Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators Crash City Council's "Stand With Israel" Press Conference

Photos by Anna Merlan
Demonstrators at the City Hall gates
Here's a question: why would the New York City Council and various other local and state politicians decide to wade into the miserable, never-ending, blood-filled dogpile that is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? In what way does a press conference on the Middle East dovetail with the actual business of our elected officials here in New York? Could a press conference called "New York Stands with Israel" possibly serve any other concrete purpose except to be a magnet for controversy? Seriously, how could this possibly end well?

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Watch Bill de Blasio's Inauguration Live Without Having to Leave Your Bed

Screenshot via AP
The de Blasio family at the midnight swearing-in.
Good morning! Sorry. Are we shouting? Good morning. It's New Year's Day, and we imagine you probably need a burger and some Gatorade more than you need to trek down to City Hall and try frantically to score a scalped ticket to Bill de Blasio's sold-out mayoral inauguration.

Luckily, will be livestreaming the whole thing. And if that's still too much trouble, we'll embed the livestream after the jump. It was supposed to go live on the city's website by 10:30, but eventually appeared nearly an hour later. Guess everyone's getting a slow start this morning.

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Michael Bloomberg Blooms with Magical Warmth in Official Portrait, Also Some Kind of Rash, Maybe

Image via NYC Mayor's Office
The mayor and his flat-screen TV shoulder growth.
In a delightful end-of-year surprise to news bloggers across the city, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's official portrait was unveiled this morning at City Hall. You're looking at it. That's it. It's not a joke or an inter-office Photoshop.

In case your browser is blocking the image -- out of good taste, perhaps -- it depicts Bloomberg, arms crossed and some sort of flat-screen TV tumor growing from one shoulder, as the busy City Hall bullpen bustles behind him. His face is flushed with goodwill, or possibly rosacea. His nose appears to be in bloom.

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Melissa Mark-Viverito Is Set to Become the City Council's First Minority Speaker

NYC City Council
Melissa Mark-Viverito, the likely next City Council Speaker.
When the week started, we, the voting public, could only guess who the next New York City Council Speaker would be. There were seven candidates, some more serious than others.

Monday night, though, news broke that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio had put his thumb on the speaker race scale like no NYC mayor had before, lobbying councilmembers to support his choice, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem.

On Tuesday, the city seemed poised for a showdown as Democratic county leaders professed their support for Daniel Garodnick, who represents a chunk of Manhattan's East Side (incidentally, just south of Mark-Viverito's territory). And you couldn't help but wonder whether de Blasio might lose his first political battle as mayor.

But it appeared all over by Wednesday night, when Mark-Viverito essentially declared victory three weeks before the vote. "I know that my fellow members will work with me in the City Council to create a more inclusive legislative body where every member's voice is heard and validated," she said. Attached to the statement was a list of 30 councilmembers supporting Mark-Viverito for speaker.

As long as 26 of them cast their vote for her on January 8, Mark-Viverito, who is Puerto Rican, will become the first person of color to serve as New York City Council Speaker.

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Facing Eviction Tomorrow, Hurricane Sandy Evacuees Living In Hotels Say They Won't Go Without a Fight

Anna Merlan
Cherell Manuel, one of 300 Sandy evacuees the city is trying to evict from her hotel
Since May, New York City officials have been trying to evict over 300 people from the hotels where they've been staying for nearly a year, after becoming homeless during Hurricane Sandy. The city says the hotel program has cost $73 million in FEMA funds so far and that now that FEMA has stopped reimbursing the city, they can't afford to shoulder the cost on their own. The Sandy evacuees will have to go into homeless shelters.

But at a press conference Friday on the steps of City Hall organized by New York Communities for Change, a couple dozen of those evacuees made it clear they weren't going anywhere without a fight. "They act like we asked to be here," says Cherell Manuel, 46, formerly of Far Rockaway. She and her four children have been at the Manhattan at Times Square Hotel for the past three months, their third hotel this year. "We're victims of a devastation."

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Mayoral Hopeful John Catsimatidis Picks Up Democratic Firm For Election

The man who calls himself the candidate "for Harlem and for Wall Street" while praising Romney's fondness for oil a few months ago is on the hunt for great PR. And, as a Republican with tons of money in New York, he's decided to pull a move straight out of the Bloomberg campaign playbook.

Leave it to billionaires to fully embrace the whole "a friend of an enemy is a friend" idea.

According to Politicker, Gristedes founder and City Hall contender John Catsimatidis has employed an oddly-titled firm called Millennial Strategies LLC, which specializes in Democratic candidates (and '90s nostalgia?). Mr. Catsimatidis is the only Republican client they've hired but, apparently, the firm's partner has known the grocer for some time.

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Will Adolfo Carrion Get On The Republican Primary Ballot? It's Now Very Possible

Last week, we told you about the introduction of former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion as this upcoming mayoral race's third party presence. Chosen by the Independence Party, Mr. Carrion had made it clear that he was gunning for both Republican and Democratic support. And one of the ways he would do this was by attempting to get on the Republican primary ballot.

In that original story, it was stated that Mr. Carrion needed the support of three Republican county chairmen to make this happen and that seemed an unlikely case. The City's GOP affiliate was not about to let this ex-Democrat walk right onto the ballet. But, of course, like with any good political event, things can change like that (snaps finger).

Yesterday, Capital NY reported that Robert Scarmadella, Staten Island's Republican head, had stepped down from office. He was a firm supporter of Joe Lhota's candidacy and refused to let Mr. Carrion enter the race. With him out, the probability of having this third party candidate on the GOP ballot in a few months just got turned up a notch - a threat that should not settle well with anyone over at the Lhota camp.

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Who's Bros With Who? City Council Candidates Rep Their Friends Lists

ari kagan.jpg
As City Council contenders gear up for the race to City Hall, they want to make sure we know that they have lots and lots of friends. Because only popular kids are allowed to eat at the City Council table, right?

Ari Kagan, currently the district leader of Brooklyn, recited names from his Facebook friends list to Politicker, stating, "I'm very happy to have the support of so many of my friends like Hakeen Jeffries, you know like Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, he calls me 'bro.' We ran together and we're close, close, close friends and I believe he is rising star in Brooklyn politics. ... I'm very close to Senator Diane Savino, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Councilman David Greenfield and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny."

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Council To New York City Housing Authority: Where Is Our Money?

The City Council wants answers: What has the New York City Housing Authority done with $65.4 million?

This afternoon City Council held an oversight hearing, which typically do not take place during the summer, to receive an update from the New York City Housing Authority on how it has allocated funds to install security systems in public housing.

NYCHA is the largest public housing system in the nation, with over 178,000 units and 400,000 residents.

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Cops Reflect on Stop-and-Frisk Pressures, Racial Profiling

Ian Culley
This week in the Voice, we talk to current and former law enforcement officers who have actually faced stop-and-frisk themselves when they are off-duty, walking home in their neighborhoods or driving around the city in their cars. These retired and active cops say that stop-and-frisk is such a common experience for young black and Latino men in New York City, that it's almost inevitable that men of color are stopped and questioned by a cop at some point -- even if they are officers.

With stop-and-frisk an increasingly hot topic in the news lately -- and an important battleground for the 2013 mayoral hopefuls trying to secure minority votes -- we thought we'd bring you some reflections on the policy and its implementation from some New York Police Department officers who actually conduct the stops.

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