Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dear Brother Newt

A friend of mine is closely related to a U.S. Senator and the stories I get to hear are very interesting sometimes. Though as much as Senator ______ interests me, I couldn't imagine the horrors of the Gingrich family. The once mighty Speaker of the House is trying to increase his power in the Republican party yet again but his sister has some choice words for her dastardly brother. Candace is a proud liberal, gay and not afraid to tell her big brother that the world isn't about the hatred and fear that he helps to provoke.

From The Huffington Post:

Dear Newt,

I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, "There you go, again."

However, I realize that you may have been a little preoccupied lately with planning your resurrection as the savior of your party, so I thought I would fill you in on a few important developments you might have overlooked.

The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past.

Exactly, and so are many in his party. They are sticking to the success of their "Contract with/on America" years ago and refuse to wake up to how most Americans are looking at the state of their nation in 2008. As Candace points out to her brother, the change isn't going to stop, no matter how much fear and ignorance is used to prop up their litany of bogeymen. So skipping over the part of how great the progressive movement, I'd like to highlight Candace's simple piece of advice for Newt.

What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions. That's really so '90s, Newt. In this day and age, it's embarrassing to watch you talk like that. You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it.

In other words, stop being a hater, big bro.

That is precisely what Newt is, a hater, nothing more, nothing less.

Obama's Weekly Address: Jobs, Here We Come!

The President-Elect comes through with his second weekly address and in this one, he means business about growing our economy with jobs for the middle class. If the Republicans are smart enough, they'll take him up on his offer and not choose the role of an obstructionist minority that only cares about the wealthy and not the unemployed...or underemployed.

Twenty Banks Have Gone Down This Year

We all know bad economic times are fully upon us and unfortunately it is just beginning. When Paul Krugman says stuff like this, it isn't a good sign. When twenty banks fail in less than a year, that is bad news. The latest victim to fall is the Community Bank of Georgia.

From ABC News:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the bank, located in Loganville, Ga. It had $681 million in assets and $611.4 million in deposits as of Oct. 17.

The FDIC said all the bank's deposits and about $84.4 million of its assets will be acquired by Bank of Essex, of Tappahannock, Va. Its four branches will reopen Monday as offices of Bank of Essex.

The agency said depositors of The Community Bank will continue to have full access to their deposits.

The FDIC estimated that the resolution of The Community Bank will cost the federal deposit insurance fund between $200 million and $240 million.

Thankfully the FDIC can help customers from their bank's bad practices, but we all share the burden because the money ultimately comes from the taxpayers. Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars can go to a lot of good programs or pay down our debt. Instead it is spent to fix the damage of banks that got too greedy and made themselves collapse. Oh the billions trillions we must spend to get us out of this hole!

NYC Forcing Churches To Kick Homeless Out On The Street

A week ago the temperature here in NYC was in the mid 60s and now it's in the mid 20s, quite the precipitous drop. While most of us are lucky to be indoors to stay warm for the coming winter months, there are the other city residents who are not so fortunate. Plenty of religious and secular groups have helped to take care of the homeless, but the city made a terrible mistake by way of a ridiculous bureaucratic decision.

From The NY Daily News:

As temperatures fall and the economy crashes, 22 city churches have been told to stop providing beds for the homeless, advocates for the poor charged Friday.

"We will see hundreds of people who will not have a place to sleep. It's antithetical to what the mayor talks about," said Arnold Cohen, president of the Partnership for the Homeless, a nonprofit that serves as the middleman between the city and faith-based shelters.

The city recently began enforcing an often-overlooked rule that requires faith-based shelters to open five days a week, said Cohen who told a score of churches last month they no longer qualify to house the homeless.

The city Department of Homeless Services said these shelters - many that have been open three nights a week for decades - should never have been allowed to operate under terms of a contract with the Partnership.

DHS says they'll be making more beds available next year but in these budget crunching times, who knows if they'll keep that promise. Moreover, this is November and 2009 is still a while away. What are the homeless to do until then, just freeze?

That isn't all the city is going to do to the homeless population either. Starting in the spring they'll be closing drop-in centers at 8pm, denying many from coming in from outside to have a place to sleep. DHS claims that they just want people to sleep in the additional beds and not chairs, but the decision has clearly overlooked what advocates for the homeless have been telling the city. In the end, more people will be left out on the street this winter and next year with these changes.

Shame on DHS and Bloomberg for allowing this to happen. They should add more beds before even thinking about shutting those churches down from doing good deeds and allow the people who work with the homeless more of a say in making decisions. That would be common sense, but clearly the city doesn't have any.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interview With A Diebold Insider

Were you one to laugh at conspiracy theorists who thought that Diebold would plan to steal elections at the touch of a button? Perhaps you were confused when all the polls indicated that Max Cleland would beat challenger Saxby Chambliss in 2002 only to see the results flipped around in the end? Well if you are wondering what is going on in Georgia today, you might want to listen to a guy who worked for them back then and consider what they are up to today.

Barack Obama Elementary, Now That's A Change!

One thing that cannot be denied, Barack Obama spreads feelings of hope and optimism wherever he goes. That is especially true for the children at was previously known as Ludlum Elementary School out in Hempstead, NY. The attention in their area was magnified during the final debate that was held only a few minutes away at Hofstra University. They held their own debate, but the winner in their minds (not only the nation's) is now written all over their school, literally.

From ABC News:

A New York elementary school has been re-named in honor of President-elect Barack Obama. Ludlum Elementary School in Long Island's Hempstead Union Free School District was re-named at a board meeting Thursday, at the request of numerous school students.

"Just to watch these kids after the board voted on what they asked them to do, they were so elated," school district superintendent Dr. Joseph Laria told ABC News. "You want to talk about "Yes we can!"? That was a lesson in democracy."

Effective immediately, Ludlum will now be known as Barack Obama Elementary School, following a decision by the board to adopt the resolution drafted by students and staff.

It looks like the grown-ups did right by following the students' lead. They become the first school to be renamed for Barack, though Antigua beat them in timing overall by renaming one of their mountains. With almost two months to go until he officially becomes President, it makes me wonder how many buildings, streets and yes, mountains, will be renamed for our 44th President. Imagine a year, eight years or eighty years from now, he really could give some notable past-Presidents a run for their money. One thing is for sure, the current competition is easy to overcome.

Marist Shows Bloomberg's Popularity Slipping Away

For the last two months term limits has been one of the most widely discussed political issues in the City of New York. The center of that controversy is unarguably Michael Bloomberg, with the capitulating City Council right beside him. Bloomberg seems to think that the public will forget about it by next year and that his popularity was untouchable, but the polls are starting to prove him wrong.

From Marist:

What a Difference a Month Makes…Bloomberg’s Approval Rating Slips Significantly:

Although a majority of registered voters in New York City -- 59% -- think Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing either an excellent or good job in office, his approval rating has dropped significantly. This is the first time since 2005 that his job performance rating has dipped into the 50 percent range. In a Marist Poll conducted in August 2005, 53% of the city’s voters thought Mayor Bloomberg was doing well in his position. Bloomberg’s approval rating has fallen since last month when 68% of the electorate thought Bloomberg was doing an above average job. Currently, Bloomberg is far from perfect in the eyes of 39% of voters. 28% report his job as fair while 11% say he is performing poorly as mayor. [...]

Good or Bad? More Voters View Term Limit Extension as Bad for the City: Mayor Bloomberg may have won the battle to extend New York City’s term limits, allowing him to run for a third term, but he has a long way to go to convince New Yorkers that the change is a good one. While 30% of the electorate believes the decision by the City Council and the mayor is good for the city, a plurality of the electorate -- 43% -- disagrees with the change. In fact, 48% want the courts to overturn the decision and revert back to the two term limit. 42% think the courts should uphold the new law.
While the city is only slightly more against the term limits extension than against, their view of the Mayor has dropped precipitously:

Bloomberg’s Bid for Third Term…A Political Pitfall? Mayor Bloomberg’s push for a third term may hurt him at the polls. In light of his decision, 40% of New York City voters say they are less likely to support the mayor’s potential 2009 re-election bid compared with 19% of the electorate who say they are more likely to back Bloomberg’s quest. 41% say his decision on term limits makes no difference to their vote.
Those are terrible numbers for the Mayor in regards to how the term limits extension has affected New Yorkers. What's worse for him is the polls showing the match-up against Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson and Tony Avella:

Bloomberg with Lead Over Democratic Opponents…Receives Slim Majority: If New York City’s mayoral election were held today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg would achieve his goal of a third term. However, he has lost some support among voters. When placed up against Congressman Anthony Weiner, City Comptroller Bill Thompson, or City Council Member Tony Avella, Bloomberg leads Weiner 51% to 37%, outpaces Thompson 52% to 32% and defeats Avella 54% to 28%. Last month, voters had Bloomberg leading Weiner 56% to 30% and in front of Thompson 55% to 30%.
For someone who is a supposedly popular Mayor, having re-elect numbers in the low 50s is a terrible place to start out before the Democratic challengers achieve full name recognition. And according to the Marist pollster Lee Miringoff, it isn't just term limits that is hurting Bloomberg, it's the economy as well.

In a nutshell, Bloomberg may have won his battle at City Hall, but by no means is his re-election a done deal.

Karl Rove's Ridiculousness Continues On Economy

Karl Rove was once thought a political mastermind, now he's just another wingnut spouting garbage on Fox News. The latest drivel out of his mouth is that Obama is causing the markets to sink because he hasn't picked a treasury secretary. Nevermind the greed and lack of oversight for the last decade, it just has to be Obama not picking the head of Treasury with two months left until the inauguration.

Hopefully his opinions stay at the home of the deranged echo chamber that is his current employer.

NYC's Own Ed Towns Will Chair Oversight Cmte

It was a great victory for those interested in changing the direction of the country when Congressman Waxman was selected to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee. He'll make a huge difference by replacing John Dingell, but the only problem is who will fill in for him at the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. The rules of seniority will apply here and the next Democrat (INO) in-line is straight from Brooklyn K Street.

From TPM:

We've now learned that Rep. Ed Towns of New York is the favorite to take over the House Oversight Committee chairmanship, as a potential rival has indicated he won't oppose Towns.

This is a sign that the new Dem-controlled government is taking shape in a mostly smooth fashion, sparing the House Dems another brutal internal fight after current Oversight chairman Henry Waxman ousted John Dingell from the Energy and Commerce Committee.

There had been press coverage and rumors that Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland might have run against Towns for the now-vacant chairmanship, but it looks like Cummings won't oppose Towns, after all.

And as TPM points out as well, my Congresswoman (Carolyn Maloney) won't challenge him either, so the job is as good as his. I understand that the Democratic caucus wants to stop the internal fighting over committee assignments but that doesn't mean Towns' selection isn't a disappointment. Philip at TAP knows exactly how he'll run the committee, just as well as he's conducted himself as a Congressman for the last quarter-century. Sure, Towns is on the right side of a lot of issues, but he also knows who butters his bread.

It was a shame that we didn't have a candidate stronger than Powell who could knock Towns off. Hopefully we'll get more competition for the Democratic primary in 2010 and a challenger who can unify the district to effect change in that part of Brooklyn. Meanwhile, the Government Oversight and Reform Committee will just have to languish until Elijah Cummings won't have to go up against the strict seniority system.

How Obama Got The Job Done...Online

The speeches, the debates, the long road of Presidential all contributed to Barack Obama's massive win two weeks ago. Yet the engine of his campaign was more online than ever and the facts prove it. His massive fundraising, social networking and internet-based action enabled millions of people to get involved and it propelled Obama over the finish line like no one has seen before.

From The Washington Post:

In an exclusive interview with The Post, members of the vaunted Triple O, Obama's online operation, broke down the numbers: 3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once.[...]

In September, his single biggest month of fundraising, Obama amassed more than 65 percent of his record-shattering haul -- $100 million of the $150 million -- from online donations, aides said. After Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin dismissed the value of community organizing in her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Sept. 3 -- "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities," she said to applause -- Obama raised $10 million within 24 hours.

Linnie Frank Bailey, a 52-year-old mother of two in Riverside, Calif., is such a donor. In the past two years, she gave a total of $120.40, mostly in $10 increments. She made her last $10 online donation two days before the election.

The campaign's use of e-mail, text messages and social networking sites, also called "socnets," has been closely watched by technocrats, strategists and OPOs -- the online political operatives who stand to benefit from Obama's unprecedented online success.
The massive amount of money raised online gave Obama unlimited access to fund media campaigns and hit his targeted demographics overwhelmingly more than McCain could. The small donor revolution blew even the organizers of the online operation away. Yet as great as the money is, the connections made online were even more valuable. Volunteers made millions of calls, tons of door knocks and the text messaging system helped bring supporters to the polls. That goes especially for young voters that came out nearly two to one for Obama.

Now the key is for Obama's online army to stay together and help fight the governing battles coming up next year and beyond. Winning an election is important, but enacting the policies behind the campaign speeches is what it's all about. Even with a Democratic Congress, not everyone there is thrilled to change the status quo and give power back to the people. Their hesitation is irrelevant though, as long as we stick together and let them know who got them into office in the first place.

Charles Barron Gives His Opinion On Hillary And A Possible Replacement

As always, Charles Barron isn't afraid to give his two cents on the issues of the day. He's the first (that I know of) to float the name of State Senator Bill Perkins to replace Hillary Clinton if she takes the Secretary of State offer. A Perkins pick is highly unlikely, but there's no harm in throwing out the name of a great public servant.

Does Frank Padavan Have His Own Katherine Harris?

I can't imagine there being a recount that can equal the epic failure that was Florida in 2000. The way that debacle turned out knocked our democracy at least a few rungs down the ladder. Katherine Harris (and the Supreme Court too) were instrumental in handing the election to George Bush by purging African Americans from the voter rolls and then stopping the count as the margin slimmed down. This is all common knowledge now but one State Senate race in Queens has a lot at stake and the Republicans will do anything it takes to keep Padavan's seat. The question is, how far will Republican Commissioner Judith Stupp go to push the results in her desired corner?

From The NY Times:

In the past, Democrats claim, all such ballots were counted. But this time, they say, the Republican commissioner of the Board of Elections in Queens has ruled that ballots should be invalidated if they do not include the signature or stamp of a poll worker.

That ruling brought a firestorm of criticism from Democratic officials and lawyers, who point out that the Republican commissioner, Judith Stupp, is also employed as the manager of downstate operations for New York State Senate Republicans. She is also a contributor to Mr. Padavan’s campaign.

Ms. Stupp defended her role, saying: “I took an oath to make sure that every legal vote be counted. And I feel that what I’ve done has been honest and fair.” She said she did not think it appropriate to comment on the specifics of the vote-counting process.

Ms. Stupp said that after the initial days of the paper-ballot counting, she stopped attending the sessions, turning over her responsibilities to the chief Republican deputy clerk, Katherine James. When asked whether she would recuse herself from further involvement in the counting, she said, “I honestly don’t see any reason why I should.”

The will of those voters be damned, if there was a poll worker that didn't know what they were doing and did not stamp a ballot, it isn't the fault of the voter. I expect the frivolous and discriminatory challenges from the Padavan campaign, but as far as the people that count the ballots no changes in the system should be made at this time. If the BoE has counted the paper votes of registered voters in the district last time around, it should be the same this time around.

Stupp should have recused herself before this started anyway, as she has two clear conflicts of interest. Padavan would be screaming and shouting if a Gennaro contributor and DSCC operative were in Stupp's position, so if we on the left are ticked off about this it is for the right reasons. I wonder if her actions help Padavan hold on, what plum positions can she look forward to? She might want to give Katherine Harris a call and get some advice. On second thought, nah, nevermind that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bush Trying His Best To Eliminate Endangered Species

Does it tear at your heart when the news reports there are only 1,600 pandas left in the world or that the habitat of a rare bird is being encroached upon by developers. Well for George Bush, something like that only emboldens him to make endangered species permanently extinct as fast as he can. With only two months to go in his Presidency, they are working on gutting the Endangered Species Act and his chief official hack White House Press Secretary is busy spinning away the consequences.

From ThinkProgress:

The Associated Press reports today that, as part of its long-fought campaign to gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Bush administration is pushing a last-minute regulatory change that would significantly weaken the ESA:

The rules would eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases, [by allowing] the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing or funding a project to determine for itself whether a project would be likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.

At today’s White House press conference, a reporter asked if the Associated Press had accurately described the proposed regulatory change. Perino responded first by saying she didn’t have the documentation with her, but suggested that the rule change would have little effect because the ESA doesn’t help protect “any species, including ours” anyway:

PERINO: I don’t have [the documentation] with me. I know conceptually what we support. And I know that the Endangered Species Act is a tangled web that doesn’t actually help support any species, including our own.

Q: (Laughter) So you’re proposing eliminating it?


TP has more in their article, but basically Perino is lying her ass off about the ESA. Scientists and biologists would be taken out of the equation and only political stooges left to decide the fate of our biosphere.

Sometimes I wonder how Dana's soul handles what her mouth spews out but then I remember, it was a prerequisite to sell it before getting her current job.

Bachmann Still A Terrible Liar

Minnesota can lay claim to one of the worst pathological liars in the Congress. Michelle Bachmann's district sent her back for another term despite a tough challenge from El Tinklenburg. Perhaps over the next two years enough people up there will realize what a nut she is and replace Bachmann with someone that at least knows what the truth is and doesn't live in a land of self-delusion.

City Budget Cuts Hit Low Income Kids And Parent First

As the holidays rapidly approach, people are getting ready to buy presents for their loved ones and the city is getting decked out in trees, lights and department store displays. As festive as the city will look however, essential cuts to day care facilities are going to hit New Yorkers hard, not only for Christmas but the coming year as well. As usual, the least amongst us get the shaft as the rich keep everything but the rapidly devaluing stocks they own.

From The NY Times:

While officials made it clear that the sites would not be closed, critics charged that the reductions would have the same effect, by destabilizing the centers to the point that they would be forced to shut down.

The reductions are part of $62 million in cuts being made by the Administration for Children’s Services that will affect day care services used by struggling working families across the five boroughs.

The agency’s commissioner, John B. Mattingly, said in a press briefing that some hard choices were necessary “to avoid a train wreck” in the city’s day care programs during a time of fiscal crisis. “If we do not make these changes,” he said, “we could push the system to a point where we would be forced to shut the doors of child care centers throughout the city that are currently serving thousands of children.”

The rest of the cuts in the child welfare agency’s day care budget will affect school-age children, who will be served instead by Department of Education programs, he said. By the start of the next school year, for example, Children’s Services will no longer pay for day care slots for 3,300 5-year-olds who can be served through kindergarten and after-school programs.
This isn't all Mattingly's fault of course, he's just the commissioner, not the one who has the final say on the agency's budget. That comes straight from the top at Gracie Mansion. The Mayor was hailed as a smart and bold manager of the city's budget by calling for across the board cuts. However, when the budgetary axe falls uniformly on all city services and not part of any progressive scheme, the biggest losers do not happen to be Bloomberg's contemporaries but the ones he tells to go wear a sweater on those cold nights.

What The Army Doesn't Want You To Know

Change and transparency have been promised to be delivered by Barack Obama when he takes office two months from today, but that is a long time a way when it comes to cover-ups and the low level of trust Americans should have in their nation's military. The scandal surrounding the death of Pat Tillman was a sad story, but unfortunately this "friendly-fire" occurrence was not an isolated incident. In fact, it was one of the better ones because at least his mother could piece the details together, unlike what the army is doing with the similar tragedies that befell other troops.

From RawStory:

In late 2006, two American soldiers from Fort Carson died in Iraq. The army said the privates were killed by enemy action. But in October of this year, Salon revealed that the two men had in fact been killed by friendly tank fire.

Now, Salon has found that the documents related to the men's deaths were shredded just hours after the story was published.

"Three soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo. -- including two who were present in Ramadi during the friendly fire incident, one of them just feet from where Nelson and Suarez died -- were ordered to shred two boxes full of documents about [Albert] Nelson and [Roger] Suarez," reporter Mark Benjamin writes. "One of the soldiers preserved some of the documents as proof that the shredding occurred and provided them to Salon. All three soldiers, with the assistance of a U.S. senator's office, have since been relocated for their safety."

The night the Salon story ran, Oct. 14, 2008, a staff sergeant told three soldiers to shred two boxes of documents relating to the privates' deaths.
That is exactly the type of accountability (or lack there of) that needs to be quashed. If someone screws up, they must face the consequences of their actions. If it was a mistake by another soldier, then it should be dealt with out in the open, not hidden, not lied about and not leading to a situation that desecrates those that die from friendly fire. The families of our brave men and women need to be told the truth, even if it embarrasses the Pentagon.

Iranian Bloggers Show Iran Isn't Just About Ahmedinejad

Republicans love to bash Ahmedinejad and Iran, generally associating one with the other. The problem is a nation of seventy million people do not all love Mahmoud nor those that really control the religious theocracy. If you want to get a taste of what is being talked about in Iran, then open your mind and starting reading. Bloggers post from Tehran, Isfahan or any number of cities and towns and write about what goes on in their country and what they want to do about it.

You wouldn't want someone from Italy, Israel or Singapore to associate you with George Bush just because you are American, so we should give the same level of respect to Iranians.

E. Village And LES Saved From Development, But...

Yesterday the City Council did a great thing for a large area of the East Village and parts of the Lower East Side. Enacting strict height limits on new buildings is essential to retain the character of the neighborhoods. For too long developers have run rampant in this city, building large globs of glass and steel without a care for the communities they tear down. Capping new structures at 120 feet on Avenues and 80 feet on side streets is welcome regulation.

From The Gothamist:

The plan may significantly curb the rampant development in the trendy downtown neighborhoods. Had it been in effect just a few years ago, it would have made a significant dent into the plans of new buildings, like the Blue Condos on Norfolk Street, which tower over the area at 181 feet. Buildings under construction with completed foundations can skirt the new regulations, while those that have permits and have just put down a substantial foundation merely have the right to apply for extension from Board of Standards and Appeals.

The mayor's office says that the plan will pave the way for more housing on wider blocks like Houston and Delancey with as many as "1,670 additional housing units over the next ten years, including 560 units permanently affordable to low- and middle-income families." The City Planning Commission will now turn its attention to Chinatown, where some had protested the proposal for fear that it would simply shift the burden of development onto them.

That is the big fear among activists that live around the protected zone. The Mayor and his lackeys in the Council need to appease their developer and real estate campaign contributors somehow. It is hard to take advantage of the more well-to-do East Villagers (who da thunk that 20 years ago?) but the activists outside have a sneaking suspicion they'll be the ones sacrificed at the alter of politicians' greed.

Laws Won't Get In Bloomberg's Way

We've already seen the Mayor punch a large gaping wound in our democracy to let him run for another term, so why not ignore more laws? Michael Bloomberg's ego isn't letting him back away from his pledge to rescind the property tax rebate so fast. He recommended it as a part of cutting the city's budget, but found out that it wasn't really his decision to axe that check from those that own property in NYC, especially for those that regard $400 as a nice chunk of change for the holidays.

From The NY Times:

After being dealt a rare public embarrassment by the City Council, which forced his administration to acknowledge on Monday that he was legally required to send out $400 rebate checks promised to hundreds of thousands of New York homeowners, a defiant Mr. Bloomberg said on Wednesday that he had no plans to release the money.

At a news conference, Mr. Bloomberg described the rebates as “up in the air.” Asked what he would tell homeowners who have been depending on the money to pay bills or buy holiday gifts, he responded: “Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.”

When pressed, the mayor said: “I just answered your question. You just don’t want the answer.”
That my fellow New Yorkers, is your callous, obnoxious and dare I say, Mr. Grinch of a Mayor. You can find four hundred bucks under the cushions of Bloomberg's couch, but for the great majority of us that is a lot of money and he clearly showed he is deeply out of touch with this city. We as a city are not simply all those that live around Central Park Mr Mayor. If the new term limits law is here to stay for now, the Mayor can expect to hear it from those he thinks he pulled one over on, from now until election day.

Sen. Mikulski Goes Off On Sununu And All "Conservative Ostriches"

Senator Mikulski wanted to enter an amendment to the bailout bill to help the employees of the auto industry for a price of $8 billion. When John Sununu objected to the bill, she went off on him and all the "conservative ostriches with their heads stuck in the sand!" Well said Senator!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NBC Spotlights The Truth Behind "Clean Coal"

The speeches made about "clean coal" during the campaign are long over, but the myth of "clean coal" persists. Both Obama and McCain are to blame for continuing it, but NBC actually did something to show the reality of where the technology is today. This edition of their "Green Week" was more than just showcasing the dreams of energy companies but a honest assessment what it is and where it's at.

From The Huffington Post:

Brian Williams began with a remarkable lead-in:
"Coal. While you might have heard the phrase 'clean coal' during the presidential campaign, it's actually an oxymoron. Wishful thinking. Coal does not burn cleanly and it's hugely expensive to make it burn that way..."

And Anne Thompson herself offers an equally honest lead-in:

"Coal: the fuel the world burns to make electricity. Plentiful and polluting. A major contributor to climate change."

She then profiles a $100 million CCS pilot project in Spremberg, Germany operated by Vattenfall. It is located adjacent to a what Thompson calls a "dirty coal plant." The pilot project apparently captures 95 percent of its CO2 emissions and stores the liquefied CO2 in giant tanks -- before it is trucked 200 miles away and pumped underground.

Thompson then notes that "this process could increase electric rates by 50 percent."

And the icing on the cake? A German environmentalist calling the burning of coal without CCS a "crime against the climate."

The one thing missing of course was talking about where the coal comes from in the first place, such as mountain-top removal that occurs in Applachia with maximum damage to the environment. Besides not talking about extraction, the segment did a fantastic job in telling us what the candidates did not. The great majority of coal plants do not have CCS and getting the technology to them will take decades. Meanwhile they'll continue to pollute our planet while the much more cost-effective and planet-friendly alternatives like sun and wind powerplants are cheated out of crucial investment dollars.

Please, let's leave the rest of the coal in the ground and get to work on projects that will give us a cleaner Earth and energy that is 100% renewable.

Albany Empties Of Legislators But Budget Problem Remain

A lot of video was taken, copy written and flashbulbs of cameras used in Albany this week but nothing substantive happened in terms of the budget before the whole special session was called off. Republicans may be happy they stopped Paterson this week, but the problems for New York state continue. Now that the cuts have been held off, many are trying to add their two cents to the equation before the budget is balanced next year. Robert Harding is right on with his "Cap, Cut or Tax". At a H.R. 676 rally last week I heard one speaker get the crowd going with a slogan that went something like this:

"There's no budget crisis! There's a distribution crisis!"
Before anyone screams "socialist!" at me take a breath and remember that taxes redistribute wealth, so to the conservatives out there reading this, take a breath and listen to what Dan Cantor has to say about the crisis.

From The NY Daily News:

Yes, prudent spending cuts in state spending are a necessity - that much is undeniable. But so far, the governor is asking working families to shoulder the entire burden of the budget deficit alone, while taking any income tax increase on New York's many millionaires off the table.

That is not acceptable. Not after the richest New Yorkers have seen billions in tax cuts that have slashed their income tax burden in half over the last 40 years. Not when asking those who can most afford to contribute a little more in taxes could easily prevent many of the most painful cuts being talked about in Albany.

Opponents of a tax on millionaires repeat the mantra that asking the wealthy to pay a modest increase in income taxes would drive them out of the state. But all the evidence and recent experience says that simply isn't so.

In 2003, following the economic downturn caused by the 9/11 attacks, the national recession and the burst of the dot-com bubble, New York relied on modest increases in income tax rates on the wealthy to help close its budget gap. The state employed a temporary top rate of 7.25% for single filers with incomes over $100,000 and 7.7% on income over $500,000.

The rich did not leave the state. Instead, the economy rebounded and the number of high income New Yorkers continued to grow.

And they won't leave in 2009 if we pass this tax. Then Albany needs to get their act together and make the state tax system more progressive. For far too long the rich have skated by relatively easy while the largest strain has been on the poor and middle class. The 26,000 millionaires in New York aren't going to all get up and move to New Jersey or wherever. The great majority will stay put and stay in the Empire State because it is here where they have made their money. Millionaires don't just rake in their cash by themselves, it is done based on a network of people and public services. Now it is time for them to pay their fair share, so that we can all survive and do well and not just the very wealthy.

Rep. Ackerman Finds Delicious Irony With Auto Industry Execs

The latest bailout on the table in Congress is a cool $25 billion for the auto industry. The captains of the industry are in Washington today to argue why Washington should bail them out. I agree they need some assistance, but it must come with very, very tight strings. What Ackerman (D-NY) found delicious, was how they flew from Detroit to D.C. so lavishly in such tight times.

Espada Took Large Contributions From NY GOP

Apparently the state Republican party knew what they were going to get when Pedro Espada declared to go back to the State Senate after being booted several years ago. He has indulged in general scumbaggery for quite some time and is at it again currently. He really isn't a Democrat but remains so because his district is heavily blue. The Democratic leadership was wary of his challenge to get back in and obviously the Republicans were giddy over it and showed it with their checkbooks.

From The NY Daily News:

Newly filed state campaign disclosure forms show Espada this fall received ten times as much cash from Senate GOP Majority Leader Dean Skelos than the Democrat looking to succeed him in January, Malcolm Smith.

Skelos gave Espada $5,000 while Smith donated just $500. Smith had backed Espada's primary opponent, Sen. Efrain Gonzalez.

Espada (D-Bronx) also got a combined $3,000 in Republican money from Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn and former Sen. Nicholas Spano of Westchester, and another $5,000 from fellow dissident Democrat, Sen. Carl Kruger.

He got some cash from his fellow actual Democratic Senators but clearly the bulk of his campaign was financed by the conservatives in this state. Now he's ready to come through for Skelos et al. but really all he cares about is himself. If the Democrats would have given him more of a stage for power, he'd have gone the other way. Espada is one of the many curses upon Albany and helps give it that slimy feel.

Cheney And Gonzales Indicted For War Crimes...So What?

Yesterday Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and several other minor officials in Texas were indicted for an assortment of crimes. Cheney and Gonzales take the cake of course, since the charge of war crimes is a serious one. Few people deserve a lifetime in jail than Dick Cheney, who has a reckless disregard for the law and humanity in general. His crimes should land him in jail for several hundred years at a minimum. So am I excited about this development? Nah, not really.

From RawStory:

Cheney's stake in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies that run the detention centers, was cited in the indictment. Cheney is accused of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees through his ownership interest.

Gonzales is accused of using his position during his time as Attorney General to block an investigation into abuses at the detention centers, located in south Texas.

Democratic state Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. is also named in the indictment, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said. Lucio's attorney, Michael R. Cowen, called Guerra a "one-man circus." "In the March 2008 Democratic Primary," he added, "70 percent of the Willacy County voters elected to remove Juan Guerra...Now, with only a few weeks left in his term, Mr. Guerra has again chosen to misuse his position in an attempt to seek revenge on those who he sees as political enemies."
What a shame that of all the District Attorneys out there, this was the one to have moved ahead on an important case like this. Sure, it is a nice protest but not one with much credibility behind it. Earlier this year a few towns in Vermont indicted him too, but did anything come of that? Of course not. A lawsuit currently filed against Gonzales in another instance of his politicization of the DoJ has resulted in him paying for a private attorney on our dime.

Cheney and Gonzales are career criminals of the worst sort, because they in essence have legalized their crimes. In the case of FISA, they even had Congress retroactively approve their de facto abolishment of the fourth amendment in the Constitution. So, the only way we are going to get justice is from a Congress that is led by the neck by our next President. Though we on the left should know better, and the likelihood of justice for the scum that has worked around the White House in the last eight years is smaller than winning the lottery...three times in a row.

Obama Shows His Dedication To Transparency

As the 43rd President geared up for office eight years ago, his newly elected Vice President held energy policy meetings in secret and kept the members of those committees hidden from public view. Now as Barack Obama becomes the 44th President, he not only tells people who's on the committees, but YouTubes them as well.

Barron And Oddo Go At It Over Abortion Rights

The City Council has been quite a dramatic place recently, especially with the vicious fight over term limits. Since then things have turned mostly to planning for the upcoming budget battle but that doesn't mean an incendiary social issue can't send sparks into the air between those that support abortion rights and those that do. Yesterday Charles Barron and James Oddo let their voices (but thankfully not their fists) rip and roar at each other.

From PolitickerNY:

The dispute occurred during a hearing on a bill that would strengthen laws that govern protesters who demonstrate in front of women's health clinics that provide abortions, and also other services. Supporters say it protects access to the clinics, critics say it infringes on free speech. Christine Quinn backs the the bill and co-wrote an opinion piece on it today.

Oddo opposes abortion rights. Barron supports them.

According to a person who attended the hearing, the fight was so chaotic, “It was hard to make out what they were saying.”

Generally inaudiblity is what happens when two people fixed to their ideas get into it over an issue like abortion rights. Protesting something you believe in is perfectly fine if you aren't intimidating the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of another. The problem with the people that Oddo is standing up for is that many infringe on the rights of those that wish to proceed with visiting an abortion clinic. Unfortunately in too many occasions doctors and patients have been hurt or killed by the hate these protesters. If someone comes up with a bill to make sure they stay in line, then more power to them....and to Charles Barron for standing up for it.

The Post-Campaign Between Gennaro And Padavan

As the counting continues in Northeast Queens, Frank Padavan is doing what was expected of him. The eighteen term Senator and his workers are vigorously challenging paper ballots from the heavily Democratic district. Frank got his most serious challenge to the seat in decades and he is sweating bullets. His campaign signs say "Nobody cares like Frank" but what he really means is caring about disenfranchising the new voters in his district who overwhelmingly signed up to vote for Obama.

From The NY Daily News:

A still-undecided state Senate contest in Queens turned ugly Tuesday as Democrats accused Sen. Frank Padavan's supporters of launching a massive effort to discard paper ballots cast by minority voters.

"They are systematically trying to exclude Asians, Hispanics and Democrats from the count," said Michael Reich, executive secretary of the Queens Democratic Party.

As the challenges mount, expect this to get increasingly nasty. Padavan does not want to lose his seat and the Senate GOP (along with the Gang of Three) want to hold onto power by keeping progressive Democrat Jim Gennaro out of Albany. So what has gone on so far over there?

Affidavit ballots are generally from first-time voters. Given the huge turnout Barack Obama's candidacy sparked, Gennaro believes most of those affidavits are Democrats.

Last Wednesday, a recanvass of the machine tally reduced Padavan's lead to just 503 votes.

The next day, some two dozen Board of Elections staff members and representatives of the two candidates began counting the paper.

Gennaro's people say they have not challenged a single ballot the board's staff has ruled eligible. They say Padavan's people, on the other hand, have tried to disqualify an astonishing number of Hispanic and Asian surnamed voters.

Republicans claim they aren't interested in disenfranchising people, but if the totals show a narrowing lead for Padavan you can almost predict the percentage of challenges to go up. As the DN notes, 120 votes have been contested thus far with only 2,000 out of 8,300 ballots counted. No matter what, a brutal fight to the finish is nearly certain.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eric Holder As Our Next Attorney General?

A far cry from Alberto Gonzales, Eric Holder would be the nation's first African American AG and one that actually respects the rule of law. One thing you could count on with Bush, following the Constitution was never a priority. Starting January 20th, it'll be at the top of the list.

Albany Erupts And As Usual, Nothing Gets Done

Today was supposed to be the big start to a round of budget cuts that got the state moving in the right direction towards a budget in the black, or at least closer to it. Instead, partisan bickering, lobbyists and even activists outside made things go from tenuous to outright dysfunctional. In the end, the important few days Paterson swore were more important than anything, went completely down the drain.

From The Daily Politics:

Gov. David Paterson just called a halt to the squabbling at the leaders meeting and declared this non-session special session officially dead.

"I think it is clear that this special session on Nov. 18 will not yield the result that we want today...What I think we will do at this point is we will end this special session of the leaders meeting."

Paterson said he'll wait until he submits his 2009-2010 budget on Dec. 16 (about a month before he is constitutionally mandated to do so) to reconvene this discussion, adding: "I would like to, in terms of the way that we assess the budget, remain dedicated to closing this year's budget within this year."

Basically nothing gets done until the beginning of next year. There'll be plenty of time for the legislature to figure something out by the beginning of the next fiscal year, but you can probably throw away the hope that anything gets done to try and hold the ship steady for the rest of FY 2008-9.

Perhaps by then we'll have our majorities in both houses in order, and we might be able to make some progress. Of course, that could just as wishful as thinking about a balanced budget that doesn't break the back of the middle and working class.

Espada Shows His Greediness To El Diario

As the State Legislature plays politics with our budget deficit up in Albany, certain Senators within the Democratic caucus are still playing games within the party. The Gang of Four became Three earlier when Monserrate endorsed Smith for Majority Leader, but Espada, Kruger and Diaz are hanging on to the "independence" gambit with all their might. Senator-Elect Espada gave an interview to El Diario published today that showed his ego in full effect.

From El Diario (Google-translated):

"I would vote for a Democrat as a Hispanic leader of the Senate," Espada said yesterday, elected senator last November, in an Editorial Board with EL DIARIO / LA PRENSA.

"Nobody has been postulated, so I said I would do," said Espada, who along with Senators Carl Kruger and Mr Ruben Diaz has mounted an unprecedented challenge against the recent Democratic leadership of the state and wants to see a Hispanic in that position for the first time in history.

Well isn't that great that he wants to choose one minority over another specifically because of being labeled as such. And of course, who else would be better for that job than Espada himself. Does Espada really think anyone thinks this is anything other than a pure power grab regardless of who it affects. So how will he win out over Smith?

Espada said he would have the necessary votes to become leader of the Senate if it supported a Republican, says that it has the votes of the two senators rebels.

Espada added that their struggle should not be seen as a matter of enmity with Smith or as an attempt to erode the African American leadership, but as a way to achieve fair representation for Hispanics.

This isn't about Hispanics or African Americans, it is about the greed of Mr. Espada and his recklessness of the Democratic agenda in the Senate. He could care less about relief for renters, a progressive agenda for dealing with the budget crisis, the repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws or any other issue that Malcolm Smith wants to address in the next session. No one buys Espada's crap about Hispanics, because he only cares about one Hispanic, himself.

Finally, A President That Cares About The Environment

Inauguration Day can't come soon enough, but we can already see a difference with how America will interact with the world. Especially when it comes to climate change, a new direction is sorely needed.

Could you even imagine in your wildest dreams George Bush saying anything remotely close to this?

Senate Dems Shoot Themselves In The Foot By Keeping Lieberman

mWell the rumors starting yesterday were true, Joe Lieberman is keeping his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The majority of the Democratic caucus failed to realize the reality of what Joe Lieberman did to his former party by campaigning for McCain and other GOP candidates down the ballot. Now most of them understand what the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee does and how it can hurt President Obama going forward, so what the hell were they thinking?

From RawStory:

"It's very clear that the vast majority of the Democratic caucus wants to keep Sen. Lieberman as the chairman of his committee, a member of the Armed Services Committee, and that was done, it's all over with," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting Tuesday. "Joe Lieberman is a Democrat, he's a part of this caucus."

Lieberman maintained his spot as chairman on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, despite calls for him to lose that post because of his campaigning for McCain.

Reid, addressing reporters in the US Capitol Tuesday morning, said the caucus was not interested in retribution and wanted to move beyond the campaign.

Before Tuesday's vote, observers expected that the Independent Connecticut senator would receive little more than a slap on the wrist for the myriad scurrilous attacks he unleashed on President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign.
Basically nothing happened to Lieberman for his treachery. It was about letting him hold onto power within the caucus and the Senate and nothing else. Reid was wrong to say that is merely about retribution however. Alongside the vicious attacks on Obama and praises for McCain, Lieberman completely abrogated his responsibilities as a United States Senator in charge of the committee in question.

Joe should have exercised oversight on President Bush's actions yet did absolutely nothing to keep George in check. Lieberman was a loyal lap dog for Dubya and violated his Constitutional duty to help the Legislative branch be a check and a balance to the Executive. His specific role has enabled the killings of hundreds of thousands if not millions in Iraq and was an able cheerleader of the illegal war, nothing else.

The majority of the caucus should be embarrassed for such a lame slap on the wrist. Lieberman should be a back bencher without seniority for his actions and now the Dems have shown that when it comes to principles, they have very little. As Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post points out, it is all about personal loyalties. What a shame it is that they don't see that gun behind Joe's back.

The M.T.A. Cuts Show They Mean Business

Although the public relations department is still fully staffed (or more aptly overstuffed) many jobs at the M.T.A. are going to disappear along with the service that they brought. Unless some serious cash infusions from the state or federal level come in soon, straphangers will be paying 50% more for a lot less.

From The NY Daily News:

The MTA's doomsday budget will wipe out the W line, zap the Z line and ax more than 1,500 NYC Transit jobs, the Daily News has learned.

The list of bus and subway cuts the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will unveil at its monthly board meeting Thursday is extensive and potentially bruising, sources said.[...]

According to sources, the cuts include:

- Elimination of at least a handful of bus and subway routes, including the W and Z subway train lines.

Fewer transit workers in the subways because 600 or so station agent positions will be axed and about 350 administrative posts.

- Longer gaps between scheduled trains at midday and between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

- Expanded subway loading guidelines to allow for more crowding of trains.

- Eliminating bus service during late nights and weekends on dozens of routes that have low ridership.

The cuts at Administration and the low-ridership routes are good ideas, but everything else here stinks. It is obscene that they are reducing the quality (meh) of service to such a degree when the authority expects us to pay $2.50 or $3.00 per ride. Cover the place with advertisements if you like and beg for state and federal assistance like there is no tomorrow, but please stop making the people that use the system take this much of the burden. We've been paying too much already for being crammed into trains as it is.

SEIU Shows How "Yes We Can" Became "Yes We Did!"

Cheers to the SEIU and everyone that helped make Barack Obama's victory possible!

The Coming Water Shortage

Make no mistake about it, water supplies are already dire in many places around the world. The poorer the country, the less access there is to clean, portable water. Thousands of people die due to easily treatable diseases that were stamped out in much of the western world a long time ago. Yet things are going to get much worse for us all if we do not drastically change the way we do things here on Earth.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Half the world's population could face a shortage of clean water by 2080 because of climate change, experts warned Tuesday.

Wong Poh Poh, a professor at the National University of Singapore, told a regional conference that global warming was disrupting water flow patterns and increasing the severity of floods, droughts and storms — all of which reduce the availability of drinking water.

Wong said the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that as many as 2 billion people won't have sufficient access to clean water by 2050. That figure is expected to rise to 3.2 billion by 2080 — nearly tripling the number who now do without it.

Most of those numbers are especially focused on the Asian continent, where burgeoning urban populations not only strain water infrastructure but pollute the supply nearby. Rising ocean levels are also a problem for low-lying areas in South Asia. Even in one of the richest areas of the world, California, will begin to suffer as the snowpacks of the Sierra Mountains continues to dwindle year by year. Much of the arid state relies on the snowpack through the dry summer and fall months. There are countless other problem spots, but all can be dealt with if we plan ahead, conserve better and stop emitting so much damn carbon into the atmosphere.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paterson Takes On NY GOP, Unions Take On Paterson

Tomorrow is the day that the special session in Albany begins, but from the way things are going thus far, it may not be a pleasant place between opening and closing gavels. Governor Paterson is lashing out at the current GOP majority for dragging their feet on spending cuts (though the Assembly is doing just as much). Meanwhile the big unions are attacking the Governor for his proposed cuts where it hurts the most.

From The Daily Politics:

A source close to 1199 said officials of the health care workers union met Friday to discuss Paterson's cuts and reports there was "a great amount of displeasure about whether the governor has forgotten where he's come from so quickly and has lost his moral compass."

The union is particularly unhappy about what it see as Paterson's "constant willingness to victimize low-wage healthcare workers" while steadfastedly ruling out raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers - the one area where the governor finds himself in agreement with the Senate Republicans.

Might 1199 and the GNYHA, which have a history of running successful multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to block significant Medicaid cuts proposed by Paterson's predecessors, Republican Gov. George Pataki and Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer, be gearing up to do the same this time around?
I certainly hope they are. The Governor will be feeling considerable pressure from unions like 1199/SEIU and GYNHA as well as many others that believe health care for the disadvantaged should come before keeping the tax rate low for the wealthiest New Yorkers. Until he begins to change his position and look into tax increases for the few thousand that can afford it, he can kick and scream all he wants but there will have to be a compromise at the end of the day or nothing will be done this week in Albany.

David Paterson should be ashamed of himself for the way he is conducting himself with the budget. These are tough times I agree, but much tougher for the middle class and those that live in his former Senate district. It is sad to see he has forgotten the neighborhoods from where he was raised. The reformer New York used to know has wedded himself to the status quo, at least for the budget's sake.

Ted "The Liberal Lion" Kennedy Returns To The Senate

It is truly a blessing to see this grand Senatorial fighter back on Capitol Hill today, working on behalf of President-Elect Obama to pass legislation that puts workers first instead of what the GOP and President Bush are trying to do by putting the wealthy ahead as they have for years.

Cheers to Teddy!

Bush Still A Moron After All These Years

Although we are talking about George Bush, you'd think or hope that after eight years as the leader of the (less) free world he'd know more about his job than when he came in. Despite his failures as President (and there are many) it might be possible that he was aware of the world institutions that he screwed over on an usual basis. Though not surprisingly, he still is oblivious to groups like the G20 and acts like a petulant child when confronted about his ignorance.

From ThinkProgress:

During a telephone call last month, President Bush told Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he thought the global financial crisis ought to be handled within the G7 framework. But Rudd advised that the plan was “out of touch” and that it “made no sense…to take action on the crisis without engaging China.”

Instead, Rudd insisted that the best response should involve the broader G20 — which includes China — in order to harness China’s role as an emerging economic power and “to prevent the Chinese using the global crisis to make political points about the failure of Western capitalism.” But according to The Australian newspaper, Bush had no idea what the G20 was.[...]
Well the G20 met this past weekend in Washington and the President showed his pettiness in rare form:

First there was the cool personal reception — now Kevin Rudd has been left out of the official White House photograph album.

Snaps on the White House website show George W Bush greeting 17 world leaders at the weekend G20 summit.

But his photo with Mr Rudd, who received a visibly frosty reception from the President, has somehow gone missing. The move appears to confirm a presidential snub of Mr Rudd over the leaking of a phone conversation he had with Mr Bush.

I know I've said it a million times already since Bush was re-elected, but I seriously wish it were January 20, 2009 so we as a nation can act like adults with the world again. I'm almost positive Kevin Rudd was thinking the same thing when talking to George. Well Prime Minister Rudd, only sixty-three days and change to go!

The Campaign For Better Schools Chides The Mayor

Mayor Bloomberg thinks of himself more of an authoritarian or a King than a democratically-elected official. He's responded to "King Mike" before but it is his policies that have most of his critics concerned. The forced extension of term limits is just the latest and most public of his decisions that help a few to the detriment of the many. Just ask the people who have been priced out of their neighborhoods thanks to his zoning laws. Another issue that has many parent up in arms is his total control of the school system. NYC's schools were broken before he came into office, but singular rule by Bloomberg hasn't done much to help alleviate the situation.

From The Daily Politics:

Here's a brief video of an anti-mayoral control of schools rally that took place at City Hall yesterday and gives some idea of what Mayor Bloomberg will be up against as he tries to convince state lawmakers to reauthorize legislation that put control in his hands before it sunsets next summer.

Participants, who shouted "one man rule has got to go," deemed mayoral control a "failure" and announced the formation of the Campaign for Better Schools, which includes more than 25 groups like AQE, the New York Immigrant Coalition and the Coalition for Educational Justice, to fight its reapproval without changes.

Elected officials on hand for the rally: Councilman Bill de Blasio, Sen. Eric Schneiderman and Sen. Kevin Parker. Schneiderman and Parker both voiced support for stronger public participation in education policy-making, which is an issue that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has also cited (specifically, the need for more parental input) as a priority for his Democrat-controlled house.

Earlier this fall, some Assembly Democrats warned it would be more difficult for Bloomberg to preserve mayoral control - a key element of his legacy - if he sought to extend term limits and run for re-election.

Bloomberg thinks he knows what's best for all of us but if anyone knows how dysfunctional the school system is, it would be the parents who send their children by the hundreds of thousands off in the morning. He's already dismissed the will of the voters on their decision to enact term limits, but here we have a chance to not only strip him and the Council of that decision in the newly reconfigured State Legislature but rescind his power over our schools as well.

On 60 Minutes, Obama Backs Up His Pledge To End America's Torture

One of the many topics covered in last night's interview, the question of torture and closing Guantanamo Bay is extremely important to Americans and the way we are seen as a nation around the world. Going after OBL is also pertinent, though in my opinion going after the root causes of that terrorist and all that wish harm on us is the key.

Chambliss Has Something To Hide For Imperial Sugar

Saxby Chambliss is fighting to keep his Senate seat this fall, narrowly missing the fifty percent cut-off to avoid a run-off early next month against Democratic challenger Jim Martin. Though that isn't the only thing that Chambliss is struggling against. While Saxby makes coded racial messages on the campaign trail, he and his lawyers are busily trying to keep him out of court and testifying about the negligent homicides at the Imperial Sugar factory.

From NBC Affiliate WSAV:

News Three was the first to tell you Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss had been subpoenaed by Savannah Attorney Mark Tate in the case against Imperial Sugar. Tate, who represents families of the deceased, subpoenaed Chambliss because he believes Chambliss has pertinent information for the case.

In a News Three follow-up, we've gotten word that Chambliss' lawyer is moving to quash the subpoena. Tate says attorneys for Chambliss claim he has immunity because he's a U.S. Senator.
Being a U.S. Senator by no means gives Saxby the right to deny the deceased family members justice and the duty of our legal system to hold all those involved accountable for their actions. If Senator Chambliss has something to hide, the law must come at him with full force and get him on the stand. Chambliss is a known sugar-whore and it would be more than interesting to see what exactly he is trying to hide for his campaign contributors. We also already know what depths he will sink to in order to win office, therefore finding out why he's getting so much sweet and refined money can hopefully help complete the circle and kick the crook out of the Senate.

Hey M.T.A. Cut The P.R. Before You Slash Service

It's well known that the M.T.A. has engaged in some wasteful behavior but the notoriety hasn't stopped them from continuing it. With all the talk of service cuts and fare hikes, the transit authority is serious about making the straphangers pay for economic bad times. The only problem is they aren't doing their part to make it easier on us, instead the M.T.A. wants to fool us into thinking it isn't that bad. For that mission, they are certainly spending quite a bit.

From The NY Post:

The MTA is weighed down with managers, marketing types and p.r. staffers - fat the agency should trim before it slashes service, hikes fares or creates new bridge tolls, state auditors told The Post.

The agency has a growing roster of 70,000 employees - including thousands of redundant and nonessential positions - and is still slated to hire hundreds more, the auditors found.

MTA records show 288 New York City Transit employees in "corporate communications," 70 Long Island Rail Road staffers in "market development and public affairs," and 52 at MTA headquarters in "corporate and community affairs."

Now most of those 70,000 employees are necessary to make the transit system move but plenty of excess jobs can be cut. The problem is those at the top want to keep the plum jobs even in bad times. In exchange, all we get are deceptive advertisements in the subway cars that try to convince us that the price hikes aren't as bad as we make them out to be. Also, claiming that the 2nd Avenue line is "overdue" is grossly misleading. Perhaps if it was supposed to be finished last year or the year before, o.k. Yet the damn thing had broken ground for the first time in 1929, yes, 1929!

Now quit it with those shameful ads and cut the fat before cutting the already crowded trains!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Common Cause Gears Up To Babysit MN Recounters

Many of the people who are about to undertake a recount of Minnesota's ballots for U.S. Senate are not very acquainted with the laws concerning their task. That is why Common Cause is on the scene to observe and ensure the process is sound, regardless of whether Coleman or Franken comes out on top.

A Tiny Bit Of Green In Times Square Amidst A Sea Of Carbon

Times Square is known around the world for its theater, outrageously expensive fast-food cuisine and gargantuan amount of brightly lit advertising. Tourists come from all over the globe to take it in and get suckered by GrayLine buses and walking tours. Retailers pay ridiculous sums to rent space here and it is generally well worth it. The same companies also lay out thousands of dollars a day to paste themselves up above the street with no amount of electricity spared to make the biggest splash. However, one billboard about to go up is going to cut against that grain and go completely green.

From Yahoo News:

NEW YORK – This winter, New Year's Eve revelers will have a close-up view of Times Square's first environmentally friendly billboard powered entirely by wind and sun.

But the billboard might not be quite as dazzling as some of its high-powered neighbors along the Great White Way.

Construction on the 35,000-pound sign advertising Ricoh Americas Corp. is to begin this month across the avenue from the building where the ball drops on New Year's Eve.

Powered by 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels, the sign is expected to save $12,000 to $15,000 per month in electricity costs. Ricoh, an office equipment and document storage supplier, estimates the sign will also keep 18 tons of carbon out of the environment.

The sign is still massive, measuring 126 x 47 feet so it won't look out of place. It'll still be a tremendous step forward in environmentally-sound advertising and a model for the rest of the big boys who spend cash on Times Square space to follow. Of course, that doesn't mean I'll actually head up there to see it, that place is still a complete zoo with or without solar panels and wind turbines.