In This Episode
- Mayor-elect of Cleveland, Justin Bibb, comes on the show to discuss his win and what he hopes to achieve in his first 100 days. The 34-year-old had never run for political office before but during the race, he prioritized public safety and policing among other issues, which proved to be successful.
- And in headlines: Pfizer asked the FDA for authorization of its COVID treatment pill, current and former employees of Activision Blizzard staged a walkout, and a prominent New York real estate developer and his ex-wife held what some are calling the most valuable single-owner auction ever staged.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, November 17th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where we hope the newly-announced Harry Potter reunion will tell us exactly how much of the magic was real.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, like which actors actually could fly. I know it wasn’t all of them. I am not an idiot.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, and just be straight with us, HBO Max. Like we can handle knowing about magic.
Gideon Resnick: I think I can at least, I don’t know.
Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, Pfizer applies for FDA authorization of its COVID treatment pill. Plus, we talk about Lady Gaga’s approach to acting that’s less method and more BBC nature documentary.
Gideon Resnick: That is very promising, but first—
Josie Duffy Rice: Intriguing. Intriguing.
Gideon Resnick: First, we’re going to continue our set of features on local candidates people should be paying some attention to.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so Gideon you spoke with 34-four year old Justin Bibb, who went from candidate to mayor-elect in Cleveland just over two weeks ago. So what’s the story there?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so Ben had never run for political office before. He was among seven candidates that were on the ballot earlier this year and went on to win by a really wide margin. And among the many issues that came up throughout the race was policing and public safety, part of a broader conversation that had been happening nationally. And Bibb prioritized that, and it was really an asset to him.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, listeners might remember that in Minneapolis, there was a high-profile ballot question that would have changed the police department there, and that was voted down during the elections earlier this month. But in Cleveland, as we’ve talked about before, things went differently.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, they did. So as a reminder, Cleveland voters saw issue 24 on their ballot. That was a police oversight charter amendment. And Bibb’s opponent emphasized his opposition to it while they backed it. And in the end, the issue and Bibb won huge approval from the city’s voters. And now he’s focused on the implementation of that amendment, establishing a civilian review board for police oversight, as well as a range of other big priorities as he takes over in January. So Josie, I wanted to share this conversation I had with Bibb on Monday about these big plans, how he communicated them during the campaign. And I also asked him some questions from residents of the land. But I started with how the last couple of weeks have gone since he won.
Justin Bibb: It’s really been nonstop since election night. Now we’re just trying to engage the community, get some feedback on our first 100 day priorities and trying to do everything we can to hit the ground running come January 22.
Gideon Resnick: Can you tell people that are both in the city and outside of it what some of those 100 day priorities are? What are the things that you’re really focused on right now?
Justin Bibb: One of the biggest things I ran on was police reform and police accountability. We had a significant piece of legislation pass called Issue 24. Secondly, many of the technology that we’re using right now inside our city government is completely outdated. Our website is like 20-years old, and some departments can’t share documents because planning is on Windows 7, while building and housing is on Windows 10.
Gideon Resnick: Yikes.
Justin Bibb: So basic things you might take for granted inside of a small or medium sized [unclear], or large corporation, we haven’t really embraced those technologies inside city government in Cleveland, so we have a lot of work to do around that. Then lastly, making sure we really do the hard work of having an inclusive comeback coming out of this pandemic. Cleveland is the poorest big city in America. One out of two of our children are living in poverty, and we received the eighth largest amount of money from President Biden through the American Rescue Plan and so I’m going to have a large amount of resources to start to tackle some of these issues as the next mayor.
Gideon Resnick: Right. Your opponent, Kevin Kelly, was, I think, at the end of the race telling people not to vote for Issue 24 pretty explicitly. For listeners, that’s the police oversight charter amendment. Obviously, voters overwhelmingly voted for it and you. Can you talk a little bit more about why you think that is? I’m wondering if you’ve thought more about it in the days since the election.
Justin Bibb: I think my competitor took for granted how frustrated voters were around Cleveland’s sincerity and focus on police accountability. You know, we are currently under a federal consent decree. We had two historic cases, one the tragic murder of Tamir Rice, the other the Brelo case, which officers were accused of shooting at a car with over 137 shots. And we’ve had a pattern of police misconduct that has really made us a national case study of what not to do in terms of policing. And so we get this consent decree and what happens is that the current administration really didn’t embrace these reforms. Right now, we are only compliant with about 30% of the reforms since the consent decree was agreed upon since 2014. So we’re about seven years into this and we’re only achieving 30% of the mandates that have been required. And over the last 10 years, we’ve also spent over $30 million settling police misconduct claims. And so when we talked about police reform and adding additional oversight of the police department, we tapped into this frustration that we weren’t doing enough, that we weren’t embracing these reforms in a more focused way. And I think my sincerity about that really resonated with voters. And I’ll say this, we were concerned about the rhetoric coming from the other side because there was a lot of discussion about “Justin is for defunding the police.” To me, it was insulting because I’m a son of a cop, but I’m also a Black man who’s experienced his own fair share of fear when I interact with police in the city. And so we tried to weave that narrative of this notion of us being able to do both because we can and must in this moment, embracing it full on, allowed us to really be successful in the election.
Gideon Resnick: What was the communication like on this issue? You mentioned that the rhetoric coming from the other side was what it was, but how did you sort of go about communicating this?
Justin Bibb: I had to hit it head on. I had to emphatically say that, no, I was not for defunding the police because I’m not for defunding the police. And we really had to tap into the basic social contract that I think every resident wants in their city. I don’t care if you’re a Black resident on the East Side or a white resident on the west side of Cleveland, at the end of the day, voters want the police to show up when you call and voters want them to respect their constitutional rights. Protect and serve. We said that over and over and over and over again. And we also said that this was not about an anti-police agenda. This is about bringing in more community voices around the table and sharing power with the people to finally get the right training and culture in place.
Gideon Resnick: And on the topic of lived experiences, I am not from Cleveland, I am from Cincinnati, but—
Justin Bibb: Best Skyline Chili. Huh?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Yes. Can you get it in Cleveland? You can’t. You can’t get it.
Justin Bibb: No, I can’t. I can’t.
Gideon Resnick: But I did have some questions from audience members who are in Cleveland, if you wouldn’t mind me asking a few of those.
Justin Bibb: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: One person wrote to me and said, I’m interested in hearing about plans to attract people and businesses to the area. Also, any goals around improving accessibility and affordability of our transit system.
Justin Bibb: One of the best things I can do as mayor is create the right conditions for good quality job creation in Cleveland. Right now, we are one of the worst cities in the county and in the state to do business with. You know, we’ve lost so many small businesses in Cleveland due to the fact that, the way we, you know, execute our permits is outdated. You got to talk to four or five departments to build land in the city of Cleveland sometimes. What we have to do inside city government is we have to move at the speed of business and commerce in order to attract investment and attract good talent. In terms of public transit, look, outside of housing, public transit is the biggest pain point we have for our residents. Housing and transit make up 40% of all the expenses going out of the door for many of our residents. And so one of the things I’m looking at is finding additional revenue models in Cleveland to tap into like smart parking meters, making sure we get our fair share of public transit investment from the governor of Ohio and our state legislature, and incentivizing people over cars in terms of how we make transit-oriented development and mobility development investment decisions across the city as well too.
Gideon Resnick: This is a kind of a challenging one, but I’m just going to throw it out there, “My boyfriend and I currently live in Chicago, but he was recently presented with a great job opportunity in Cleveland. I need some convincing, though. With all due respect, why should we move there?” That is not by my terminology. That is a nice listener’s terminology.
Justin Bibb: Well, listen, I’m telling everybody to bet on the land. Number one, Cavs basketball is back.
Gideon Resnick: Oh my god!
Josie Duffy Rice: We’re getting ready to take over the NBA in the East. I’m excited about it. We have the second largest theater district outside of New York, right in Cleveland. Some of the best art and culture institutions in Cleveland. And I think Cleveland is going to really shock the nation in terms of our ability to embrace our lake and embrace climate resiliency long term. It’s going to be cities like Cleveland that I think lead America to a more climate-resilient future. And if I were that couple, I’d want to invest early on a booming stock like the land. So tell them I’m ready for them.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there you go. So that is my conversation from earlier this week with Cleveland’s mayor-elect Justin Bibb. Look out for more on our social feeds, including our excitement for the best Cleveland Cavaliers season in ages. That was before Evan Mobley went down. I hope I did not make that happen by bringing it up. Next time he stops by the show, Justin can also talk about the time that he apparently got coffee for Tommy Vietor and Jon Favreau when he was interning on the Obama campaign way back in the day. Everybody is connected in an insane way.
Josie Duffy Rice: As a Hawks fan, I can’t say I’m excited about the Cavaliers. But as an Ohio fan, I am very excited about Justin Bibb.
Gideon Resnick: There you go.
Josie Duffy Rice: And so we’ll keep covering local candidates and issues going into next year, but that’s the latest for now. It’s Wednesday, WAD squad, and today we’re talking about the actress who Bradley Cooper once tricked so he could take another look at her. It’s Lady Gaga who has stepped in front of the camera once again to star in the upcoming drama “House of Gucci.” by her own account, Gaga worked very hard to inhabit the character of Patricia Reggiani, who married into the Gucci fashion empire in the 80s.
[clip of Lady Gaga] I spent six months working on her accent. [in an Italian accent] I spent a lot of time talking this way, just as Stefani, myself [ends accent] Then I did all the research on who she was as a person.
Gideon Resnick: Wow, what a, what a shift right in the middle there. Just perfectly executed.
Josie Duffy Rice: She allegedly spoke in this accent Gideon both on and off set during production, absolutely blessing any customer service representatives who may have gotten on the phone with during that time. But true actors know that transforming one’s voice is just one aspect of a good performance. So another thing Gaga had mentioned during press for House of Gucci is her decision to study and channel a biblical ark’s worth of animals to become her character. Just amazing. Hearing her talk about this truly, truly delightful.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. You know that animals all have Italian accents, so that’s just canon, right? Like she was learning to use that accent from, you know, watching nature documentaries.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true. It’s true. That’s like the number one thing you learn from National Geographic. But Gideon, I want to test your knowledge of Gaga’s process. So I’m going to read you three things Gaga has said about her process. Two of them are real, one of them is fake. And we’ll see if you can spot the fake one. OK?
Gideon Resnick: OK.
Josie Duffy Rice: OK, we’re calling this “Anamorphs: Gaga’s Version.” Number one: earlier in her life, I channeled a cat like a house cat. In the middle of the film, I was a fox. And then I studied Panthers for the end. I watched lots of videos about the way that Panthers hunt. OK. Number two: I transform from a fox into a panther. It’s something that I worked on studying the Panther. What are the ways in which the Panther seduces its prey? And number three: I decorated my trailer with photos of Panthers, lions and foxes. I didn’t want to let myself forget about the seductive power of the animal kingdom. One, two or three? Which one is it?
Gideon Resnick: OK, I really, really hope that the third one is real because the turn of phrase “seductive power of the animal kingdom” is very, very funny. It would be funnier in the accent that she’s doing for the movie, but I think three is fake.
Josie Duffy Rice: [ding] You are correct.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: But you know, it’s believable and that’s what matters.
Gideon Resnick: It’s, yeah, it’s totally believable. This is the kind of thing that like, I don’t know if it’s real or not, but if I were doing tons of interviews like this, I would keep inventing other things that I was doing for like, method. Like, yeah, like I crushed walnuts in my bare hands. I just keep making it more elaborate. It’s very fun.
Gideon Resnick: It’s amazing, truly. That was Anamorphs: Gaga’s Version. We’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: Pfizer asked the FDA yesterday to authorize its pill to treat unvaccinated people infected with COVID-19. Called Paxlovid—which is just a really terrible name—it’s geared to older people or others with underlying conditions. The company’s own study showed that when the drug is taken shortly after symptoms first appear, it was 89% effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Patients would have to get a prescription from a doctor and then down a series of 30 pills over five days. Paxlovid is the second antiviral COVID drug in the works. The company Merck is waiting for approval of its own pill, and the FDA will hold a meeting about it at the end of this month. The agency hasn’t set a meeting on Pfizer’s request yet, but in anticipation, the Biden administration is reportedly planning to put down over $5 billion to preorder 10 million courses of the treatment. Pfizer also said it made an agreement with other manufacturers so the pill can be made and sold more cheaply in 95 developing countries.
Gideon Resnick: More than 100 current and former employees of the video game giant Activision Blizzard staged a walkout yesterday at the company’s campus in Irvine, California, and they also called on CEO Bobby Kotick to resign. Last July, California’s Fair Employment Agency said the company repeatedly ignored complaints from female employees who said they were victims of discrimination, sexual harassment, assault, or more in recent years. Kotick has repeatedly claimed to the company’s board that he had no knowledge about these allegations and others as they were happening, but a new Wall Street Journal report says he had in fact known about many of them for years, and hid the details from directors. A collective of employees called the ABK Workers Alliance organized yesterday’s protest and said on Twitter quote” But in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, the board said it is quote, “confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership.” Yeesh.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s not great. Despite rising costs for everyday goods like gas and groceries, Americans are still treating themselves this holiday season. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales jumped 1.7% in October, with consumers spending $638 million at stores and restaurants. That’s 16% more than last October’s spending levels and 21% more than pre-pandemic times. Walmart and Home Depot are just two of the many major retailers that have profited from the spending surge, with consumers emptying their pockets for luxury items like electronics, fitness equipment, and more. But retail therapy has its consequences. Supply chain issues and shipping delays are worsening with these high volumes of spending, particularly on consumer goods rather than services. Good reminder to get your holiday shopping done ahead of time, or start dropping hints to your friends and family that you’ve renounced materialism and believe that the best gift is a life without clutter. If you are my husband and you are listening, I have not renounced materialism. Just want you to know.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we want to make that very clear. That’s the only thing that you should pick up from today’s show. To prominent New Yorkers are going through one of the hardest phases of a divorce: when strangers come to spend the operating budget of the Cincinnati Public School System on your stuff. Some of the art owned by real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his former wife Linda, was auctioned off this Monday. It brought in $676.1 million, in what some are calling the most valuable single-owner auction ever staged. The former couple’s massive collection includes works by Rothko, Warhol, Picasso and Pollock, the law firm name of artists that you can have. A divorce court ordered them to sell it since they couldn’t agree on how to divide it up. If you’re wondering why finding another solution was so hard, it’s worth noting that Harry is a very specific type of guy, the type of guy that processes his split from his ex-wife by hanging a 1,000 square foot photograph of him and his new wife on the side of a building he owns in Manhattan. Psycho. He did that in 2019. The auction this Monday didn’t cover the whole Macklowe collection. There’s a second session planned for this spring, and according to a former vice chairman of Sotheby’s quote, “the art world will be fighting over it.”
Josie Duffy Rice: I love the idea of posting your new wife’s photo on the side of a building. That is petty to the most massive extent. I have to give him credit for that.
Gideon Resnick: You’re not renouncing materialism and you’re looking for a 1,000 square foot photograph of his—
Josie Duffy Rice: What I am saying is that if he is in the market for a third wife, I’m sure we could probably figure something out.
Gideon Resnick: All right, I’ve got to leave that up to you and to get out of this conversation. Those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: Hey, WAD squad, one more thing before we go. We have a quick favor to ask: if you love listening to this podcast, why not leave us a review? Tell us what you like, what you don’t like, or any other thoughts you might have about What A Day. We really can’t wait to read what you think, and we do read them. So please leave us a review
Gideon Resnick: And be nice. That is all for today. If you are into reading and not just descriptions of panthers by Lady Gaga like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And we’ll see you on the side of enormous building.
Josie Duffy Rice: The bigger the better.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: If you leave us a review, we will put your picture on the side of an enormous building in the middle of Manhattan.
Gideon Resnick: A picture of you, and us.
Josie Duffy Rice: And us.
Gideon Resnick: And it’s just very sweet. And not weird at all.
Josie Duffy Rice: Not weird. Not at all.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.