Thursday, July 31 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:53:26 GMT
Wayne Reynolds, a leading Washington philanthropist, laid out an alternative plan in court hearings this week to save one of the nation's oldest museums and its college as a judge considers whether to break up...More >>
Opponents of a plan to break up Washington's nearly 150-year-old Corcoran Gallery of Art presented two alternatives in court this week to preserve the independent museum and art school as a judge considers its proposed...More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 9:32 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:32:58 GMT
A Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence arrived Thursday in the United States, where she was welcomed first by the mayor of Philadelphia as a "world freedom...More >>
A Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence arrived Thursday in the United States, where she was welcomed first by the mayor of Philadelphia as a "world freedom fighter" and...More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 8:45 PM EDT2014-08-01 00:45:40 GMT
California's Republican candidate for governor says he spent a week living as a homeless person in search of a job to test Gov. Jerry Brown's claim that the state is making a comeback after the economic...More >>
The Republican candidate for California governor said Thursday he spent a week living as a homeless person in Fresno to highlight the disparity between the governor's claim that the state is making an economic comeback...More >>
By JONATHAN LEMIRE Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) - A screaming headline that reads "Good luck on that, I'm off to Italy." A composite photo depicting his family in a gondola in Venice. Withering criticism from a former mayor.
Despite the increasingly bad political optics, Mayor Bill de Blasio remains set to depart Friday for a lengthy Italian vacation in the face of a potential strike at the nation's largest commuter railroad.
If Long Island Rail Road workers walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, it could paralyze portions of the city and lead to a public relations nightmare for de Blasio, with the city's tabloids - which have been nipping at his heels since he took office - eager to juxtapose a photo of him gallivanting on an Italian beach with a shot of a city highway clogged by a nightmarish traffic jam.
De Blasio, a Democrat who took office in January, had said he would return from his trip if a crisis arose but signaled this week that he believed his team could manage without him. His spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the trip was proceeding as planned.
During a taping of "The Colbert Report" on Wednesday night, de Blasio was noncommittal on whether he'd cancel the trip, saying he was hopeful there would be a resolution avoiding a strike.
The mayor on Monday downplayed the impact of a potential strike.
"We benefit from the fact it's July, and I think the amount of travel is reduced in July," he said then. "We benefit from the fact that a lot of people now, because of technology, can work from home."
Those comments appeared tone-deaf to some critics, who noted that the workers who can't afford to take vacations or whose jobs don't allow for telecommuting are the working- and middle-class people de Blasio pledged to support during his victorious mayoral campaign last year.
The Daily News has offered a sneak peek of what could be in store for de Blasio next week: Its story on Tuesday about the impending strike was accompanied by the sneering "Good luck" headline and a photo of the mayor appearing to enjoy a belly-laugh. Not to be outdone, the New York Post the next day accompanied a scathing column about the trip with the photo illustration of the carefree gondoliers.
The LIRR, which connects the city and Long Island and has 300,000 daily riders, is operated by a state agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, meaning the ultimate political responsibility lies with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but the impact in the city would be undeniable. Roads would clog, already crowded subway trains and buses would be even more packed and businesses with fewer customers or workers showing up could lose millions of dollars.
De Blasio's team stressed that the mayor would stay in frequent contact with the heads of the city's emergency response units, who will be in town, and that he could still postpone or cut his trip short, if needed. There is also a growing belief in New York political circles that Cuomo, who is up for re-election this fall, would likely try to step in at the 11th hour to prevent a strike and the damaging political hit.
De Blasio, his wife and their two teenage children are planning to visit his ancestral homeland, journeying to the towns his grandparents called home, meeting local officials and taking their first family vacation in years.
His predecessor, independent Michael Bloomberg, never took a full week off, though he did frequently use his personal plane to escape for long weekends in Bermuda or London. Republican Rudy Giuliani also rarely took time off and said in a radio interview Tuesday that, "The mayor has got to be present when an emergency takes place."
But some political observers said they believe the criticism is unwarranted.
"He's entitled to time off, and being away is not that big of a deal," said Joseph Mercurio, an unaffiliated political consultant. "Modern technology lets him stay in touch. Bad media coverage would be unfair."
Follow Jonathan Lemire on Twitter @JonLemire
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thursday, July 31 2014 11:09 PM EDT2014-08-01 03:09:24 GMT
Taiwan's National Fire Agency says 15 people were killed and 228 were injured a series of gas leak explosions in a southwestern city.More >>
At least 24 people were killed and 271 others injured when several underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan's second-largest city overnight, hurling concrete through the air and blasting long trenches in the...More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 10:34 PM EDT2014-08-01 02:34:24 GMT
Rescue workers and desperate villagers dug through deep mud, rocks and the debris of shattered homes Thursday after a massive landslide buried a remote village in western India, killing at least 24 people and...More >>
Heavy rains hampered efforts Friday by hundreds of rescue workers digging through heavy mud and debris, as the death toll from a landslide that engulfed an entire village in western India rose to 51.More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 9:27 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:27:10 GMT
Congress is racing to wrap up legislation addressing chronic problems at the Veterans Affairs Department and a shortfall in highway money ahead of its five-week summer break.More >>
Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break after failing to agree on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking...More >>