Subscribe: News from WNYC New York Public Radio
http://feeds.wnyc.org/wnyc/newsarticles
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
blasio  campaign  city  debate  mta  new york  new  people  percent  schumer  state  students  time  trump  wnyc  york 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: News from WNYC New York Public Radio

WNYC News



The latest articles from WNYC News



Last Build Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:48:38 -0400

 



The Wheels on the Bus...Go. Really. Slowly.

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:48:38 -0400

WNYC's We The Commuters project is all about buses this week, and Kathy from New Paltz kicked things off on Monday with this summary of her commute into the city:

"It's almost like a family. You get to see the same people quite frequently, and it's a very comforting environment."

Does anyone say that about MTA buses?

We went to find out, and came away with a strong "no."

At the B4 stop on the corner of New Utrecht Avenue and Bay Ridge Parkway on Tuesday morning, a hospital worker named Stefanie has been waiting since 8:15 a.m.

"Usually I'm waiting for like 20 minutes," she told WNYC. Sometimes she takes a cab, since "it costs me more to wait than to actually get to work on time." The bus arrived at 8:40 a.m.

Outside City Hall later that morning, advocates and members of the State Assembly were rallying behind a letter, written by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx, calling for improved bus service.

"Buses in New York City have average speeds of seven miles an hour," the letter says, "and in more congested areas like Midtown Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn and Jamiaca, Queens, they average a mere four miles per hour."

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, whose district around Flushing, Queens, has no subway stations, told WNYC that there is a way to speed up the buses.

"A bus pulls up to the intersection," and with a Transit Signal Priority system in place, she says, the traffic light "will give them a ten-second or five-second start, before traffic. We've seen that be successful in the Jamaica-to-Flushing line in getting people moving."

Do you have ideas for speeding up the buses? Let us know on Twitter using #WeTheCommuters, or join our Facebook group and leave a comment.

The Wheels on the Bus...Go. Really. Slowly.


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170823_cms790715_pod.mp3




In an Angry Speech, Trump Defends His Charlottesville Comments

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 04:51:50 -0400

President Donald Trump opened his political rally in Phoenix with calls for unity and an assertion that "our movement is about love." Then he erupted in anger. He blamed the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest organized by white supremacists. And he shouted that he had "openly called for healing, unity and love" in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and had simply been misrepresented in news coverage. He read from his three responses to the racially charged violence - getting more animated with each one. He withdrew from his suit pocket the written statement he'd read the day a woman was killed by a man who'd plowed a car through counter-protesters, but he skipped over the trouble-causing part that he'd freelanced at the time - his observation that "many sides" were to blame. That, as well as his reiteration days later that "both sides" were to blame for the violence that led to the death of Heather Heyer and two state troopers, led Democrats and many Republicans to denounce Trump for not unmistakably calling out white supremacists and other hate groups. "You know where my heart is," Trump told the crowd of thousands shoehorned into the Phoenix convention center. "I'm only doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are." Well after his appearance had ended, Trump sent a tweet on his Twitter account saying: "Not only does the media give a platform to hate groups, but the media turns a blind eye to the gang violence on our streets." Trump's broadside against the media, and the "fake news" he says is out to get him, was one of several detours he took from his prepared remarks at a rally where he was introduced by Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers appealing for unity and healing. The president unabashedly acknowledged that his own advisers had urged him to stay on message, and that he simply could not. He said he'd aimed to avoid "controversy" by not immediately pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is awaiting sentencing in Arizona after his conviction in federal court for disobeying court orders to put a stop to his immigration patrols. But he left little doubt he wanted to do it. "I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine," said Trump. And he skewered both of Arizona's Republican senators, insisting that his coy refusal to mention their names showed a "very presidential" restraint. He said his aides had begged him, "Please, please Mr. President, don't mention any names. So I won't." Yet he'd clearly described Sen. John McCain as the reason Congress didn't repeal and replace the much-maligned Affordable Care Act, and he labeled Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake as "weak" on borders and crime. As for how he would assist with the upcoming Herculean tasks facing Congress - passing tax reform, raising the debt ceiling, and agreeing on a budget - Trump offered little detail. He did threaten that if legislators force a government shutdown "we're building that wall," a reference to his campaign promise to close off the border with Mexico. In the comfort of his most fervent fans, Trump often resurrects his free-wheeling 2016 campaign style, pinging insults at perceived enemies such as the media and meandering from topic to topic without a singular theme. This was Trump's eighth rally since taking office in January, and each event is attended by supporters screened by his campaign. His comfort-level was apparent: As he discussed his responses to Charlottesville, he interrupted himself. "I didn't want to bore you. You understand where I'm coming from. You people understand." Outside the rally, the divisiveness seen across the country was on display. One man on a loudspeaker said the largely Latino protesters belong in the kitchen. A Trump opponent hoisted a sign depicting the president with horns. A day of noisy but largely peaceful protests turned unruly after his speech, as police fired pepper spray at crowds after someone apparently lobbed rocks and bottles at officers. Trump is on a two-day tri[...]



Five Things to Watch in Tonight's Mayoral Debate

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Democratic challenger Sal Albanese will go head-to-head for 90 minutes at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. WNYC will broadcast the event live on air (93.9 FM and 820 AM) and stream the video on this page.

Here are five things to watch for:

When Sal goes low, can Bill go high? (h/t Michelle Obama)

Albanese enters the debate lagging severely in the polls and the money race. Expect him to come out swinging: he will take aim at issues big and small — from the mayor’s punctuality (or lack thereof) to allegations of a pay-to-play culture at City Hall. For Albanese, who's in his fourth bid for mayor, it’s all about gaining traction and raising his own visibility.

For Mayor de Blasio, the debate will be a test of whether he can take the high road, or if he feels compelled to strike back. As the incumbent, he has accomplishments he can tout. But de Blasio isn’t afraid to spar if he perceives someone is taking a cheap shot. Can de Blasio defend himself without going overboard, or will Albanese bring him down into the mud?

How do they compare their records?

Both men have served in public office, both representing Brooklyn. Albanese was the City Council member for Bay Ridge and surrounding areas for 15 years starting in 1983. De Blasio occupied Park Slope's Council seat from 2002 through 2009, with a four-year stint as public advocate before being elected mayor in 2013.

Albanese made his name as a reformer, pushing campaign finance reform and higher salaries for city workers. But he left elected office 20 years ago and has worked in the private sector since. How will Albanese's record of public service hold up against the mayor's?

What’s their vision for the next four years?

In the 2013 campaign, de Blasio pledged to end "The Tale of Two Cities.” In 2017, the campaign’s new tag line is “This Is Your City.” Over the coming four years, de Blasio has vowed to remain focused on fairness and affordability. The debate will be a chance to lay out what that promise will mean for New Yorkers across an array of policy matters, from education to criminal justice.

Albanese presents himself as the populist alternative to de Blasio. His slogan, "Let's Make a Better New York," implies that de Blasio's New York is not good enough. He has proposals for housing, small business, education, public safety, political reform, transportation and animal care. This will be his prime-time chance to make his case that his ideas are better.

Who wins the room?

The debate viewers at Symphony Space will be the first to offer their reaction to the press covering the event. The impressions they share will help shape the coverage over the next three weeks and determine which candidate comes out a winner on Sept. 12. Debate moderators generally tell the audience to refrain from applause. But debates often have at least one moment where the audience spontaneously erupts — and that outburst will likely aid one candidate and hurt the other.

Who owns the Twitterverse?

It’s not just the candidates who will be working hard tonight. Their campaign teams, surrogates and supporters will be on Twitter framing and fact-checking what they hear. If a candidate makes a gaffe, or there is standout moment, it will take on second and third lives in 140 characters. And this may be the only exposure some voters have to the candidates.

 

Five Things to Watch in Tonight's Mayoral Debate


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170822_cms790643_pod.mp3




Feds Say They Won't Prosecute Cops Who Killed Harlem Man In 2012

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:07:40 -0400

Federal prosecutors said they won't prosecute officers involved in the 2012 fatal shooting of an immigrant from Guinea. The decision ends his family's five year struggle to hold police criminally accountable.

Police shot Mohamed Bah, a student and taxi driver, after his mother called 911 for help when her son was experiencing a mental breakdown.

Relatives and community activists have held vigils and rallies for years to pressure prosecutors. On Tuesday, they gathered in front of the Lower Manhattan offices of US Attorney Joon Kim and waited for Hawa Bah, Mohamed's mother, to return from her meeting with federal prosecutors. They held up signs that called for justice, prayed and sang, "We will not forget you Mohamed Bah."

After the meeting with prosecutors, Bah looked distraught and upset.

"I want everyone to imagine what happened to me today. I lost my baby because he got sick and I call an ambulance," she said. "It's not fair. Mohamed never committed a crime."

After Bah called for an ambulance, the police were the first to respond. The NYPD has said officers shot and killed Mohamed after he threatened them with a knife. The family disputes that version of events. The only eyewitnesses were the police. Prosecutors said they considered evidence that included interviews with NYPD officers, vests worn by officers that had slash marks, and an autopsy report. In the end, they concluded it wasn't enough to prove officers acted deliberately and with intent.

"Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence, nor bad judgement is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation," the US Attorney's Office wrote in a statement. 

Bah's attorney, Debra Cohen, said that she hoped a pending civil case would provide the family with some sense of justice.

"We will hope in the trial that the truth will come out," Cohen said. "And hopefully some long-lasting legacy for Mohamed Bah, which is a change in this system which is killing vulnerable innocent people in their homes."

The civil trial is expected to begin this November.

Feds Say They Won't Prosecute Cops Who Killed Harlem Man In 2012


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170822_cms790684_pod.mp3




NYC Students 'Outgain' State Peers, But Racial Performance Gap Remains High

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:32:59 -0400

Gains in student test scores were modest, but New York City students in third-through-eighth-grade inched toward higher proficiency in both math and English exams.

  • 40.6 percent of New York City students scored proficient in English and language arts, compared to 39.8 percent of students statewide. (It was a 2.6 point increase from last year, compared to the state's 1.9 point increase).
  • 37.8 percent of New York City students scored proficient in math, compared to 40.2 percent of students statewide. (It was a 1.4 point increase, compared to the state's 1.1 point increase).

“Every time we see progress it convinces us more progress is possible,” Mayor de Blasio said. “We're just at the beginning of an ascent. We're going to go a lot farther with our public schools.”

Student proficiency improved across all racial and ethnic groups in the City, in both subjects. And the mayor said English scores improved in each of the City’s 32 Community School districts, across all five boroughs. But state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia called the racial performance gap "troubling." 

White and Asian students scored about twice as high as black and Latino students in both subjects:

  • About 68 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students scored proficient in math — compared to 59 percent of white students, 33 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives, 25 percent of Hispanic students and 21 percent of black students.
  • 61 percent of Asian and white students scored proficient in English — compared to 37 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives, 30 percent of Hispanic students and 29 percent of black students.

Critics of Mayor de Blasio’s education agenda and the teacher's union, like the pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools, said the mayor “continues to fail the city’s highest-need students." They pointed to gains made by the city’s charter schools.

The group says about 52 percent of public charter school students were proficient in math and 48 percent of were proficient in reading.

“It's long past time for the teachers union and their elected allies to stop stifling the growth of these excellent public schools by disparaging their results and denying them access to public space,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools.

About one in five students across the state didn't take state tests — slightly down from the percentage of students who ‘opted-out’ last year. 

NYC Students 'Outgain' State Peers, But Racial Performance Gap Remains High


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170822_cms790671_pod.mp3




The MTA Is Measuring Delays All Wrong, And They Know It

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:29:10 -0400

The MTA has two main metrics for measuring delays, and neither way captures the rider's experience.

One measure of service is called On Time Performance. Take the L Train, for example, with an On Time Performance score of 91 percent. That measurement looks at how often a train gets to the end of the line within five minutes of it's scheduled arrival time.

The problem is riders don't ride from one end of the line to the other.

The L train is the only line in the system that has Computer Based Train Controls, or electronic signals, which allows the MTA to run more L trains and trains that run closer together. But riders still can't count on getting to work on time. 

"There's frequent trains, but they're just very overcrowded," Williamsburg resident Noel Shirian, 34, said on a recent morning. Even during the summer, when commuters aren't competing with students for space, Shirian let two crowded trains pass. "I'm waiting on a third, hopefully lucky number three will get me there."

The MTA doesn't include how long riders wait on a platform in the vast amount of data it collects on its service. It also doesn't know when someone just gives up entirely.

“Sometimes we get here and people are all the way to the other side of the platform and we just walk right back up," another regular L train rider, Samantha Gordon, said. "We have to get an Uber or figure it out, because it’s just not realistic.”

The MTA has said a better measurement of its service is a convoluted metric called Wait Assessment.

"We believe Wait Assessment is a better reflection of the customer experience," MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco told WNYC.

It sounds like it's a good measurement but the formula suggests otherwise. 

Essentially, Wait Assessment measures whether trains are running at regular intervals, which is what riders need to know; how long until the next train arrives. The problem comes in the way the score is calculated.

Wait Assessment measures how often a train arrives at a station on schedule, plus 25 percent. So if a train is supposed to come every 5 minutes, and it arrives one minute and 25 seconds late, it's considered on time. But if that train is one second over that, it's considered failed. If a train is 20 minutes late it's also failed, but Wait Assessment treats these failures equally. 

Zak Accuardi, a senior program analyst with the think tank Transit Center suggests the MTA measure performance the way they do in London, using a metric called Excess Journey Time.

"This is going to help them improve operationally, it’s going to help the board conduct oversight of the agency," Accuardi told WNYC. "This is going to better reflect the experience that riders have using the system.”

While the MTA continues to assert Wait Assessment is it's best measurement of service, the new MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said one of the first things he wants to do is bring in new service metrics, an MTA spokesperson told WNYC.

And at a recent City Council hearing, MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim admitted the agency needed to do better.

"Everything needs to be reviewed right now. There’s this recognition that the way we’ve been reporting stats don’t really help our customers,” she said.

The MTA declined to say whether Excess Journey Time will be adopted.

The MTA Is Measuring Delays All Wrong, And They Know It


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170822_cms790650_pod.mp3




Listening for Croaks in Staten Island's Greenbelt

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

Once a month since April, a group of volunteers has been hiking through Staten Island’s High Rock Park, listening closely for frog croaks.

The final trip of the season took place last Wednesday, with a group of more than a dozen eager frog-watchers. Before the group set out, they listened to recordings of four different frog species: the gray tree frog, the green frog, the bullfrog, and the spring peeper.

(image)

Monitoring can begin a half-hour after the sun sets, and typically takes place at a lake, swamp, or other waterway. The group makes notes on variables like the time, temperature, and whether it’s rained recently. Then, they listen silently for three minutes. Afterwards, they discuss what they’ve heard, and mark the intensity of the call from 1 to 3. A "1" indicates one call, or croak, at a time. A "3" indicates a continuous chorus.

The walks are part of a national effort to track frog populations, known as FrogWatchUSA. The croak rating system helps researchers determine the prevalence of different species, and allows them to determine if which frogs are on the rise or in decline. For example, the gray tree frog was re-introduced about two miles from here in the 1990s; when the Frog Watch group heard its call earlier this season, members knew the re-introduction was successful.

And the data can help lead to better conservation policy, too.  

“I think the things that caused a lot of the decline in the population since the '70s, you know the habitat loss, the climate change, some of the pollution,” said Jessica Kratz, the coordinator of the Greenbelt Nature Center, which works in partnership of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. “I think things have leveled off and I think people are more mindful."

To hear audio of the group’s final Frog Watch of 2017, click on the player above. 

(image)

 

Listening for Croaks in Staten Island's Greenbelt


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170822_cms790407_pod.mp3




Woodbury Common Sought Monopoly On Bargain Hunting, Investigation Finds

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:50:08 -0400

Woodbury Common in the northern suburbs of New York is such a popular mecca for shoppers, people fly in from around the world to hunt for bargains there.

But New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the mall’s operator crossed a line in an effort to keep the business healthy. An investigation by Schneiderman’s office found that Simon Property Group tried to build a monopoly on outlet shopping. Simon wrote provisions into its leases saying tenants could not open new stores within 60 miles of Woodbury Common.

The text of a settlement with Simon says these provisions "may have prevented a substantial number" of outlets from opening in metro New York, and violated state business laws.

Simon Property Group called the probe “meritless.” The company said the radius provisions have been in place since the 1980s. But the company agreed to modify the radius provisions into its leases, and will pay a penalty of $945,000.

Final Execution AOD 8 21 2017 by Anonymous 52qjOHavD on Scribd

frameborder="0" height="600" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/356865830/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-kKgaiyPjF4saKtcwdUn0&show_recommendations=true" width="100%" class="scribd_iframe_embed" id="doc_61006" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false">

Woodbury Common Sought Monopoly On Bargain Hunting, Investigation Finds


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170821_cms790426_pod.mp3




Let Me Debate! Asks Mayoral Hopeful

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:45:56 -0400

One of the candidates running for mayor in the Democratic primary is criticizing the media sponsors of Wednesday's debate for not being included.

The city's Campaign Finance Board rules say candidates need to have raised and spent $174,225 by August 11 to debate in the primary. Mike Tolkin, a 32 year old entrepreneur, lent his own campaign $175,000 — and then forgave the loan. This led the Finance Board to turn the decision over whether to include Tolkin in the debate to the sponsors, which include NY1 and WNYC.

The sponsors said no, because Tolkin isn't part of the campaign finance program and hasn't really been out on the street campaigning. But Tolkin struck back at a news conference Monday, saying voters need to know their choices.

"It is the responsibility of the media sponsors to ensure that New Yorkers are empowered," Tolkin told reporters.

Tolkin said he's not waging a traditional campaign, but has reached hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers online.

Only two out of five candidates will debate before the Sept. 12 primary: incumbent Bill de Blasio and former council member Sal Albanese. 

Mayoral hopeful Bob Gangi also blasted the campaign sponsors for not letting all candidates in the debate, including those who didn't qualify through the CFB rules.

"The debate sponsors are doing a disservice to New Yorkers by not providing them an opportunity to hear from all candidates who’ve qualified for the primary ballot," he said in a statement. 

Richard Bashner, another Democratic candidate, sent a letter to the CFB Thursday demanding to be included in Wednesday's debate and threatening a lawsuit.

"Unless the number of candidates is unmanageable, all candidates on the ballot should be part of the first debate," the letter said.

On Monday, de Blasio told reporters the debate should go as planned.

"There are very clear rules about how you qualify, and they’re not that onerous in the scheme of things," he said.

"We want candidates who are going to be part of debates to have proven they’re serious candidates, so those rules are in place. The sponsors will figure out how to interpret those rules. Whoever line-up is I will be happy to meet that line-up."

 

Let Me Debate! Asks Mayoral Hopeful


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170821_cms790425_pod.mp3




Christie: I’ll Come to the American Dream Ribbon Cutting as a Private Citizen

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:03:10 -0400

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is acknowledging that one of his big initiatives won't be completed by the time he leaves office next January: the American Dream mega-mall in the Meadowlands.

The development could cost close to $5 billion and is receiving public support – a portion of sales tax receipts will be used to repay bondholders.

Since Christie was first elected, he's made four visits to the vast construction site overlooking the New Jersey Turnpike.

At a rally-style event at the construction site on Monday, there were workers in hard hats. More than 600 of them are now at work on American Dream. There were also leaders from Triple Five, the Canadian Company Christie chose to take on the project after two earlier developers failed to complete the colossal shopping mall. The project was begun in 2003, under then-Governor Jim McGreevey, and was initially known as Xanadu.

When Christie selected Triple Five in 2011, he said there'd soon be lots of jobs and economic activity. But there were so many delays, that a lot of the benefits of American Dream - whatever they may be - will occur under Christie's successors.

“I'm thrilled to come up here as a private citizen at that point and see the results of the hard work this administration has put in with our partners,” Christie said.

 

 

Christie: I’ll Come to the American Dream Ribbon Cutting as a Private Citizen


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170821_cms790417_pod.mp3




NJ Senator's Corruption Trial Has National Implications

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:54:21 -0400

Jury selection is underway in the corruption case of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). If Menendez is forced to resign following the outcome of the trial, voters will not get to choose who fills his seat.

As Jonathan Tamari reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could appoint a Republican to take Menendez's spot in his last few weeks in office. Tamari says this would tilt Congress even further in favor of the Republican majority.

"That would be one more vote for Republicans and, as we saw on health care, that one vote can make a huge difference," Tamari tells WNYC's Richard Hake.

Opening arguments are slated for September 6. Menendez has been charged with fourteen counts of corruption. Prosecutors argue Menendez used his office to give favors to a Florida eye doctor — and political donor — Salomon Melgen. Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud in April.

NJ Senator's Corruption Trial Has National Implications


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170821_cms790406_pod.mp3




Watching New Yorkers Watching the Eclipse

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image)

"That is amazing. That is amazing." This is what our reporters heard over and over again today. "I got my glimpse of history," said one eclipse watcher. "And it was good."  

(image)

Heads up! #Hudson

A post shared by WNYC (@wnyc) on

 

If you're hungry for more quiz, good news: We'll have new ones on the site each day this week. But in the meantime, if you have a Penn Station pro tip that the world needs to know about, please share it on our We the Commuters Facebook group.

Quiz: Are You a Penn Station Pro?


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170814_cms787922_pod.mp3




Chuck Schumer and the Art of Managing Democrats

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

Every vote matters in the Senate, so Minority Leader Chuck Schumer keeps one eye on what the Senate is working on now, and one eye on 2018. That's because 10 members of Schumer's Democratic Caucus are up for reelection in states President Donald Trump won last year — an emerging bloc that he calls "red-state Democrats." It’s a constant balancing act: He has to keep Democrats together, but also let some Senators distance themselves from the party line. Eight months into his tenure as Senate Minority Leader, New York’s Schumer can claim a major victory because he kept his caucus united against GOP plans to repeal Obamacare. But Schumer is constantly managing the two wings of his party. Progressives such as Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts want to take on Trump at every opportunity.  But red-state Democrats have to worry about the consequences of obstruction back home. So Schumer has to think hard about what votes he asks his caucus to take. “It’s absolutely in the forefront of a leader’s mind,” said Adam Jentleson, a former deputy chief of staff to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Schumer's mentor and predecessor as Minority Leader.  "That’s one of those areas where it’s art and not a science, because you might want to say ‘Members should only think about the merits of legislation,' " said Jentleson, now at the Center for American Progress. "But it’s impossible not to think about the politics, because you’re talking about whether your closest colleagues, the people you work with every day, keep their jobs or not. You develop strong bonds with these people you want them to stay around." Every one of  their votes is critical as Democrats challenge Republicans to govern with a slim and divided 52-48 majority. Just look at the health-care debate. One more Republican vote and the Affordable Care Act could have been gone.  Every seat lost next year also makes Schumer’s dream of becoming Majority Leader that much harder to achieve. Democrats are working to reconnect with voters who left for Trump last fall, particularly white, rural and working class voters. Schumer, the top Democrat in Washington, took a group of fellow travelers on a road trip last month to Virginia’s bucolic Shenandoah Valley. Flanked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and top deputies in both houses of Congress, Schumer announced that the party would renew its focus on economic issues like job training and rising prices for food and prescription drugs. “We are here today to tell the people of Berryville, and the working people of America, someone has your back!” Schumer told a small crowd in a local park. The event was a clear signal that Democrats are trying to reconnect with voters who sided with Donald Trump last year. But it was also notable for the people who were not there: None of the ten Senate Democrats who are up for reelection next year in states Trump won. Five of those Senators — Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana — represent states Trump won by at least 15 percentage points. Nevada’s Dean Heller is the only Republican up for reelection next year in a state Hillary Clinton won. But Schumer argued that both red and blue state voters respond to green — economic policies that could mean more money in their pocket. “You will be hearing in future days from a lot of our red-state Democrats," Schumer said. "They have been very much part of this agenda.” Jentleson praised Schumer's leadership, especially keeping his caucus united during this summer's health-care debate. "Keeping 48 very independent-minded Senators, each of whom consider themselves a powe[...]


Media Files:
https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/news/news20170814_cms787871_pod.mp3