OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano By Mark Chiusano The more things change, the more they stay the same A roundup of some stories you may have missed in the last few weeks. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla Updated September 21, 2017 5:07 AM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email In today’s newsletter, the theme is the more things change the more they stay the same. And, we’re giving you three for the price of one. Who gets to debate? Among likely general election voters, Mayor Bill de Blasio is up 47 percentage points over Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis, a State Assembly member representing parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn. That’s according to an NBC-Marist poll released this week that shows de Blasio still rolling after a big primary victory. But the more interesting part of the poll might be the candidates who weren’t included and how that will likely keep them off the debate stage in October. To get into the first of two general election debates sponsored in part by the city Campaign Finance Board, candidates need to raise and spend $500,000, which de Blasio has done easily. Malliotakis should be able to do the same: she has already raised nearly that much and spent some $270,000 not counting September TV commercials. But other candidates are far behind. Those participating in the CFB public funds program would need to use the alternate route to qualify for the first debate: raising and spending $174,225 and also polling at least 8 percent in the most recent Marist or Quinnipiac poll. The big catch? The poll only counts if it names every candidate on the ballot. In this case there are seven names, including extreme long shots like Akeem Browder and Aaron Commey who have done little fundraising or campaigning. The Marist poll did not name all the candidates. Marist Institute for Public Opinion director Lee Miringoff says one candidate, former City Council member Sal Albanese, was left off by “oversight,” and would likely be included next time, but did not commit to naming all candidates in a forthcoming poll. (A representative for the Quinnipiac poll said they don’t discuss polling schedules.) Who’s included is a “news judgement,” Miringoff said. “We don’t get into using polls to determine eligibility.” Unfortunately, that’s the way the debate system is now administered by the Campaign Finance Board. And despite his big lead, de Blasio has shown no appetite this cycle to do debates beyond the minimum required by the CFB. If you’re getting deja vu, by the way, that’s because a similar story played out in the primaries, when long-shot challengers in the Democratic race didn’t hit funding requirements to get into the debates. How’s the subway? Well, there was the third rail cover that came loose and made rush hour a nightmare last week. Plus the Con Ed power failure that knocked out multiple lines over the weekend. And another delay-ful morning with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who controls the MTA, declared a state of emergency for the system earlier this year, so how does he think it’s going? “There’s no doubt the MTA still has a long way to go,” Cuomo said in part on Tuesday. “But if you look closely, you see improvements. I mean, I hear from people who say the tracks look cleaner or the service seems better. So I’m hearing it already.” You may be waiting to hear whatever Cuomo’s hearing. MTA chairman Joe Lhota has said bigger improvements will come when there’s a winner for the “Genius Competition” that Cuomo launched in May to find a creative way to fix the subways. Also when de Blasio kicks in more funding for a short-term plan. De Blasio has said the MTA should clean up its own mess and proposed an alternate funding mechanism of a state-approved millionaire’s tax that is highly unlikely in Albany. So expect any good transportation news to be a few stations away. Can we dance if we want to? Wearing his usual suit and tie in the hip company of jazz double bassists and Ramones drummers, de Blasio signed legislation Tuesday night creating a Night Mayor for NYC. That new administrator will head the new Office of Nightlife to help NYC’s after-hours industries keep the vibe chill and prosper. The legislation was proposed by Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal, who is also trying to repeal the city’s strange and archaic and much-tweaked Cabaret Law, which requires establishments of the night to have a license to allow dancing. A hearing to repeal the law was held last week, and the de Blasio administration appeared to be generally supportive. So, bachata everywhere if the Cabaret Law goes down? Not exactly. Zoning rules still govern where venues can allow fancy feet. But lacking a Cabaret License would no longer be a further deterrent. So keep dancing, as you probably already were. Please standby for an important announcement amExpress will be suspended tomorrow. We will resume our normal schedule on Monday morning. By Mark Chiusano Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.