Weiner on Housing Crisis and a Cranky Mayor

For a guy who put his would-be race for mayor on hold weeks ago, Anthony Weiner is busier than ever these days. Last week he was getting the Jets to change their schedule so it didn't conflict with Jewish high holidays this fall. This afternoon the topic was the city's housing crisis which he addressed at a small, rain-swept press conference outside a senior citizens' housing complex on the Bowery in the East Village.

Weiner and David Hanzel, policy analyst for the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development, cited new census data showing that some 27 percent of New Yorkers are now paying more than half of their income in rent. In the Bronx, one of every three residents is paying 50 percent of their take home pay, said Weiner. He called on the federal government to provide more Section 8 assistance for low income families, along with other subsidy programs.

"This is startling proof that New York is becoming more and more a difficult place to live," said the congressman.

Which sounded like a shot at his would-be opponent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hence a question was asked about a different topic: What did Weiner think about today's Times' report that Bloomberg has yet to pick up the phone to push his pals in the Republican state senate to help reach a solution on the looming MTA fare hike?

"I saw that," said Weiner. "He is doing I think the expedient thing by avoiding a tough issue."

Weiner then questioned who was pushing whom in Bloomberg's newest political relationship: "The thing that is puzzling to me is that now he should theoretically have some clout with the Republicans. My head is a little spun around on who influences who, whether it's the party influencing him or the other way around. I would think he would have some influence over that party, as a major contributor and now as their standard bearer."

Weiner also didn't like what he saw in last week's glare-down by Bloomberg after disabled journalist Michael Harris's tape recorder inadvertently disrupted a press conference on the governor's new gay marriage bill.

"Look, I think it was an unfortunate and uncomfortable thing to watch. I didn't think the reaction was appropriate and I called Michael and told him so."

Did he think the mayor was getting cranky?

"Getting?" responded the congressman, leaning forward, eyebrows arched.

He quickly shifted gears. "I don't have a close enough relationship with him to know what his mood is these days."

Weiner added that he expects to make a final announcement about his decision to challenge Bloomberg in the last week of May. 


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