Weiner Talks Scandal, Policy, and Waste Transfer Station in Radio Interview
NEW YORK CITY — The morning after formally launching his mayoral bid, Anthony Weiner waded into the fray with a wide ranging radio interview revealing his stance on everything from stop-and-frisk, to the 91st Street waste transfer station, to bike lanes.
While other candidates who have been campaigning for New York's mayor have had to weigh in on the city's major issues, Thursday's interview was the first chance for the public to hear from the ex-Congressman, who had largely remained on the political sidelines after his 2011 sexting scandal.
The half-hour interview, with WNYC's Brian Lehrer, began with a nod to what Lehrer called the "elephant in the room" — Weiner's attempt to cover up photos of his crotch he sent online to at least six women, which ultimately prompted his resignation.
"I'm not asking people to say just forget it," Weiner said, in a familiar talking point he's taken since the first of his comeback media coverage began. "I just want people to maybe give me a second chance to talk about these issues."
Weiner dismissed concerns that his lewd behavior would follow him into office in what Lehrer called "Bill Clinton" style, vowing that his days of sexting were "behind me."
The interview — which came hours before Weiner was set to join his first mayoral candidates panel in Riverdale, The Bronx — quickly pivoted to an animated discussion about Weiner's 64-point proposal from his 2005 run for mayor, in which he seeks to bolster what he characterized as New York's ailing middle class.
Along with creating a single-payer healthcare system, Weiner said that city employees should start paying into their healthcare premiums — including an increased fee for workers who smoke — which he argued would free up city funds for schools and other programs.
And in a revelation that will likely put him in good stead on the Upper East Side, Weiner aligned himself with the opponents of a controversial waste transfer station at East 91st Street.
And while Weiner's a self-proclaimed fan of biking, even urging the city to offer incentives for businesses that help staffers buy bike equipment and find bike parking, he took aim at Bloomberg's legacy of bike lanes, saying hizzoner "succeeded in taking a unifying issue and they made it a divisive one," adding, "Now you have people who are venomous about bike lanes."
Weiner said he'd personally like to see the Prospect Park West bike lane removed, but added, "I’m not getting wrecking crews out. I’m not looking to relitigate every bike lane in the city."
He also said he supports stop-and-frisk as a tactic, but said the way in which the Bloomberg administration and the NYPD have carried it out has "chipped away" at the gains in racial harmony the city has built since the Giuliani era.
"Police should have the right, that should be one of the arrows in the quiver of a police officer is stop question and frisk," he said, but said the emphasis on stop-and-frisk logs as a form of measuring success in the city is a failed policy.