Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio hugs lobbyist Jim Capalino at recent Stuyvesant Town rally for de Blasio. Photos by Jefferson Siegel
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio recently slammed his rival Christine Quinn over the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital within her City Council district three years ago, charging that she didn’t do enough to save the historic hospital.
But now, as seen in this exclusive photo for The Villager, de Blasio has “embraced” — literally — the chief lobbyist for the ultra-luxury condo project that replaced the historic hospital.
At a rally at Stuyvesant Town on Sat., Aug. 31, de Blasio could be seen warmly hugging James Capolino, who was the chief lobbyist for Rudin Management company’s effort to tear down the 161-year-old, Catholic hospital and replace it with The Greenwich Lane, a super-high-end project with condos selling for as much as $20 million.
It turns out Capalino, who was holding a “Come Meet Bill” sign at the Stuy Town event, is backing de Blasio’s campaign.
Last month, de Blasio held a “Hospitals Not Condos” rally outside the site of the former St. Vincent’s. At a pro-Quinn counter-rally right before it, George Capsis, publisher of WestView newspaper, lost it and angrily slapped state Senator Brad Hoylman and then also a Quinn intern.
A de Blasio campaign spokesperson downplayed the Capalino / de Blasio “bro hug.”
“He’s a lobbyist,” the spokesperson said of Capalino. “It’s one of the biggest lobbying firms in the city. He also [lobbies for] Krispy Kreme, the Low Line… . He has hundreds of clients, including many nonprofits. It’s silly to identify him by one project with which Bill disagreed.”
The spokesperson also noted that Capalino has been in and around city government for decades, having been an official in the Koch administration.
Capalino did not immediately respond to calls and an e-mail request for comment. The Quinn campaign did not respond to a request for comment.