THE CAT'S MEOW: Mayoral hopeful John Castimatidis jokes about his name in hopes of showing a lighter side

At a mayoral forum Monday that gave candidates a chance to show they’re supporters of voters’ furry friends, Republican John Catsimatidis played a trump card — his hard-to-spell surname.

7 May 2013


At a mayoral forum Monday that gave candidates a chance to show they’re supporters of voters’ furry friends, Republican John Catsimatidis played a trump card — his hard-to-spell surname.

“I’m John Catsimatidis. Some people call me ‘The Cat Man,’” the supermarket mogul said. “I love animals.”

Like in past mayoral forums on more pressing political issues, the candidates sparred in a game of oneupsmanship. In this case, they mixed policy proposals with points emphasizing their bona fides with respect to four-legged creatures, and those with two legs and wings.

Catsimatidis used parts of his opening statement to tell how his family once summoned the FDNY to their home for an elaborate rescue of his daughter’s cockatiel — which proved successful — and of another time when his wife attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on their dying cat, which did not work out as planned.

The candidates were asked if they would support a bill to bar landlords from denying apartments to seniors because of their pets. All the candidates in attendance backed the idea. In his explanation of why he would support such a proposal, Democrat Sal Albanese, a former City Councilman, recalled how a chihuahua named Joey helped prolong his ailing mother-in-law’s life for several years. When she passed away, the pooch was the portion of the “estate” that he and his wife inherited, he said.

Not to be outdone, Democrat William Thompson, the former City Controller who opposed Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, said his family had adopted two rescue cats.

Current City Controller John Liu, also a Democrat, offered up a strong opinion as to why people who shell out thousands of dollars to buy so-called “pure-bred” animals are misguided.

“We’ve rejected that notion for human beings. Why would we allow that to continue for dogs and cats?” Liu said, backing a measure to require pet stores in the city to sell only animals from shelters or rescue programs.

If having pets in the family was a talking point, so too was the topic of vegetarianism.

“I have a confession to make — I’m not a vegetarian yet,” said Democrat Bill de Blasio, the Public Advocate. He was quick to note that his two kids don’t eat meat, however.

“I am very proud of the fact that my wife and I have raised two vegetarians,” he added.

All of the candidates who appeared in the forum Monday supported the argument that the mass extermination of geese in Prospect Park in 2010 — largely a reaction to the bird strike that led to the so-called Miracle on the Hudson in 2009 — was overkill.

The major candidates who didn’t show — Democrat Christine Quinn, the Council Speaker, and Republican Joe Lhota, the former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — were tarred for allegedly being anti-animal by virtue of their absence.

Quinn got it worse than Lhota, however. The Speaker has long been a target of the group that hosted the forum, New Yorkers For Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, which is part of an anti-Quinn political committee that has aired attack ads against her.

Allie Feldman, who heads the group, set the tone by asking audience members to take out their phones and call Quinn to push for horse drawn carriages to be outlawed in the city.

“There is one thing that everyone in this room can agree on and that is that Christine Quinn has not been a friend to animals,” she railed.

Quinn’s spokesman, Mike Morey, responded to the criticism in an email to the Daily News Monday night, arguing that if elected mayor the speaker would make the city’s animal shelter system operate under a no-kill policy.

“Chris Quinn is the proud owner of two rescue dogs and although she disagrees with the organizers’ goal of banning carriage horses, as speaker of the City Council she has a strong record on animal rights, including expanding funding for spay and neutering programs through an overhaul of licensing fees [and] increased safety measures for kennels.”

Later, each candidate was offered a chance to speculate as to why Quinn would not take action against the carriage industry, and each echoed the charge made by Liu — that “she hasn’t gotten the okay from Mayor Bloomberg.”

But only de Blasio supported NY CLASS’s goal of banning horse-drawn carriages, while other candidates talked about testing alternatives or phasing the industry out gradually.

“This is inhumane,” de Blasio said. “We don’t say, ‘Look at that, it’s inhumane, but it’s so quaint and historic, lets continue it.’ It doesn’t make any sense.”


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