins 17: Rallying to stay in the picture.

#UpstateAmerica -- “Watertown, however, has since added remote-control aircraft and, earlier this month, OK'd shooting the crows as well.”

**From the National Retail Federation and #thisisretail: Retail is about more than providing consumers with great products. Retailers hire more finance employees than Wall Street; more engineers than Silicon Valley; and a whole lot of creative minds like photographers, web designers, marketers and writers. From product donations and monetary aid in the wake of natural disasters to company-branded social responsibility programs and volunteer initiatives, retail companies and their employees give back and bring people together like it’s their business. And retailers drive innovation daily— paving the way for quicker access to product, smarter shopping through mobile, and better customer experience overall. Why? Because their customers demand it.

Opportunities within the industry are endless. Don’t believe us? Check this out.

Think you know retail? Think again. **