Hospital closures at forefront of mayoral election in heated events

George Capsis, left, yells at former state Sen. Tom Duane before slapping state Sen. Brad Hoylman, center, and a Christine Quinn campaign intern. Credit: Anna Sanders
George Capsis, left, yells at former state Sen. Tom Duane before slapping state Sen. Brad Hoylman, center, and a Christine Quinn campaign intern.
Credit: Anna Sanders

Hospital closures were violently pushed to the forefront of the election Monday as activists and politicians rallied for and against candidates outside the site where St. Vincent’s hospital is being converted into luxury condos.

In a heated exchange with supporters of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, one man slapped both state Sen. Brad Hoylman and a campaign intern after being asked to leave a press conference.

“I have so much pent-up anger,” said George Capsis, publisher of the WestView newsletter, after the incident. Though the newsletter was quoted in a release announcing the event, Capsis said he was a de Blasio supporter.

Capsis said he was emotional because his wife died two days earlier in a Bronx hospital. If St. Vincent’s had not closed, Capsis said he could have spent more time with her.

“That man, and the politicians like Quinn, turned their back on the community,” Capsis said.

Earlier, when Hoylman and other Quinn supporters tried to praise her efforts to save St. Vincent’s, Capsis and other hecklers drowned them out with cries of “Shame on Quinn!” and “Lies! Lies! Lies!”

Even after being slapped, Hoylman, who represents the West Village, continued to contrast Quinn’s record on hospital closures with that of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. He said that in addition to fighting to save St. Vincent’s, Quinn was able to facilitate the opening of a 24-hour urgent care center in the neighborhood.

“It’s another thing to show up at rallies and wave placards and it’s another one to actually get stuff done,” Hoylman said, questioning de Blasio’s involvement in the fight to save St. Vincent’s.

De Blasio, who is also running for mayor, flatly denied any notions that he was using hospital closures to gain traction in the election.

“This is a lie. I can go chapter and verse over the meetings I attended, the rallies I attended, the efforts I made to save St. Vincent’s,” de Blasio said at a rally with healthcare workers across the street from the hospital.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, joined by civil rights activist Harry Belafonte and actress Susan Sarandon, decries the spate of hospital closures at a rally in front of the old St. Vincent's Monday. Credit: Anna Sanders
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, joined by civil rights activist Harry Belafonte and actress Susan Sarandon, decries the spate of hospital closures at a rally in front of the old St. Vincent’s on Monday.
Credit: Anna Sanders

Civil rights activist and musician Harry Belafonte, and actresses Susan Sarandon and Cynthia Nixon, joined the rally in support of de Blasio, noting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed 12 hospitals to close during his tenure.

“Since we can’t get the ears of our mayor, we’ll get a mayor that’ll give us the ears we need,” Belafonte said.

Sarandon and Nixon lamented the loss of St. Vincent’s, which was the third largest hospital in the city before it closed.

“After 9/11, this is where everyone gathered to give blood,” Sarandon said.  

Nixon noted the hospital served gay men during the AIDS crisis when other hospitals turned them away.

“We cannot let what happened to St. Vincent’s happen to hospitals all over the city,” Nixon said.

Amid a loud chorus of supporters, de Blasio preached respect in fighting against hospital closures.

“People are going to have strong views,” de Blasio said, referencing the slapping incident.

“But I want to emphasize we have to respectful, always peaceful, in expressing our views,” he said.

Quinn, who was not at the press conference where the slaps occurred, said she was “deeply upset” by the incident.

“There is no place in this city – let alone a political campaign – for violence or intimidation of any kind,” she said in a statement.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…


Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…


Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…


China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…


Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…


What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…


Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.


Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.


VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…


Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…


Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…