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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Middle Class Strong: DE BLASIO aide assesses blame for homelessness -- SUSANNE CRAIG to City Hall -- GLADWELL's blurbstorm

12/17/2015 07:00 AM EDT

By Azi Paybarah in Manhattan, Jimmy Vielkind in Albany, and Mike Allen in D.C., with Daniel Lippman

TIMES SHUFFLE: New York Times Albany bureau chief Susanne Craig will soon be leaving her post at the Capitol to lead the paper's coverage of City Hall, several people briefed on the Times' plans told POLITICO. A Pulitzer Prize finalist who previously covered Wall Street, Craig arrived in Albany late in 2013, and was the lead byline on a July, 2014 story about the Cuomo administration's interactions with its ostensibly independent Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. Craig will replace Michael Grynbaum, who announced on Twitter that he is leaving the paper's City Hall bureau after five years to cover television. Craig did not comment; Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson said in a brief phone interview that he expects to make an announcement today. -- Jimmy Vielkind

@grynbaum: "Some news! After 5 years & 2 mayors (one tall, one short), I am bidding farewell to City Hall to cover TV for the NYT's media desk".

LONG READS -- WNYC has a three-part series, following one family "as it negotiates its way through New York City's multi-million dollar anti-homelessness program." http://goo.gl/EqcUG2 #LongWayHome

WORTH THE CLICK - "Haunting photos of the deadly Metro-North crash" -- 13 pix http://bit.ly/1YmznAF

TABS -- News: "DIALLO COP MAKES SGT. Rev. Al calls promotion 'disgraceful'" -- Post: "STALKING SLASH: 'Surgical' attack on girl in Queens" -- amNY: TRANSIT TURF WAR" -- Metro: "GRAY AREA: After a hung jury in the manslaughter prosecution of a cop in the Freddie Gray case, New York defense attorneys questioned Baltimore prosecutors' tactics." -- HAMODIA: "Hung Jury in Baltimore" and "Agudah: Ramapo Report 'Undermines' Democratic Process" -- Epoch Times: "Fed Finally Raises Interest Rates, Citing Improved Economy: Move ends seven-year run of near-zero borrowing rates" -- El Diario [translated]: #NYPD: The police seek to serve

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 1-col. below the fold: "Deal Alters Way New York State Isolates inmates" -- WSJNY, 2-col. above the fold: "New York State Moves to Curtail Use of Solitary"

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I have to give Donald Trump credit because his Riverside Boulevard [building], you don't know who's affordable and who's market." -- Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, via Post's Amber Sutherland: http://goo.gl/ZV2ZHM

ASSESSING DE BLASIO -- News' Harry Siegel: "Approaching the mayor's halfway mark, three conflicting things are clear: New Yorkers don't think much of de Blasio's New York, they're stuck with him and he's delivering on his key promises. ... This column and paper have spent a lot of time whacking away at de Blasio, who's a preening, pompous and thin-skinned operator - one whose arrogance considerably exceeds his self-proclaimed "historic" accomplishments, which often pay dividends most immediately to his political allies.

"He's a hectoring windbag who sets insanely high bars for himself, then whines when he's held to them. And one who's built his career as an elected official on using his family as political props. ... What de Blasio does have, crucially, is solid support from core Democratic primary voters (63% of all Democrats approve of the job he's doing) and black voters (73% approve) that make him a solid bet to cruise to a second term in our overwhelmingly Democratic city.

"Which means that barring an economic meltdown, crime wave or terror shock, he's got plenty of time to silence his critics by showing he really can deliver on his grand promises while patching potholes, too." http://goo.gl/I46qFB

ON HOMELESSNESS, CiTY HALL POINTS FINGERS -- WSJ's Josh Dawsey: "A senior figure in Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration Wednesday blamed previous mayors for New York City's rising numbers of homeless people and said it would take a long time to reverse the trend.

"'This is a problem that has built up over many years. It didn't happen overnight,' said Steve Banks, the city's Human Resources Administration commissioner, who is leading a review of the city's services for the homeless. 'If certain things other mayors had put in place were in place in the past, we'd be in a different place.' Mr. Banks made the comments at a news conference one day after the city government's top homeless-services administrator quit and City Hall said it would conduct the 90-day review of the program." http://goo.gl/bfLOJM

-- FLASHBACK, Nov. 19, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton: "My sense of it is it has exploded in the last two years." http://goo.gl/RUJspR

SALARY ARRANGEMENT CRITICIZED -- "Critics ask why departing NYC homelessness commissioner is keeping $219,773 salary" -- Newsday's Matt Chayes: "A good-government group, two elected officials and a shelter resident questioned Wednesday why the embattled chief of the de Blasio administration's homelessness agency will keep his nearly $220,000 salary after leaving his post. Gilbert Taylor, who on Tuesday abruptly announced his resignation amid criticism of his agency's performance and record-high homelessness, is being kept on the payroll to advise a shake-up ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio of how the city deals with people in shelters and on the streets.

"'That's outrageous. The guy did a terrible job. That's why he's gone. We're still going to pay him?' said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), a Taylor critic who called for his resignation earlier this year. Taylor's annual salary is $219,773, almost as much as de Blasio's $225,000 annual pay. Taylor said in his resignation letter he's 'decided to leave to pursue new professional opportunities.' De Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton said of Taylor, 'He is going to work full time on the review until he decides on his new position.' ... City Council member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), a Taylor critic, said ... 'If you're no longer managing the same level of responsibility, running an agency, why are you earning the same salary?'" http://goo.gl/aTr7Hc

-- Post headline: "Homeless head's ouster was in the works for months" http://goo.gl/3SPmNW

YOU GET A BLURB, YOU GET A BLURB, EVERYBODY GETS A BLURB! -- Times, p. 10 of Thursday Styles, "Malcolm Gladwell Hands Out Book Blurbs Like Santa Does Presents," by Laura M. Holson: "When Malcolm Gladwell was asked to write a blurb for the 2005 book 'Freakonomics,' he did not explain that it explored the dynamics of the Ku Klux Klan or the impact of naming a child "Loser." Instead, the New Yorker writer and best-selling author of 'The Tipping Point' and 'Blink' simply wrote, 'Prepare to be dazzled.' ... [A] decade later, Mr. Gladwell's name adorns scores of book covers not his own. He has praised tomes by celebrity restaurateurs (Dan Barber of Blue Hill), Academy Award-winning movie producers (Brian Grazer), first-time novelists (Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times), hybrid writer-artists (Lauren Redniss) and more. ... According to Mr. Gladwell, his sausage is simple: He writes blurbs because people ask him to, and he does not overthink what to say. 'People will show you a book and you think, "It's cool,"' he said. 'You want people to read it. I feel like we have to promote ourselves.' ... Many of the people for whom Mr. Gladwell has written blurbs he knows socially or has even dated." http://nyti.ms/1TRiFIm

THE TALK OF WALL STREET -- "Battered, Apologetic and Still Pitching Their Hedge Funds," by Times' Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein: "It has been a bruising year for hedge funds. ... Some lost so much of their investors' money this year that they have written apology letters. Yet even in this most humbling of years, some of these same hedge funds are soliciting investors for more money and marketing new fu

ddle class, was one of the first properties to fall victim to speculators during the heady days of the last real estate boom a decade ago. The new owner, who hoped to rapidly replace long-term residents with higher-paying tenants, saddled the complex with huge debts before losing Riverton to his lenders in 2008. Now, after years of uncertainty, the complex, which comprises 1,229 apartments in seven brick buildings lining a grassy mall near the Harlem River, has been sold for $201 million under an agreement with the city that keeps 975 units affordable for working- and middle-class families for 30 years. The city, in turn, will provide the buyer, Douglas Eisenberg of A&E Real Estate Holdings, property tax breaks and other incentives worth about $100 million." http://nyti.ms/1QqWtaq

SPEED READS:

-- Police -- NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said city police will try to identify people who are beginning to fall under the influence of terrorist organizations that are seeking recruits to carry out attacks on U.S. soil. ... NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said, "We must go where it begins. It begins in the minds of those who feel humiliated or perceive injustice. ... And these beginnings are rarely invisible. Other people see these beginnings, particularly people close to the one setting off on that path." POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah: http://goo.gl/YpjT3X

-- Education: City schools chancellor Carmen Fariña touted gains in arts education staffing for New York City public schools on Wednesday, announcing that full-time arts teachers have started at 113 middle and high schools in the last two years. POLITICO New York's Eliza Shapiro: http://goo.gl/tlaZwd

-- Housing: "It appears that labor leaders and real estate developers are at an impasse in their negotiations of an extension for a controversial tax abatement program meant to encourage affordable housing [known as 421-a]." Gotham Gazette's David Howard King: http://goo.gl/oNaaEl

-- Transportation: For nearly a year, a car-friendly inequity persisted: While employers could offer their workers with cars up to $250 a month in tax-free transit benefits, their mass transit-reliant employees could only qualify for up to $130. On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced that a proposed tax extenders package would restore parity for drivers and mass transit users, in perpetuity. POLITICO New York's Dan Rubinstein: http://goo.gl/X6B5Xz

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Knicks 107, Timberwolves 102: Fun at The Garden, where Karl-Anthony Towns scored 25 for the Wolves, but Kristaps Porzingis blocked seven shots, and Carmelo Anthony came within one assist of a triple-double. Arron Afflalo led the Knicks in scoring with 29.

-- Heat 104, Nets 98: 25 from Brook Lopez and 22 from Jarrett Jack wasn't enough to keep the Nets from falling to 7-17.

-- The day ahead: the Rangers are in Minnesota. The Sabres host Anaheim. The Islanders are in Colorado.

#UpstateAmerica: Rochester's Abby Wambach, the "greatest American to ever play soccer," retired on Wednesday. http://bit.ly/1k3kPsc

COFFEE BREAK -- "Towering Orchid Sculptures to Take Root in Central Park Next Year," by DNAinfo's Shaye Weaver: "A pair of stainless steel flowers rising 34 and 28 feet will be installed in the park on the corner of East 60th Street and Fifth Avenue beginning March 1, according to the Public Art Fund, which is curating the exhibition. In the exhibit - called 'Two Orchids' by German artist Isa Genzken - metal vines climb up two metal shafts and blossom into white flowers at the top. The orchid appears 'almost cartoon-like in this larger-than-life, doubled version,' said Nicholas Baume, the fund's director and chief curator. 'For Genzken the decorative neutrality of the orchid makes it the quintessential flower of our period - ubiquitous, porous to meaning, and global.'" http://dnain.fo/1Jdum6H

** A message from Middle Class Strong: Working people are under assault in this country and right here in NYC. It is time to stand up for workers and make New York City a place where working families can thrive.

Middle Class Strong is committed to building New York City's middle class by ensuring union and non-union construction workers earn middle class wages, receive fair benefits, are properly trained and work on safe worksites.

Join our fight - it's NYC's fight - and let's make NYC middle class strong! Here's Justice Favor's story: www.MiddleClassStrong.com - Join The Movement! **

FOR MORE political and policy news from New York, check out Politico New York's home page: http://politi.co/1MkLGXV

SUBSCRIBE to the Playbook family: POLITICO Playbook: http://politi.co/1phAeAC ... New York Playbook: http://politi.co/1ON8bqW ... Florida Playbook: http://politi.co/1JDm23W ... New Jersey Playbook: http://politi.co/1HLKltF ... Massachusetts Playbook: http://politi.co/1Nhtq5v ... Illinois Playbook: http://politi.co/1N7u5sb ... California Playbook: http://politi.co/1N8zdJU and Brussels Playbook: http://politi.co/1FZeLcw

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