Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • Cory Booker reportedly earned $1 million in speaking fees

    Booker in Newark last month (Mel Evans/AP)With a high-profile Twitter account and a penchant for generating publicity, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker may be the best known local official in the country. And along with that profile has apparently come sizable speaking fees.

    Per The New York Times, Booker has earned about $1 million in outside speaking fees during his seven years as mayor. His office has declined to say exactly how much money or where that money came from—and he hasn't been required to disclose that information under city law.

    In coming weeks, however, the public will get its first glimpse of exactly how much Booker made when the mayor files a personal financial disclosure form with the U.S. Senate as part of his bid to replace retiring Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

    Booker, who earns $135,000 a year as mayor, told the Times that he’s earned more money through speaking engagements than from his job at City Hall. But he insisted he’s given most of that money away.

    “Even though I am entitled to keep it, after Uncle Sam takes his share and after I’ve given away hundreds and hundreds of thousands, I’ve kept very little of it, if any,” Booker told the Times. He added, “if you minus out all that I’ve given away, it’s not that much money."

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  • Brooklyn community mourns expectant parents killed in car crash

    Jewish leaders at the site where Raizy and Nathan Glauber were killed Sunday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Raizy Glauber had just wrapped up a dinner with her family when she suddenly began feeling sharp abdominal pains. Six months pregnant with her first child, Glauber and her husband of less than a year, Nathan, members of Brooklyn's tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community, called a livery cab to take them from the apartment in their Williamsburg neighborhood to a hospital about two miles away. It was just before midnight on Saturday.

    A few minutes later, four blocks from their home, the couple’s cab was struck broadside by what police say was a speeding BMW sedan. Raizy Glauber was thrown from the car, her body discovered more than 10 minutes after the crash under a parked tractor-trailer on the other side of the street. Nathan Glauber had to be cut out of the car by first responders. Both just 21-years-old, Raizy and Nathan were each pronounced dead upon arrival at nearby hospitals.

    In what family members initially seized upon as a miracle, the Glauber's baby boy was delivered prematurely by postmortem cesarian section. Doctors gave the child a 50/50 chance of survival, said a family friend who declined to be named. But on Monday morning, the baby died, too—compounding the grief and shock of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community, an insular society that has been heavily shaken by the tragedy.

    The couple were members of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic sect. On Sunday, thousands of grief-stricken mourners turned out for their funeral at a Williamsburg synagogue—the men, dressed in large, fedora-type hats, separated from the women, who wore black berets or scarves over their heads.

    On Monday, as the grieving continued, police kept at their search for the suspected driver of the BMW, identified by a New York Police Department spokesman as 44-year-old Julio Acevedo. Witnesses say the driver, along with a female passenger, left the car—also mangled—at the scene of the crash and fled by foot.

    “Unfortunately, in my line of work, you see a lot of tragedies and you get accustomed to it, but not this one,” said an emotional Rabbi Mayer Berger, director of operations for Chesed Shel Emes, a group that helps Orthodox families comply with Jewish law when burying their loved ones. Berger was among the first on the accident scene and rode with Raizy Glauber to the hospital.

    “This is one of those tragedies you don’t get accustomed to," he said. "This one stays engraved in your brain forever.”

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  • Four months after Sandy, Seaside Heights struggles to find a sense of ‘normal’

    The Jet Star roller coaster, in the ocean since Sandy, will soon be removed (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J.—People have come from hundreds of miles away to see it, sneaking past the yellow caution tape and heavy police guard onto a closed beach still littered with jagged pieces of debris four months after Superstorm Sandy nearly swept away this tiny oceanfront town.

    The Jet Star roller coaster, sucked from the Casino Pier amusement park into the Atlantic Ocean by the storm, has become an iconic image of the horror and destruction left in Sandy’s wake. There’s something hauntingly beautiful about the sight of a roller coaster submerged in the sea—the strange way its frame reflects off the water in the early morning light and how the waves expand and retract around it, as if it had been built there in the first place.

    As Casino Pier finalizes plans to finally begin removing it from the ocean in coming days, the Jet Star, for many here, is a sad, if beautiful, reminder of everything Sandy has taken away in a city struggling to fight its way back.

    “You look out there, and you just want to cry,” said Kathie Kirckof, a Seaside Heights resident who lost everything when her beachside home in nearby Ortley Beach was flooded by the storm. “So many memories, just gone. All people want is just to feel normal again, yet it’s really anything but that here. It just feels eerie.”

    Last weekend, Seaside Heights was forced to cancel one of its biggest winter attractions—the annual Polar Bear Plunge, a chilly swimming event that usually attracts thousands of people. But with the Jet Star and other debris in the water and the beach still closed, the Plunge was moved upstate to Long Branch—a disappointment to businesses that had been closed for weeks and hoped to see customers return.

    Four months after the storm, efforts to rebuild Seaside Heights have been minimal at best. The old boardwalk, left in splinters by Sandy’s massive storm surge, has largely been carted away as the city last week began work on a new boardwalk it hopes to open by May, the kickoff of the summer tourist season, which is crucial to the city’s economy.

    “We are going to have [the boardwalk] finished by May because we absolutely have to,” Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers told Yahoo News. “Yes, it’s an ambitious schedule, but if we don’t do this it will be a huge blow, and we can’t take it. It would be economic suicide.”

    There’s also a symbolic reason Akers and other Seaside Heights leaders are working so hard to revive the city. This summer, Seaside Heights turns 100 years old—a benchmark the city is determined to celebrate.

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  • Bloomberg’s popularity slips amid opposition to soda ban

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the White House on Wednesday (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Michael Bloomberg has said he hopes to be remembered as New York City’s best mayor after he leaves office later this year. But his popularity appears to have taken a hit among New Yorkers who have mixed feelings about an upcoming ban on large, sugary drinks.

    A new Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday found 51 percent of New York voters oppose the so-called “soda ban” set to go into effect March 12. The ban extends to businesses the city regulates, including restaurants, delis and movie theaters. Among black voters, the opposition was even higher, with 60 percent of those polled saying they oppose the ban.

    And while a majority of voters—53 percent—say they approve of the job Bloomberg is doing at City Hall, that’s a 3-point drop since January.

    At the same time, the poll asked voters to name the person they believe has done the “best job” as mayor of New York City. Nearly a third of voters picked former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bloomberg’s predecessor who was praised for his leadership in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

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  • Group fights to save JFK airport’s old Pan Am terminal

    The Pan Am Worldport in 1965 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK—Kal Savi was just 10 years old in 1971 when he took his first flight out of the “flying saucer” terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

    “It was just spectacular,” recalled Savi, the son of a former Pan Am employee who fell in love with the building.

    Built in 1960 as the Pan Am Worldport, the building, now known as JFK’s Terminal 3, was an early icon of New York’s entry into the modern jet age. Its white circular roof and ultrasleek glass-and-steel interior was unlike anything anyone had ever seen, adding an air of glamour to the growing passenger airline industry.

    But Savi, whose group Save the Worldport, plans to file paperwork with the New York State Preservation Office this week to win landmark status for Terminal 3, is the first to admit the building has seen better days. "It's sad to see how the place has deteriorated," he said.

    Now home to Delta Airlines, the Worldport is a shell of what it used to be. Its circular roof is cracked and peeling and, inside, white tarps on the ceiling catch plaster and other debris from falling on passengers. Once considered one of the world’s most stylish airport facilities, it was named the world’s worst airline terminal last year by the travel site Frommer's—and soon, if airport officials get their way, it will be demolished.

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  • Group aims to drive up turnout among faith voters

    An attendee at a religious rally in Iowa in 2008. (Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)

    A group of top evangelical leaders is launching a new voter initiative in hopes of increasing turnout among Christian voters in next year’s midterm elections.

    The American Renewal Project, an arm of the conservative American Family Association, is launching “Pastors and Pews,” which will offer policy briefings to church leaders and their congregations in hopes of encouraging Christians to become more politically active amid years of declining turnout among voters of faith.

    The group tells the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that it will hold its first event in May in Des Moines, Iowa—a key presidential primary state. And in a sign it's not messing around, the group has invited three Republicans rumored to be considering White House bids in 2016: Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

    Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, confirmed that the Florida senator received the invitation, but said he “will not be able to attend.” Spokesmen for Paul and Jindal did not immediately return requests for comment.

    David Lane, an influential conservative operative who's steering the group, tells Brody that it's a way to unite pastors over crucial issues facing the church and society.

    “If the key to maintaining sustainable freedom is righteousness—the same virtue that produced freedom—what is the greatest threat to freedom? Unrighteousness,” Lane tells CBN. “America has left God.”

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  • John McCain’s unlikely new booster: Jackie Collins

    Jackie Collins (Danny Martindale/Getty Images)Best-selling author Jackie Collins is perhaps best known for her tawdry romantic thrillers about scandalous Hollywood housewives and the bad boys they love. But the British-born writer, who has often said she’s proud to be described as “raunchy,” apparently happens to have a soft spot for John McCain.

    Collins tells The New York Times’ By the Book column that if there was one book she would recommend President Barack Obama read it would be “Faith of My Fathers,” the Arizona senator’s memoir. The book recounts, in part, his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

    "I would like the president to settle back and pick up a copy of John McCain’s 'Faith of My Fathers,'" Collins said. "Now here we have a true American hero, a man with a moral compass and a sense of stunning loyalty and integrity. I think anyone will benefit from reading this book, especially the president."

    A McCain spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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  • T. Boone Pickens praises Bloomberg: We’d be ‘better off’ if he were in D.C.

    T. Boone Pickens and Bloomberg outside New York City Hall (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)NEW YORK—Michael Bloomberg remains cagey about whether he’ll someday run for president. But the outgoing New York City mayor received a notable show of support on Thursday from one of the country’s biggest political donors who has spent tens of millions of dollars in the past to elect presidential candidates.

    T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire energy mogul from Texas, joined Bloomberg at a press conference outside New York’s City Hall to unveil the city’s first natural-gas-powered food truck and to talk about clean energy efforts—an issue both he and the mayor are passionate about.

    Speaking to a large group of reporters and political types on a frigid February morning, both men showered each other with compliments. Bloomberg praised Pickens as “one of the great Americans” in business and someone who has emerged as a “powerful voice” for clean energy efforts.

    “I used to read about T. Boone Pickens in the paper, and I never thought I’d know him on a first-name basis,” Bloomberg said.

    A few seconds later, Pickens returned the compliment, telling Bloomberg, “Mayor, if you were in Washington today, we’d be a hell of a lot better off than where we are.”

    Bloomberg beamed, as several people applauded.

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  • Romney to return to political spotlight

    Mitt Romney at his election night rally in November (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Mitt Romney is officially returning to the political stage.

    A Romney aide confirmed that the former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor will speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington next month. It will be Romney’s first major political appearance since he lost the election to President Barack Obama last November.

    Word of Romney’s appearance was first reported by National Review.

    An aide said Romney will use the appearance to “express his appreciation” to people for their support during the 2012 campaign.

    It's a curious venue, however, given Romney has never gotten an especially warm welcome from the CPAC audience. While he won the conference’s presidential straw poll several times, attendees openly questioned Romney’s conservative credentials.

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  • Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating hits record high

    Chris Christie at a New Jersey town hall in January (D. Dipasupil/Getty Images)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating continues to soar in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

    A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds Christie with a 74 percent approval rating in the state—the highest rating Quinnipiac has found in 17 years of polling on New Jersey governors. And in a boon for Christie’s bid for a second term, 71 percent of voters say the governor deserves to be re-elected this November.

    Christie’s surging poll numbers seem to be a direct response to his stewardship of the state in the aftermath of Sandy. In October, before the storm, Christie’s approval rating was 56 percent and just 52 percent said he deserved to win a second term.

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