Mayor de Blasio Delivers State of the City Address 2018
NYC Mayor de Blasio's Theme for Second Term - Fairness
On Tuesday evening, February 13th, I made my way south toward the Kings Theater in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was an unseasonably warm February, with temperatures descending into the 40's. I disembarked from the G subway at Church Avenue and headed east toward Flatbush Avenue, taking the opportunity to walk through the Prospect Park South neighborhood.
Kings Theatre - Historic 1920's Theater in Flatbush Brooklyn
When I arrived at Kings Theatre I found a number of people engaged in the exercise of their free speech rights, chanting for an accelerated pace of the reform initiated by Mayor de Blasio four years ago.
Once inside the theater I paused for a few minutes to take in the dazzling beauty of the 1929 theater built by Loews as a movie theater. The soaring arches and the ceiling had been restored in a renovation that was completed in 2015, at which time the Kings Theatre reopened. I walked up the stairs to look down into the lobby from the balcony to fully take in the architectural and artistic statement of an earlier time.
According to Wikipedia the Kings Theatre had been closed since 1977, named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, following the initiation of its restoration by the City in 2010.
Brooklyn Continues to Preserve its History & Queens does What?
It's nice to see this kind of preservation being done in Brooklyn - it's unfortunate that the government officials in Queens don't take the same sort of initiative to preserve more of the history of that borough. In 2017 a similar, although admittedly less expansive theater on 82nd Street in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, was demolished.
And in 2010 the landmarked mansion owned by the Steinways of Steinway & Sons Piano - built of granite in the 1850's, sitting atop about two and a half acres of land, and in very good condition - came on the market with an asking price of $2.5 million. The house was only blocks away from the piano factory where handmade pianos are still produced to this day and was the residence of one of the most influential, historically and culturally significant people in NYC and Queens of the latter half of the 19th century.
In an unbelievable failure of leadership in the borough of Queens - the Steinway mansion was not purchased by the government - nor was any meaningful attempt made to preserve it for the public - even though the mansion remained on the market until it was acquired by a developer in early 2014 [they had nearly four years to buy it]. The real estate developer subsequently built on the adjacent acreage - making back significantly more than he paid for the entire mansion, while still leaving him with ownership of the mansion. The future of the mansion itself remains unclear, as it is still in private hands, but because it has been landmarked, the outside of the mansion must be preserved. Click here to read our report about the Steinway Mansion and the travesty of the broken preservation process in Queens ... but I digress.
NYC Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2018
Inside the theater, a Rabbi was making a speech. He was preceded by a priest, and followed by a minister, a transgender person, and the mayor's wife, Chirlaine McCray.
We were shown a film, which talked about education, housing and law enforcement - the three main challenges faced by the Mayor during his first term. And while the Mayor has made some solid progress in addressing these issues, they are likely to remain with us for many years to come.
New York City / The Tale of Two Cities: 2013 - 2017
Four years ago, the Mayor campaigned on a platform designed to address the tale of two cities. Last year he campaigned on his record of achievement in addressing the causes of the economic disparities implicit in his metaphor of the tale of two cities - but he didn't really tell us what to expect the next four years. Tonight, in his State of the City Address, the Mayor outlined what he hoped to achieve in the coming four years.
New York City / The Fairest Big City in America: 2018 - 2022
The Mayor, at his core is a bit of a policy wonk, and thus he began by outlining his plan to make New York City the Fairest Big City in America. I know that policy sounds boring - but in an age of political pugnaciousness and thoughtless theatrics - I actually find it refreshing to see an administration engaged in the process of trying to solve our social problems by using the data, analytic tools and most current social science / academic research.
1. NYC Mayor de Blasio's First Term Accomplishments
The Mayor started by touting his accomplishments which include on track to build a record number of affordable housing units, improving academic performance in the public education system [initiation Pre-K and 3-K] and continuing improvements in community safety, even while stop 'n frisk has declined over 90% [because the Mayor added thousands of police[wo]men to the force]. He noted that all of these accomplishments help make the city more fair than it was just four years ago.
The Mayor also spoke about the following topics, which I hope to add to at a later date.
2. Neighborhood Policing & Body Cameras
3. 3-K for All
4. Affordable Housing
He also proposed an electorate engagement plan, which I may also add at a later date.
Thomas Jefferson told us that a nation that expects to be ignorant and free, expects something that never was - and never will be. A government for the people by the people won't function properly if the people don't become engaged and remain engaged - as I witnessed on my way into the theater tonight.
Has The Pulitzer Prize Committee - Like the Corporate Media - Lost its Way?
The following is an open letter that I sent to the Pultizer Prize Committee on January 25th, 2018 along with a journalistic series I had written in 2017 and sent to them in 2018 entitled Rupert Murdoch and the Rise of the 21st Century Propaganda Press. The series, which you can view by clicking the link, tells the story about how multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch appears to use his media outlets as propaganda machines in order to promote pols who will grant him favorable tax legislation, favorable executive rulings and favorable industry regulatory legislation.
Murdoch also appears to be able to manipulate the course of governments and public policy. He appears to have done exactly this in the case of the Iraq War, whereby Murdoch appears to have sent three English-speaking democracies to war - not only for oil - but for his cable network TV ratings too. In Britain in 2016, regarding the Brexit referendum, Murdoch appears to have hijacked public policy in his favor - not the nation's - by pushing through a seismic policy change that enables Murdoch to have greater autonomy over how he conducts his multi-national media business - free from any meaningful government interference - and the Brexit referendum vote also gave Murdoch a huge purchase price discount, because of a devalued British currency.
While the Corporate Media obsesses over the Russian Collusion Investigation - they are distracted from putting in the spotlight what appears to be the REAL 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION STORY - which is Rupert Murdoch's election meddling to further empower and enrich himself at the expense of the republic and its institutions.
In Trump's first year, Murdoch was the recipient of numerous tax breaks, and breath-taking deregulatory actions in Murdoch's industry via FCC Rulings and telecommunications legislative changes. All of this has received scant news coverage, as the Pulitzer Prize Award winning corporate media, were too busy covering Donald Trump's Tweet distractions. By giving preferential treatment to Trump's tweets, which the American public is able to directly access on their own, the corporate media has failed the American public by regurgitating and hence amplifying the President's shock jock statements - instead of doing their job of providing the American public with context-based news reports about the important issues of the day.
- CLICK here to read my Opinion / Editorial about the Pulitzer Prize Committee & Journalism Awards.
De Blasio Wins 2nd Term by Landslide
Nationally Democrats Pick up New Jersey & Hold onto Virginia
City-wide & Borough-wide Offices. Mayor de Blasio won a decisive victory against Republican challenger, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, on Tuesday by winning nearly 67% of the vote.
In fact it was a landslide for nearly all incumbent Democrats who won by comparably wide margins, including Letitia James for Public Advocate (74%), Scott Stringer for NYC Comptroller (77%), and all five Borough Presidents including Gale Brewer (Manhattan - 83%), Eric Adams (Brooklyn - 83%), Ruben Diaz (Bronx - 88%), Melinda Katz (Queens - 78%) and James Oddo (Staten Island - 75%).
Mayoral Election Results by Borough. De Blasio won four of the five boroughs by wide margins including roughly 5:1 in the Bronx, 3:1 in Manhattan and Brooklyn and approaching 2:1 in Queens. Malliotakis won her home borough of Staten Island approaching 3:1. Staten Island has a significantly smaller population than the other four boroughs as it has only between 20% and 30% the population of any of the other boroughs.
Trump Referendum & Job Performance Approval. Several pundits speculated that in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans six to one - this was an NYC referendum on the Trump presidency. This may be so, but some mention should also be given to how well NYC is performing vis a vis other cities in terms of jobs creation, improving performance in the public schools, fiscal management and low crime rate.
Results for the Three NYS Proposals on Ballot. The first Proposal - to change the NYS Constitution - lost overwhelmingly with 83% voting NO. The second Proposal - to take away pensions of some government employees found guilty of some crimes - won overwhelmingly with 73% voting YES. And the third Proposal - to allow some 'development' in public parks won in a close vote - 52% vote YES while 48% voted NO.
New Jersey Governor Race. On the national front, newcomer Phil Murphy (D) beat Lieutenant Governor Kim Quadagno (R) in the governor race in New Jersey. Murphy received 55% of the vote while Quadagno received 43% of the vote. Murphy will replace Chris Christie (R) who has an approval rating of 19%. In exit polls, 11% said they cast their votes in support of Trump, while 32% said they cast their votes in opposition to Trump.
Virginia Governor Race. In Virginia, the latest polls were once again off significantly, predicting a tight race that wasn't. Democrat Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam won 54% of the vote while Republican Ed Gillespie who was the former Chair of the Republican National Committee won 43% of the vote. Gillespie won the rural parts of the state, while Northam won the urban areas. Gillespie was reported to be using Trump-style campaign tactics to win the race, but from Japan, Trump distanced himself from Gillespie's loss.
We Elect Pols but Not Publishers. In the graphic at right, you can see the pill face of the unhappy Billionaire which I superimposed over the face of the Mayor. The power-hungry, media mogul's outlet had published the headline 'Stuck with the Bill' - which he published in defiance of the two-thirds of the NYC voters who came out to re-elect the Mayor. He appears to be working toward conquering the U.S. so he can make us a 'Fox Nation', like he did Australia.
We don't get to elect publishers, but every time you purchase one of his papers, or click into his TV stations or websites, you are indirectly supporting him [NY Post, Fox News, WWOR Ch9, WNYW Fox Ch5 and the WSJ]. Some of the people in his organizations do good work, but many of those he puts front and center, appear to be highly paid propagandist mouthpieces who push what appears to be his greedy, deceitful, power-grabbing agenda. The story below provides more detail.
Election 2017 Tuesday 11/7 - Please Vote
The polling booths will be open from 6 am to 9 pm Tuesday.
To find your poll location click on the graphic at right.
Once on the website, input your address, and then click the small icon to the right of it to get the results of the search. I hope the NYS Board of Elections does better cyber security on their voting systems than they do web design for this site, as the tiny arrow mentioned above is easily overlooked.
NYS Ballot Propositions - Vote Tuesday
There are three Referendums on the Ballot.
Calling A State Constitutional Convention
This is where it appears that all the lobbyists would re-write the NYS Constitution to favor them and their interests, and screw the general public aka you. Their argument is to streamline government, but democracy works slowly for a reason - as it takes time for the general public to become aware of issues and then to organize in time for a proper vetting. That's why our Founding Fathers included so many checks and balances in the system - to give us - We The People - time to react.
I recommend voting NO.
Forfeiture of Public Officer's Pension if Convicted of Felony
This is where a public official who's found guilty of a felony that violates the public trust, loses their pension. This is targeted only at a certain class of government officials - not all of them. Voting Yes, mitigates the effort to expand the scope of government officials covered. It seems an unfair application of the law and I don't know who drafted this or why they limited it.
I have no recommendation.
Authorizing Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes
This is what looks like the creation of a first opening for development in the Adirondack and Catskills parks. It's not specific to any identifiable project and open ended, which looks like giving government officials / developers a blank check. Each project should be evaluated on its own merits.
I recommend voting NO.
NYC Mayoral Debates Fall 2017
Dietl Effervesces, Malliotakis Attacks & de Blasio Defends
I attended the Mayoral Debate at Symphony Space on Tuesday, October 10th, where former NYC Detective [1970 – 1985] and security firm businessman Bo Dietl [Independent], New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis [Republican Staten Island] and Mayor Bill de Blasio [Democrat] squared off for one of two general election debates. The debates are sponsored by the New York Campaign Finance Board and are a requirement for those candidates who receive matching funds.
NYC Mayoral Debates - Opening Statements
Each candidate came out and made opening statements. Bo Dietl talked about his time working the streets as a policeman in the 1970’s and 1980’s and how since then he has run a successful security firm that also employs minorities. He described his two opponents as Column A and Column B candidates.
Nicole Malliotakis told us how she is the first member of her family to obtain a college degree and a Masters of Business Administration and that she is the ‘American Dream’. She went on to say she would fix our schools, transit system and homelessness.
Bill de Blasio said that his two opponents were both right wing Republicans and that he was the only one that would stand up to Trump. He went on to say that crime is down, test scores at NYC public schools are up, but that there’s more to do and he needs New Yorkers’ help to continue making progress.
There was a small, but very boisterous minority of rude and disruptive people in the audience, who began their noisy tirades with the opening statements. It wasn’t until near the end of the program – that one of [several of] the loudest shouters and screamers was finally escorted out.
I'll post the full debate later today along with photos of the event.
NYC Mayoral Debates: De Blasio & Albanese
Democratic Candidates Discuss Issues Facing NYC
On Wednesday evening, August 23, I made my way to Symphony Space on the Upper West Side to watch the two Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City debate the issues.
Sal Albanese Democratic Challenger
Sal Albanese is the Democratic challenger, who raised just enough money to qualify for the NYC Campaign Finance Board qualification, which mandates debates between candidates who receive matching funds.
Albanese hails from Brooklyn and served as a member of the NYC City Council from 1983 to 1998. In the twenty years since he left public office, Sal has run for mayor on two previous occasions as a reformer. Since leaving office, Albanese spent ten years working in financial services and the rest of the time as an attorney, doing related work. Based on his political career efforts, Albanese appears to support many of the same progressive causes as Mayor de Blasio.
Conservative Commentator Sliwa Backs Albanese Bid
I ran into conservative talk show commentator Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels who told me he was there to support liberal reformer Sal Albanese. I found this to be ironic - given that Sliwa is a conservative Republican commentator who a couple years ago publicly announced that he was going to run as a Republican for Queens Borough President, challenging Democrat Melinda Katz. When I asked him if he still planned to run as a Republican against Democrat Katz, he replied no, and said he was here tonight supporting Sal Albanese and the Reform Party.
NYC Mayoral Debates 2017
What follows is a summary,in lieu of a full accounting of the debate.
As I came out of the subway, I saw people gathered in front of Symphony Space. Some were supporters of the Mayor and some supporters for Goodwin, a challenger to the Upper West Side NYC City Councilwoman, Helen Rosenthal.
Inside I found that the free tickets had been fully subscribed, and while the auditorium was generally filled - it was not full - as not everyone used the tickets they booked.
Errol Louis of NY1 was the debate moderator and the debate panelists included: Brian Lehrer of WNYC, Laura Nahmias of Politico, Grace Rauh of NY1 and Juan Manuel Benitez of Noticias on NY1.
Each candidate opened with brief statements.
Albanese: Cites The Issues Facing NYC & America
Albanese started by talking about many of the major issues facing not just New York, but in many respects, all of America. He mentioned class warfare, pay to play politics, public transit investment, empty storefronts, lawless developers, and the negative impact of gentrification on communities, public space and tenants.
De Blasio: Cites Administration Accomplishments
De Blasio started by talking about the accomplishments of his administration over the past three and a half years. He noted that his administration is in the process of building affordable housing for 500,000 tenants and is on time and on budget. That Stop N Frisk is down 93% while the NYC crime rate has continued to fall, so that NYC is now one of the safest big cities in America. And that 78,000 children are now attending pre-school. He said while his Administration has achieved a lot, there's a lot more to do.
The Mayoral Debate between Sal Albanese and Mayor Bill de Blasio in September 2017.
Fox News Sean Hannity is Whose Voice?
Stock Market adds Trillions & Working Middle Class Gets What?
Has Rupert Murdoch's Fox News mouthpiece, Sean Hannity, been pushing hard for tax reform because the Trump tax plan will be good for the working class people - one of which he appears to pretend to be? Or because the Trump Tax Plan will be good for mega multi-millionaires like Sean Hannity and mega multi-billionaires like Hannity's boss, Rupert Murdoch?
How Much a Phony is Fox News Sean Hannity?
Does he Pretend to be Working Class Guy ...
- So he can Dupe Fox News Viewers into Supporting a Tax Plan that Favors NOT them -
... but Mega-Millionaires like Him?
Hannity hasn't been a working class guy for in the neighborhod of two decades. In fact, according to Forbes in a 2015 survey Hannity is a very rich man. According to Zillow Hannity owns a palacial home on Long Island worth millions [see Zillow photo at right] and a second home located in a wealthy enclave in Naples, Florida.
Forbes published that Sean Hannity's earnings in 2015 were $29 million [see graphic at right]. So it's not implausible to guess that Hannity may have purchased the second home in Florida, so he could claim residency there in order to avoid NYS taxes, which Hannity has been publicly complaining about for years.
Which tax candidates and priorities do you think Sean Hannity is supporting - yours - or his own and Boss Murdochs?
Televangelist Hannity Preaches Gospel According to Murdoch
Fox News & Hannity Dictate Orders to Republicans ... Implied Threat is Suffer the Wrath of Murdoch's Propaganda Machine?
Hypocrisy & Half Truths on Hannity on Fox News Tonight?
I'm using Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity as an example of what appears to be the incredible hypocrisy and misleading information regarding Trump and the Trump tax plan, being provided by Murdoch's Fox News, one of America's largest TV networks.
It appears Hannity lures unwitting viewers into believing he's a working class guy - when he isn't - so his viewers will take his advice when he labels political candidates and public issues in childly simplistic terms of 'US' vs 'THEM' and 'GOOD' vs 'BAD'. Hannity seems to use small words and incessantly repeats himself, instructing his viewers like they are a bunch of five year-old kids who don't have the contextual experience nor even the infantile analytical skills required to think for themselves.
Fox and Hannity oftentimes appear to make no attempt to find and disseminate the truth on issues or government officials, but instead appear to propagandistically promote or punish those who do not bend to their will, as exemplified in the Business Insider headline to your right. The implicit message to Republicans appears to be obey us - or suffer the consequences of losing your elected government post - because our audience believes us and will do what we tell them to do.
Fox News Hannity's pugnacious rhetoric sounds kind of Nazi-like. This seems to be an indication that the FCC has granted and entrusted these people with way too much power - and that they appear to be corrupting it to serve their own selfish interests.
Click here to continue reading this report about Fox News propaganda & Hannity, O'Reilly propagandists on Fox News which is a lead into a report about how it appears they will profit handsomely from their propaganda services.
Which Queens 'Democratic' Pols Support $8 Tolls?
Currently NYS Senator Jose Peralta, Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin & CCM Van Bramer, Richards & Reynoso Publicly Support Installing $8 Tolls on Queensborough & Other East River Bridges to Raise Capital for the MTA
Queens Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley & NYS Governor Cuomo Supported Congestion Traffic Pricing in the Past
The new Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan has been making its way into the legislative process over the past year. Just last week NYS Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, a Democrat from Manhattan introduced the bill on March 23, 2016. The Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan is being sold into the legislature as a means to raise revenue to fund MTA Capital projects.
Governor Cuomo's Words
Governor Andrew Cuomo supported the Congestion Pricing Plan put forth years ago, which wasn't popular with many of the voters in Brooklyn & Queens. The two boroughs have a combined population which rounds to 5 million or 25% of the 20 million people who live in New York State.
Cuomo was quoted as making the following statement by the Observer in an article published a year ago on March 15, 2015,
“It’s not, ‘Can I support it?’ Will the people support it? Can you get it done? Can you get a congestion plan passed and we’ve gone through this a couple of times and it was an overwhelming ‘no’ and I haven’t seen anything happen that would change my opinion,”
The Governor has essentially been repeating this position publicly ever since.
Governor Cuomo's Staff Actions
But while the Governor is publicly distancing himself from the measure which is unpopular in Queens and Brooklyn, former NY City Councilmember Mark Weprin, who is now Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs, has supported the Move NY Plan.
Weprin vehemently oppposed Congestion Traffic Pricing in 2008 when he was a NY City Councilmember, but in 2015 Weprin began publicly supporting the revised Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as he transitioned from NY City Councilmember to becoming Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs. NYS Assemblyman David Weprin, Mark's brother, continues to publicly oppose the plan.
It's worth mentioning that the Weprins and the Cuomos have had close family political ties spanning two generations.
Congressman Crowley's Position Circa 2007
Democratic Party Chairman, U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, supported the Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan backed by former Mayor Bloomberg, according to a June 11, 2007 report by the New York Times which quoted Crowley as saying,
“the overall  plan — and congestion pricing is just a part of it — will make this a more livable city and make it easier to attract the best and the brightest not only from around the country but from around the world.”
We've not yet seen any comments by Congressman Crowley on the current Move NY Plan which was recently introduced.
Move NY's 'New & Improved' Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan
We studied the Move NY Traffic Congestion Pricing proposal by first taking a closer look at what groups are pushing the plan [follow the money], researched the assumptions they used to create the estimates they provide in the plan, and looked at what happened in one of the other cities around the world that implemented the plan.
In essence the plan retrofits [re-prices] the fossil fuel infrastructure, by making a significant investment to install and operate tolling around the center of Manhattan. The remaining proceeds would then go to fund other MTA capital projects [in London this was about half the proceeds]. The pricing would require those who can't afford the $8 tolls [each way] to either use mass transit [recent NYC metro studies have shown this switching doesn't happen] or to cross the bridge at other times at which time the tolls would cost less. The proponents say this would enable those who can afford the tolls to cross the bridge and move around mid Manhattan more easily [less traffic congestion].
Previously MTA Invests Billion$ in New Subways Appearing to Accommodate Manhattan Developers & Now Pols Want Metro Residents & Employees To Fund MTA Capital Budget
The MTA during the Bloomberg (Republican) Administration made approximately $8 billion in MTA capital investments for about 30 to 40 blocks of Manhattan subway lines. One line travels from Times Square to the Javits Center [$2.4 billion mostly paid by city] and the other, which was strongly supported by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, is expected to travel along Second Avenue from about East 60th Street to about East 86th Street when it is completed [ran way past budget and time estimates - currently about $5.2 billion].
The latter subway line has been called the 'subway to nowhere', while the other isn't much different - as it terminates at the Javits Center and billionaire real estate developer Steven Ross' & Related Companies' new Hudson Yards development - without any other subway connections. Pundits have opined that one [new #7 Hudson Yards station] and possibly both of these multi-billion dollar investments were made to accommodate Manhattan real estate developers [such as Ross], more than to facilitate transit for commuters and residents of New York City.
When I confronted an MTA spokesperson with this perspective, they told me that the Q line extension would alleviate a considerable amount of the congestion on the north / south east side Manhattan subway line, but made no comment regarding the Hudson Yards station.
The photos above show no passengers on the Javits subway [at an admittedly random time and not long after it was installed], while the second photo shows the #6 subway along the Upper East Side, also at a random time [I have #7 photos that look the same, but didn't have time to find one]. The map to your right shows the new #7 subway line extension ending as an unconnected spur.
Perhaps if the MTA and the government officals who oversee MTA capital project spending were more judicious in their selection of multi-billion dollar projects and allocation of funds, they wouldn't need to charge taxpayers $8 tolls on the East River Bridges to develop and operate an expensive new tolling system [that aids the wealthy & economically discriminates against those who are not], so they can raise some extra revenue for transit that NYC commuters - not Manhattan real estate developers - really need.
Click here for the rest of our story about the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as we explore in greater detail a connected web of people, lobbyists and organizations behind Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan and their possible motivations. We critique the plan including a review of the assumptions, and a closer look at independent studies done with regard to motorists response to toll prices and changes.
Queens Library: Controversy & Takeover
Queens Boro President Katz's Controversial Queens Library 'Reform Bill' & NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer's Lawsuit Against the Award Winning Queens Library Resulted in Taxpayers Paying Million$? for What?
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer in tandem with the NY Daily News relentlessly attacked the award winning Queens Library President Thomas Galante and the Queens Library Board using allegations and innuendo in what appeared to be a publicity hanging. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz then pushed through legislation changing the Queens Library charter, which wrested control away from the independent board, and gave it to her and the Mayor. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law with the near unanimous vote from both NYS legislative bodies.
It appears it was a power grab by Katz with Stringer's help, as the allegations did not result in any court actions and the Queens Library subsequently suffered a multi-million dollar lawsuit loss [we heard but could not confirm that it cost $7 million] regarding the Queens Library President's termination [settled out of court - probably so it wouldn't be scrutinized by the public or the press]. Most of the other local press was guilty of following the NY Daily News narrative which appeared to be guided by the then Publisher, billionaire and real estate developer Mortimer Zuckerman. We carved out our own narrative as what the NY Daily News was reporting didn't seem to be supported by what we knew about the Queens Library and its award winning president.
Click here to read our coverage of the Queens Library corruption scandal starring NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz & Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News or click here for Queens Public Library program and other announcements at the Queens Public Library website.
Clinton Defeats Sanders, Trump Defeats Rivals
Clinton 58% vs Sanders 42%; Trump 60% vs Kasich 24% & Cruz 15%
April 20, 2016 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Elections / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Bernie Sanders has been campaigning in New York the past week, drawing large crowds ranging from thousands to tens of thousands, as if he were a rock star. But on Tuesday, the voters weighed in and handed Hillary Clinton a convincing victory, helping her widen her delegate lead, and likely put her on the path to the Democratic Party nomination.
Democratic Delegate Count
To win the Democratic Party nomination, a candidate needs 2383 delegates of 4763 total. Within that total there are 712 super delegates, who can align themselves / vote for whomever they want but there's pressure to vote in favor of the direction that the state voted. The remaining 4051 delegates are won via the voting process and are called pledged delegates.
According to the Associated Press estimate, following the NY State win, Hillary Clinton now has 1428 pledged delegates and 469 super delegates, while Bernie Sanders has 1151 pledged delegates and 31 super delegates. There are 1472 pledged delegates remaining, so to win a majority of pledged delegates, Hillary has to win 598 or 41% of the remaining pledged delegates, while Bernie has to win 874 or 59% of them. Clinton has already received commitments from more than half of the 'super delegates'.
Given Sanders is generally still behind in the polls in some of the larger remaining states [behind 16% in Pennsylvania and behind 8% in California], that seems a tall order. While the polls were dead wrong in Michigan, they were spot on in New York. The Sanders campaign told a news outlet Tuesday evening that they will see how they do in the contests this coming week and then evaluate their chances going forward. The Democratic Convention has been scheduled from July 25 - 28, 2016 in Philadelphia.
Republican Delegate Count
Meanwhile on the Republican side there wasn't much news. Trump won handily defeating Kasich and Cruz. The Republicans have 2473 total delegates and 1237 are needed to win. According to the Associated Press estimate, following the NY State win, Trump has 845 delegates, while Cruz has 559 and Kasich has 147.
Trump needs 392 more delegates [about 40%] to go uncontested to the Republican Convention. There are 992 delegates remaining, but according to CBS only 674 delegates are available in the remaining voting contests prior to the Convention. So Trump may have to win 60% of the remaining unpledged delegates to go to the Convention uncontested. The Republican Convention is scheduled for July 18 - 21, 2016 in Cleveland.
The voting contests next week include Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware.
The fat lady hasn't yet sung, but it is beginning to look like a Clinton / Trump race to the White House.
On the Campaign Trail & 'Feeling the Bern'
Sanders Introduces Democratic Socialism to the American People
Updated April 19, 2016 from 4/15/16 / Village Neighborhood / NYC Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
If nothing else, this has been an interesting presidential election cycle. It's not 'reality TV', its televised reality.
Making America Great ... again?
The Republicans attracted most of the attention early on, thanks mostly to Donald J. Trump's shock jock presidential candidacy. A candidacy that turned presidential debates about public policy into name calling, discussions of poll numbers & penis size, and relentless barrages of vituperative insults.
The Donald has, in his campaign, essentially told us to forgeddabout the ballooning government deficit, a dated and at times crumbling infrastructure, fixing our public education system, helping the shrinking middle class and addressing global climate change.
The Donald has distracted us from an intelligent discussion about these 'loser' subjects, and told us that he's going to rip 12 million people [the equivalent of about 5% of the nation's population] away from their families by deporting them, punishing women for getting abortions, and erecting a wall along the border with Mexico which he tells us the Mexicans are going to pay for.
Does Trump really think this is how to 'make America great ... again'?
Trump Candidacy Increases Ratings Which Translates to Profits
Trump may not make America great again, but he's been good for corporate-owned, network television ratings. The Hollywood Reporter quotes CBS Chairman, Leslie Moonves telling a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco on February 29th, 2016 that,
"The money's rolling in and this is fun ... this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going."
While Sanders Delivers Substance & Expands Public Debate
So while Donald Trump has been filling the pockets of corporate-owned mass media, Bernie Sanders - the man with the real story - has largely been ignored. Ignored by the mass media, but embraced by the social media and a signficant and growing segment of the American populace. In fact Sanders, during the past week of campaigning in New York, attracted crowds of tens of thousands, while the other candidates on both sides of the ticket did not.
Click here to see photos of the Bernie Sanders rally in LIC Queens, as well as a story about the contest between Sanders and Clinton.
De Blasio's State of the City Address 2016
Progress Moving NYC from 'Tale of Two Cities' to 'One New York'?
I attended Mayor de Blasio’s second State of the City Address delivered at the Performing Arts Center at Lehman College in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. In spite of its northern, non-central location, the speech was well attended. About three dozen protesters also made their way north of Manhattan into the Central west Bronx, wielding placards asking the Mayor to stop gentrification and something about fair labor practices.
I took my place among the press corps where we were seated right in the middle of the auditorium. After settling in, I started photographing the slides whizzing by on the main stage, showing the accomplishments of the de Blasio Administation during its first two years. I have included a slide show a bit later in this report, which contains some of the slides that I photographed.
Unlike last year, when the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were having difficulties adjusting to each other, this year the mood seemed buoyant. In front of me was a group of students from the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology - MS 223 - at 360 East 145th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. The school is connected with Bronx Prep and hence handles grades 6 through 12.
Click here to read our report of Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016. The report includes video excerpts of the Mayor's speech, as well as two other short video pieces including the harmony singing of the National Anthem by a talented Bronx choral group, and a few exchanges with the teachers and students of MS 223 in the Bronx.
Brewer Gives State of the Borough Address
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer Talks About Manhattan 2016
February 1, 2016 / NYC Government, Media & Politics / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
I attended Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer's State of the Borough Address on Sunday afternoon. The event was held at the New School at 63 5th Avenue just south of 14th Street in the Village neighborhood. Last year Gale Brewer gave her State of the Borough Address up at Columbia University, followed by a forum where she discussed general issues facing the borough. This year, at the New School, the forum topic was about engaging Manhattan borough youth through school and after-school activities.
Gale Brewer's State of the Borough Address
Brewer began her address by thanking all of the other government officials in attendance, as well as members of her family. She encouraged folks to keep out their phones and use Twitter to comment on the forum as it proceeded. The Twitter posts were shown on a big screen behind her, which is something I found more a distraction / nuisance than helpful - but I don't have Attention Deficit Disorder - so my opinion may not reflect the general populace.
Social & Economic Issues Facing Manhattan
Brewer focused on about four topics: 1) affordable housing, 2) small business, 3) urban gardening, 4) police / community relations and 5) public schools.
She told us that she introduced 32 pieces of legislation this year, 8 of which were passed by the NYC City Council. The bills included: 1) shielding applicants arrest records from employers so they can't discriminate against people who had conflicts with the police, 2) the passage of paid sick leave for employees where she claimed that she did all the work to get the bill passed, while the Mayor got the credit, rezoning bills for 3) Midtown that she worked on with NYCCM Garodnick and NY City Planning for Midtown East and 4) rezoning for the South Street Seaport with NYCCM Chin wherein the real estate developer finally withdrew their plans for a large tower along the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. She mentioned something about the Zoning legislation set forth by the de Blasio Administration to enable development of affordable housing, which didn't pass, but I didn't catch the gist of it.
Manhattan Borough President's Community Efforts in 2015
There were other things that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer talked about that she and her staff had done last year including, a) working with the police and the community to improve relations [not sure what], b) hosting small business round tables and an urban gardening symposium, c) organizing two mixers with teachers and private businesses in the arts and technology, and d) something about presenting a large scale map of Manhattan on the 19th floor gallery.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer noted that the Upper West Side was heralded as the second most livable communities for the 50 plus crowd by some organization or magazine, which also cited New York City as the 5th most livable city for the 50 plus crowd in the larger cities category. Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer noted that the age to serve on Community Boards had been lowered to 16 years and that applications to serve on the Community Boards must be submitted by February 1, 2016 [now closed].
[Editor's Comment: One has to question the wisdom of allowing 16 year olds to represent a community as there's a great deal of life's lessons that one doesn't have at that age which leaves them susceptible to manipulation by powerful people and politicians. Isn't 18 or 21 young enough?]
Manhattan Borough President Hosts Panel Discussion About Youth at the New School
Then the panel began which featured: 1) an African American Khary Lazarre-White of the Brotherhood / Sister Sol, 2) an Asian Sumie Okazaki of the NYU Steinhardt School, 3) a Hispanic Francisco J. Nunez of Young Peoples Chorus of NYC and 4) a Caucasian Marc Murphy who is a chef / restaurateur.
The topic of the discussion was how to engage youth. They talked about: 1) income / opportuity inequality and discrimination, 2) that not everyone is able or interested in being a Rhodes Scholar and hence need to be engaged with in other endeavors or they become lost, 3) that music, farming and food are several of such avenues, 4) that income segregated housing isn't good for society, 5) that immigrant parents' language capabilities limit their ability to help their children evolve, 6) that ethics should be a part of the school curriculum because it's not always taught and reinforced in the home, and 7) that managing the impact of social media on kids complicates educators and parents ability to manage social situations that go awry.
Unfortunately I could not stay for the entire discussion, but I think you can get a flavor of the event from what I've reported above. Have a good year.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker
Columbia School of Journalism Dean Coll Moderates Conversation with Authors Gay Talese & Thomas Kunkel
January 18, 2016 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan History / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
I received an invitation to attend a conversation at the Columbia School of Journalism about a new book covering the professional life of one of the most prominent writers of The New Yorker magazine. The Columbia University School of Journalism is easily one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation; and Columbia also hosts the judging for the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered one of the highest awards a journalist or author can receive.
It was a fairly warm October evening as I made my way north on the subway along the Upper West Side. I got off at 116th Street and walked east through the main campus to the Faculty House. The Faculty House sits atop the Morningside Heights ridge overlooking Harlem, the Upper West Side and the rest of Manhattan.
The entrance into the Faculty House was from an interior courtyard where Columbia University students were hanging around in casual conversations. Once inside, I was directed to an upper floor where the event was being held.
Seated at the head of the room was Gay Talese, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books including The Kingdom & The Power. He was in the company of the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author having penned several tomes about issues in Asia, most notably the Middle East. And of course, there was the guest author of the evening, Thomas Kunkel, who is the President of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and who had penned the book being discussed this evening entitled Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker.
CCM Ben Kallos Hosts Superscraper Zoning Forum
July 23, 2015 / Manhattan / NYC Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended a ‘Superscraper Forum’ hosted by NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side neighborhood on a comfortable Thursday evening at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. It was to begin at 6.30 pm and 250 people had reserved seats for an auditorium that held 140 seats and had space for about 40 standing.
To be sure the auditorium was full when I arrived and I caught only the tail end of what the first speaker had to say. There were over a half dozen speakers, including NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos who organized the meeting which was attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who arrived near the end of it.
The other speakers included the first speaker who was from the NYC Department of Housing & Planning, who I missed, as well as the following: Emma Marconi Bologna of Civitas NYC, Tara Kelly of the Friends of the Upper East Side, Margaret Newman of the Municipal Art Society, and three other people whose names and associations I did not catch. One may have been an architect, one may have been a representative of the East 50’s Association which is a group dedicated to reining in Superscrapers, and there might have been one from the Sutton Area Community neighborhood association.
Click here to read the rest of our report about NYC Zoning Laws: Superscraper Zoning for the Upper East Side & Sutton Place.
Albany Legislative Session To End Friday
Pending Bills: Public School Funding & Rent Stabilization Law
June 15, 2015 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / Gotham Buzz.
There are two important bills expected to be finalized by the New York State Legislature this week: 1) one having to do with taxation and funding for the public schools and 2) the second having to do with NYC rent stabilization law.
I've been paying some modest measure of attention to both of these bills, and the following is a brief snapshot of a critical talking point in each bill.
Use Public Money To Fund Private Education?
From what I can gather, perhaps the most contentious item in the public education funding bill is the provision for sizeable tax deductions for those who choose to send their children to private, not public schools.
As I understand it, these tax deductions would be included as part of the funding for the public schools budget and therefore will reduce what's left for the NYS / NYC public school systems.
It's worth noting that private school tuition in NYC can cost in the range of about $5,000 to $30,000 per year per student. And that there are about 900 private schools in NYC alone, so depending on how these proposed deductions are ultimately structured, the funds reallocated from the public schools to private individuals would be in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly more.
You might want to contact Governor Cuomo's office at 1.518.474.8390 to let him know you support or oppose the measure, since we understand that he's been the major force pushing for this public school funding change. You can also send him an email via the Governor's contact form at http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php
Albany & Expiring Rent Stabilization Laws
The Rent Stabilization Laws are due to expire tonight, June 15, 2015.
There was talk earlier this year that there would be a push to expand or strengthen the Rent Stabilization Laws given the rapid growth in homelessness in New York City. The NYC homeless population is currently estimated at over 60,000 or nearly 1% of the entire NYC population. About 70% of New York City residents are renters, of which about two million of less than eight and a half million residents, live in rent stabilized apartments.
Over the past decade or so, the Rent Stabilization Laws have been curtailed in the favor of the free market and landlords. The curtailment of rent price control legislation is believed to have spurred additional real estate development investment, as the profits of most new buildings are no longer affected by rent stabilization laws.
Much of the rapid growth in homelessness over the past decade is believed to be the result of tenants losing their rent stabilized apartments, as new owners of buildings have found ways to circumvent the laws. A recent NYU Furman Center Study has shown the loss of over 330,000 unsubsidized affordable apartments since 2002, due in part to the rent stabilization legislative changes referenced above.
NYS legislative insiders told me that tenants rights supporters were hoping to make legislative gains this year, but that the NYS Assemblypeople and NYS Senators opposing the changes, were going to allow the rent stabilization laws to expire as a negotiating tactic.
Vicki Been, Commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, informed us that the current rent stabilization laws remain in effect through the term of existing leases and leases up for renewal that are already in the hands of the tenants. She also said that tenants should call 311 with any questions or problems.
Cuomo & NYS Officials - Quinnipiac Poll
On June 3, 2015 Quinnipiac released a poll showing voters are feeling negatively about the NYS Legislature as a whole, while continuing to favor their local representatives. In the poll Governor Cuomo has only a 2% margin of those favoring him.
Governor Cuomo had a 44% approval rating versus 42% disapproval rating, as voters are not satisfied with his handling of the corruption scandals that have plagued Albany this year. In February 2015 Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [Democrat Manhattan] was indicted on federal corruption charges. And in May 2015 NYS Senate Leader Dean Skelos [Republican Long Island] was indicted by a federal Grand Jury.
Less than a year ago, NYS gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University surprised polls by garnering nearly 2 votes for every 3 won by the governor in the NYS Democratic primary. Ms. Teachout did not have much in the way of significant private backing or union support, but won nearly 40% of the vote waging an online campaign.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, voters by a margin of 52% - 32% said that with respect to Albany's corruption problem:
"... the Governor is part of the problem, not part of the solution."
As for the NYS Assemblymembers and NYS Senators the Quinnipiac Poll reported the following:
"Voters disapprove 60 - 26 percent of the job the State Legislature is doing, but approve 44 - 37 percent of their own Assembly member and approve 54 - 31 percent of their own state senator."
"At the same time, 45 percent of voters say their state senator should be thrown out in a general house-cleaning, while 40 percent say their senator deserves reelection."
"Voters are divided 41 - 41 percent on whether their Assembly member should be reelected or thrown out."
As you can see, the sentiments collected in the Quinnipiac poll seem a bit contradictory, as the answers received depend on how the questions are stated. Nonetheless, this looks to be an interesting legislative week as things wind down in Albany, and as the 2016 election cycle begins to ramp up.
New York City Makes 'Budget Handshake'
June 23, 2015 / NYC Neigbhorhoods / NYC Government & Politics / Gotham Buzz.
We received this missive from New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side. We've made few edits, but the text is essentially a reprint of her email.
Over 100 hours of budget hearings revealed much information that helped to shape the final agreement. [Helen Rosenthal said that] As a member of the City Council's Finance Committee and the Budget Negotiating Team, I can honestly say that all 51 members of the Council had input to ensure that New Yorkers in every borough will get the services they need. In addition to major investments in neighborhood police, there is additional funding for mental health services, veterans, and Vision Zero education.
Photo Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council
Education and Youth
• There will be an increase of 80 school crossing guards citywide, and the Upper West Side will gain more crossing guards. Renewed focus on recruitment and retention will happen in discussions over the summer.
• There are unprecedented amounts of funding for our young adults from summer jobs and year-round jobs to support for City University of New York (CUNY) students to keep them in college and help them graduate.
• The additional $39 million for libraries will yield 6-7 day a week service in every borough.
• The free lunch program in middle schools will continue, and there will be an expansion of the "breakfast after the bell" program, so that all elementary schools will offer it by 2018.
• Teachers will receive up to $125 in reimbursement for school supplies that they bring into the classroom. While this is an improvement, it is not enough. We must give teachers all the tools they need to teach well, and I will continue to work to improve this system in the next fiscal year.
• Over $35 million for lawyers, clinics, and advocacy to support tenants who experience harassment by landlords - the largest the City has ever dedicated to this issue.
• Dedicated legal advice for public housing (NYCHA) residents in housing court at 250 Broadway.
• Dedicated team of inspectors to investigate particularly egregious landlords.
Seniors and Safety Net
• Elimination of the wait list for seniors needing home care services.
• Commitment to build 5,000 new units of senior affordable housing over the next five years with dedicated on-site social services.
• Additional funding for the emergency food program and local food banks.
• The largest investment in addressing elder abuse through outreach and social services.
Small Business Support
• Dedicated funds to local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and civic associations. Council members will be able to designate money to support small business in their area.
• Double the investments in worker cooperative support yielding an additional 30-40 new worker-owned businesses throughout the City.
• Community-based organizations providing EarlyLearn NYC services will receive wage parity with DOE employees providing that service.
• Increase of the minimum wage of "Human Service" contract workers to $11.50/hour with targeted career ladder support.
• Funding to continue providing local services from small, community non-profits that lost contracts through the citywide process.
The City Council will formally "adopt" the City's budget at a Stated meeting later this week. At that time, we will have additional information about my dedicated funding for the Upper West Side.
Again, this a reprint of an email from New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side.
Elizabeth Warren @ Union Square
Capacity Crowd Considers A Fighting Chance
Are Buffett & Investment Bankers Trying To Pre-emptively Define Her As 'Angry' & 'Too Liberal' Before The Rest Of America Hears Her Speak?
April 6, 2015 / Village Neighborhood NYC / Government & Politics NYC / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
In the past few months I have overheard a number of people chatting about Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts. So when I heard that she would be speaking at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in late March of 2015, to promote the paperback release of her book entitled A Fighting Chance, I decided to see for myself what they were talking about.
Up until this time I knew little about Senator Warren except that she had retaken the Massachusetts Senate seat for Democrats - that Scott Brown had won for Republicans - shortly after the death of Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
I arrived a bit early to get my bearings, as there has been a growing groundswell of support for Senator Warren to run for President. Like Barack Obama in 2008, she would probably have to beat Hillary Clinton, even though Hillary has not yet formally announced that she's running.
Nonetheless, just like eight years ago, Hillary has already been anointed the Democratic candidate / victor by the mass media political polls and pundits. Queen Hillary's coronation may be premature, as she continues to slip in the polls versus her potential Republican rivals, including Prince Jeb - likely due to the email debacle, and perhaps a growing reminder of the Clinton family public dramas of years gone by.
Many of the seats facing the podium on the fourth floor were filled, while the remainder of them were filling up steadily. I had been told by someone earlier in the day, that most of the folks in the audience would likely be older people. So I was surprised to see that while the audience contained a number of older people [let's say over 50 / 60], a majority of those in attendance were actually younger people [under 40 / 50].
What follows is an account of the Elizabeth Warren speech - or shall I say her Law-School-like lecture - and the crowd's reaction to it. The report also includes a preliminary examination into why those in the investment banking sector, like Warren Buffett, seem uncomfortable with the idea of Elizabeth Warren's rise as a potential or eventual Democratic candidate for president. And at the end of the report we added a brief historical review of the front running Bush and Clinton family performances on the national stage over the past three decades.
Click here to read the rest of our story about Elizabeth Warren in Manhattan NYC.
Are The Clintons & Bushs American Royalists?
This next section provides a brief report to remind voters of some of the highlights of the two major parties' front running candidates' family performance histories. History they made while their family worked in the Executive Branch of the federal government.
I heard some folks in the audience say that they thought Elizabeth Warren might be a good running mate for Hillary. Several told me that Hillary was unstoppable. I thought about this after leaving the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Union Square in Manhattan and decided to start surveying people about how likeable Hillary Clinton is.
Hillary Clinton - Is She A Paper Tiger?
The response wasn’t particularly good for those who support Hillary. To about half of the people I randomly surveyed, Hillary Clinton just isn’t that likeable [note that this was a super small sample size of about a dozen folks in Union Square Park in Manhattan one evening]. One pundit opined that she’s far more like Al Gore, than she is like her husband in terms of likeability.
I subsequently looked up the polling charts from eight years ago. Hillary Clinton was a paper tiger back then and, given her slippage in the polls since the email debacle, she may be a paper tiger again.
See the Obama / Clinton chart from 2006 on your right. The chart shows some loss of popularity on Hillary's part, but it was the congealing of the rest of the Democratic electorate around Obama that won him the prize. Currently Elizabeth Warren is trending in the neighborhood of Obama's poll numbers at this point in time in the race.
Back To The Past - Jeb & Hillary - 1992 Redux
I didn’t do a survey, but Jeb Bush may have the same problem as Hillary. The Bushs have presided over the nation’s two most significant financial disasters since the Great Depression – and by some accounts - they were in part responsible and Bush family members profited during them.
Click here to continue reading our report of a brief overview of the Clinton Record & Bush Record.
NYC Municipal Elections 2013
NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President & Six Ballot Proposals
On Tuesday voters get to decide who will run the city for the next four years. You get to weigh in on who will be the next NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President, City Comptroller, Public Advocate and City Councilmembers.
There are also six NY State Ballot proposals some of which are changes to the Constitution: 1) whether to authorize casino gambling in NYS, 2) a credit for qualified veterans with disabilities in the civil service, 3) exclusion of sewage treatment facility investments from county and municipal constitutional debt limits, 4) proposal to have NYS give up land rights in the Adirondacks to private enterprise in an exchange deal, 5) proposal to allow a private company to conduct mining operations on forest preserve land in a trade deal and 6) extending the length of time judges may serve past the age of 70.
Click here for our coverage of the NYC Municipal Elections, including details of the controversial Queens Borough President debate between Melinda Katz and Tony Arcabascio at QPTV in Flushing in October.
In Search Of A Civilization Lost By Mass Media
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Uses Theater & Art To Stimulate Cross Cultural Community Conversation
February 9, 2015 / Queens Theater & Arts / Art & Theater in NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
It was nearing sunset on Saturday evening as I made my way through a beautifully quiet Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The clean white snow glistened gently in the fading light, and the leafless trees along the road provided what felt like an ancient natural cathedral.
I checked in at the admissions desk and made my way to the second floor of the Queens Museum. The Queens Museum was once the home to the United Nations and hence provided the perfect context for this community conversational performance. The floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the landmarked Unisphere which emanated a universal vibe. In the long wide hallway a crowd was engaged in clustered conversations following the conclusion of four performances shown that afternoon. I had seen the performances at an event earlier in the season.
I began talking to Tasneem, a member of the audience who is shown in the photo at right standing alongside a photo taken by a friend of hers who is shown in the photo. Tasneem came from Jordan twelve years ago, only two years after 911. She said that it's important for the general populace of Muslims to stop being afraid of showing they're Muslim, because otherwise New Yorkers and the rest of America will be left with the picture of Islam as depicted by a few extremists which is amplified and continually repeated by the American mass media.
I couldn't deny it. It seems American television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines are obsessed with providing the Islamic terrorists all the publicity they want.
But here, tonight, in the Queens Museum; I would not see any of the faces shown by our mass media. I would see only the faces of everyday Islamic New Yorkers who generally receive no publicity at all. Muslims who hail from dozens of cultures around the world. And there wasn't a single terrorist among them. Hence - and likely not coincidentally - there also wasn't a single mass medium reporter covering this event.
Tasneem told me how she, like many other American Muslims, fears showing she's Muslim because of the stereotypes created by the terrorists and perpetuated and blown up by the American mass media. The notion of a silent majority came to mind.
It occurred to me that the gore of the Islamic extremists must be good for tabloids and TV ratings. And I pondered what it must feel like to be stereotyped by this relentless, distorted depiction of one's culture and people. Andy Warhol's characterization of the mass production of images came to mind.
I thought about what it would be like if I lived somewhere else in the world where the nation's media mass produced stereotypes of Americans, depicting us as murderers, rapists and thieves. That could easily be done if a nation's media decided to portray Americans by solely covering the 5.6 million violent crimes and the 17.1 million property crimes that took place in this country in 2011 alone [source: Wikipedia / Bureau of Justice Statistics]. That just wouldn't be right ... would it?
And yet, it seems that this is exactly what's been happening to Muslims in America, because of the unbalanced coverage of Islam by the big American mass media companies. The TV and newspaper tabloids make a living by sensationalizing - spinning things out of context - but aren't the real journalists supposed to provide perspective by putting things back in context?
This seems generally not to have been done.
And so the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center applied for and received a grant to begin such an effort. An effort to provide exposure to the lives and contributions of the other billion Muslims who go peacefully and productively about their lives each day, just like most of the rest of us. An effort to create a community conversant with a deeper and broader understanding of a millenial and centuries old culture that is embedded in the lives of over a billion people on the planet. People who live in dozens of nations around the globe, and none of whom are terrorists - and hence generally not represented in the American mass media.
I met American born Charles Bernett of Rego Park who had traveled to Cairo in 1979. Thirty-five years ago he was about to embark on his second trip through Africa ... [see photo at right].
The LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploratory, year-long, theater and arts, cultural endeavor entitled Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity, more of which you can find on our Queens Buzz website. Click here for a related piece done around the same time about Art & Theater in NYC: Exploring Islamic / Muslim identity in America.
Election Day Here
Today We're The 'Deciders'
November 4th 2008 at 12 noon, 6 pm and 10 pm / Sunnyside Queens / Elections in NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC..
Well, after almost two years of campaigning, decision day 2008 is finally here. Now it's our turn to decide who the 'decider' will be. Local, state and federal elections are being held Tuesday November 4th.
Poll Site Locator
To find your poll site, click the following New York City poll site locator. I was disappointed that on Monday, November 3rd the city's helpline - 311 - was unable to answer our calls for voting information. I suppose the upside is that they attributed their inadequacy to higher than average call volume. The polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm on election day.
Heading For Record Voter Turn Out
The borough and the nation appear to be headed for record voter turnout. Lines at all of the polling places in Queens that we visited were reporting much higher than average participation. Lines started early in the morning and continued into midday [see photos below]. While the polls didn't open until 6 am, people started lining up at 5.30 am in the 25th District in Sunnyside. A senior woman commented that she'd "never seen itlike this". While she's been around here a lot longer than I, my sentiments were the same.
Primary Vs General Election
Last Spring when I went to the polls after the morning rush, I took a photo of the election workers who, along with me, were the only people present. Note the 'before' phot taken during the Primary in February of 2008 [above] and the 'after' photos taken during this general election on November 4th [photo to the left and below]. This section of the story was written the morning of the election.
The next section was written the evening of the election. Click here for 2008 Election NYC / NYS.
De Blasio's State Of The City Address
NYC Mayor Maps Out A Framework To Tackle NYC's Affordable Housing Crisis
Real Estate Lobbyist: "Zoning Is The Equivalent Of Minting Money"
February 9, 2015 / NYC Neigbhorhoods / NYC Government & Politics / Gotham Buzz.
Mayor Bill de Blasio sent the NYC political, media and real estate worlds abuzz on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 when he laid out his administration's plan to solve one of the severest shortages of affordable housing in the history of New York City. It seems everyone had something to say in response to it - from the folks on the street to the NYS Governor. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is shown standing in the bottom left corner of the photo, after giving his first State of the City Address.
The housing crisis in New York City reached crisis proportions during the Bloomberg Administration. Former Mayor Bloomberg's approach to the issue was to let rent regulated apartments expire or become transformed to encourage investment, provide generous tax incentives and city land deals to real estate developers to build luxury high rise apartments, and build more homeless shelters.
A severe shortage of affordable housing was lurking in the background, as candidate Bill de Blasio began running for the office of mayor with the theme of "the tale of two cities". His campaign keyed into the pinch being felt by the 70% of New Yorkers who rent.
Thus one year later, while giving his first State of the City Address, the 109th Mayor of New York City put the affordable housing problem front and center for his Administration in a manner similar to what he had done on the campaign trail.
And in doing so, the Mayor set afire talk about affordable housing by city and state pols, the media and city real estate developers.
Click here later in the week to read the rest of our report about Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City Address, including reactions by banking and real estate executives, members of labor unions and other government officials. By Michael Wood.
Tuesday - Primary Elections
The Real 'Choice' Is In The Primaries
September 8, 2014 / Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan Politics / Gotham Buzz.
Tuesday, September 9th, is an important election day as most Manhattan races are decided at that time given the borough of Manhattan is comprised of about 80% Democrats.
On Tuesday the polls open at 6 am and close at 9 pm for the primary elections for New York state and federal offices. The polls are primarily staffed by civic volunteers.
The number of people who vote in the primaries is about 10 - 25% of the electorate, generally ending up on the lower end of that range. Hence, every vote carries far more weight than in the general election.
Knowing who the candidates are, what they really stand for and voting for them is one of the key pillars of our democracy. Many of our ancestors died fighting for this right and almost all of our early American ancestors took great risks to come here to exercise that right.
One of my favorite quotes of Thomas Jefferson is, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be".
I know you're busy with all kinds of other responsibilities. But I hope you'll do your best to stay informed about who the candidates are and make the effort to vote for those who best represent your point of view. It's a small investment to make to ensure we maintain our rights and freedoms. You needn't look far around the world to see what life is like in places that don't enjoy the right to elect / choose those who govern them.
Click here to find your Manhattan polling place - and again polls are open from 6 am - 9 pm.
De Blasio Wins Primary But May Face Runoff, Stringer Edges Out Spitzer
September 11, 2013 / NYC Politics / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz.
Scott Stringer, outgoing Manhattan Borough President, edged out Elliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary. Bill De Blasio won the Democratic NYC Mayoral primary with about 40% of the vote. A tabulation of some paper ballots may determine whether there will be a runoff later this month.
And Gale Brewer, City Council Member of the Upper West Side inManhattan District 6 won nearly 40% of the vote in the race for Manhattan Borough President. Jessica Lappin, formerly Community Board One Chair won nearly 24% of the vote and City Council Member Robert Jackson of District 7 of Morningside Heights and West Harlem won 29% of the vote. In District 5 Ben Kallos won nearly 46% of the vote, while Assemblyman Micah Kellner won nearly 40% of the vote. And in District 4 there wasn't any primary as the candidates went uncontested.
Stringer Conditionally Approves Midtown East Development
September 12, 2013 / Manhattan Politics & Government / Gotham Buzz. We attended the Community Board 6 Meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday following the election and heard the announcement that outgoing Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer had conditionally approved the large scale development in the eastern section of Midtown Manhattan.
We'll have more about the Midtown East real estate development, including residents' and businesses' concerns about it in a future report.
Borough Presidents Race September 10thJuly 2013 / Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan Politics / Gotham Buzz. The primary election for Manhattan Borough President will come to a close on September 10th. Click here to find your NYC polling place at http://www.vote.nyc.ny.us/html/voters/where.shtml
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Click the log in link below to create an ID and post an opinion.
Or send this story to a friend by filling in the appropriate box below.
NYC Related Links
Click for New Years Parties & Restaurants NYC
Click for Manhattan Farmers Markets NYC