Thursday, July 09, 2009

Max And Chuck....Listening To The Wrong People On Health Care

Ah, Senators Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley. Two men that control a large portion of how health care reform will happen...or not. We've got to let them know that when it comes to industry lobbyists and the majority of Americans who are screwed by health insurance, the people must prevail.

Bloomberg And Quinn Team Up To Bailout Developers

A match made in heaven.

When Michael Bloomberg found Christine Quinn as Speaker of the City Council, there was no limit to how much love wealthy developers could see. In the building boom the city had seen during the last few years, huge developments were green-lighted and long-term residents were screwed by the lack of planning for schools and infrastructure. Now that the economy has soured, beautiful brand-new and expensive apartments are sitting empty and the developers that had them built are not seeing any returns on their investments. How could they solve this problem? Easy, have New York City bail them out under the guise of affordable housing.

Of course, this is really what it is all about:

Deputy Mayor Slush Fund Queen Christine C. Quinn and king Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a $20 million commitment to fund a pilot program that will turn unsold condominiums, market-rate rental buildings and stalled construction sites into affordable housing opportunities for moderate and middle-income families.

First, that the city will overpay for the condos, making this into a developer bailout program.

And second, that too much scarce affordable housing funding will be diverted from the low-income people who need assistance most to higher-income people who can afford the subisidized condos.

Even if the condos are rented to homelessness, the city is paying about 2,700 a month for each apartment such as in Crown Heights luxury condos. What an ineffective use of scarce resources when 2,700 dollars can house more than one family. This plan is to bail out Bloomberg's rich friends.

Ain't that nice?

Is this the type of tactic that makes people approve of Bloomberg?

I get that the people at Related, Vornado and Tishman-Speyer want to re-elect the mayor. The wealthy have a friend in Mr. Bloomberg, he is of course, one of their own. Yet for the vast majority of us who aren't millionaires, it is time for a change so that our money does not go to waste on bailouts like this.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch?

The rumors are flying fast and furious this afternoon. Now that it has been pretty-much confirmed that Paterson will appoint a Lieutenant Governor in a few minutes from now, the question of course is...who will that person be? The goal one would hope is that he or she is non-controversial and well-respected. Yet in these times, I don't even think Jesus or Gandhi could fit that criteria for all sides involved. So certainly Richard Ravitch will fall short for Democrats and Republicans.

From The Daily Politics:

Ravitch is the ultimate elder statesman. He has worked for a president (Lyndon Johnson), a governor (Hugh Carey), and is credited with rescuing the mass transit system in the 1980s.

Last year, Paterson tapped Ravitch to head a panel to figure out how to fix the cash-strapped MTA - again.

He also has ample experience in dealing with the unruly Senate - most recently this past year during the MTA bailout negotiations, which did not endear him to the Senate Democrats, who felt he misled them about needing $5 tolls on the East River bridges in order to close the authority's gaping budget hole.

Ravitch later said an Assembly plan that called for $2 tolls would also work. The final agreement ended up with no tolls at all.

UPDATE: The DN's Glenn Blain ran into Sen. Dean Skelos and asked for his reaction to the news about Ravitch. The Long Island Republican replied:

"Payroll tax Ravitch? Well, then he would fit the mold...of Gov. David Paterson because they both love to raise taxes."

It's Not What You Try To Spin, It's What Slips

Watch as this financial industry hack tries to explain why Congress should not pass regulations for Wall Street. He means to say that there should be something in place, but what he really means slips right out.

Finally, Paterson Might Do Something To Resolve The Senate Deadlock

For the last month, Governor Paterson has called for special Senate sessions and made statements about the stalemate following Espada and Monserrate's coup attempt on June 8. For the most part, he's been largely ignored, whether it be with those stern messages to get back to work or the declarations that Senators must gavel in and gavel out everyday, even if the sessions last three minutes. If he does what the rumors say during his special address to the state tonight, then Paterson might just being flexing some muscle.

From PolitickerNY:

ALBANY—There is certainly speculation, but nothing close to confirmation, that David Paterson will name a lieutenant governor this evening during an address that will be televised statewide.

The governor's office acknowledged that he will deliver a live, televised address "on the Current Senate Stalemate and its Impact on all New Yorkers" this evening at 5:01.

Several sources have discounted today's juiciest topic of conversation around the Capitol, saying Paterson will just use the time to continue his bashing of state senators on a wider platform. But I've heard from one person in conversations with the second floor that it is being considered.

Such a move would show bold, decisive leadership to trump the actions of a few corrupt Senators. It would definitely be a departure from his style of governing thus far in his term. Of course, he'll actually have to say and follow through for anyone to take it seriously. If he merely wastes five minutes of our time with more stern messages, he'll fall further down the power totem poll and boost Cuomo's 2010 primary bid (that is yet to be announced) even more.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Broken State Budgets: It's The Inequality Stupid!

Here in New York the state legislature managed to close a $17 billion dollar budget gap for this year. California is still working on a budgetary mess that makes NY's situation look easy. Most states around the country have had to skimp on programs and raise taxes due to this difficult economy, but there is one overarching reason why this is happening....and it boils down to the battle between the rich and the poor.

From Too Much Online:

Over recent decades, with more and more income and wealth concentrating at the top, those uninterested in public services have had the resources to do more than grumble about taxes. They’ve been able to bankroll campaign after campaign, in state after state, to roll taxes back.

Growing inequality has helped these campaigns succeed. With the economy’s rewards flowing to the top, and essentially the top alone, Americans in the middle have found their wages and salaries stagnating, even sinking. Tax cuts, for many in the middle, have come to seem the only way to make ends meet.

These tax cuts, once in place, start states on a nasty downward cycle. Tax cuts mean less state revenue. The lower the revenue, the fewer the dollars available for maintaining quality public services. The lower the quality, the greater the number of people who find themselves actively considering private service alternatives.

Soon the modestly affluent, not just the rich, feel better off going life on their own nickel — better off joining a private country club, better off sending their kids to private school, better off living in a privately guarded gated development.

The greater the number of affluent people who forsake public services, the more inevitable still more service cutbacks become — even in “good” economic times, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute noted last year in Pulling Apart, a detailed look at growing state-level inequality.

It is pretty straight-forward and makes perfect sense, yet legislators, fueled by the wealthy few that influence them, have stripped their states of protection and assistance for the least amongst us. Not only does that arrogance leave the poor to fend for themselves, it ultimately comes around to bite everyone, save for those that have enough money to detach from the community that helped build their wealth in the first place.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sen. Grassley Admits Gov't Health Care Works

Not in so many words, but his reaction to a constituent the other night showed the Iowan Senator's true feelings about government-run health care and not just the talking points he usually spouts to defend his vote for the health insurance industry:

Bloomberg Misleads Voters About City's Safety Status Again

Mayor Bloomberg is at it again with his false and misleading advertisements. His promise of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs has already been addressed. Now it is time to go after the "safest city in America" line. Bloomberg loves to claim that he is responsible for NYC's safe record, but the way he goes about it is disingenuous at best. In fact, he was already admonished by the FBI for the tactic four years ago.

Now it's back again:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election campaign claims the FBI ranks New York as the safest large city in America.

That claim is false and Bloomberg knows it.

The FBI doesn't rank cities and specifically states that it's misleading to use its statistics that way.

When Bloomberg made the same claim during his mayoral run in 2005, a complaint from the FBI led his campaign to yank the FBI reference from its political ads, according to an FBI official.

"They modified their ad," the official said. "But now they're doing it again."

Bloomberg is going to do and say anything to be re-elected as Mayor for a third term. That is why he must be checked, and Len Levitt's article in Huffington Post is a great example of taking on the billionaire mayor.

Why Bloomberg can't stick to the facts...well that just goes to show he is another typical politician trying to make himself out to be something he's not. He claims to be something different, but as we've seen with zoning regulations, over-development, term-limit extension and many other issues, he is nothing of the sort.

Where Are Your Principles Governor Paterson?

David Paterson has been suffering as governor for months now. Thanks to ineffective leadership, constant flip-flopping on everything from getting same-sex marriage passed to the structure of the budget and overseeing a dysfunctional state capitol, New Yorkers are clamoring for someone new next year. Now Paterson still has a few months left before Democrats coalesce around AG Cuomo in the primary, but siding with Pedro Espada will do nothing but weaken what support he has left.

From The NY Daily News:

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson said it may be time for his fellow Democrats to accept turncoat Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. in a major leadership role as warring state senators entered their fifth week of stalemate on Sunday.

"Whatever you think of [Espada], he has been given the highest position on the coalition side," Paterson told the Daily News. "You may not like him, but you have to respect him. That is where he is."

Where he is and where he is going are two completely different things. Pedro Espada is a politician of the worst kind. Flagrantly flouting the law of the land and making it clear that all he cares for is more and more power, Espada is the epitome of Albany's dysfunctionalism. We should be shunning him, not promoting him. I know Paterson, along with everyone else wants Albany to get to work again, but giving in to a common criminal and thief like Espada is simply unacceptable.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

DNC Puts Some Weight Behind Fight For Health Care Reform

In the form of advertising, the DNC is getting behind the President and the more progressively- minded Democrats in Congress who are advocating for health care reform. Legislators that are in bed with health insurance companies have to be reminded repeatedly that the American people's best interest must come first, not just for those that donate the most amount of money to their campaign accounts.

Simcha Felder Wants To Do Away With Public Advocate

In a grand display of pledging allegiance to Mayor Bloomberg, Councilmember Simcha Felder is reportedly getting a bill ready to do away with the Public Advocate's office. The elected position was created as to protect New Yorkers from potential abuses from the Mayor and Council. It is seen as a nuisance by Bloomberg and the ethically dubious members in the Council that interferes with their agendas that do not always have the people's best interest at heart. Two weeks ago Speaker Christine Quinn kept the Advocate's budget slashed by 40%, now Felder wants to cut it out completely.

From City Hall News:

The legislation, now under review by Council staffers involved with bill drafting, would likely come before the Council sometime this summer. If passed, a referendum on the matter could go before the voters as soon as the November general election.

If voters approve the referendum, the matter would then need to be reviewed by the Department of Justice. Almost certainly, that would mean the office would stay in place at least through 2013, allowing the winner of this fall’s election to serve one term in office.
Bloomberg will most likely campaign heavily for this referendum, as he has done trying to keep Mayoral Control on the books and the tens of millions already spent on his own re-election campaign. The Mayor has a long history of disliking the office that watches over him.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long been seen as skeptical of the public advocate’s office—he has paid little attention to Gotbaum during their years of serving together, and in 2003 explored changing the rules of succession in the City Charter which put the public advocate next in line to the mayor. He also supported the referendum which passed that year which stripped the office of several of its statutory responsibilities and powers.
Unsurprisingly, the current candidates oppose such a drastic measure. Whether that is for their own self-interest or if they care about the need for an advocate of the people, that depends on which candidate you are talking about. In my opinion, Norman Siegel is the man that takes the office seriously, as he already advocates for the public without the official title. Though if he had a budget that had enough funds to sufficiently check the Mayor, then this city would be just a little more democratic. Abolishing the office would have the opposite, authoritarian, effect.

Amazingly, The Sky Didn't Fall When Mayoral Control Ended

The Mayor may not care about Muslim holidays in our city's schools, but he sure was in a panic over the end of mayoral control. Contrary to Bloomberg's claims that New York's school children would be engulfed in bureaucratic chaos, quite the opposite occurred. The procedure to put the old system back in place went very well on its first day, for administrators and the kids.

From The NY Daily News:

Predictions of anarchy failed to materialize as the first day of summer school passed without the Soviet-style dysfunction Mayor Bloomberg predicted.

The end of mayoral control seemingly had little effect on students who trudged back to class yesterday.

Shana Marks-Odinga said her ninth-grader, who attended summer school at the High School for Leadership and Public Service in lower Manhattan, was unaware of any changes.

"There was no chaos," said the Harlem resident. "I had full faith in the leadership of the school that everything would go as planned, and it did."

At Public School 129 in Harlem, all the children showed up for class.

"It went quite well," said the school's assistant principal, Roxie Johnson.

"The children are excited. We hugged them, welcomed them and let them know that they are going to learn."[...]

Bloomberg, who earlier had predicted riots if mayoral control was not renewed, acknowledged the first day of classes went off without a hitch.

Shocking I know, who could have imagined that something in the city would work unless Bloomberg had his hands all over it. I'm sure that's what the voters want, someone to micromanage every little detail of our city. In fact I hear that Bloomberg's next big law is mandatory tooth-brushing and flossing, so as to cut down on the city's budget that pays for dental care.

Meanwhile, the schools will keep humming along (albeit still under the misguidance of Joel Klein) and once the State Senate gets their act together, they can pass a bill that gives control back to the people who truly matter here, the parents who send their children off to learn at school and not just to memorize things for the Mayor's standardized testing system.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Finally, Something Michael Steele And I Can Agree On

God bless Michael Steele. The comedy of errors RNC Chairman is always ready to give a few words for the media to broadcast. With Al Franken officially becoming Senator-Elect this week, he didn't disappoint his fans (from both parties) on this subject.

Espada Finally Opens His First District Office...Outside His District

The only interests of note for Pedro Espada tightly circle around Pedro Espada. When he ran for State Senate again last year, it wasn't for some greater good for the East Bronx. No, it was about the self-aggrandizement of Pedro Espada. Once elected, one of the many complaints about the new Senator was that he didn't even bother to open a district office. Well, finally after several months he has managed to fulfill that part of his responsibility as Senator.

Only it isn't in his district:

Pedro's digs

No, we're not talking about where Pedro Espada lives.

As CBS Channel 2's Marcia Kramer (an ex-Newsie) reported last week, the Wascally Wabbit's STILL yet-to-open district office at 400 E. Fordham Road isn't even in his district. It's in State Sen. Jeff Klein's.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

M.T.A. And Ratner's Deal Breaks The Law

The M.T.A. has no problem raising the fare for straphangers in their attempt to make ends meet. Yet when it comes to the rich and powerful, they have no problem making deals with people like Bruce Ratner in his attempt to build part of his Atlantic Yards site. The only problem though with saving Ratner some money is that the M.T.A. violated the law in doing so.

From Hot Indie News:

Brennan said the failure to include an independent appraisal prior to voting on the proposal violated the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005, which specifically requires that a public authority like the MTA conduct an independent appraisal prior to disposing of its property to assure fair market value to be paid for assets of public authorities.

Brennan said the purpose of the statute was to prevent public authorities from squandering assets in giveaways to the private sector.

Brennan said it was likely the MTA was squandering its assets to the detriment of the mass transit system, since in 2005 another bidder on the arena site and rail yards, the Extell Corporation, had already offered the MTA more money than what became the agreement between Forest City Ratner and the MTA at that time.

Brennan said the likelihood that the arena project was a boondoggle was substantial, since the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) has already testified at a hearing of the State Senate Corporations Committee on May 29^th that a preliminary updated review of the costs and benefits of the arena showed that city and state outlays for the project would exceed positive tax revenues from the project even over a 30-year period.

I would say there is more than a substantial likelihood that this is a boondoggle, because it is definitely a boondoggle. Assemblyman Brennan knows that and so does everyone else in Brooklyn, including the principals who are orchestrating this deal. Forest City Ratner may think their legal troubles are over, but they've got another thing coming. There's a reason why laws like this one is written, and it is to stop shady pro-corporate, anti-community projects like Atlantic Yards

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gov. Sanford Likens Himself To King David

When it comes to hypocritical conservatives, one thing we are starting to expect is that when they are caught with their hand in the cookie jar, lame and laughable excuses are soon to follow. This one from Governor Sanford is priceless:

Markowitz...And Atlantic Yards Gets A Challenge

Borough President can be seen as a largely ceremonial job with no real duties but in Brooklyn this year, voters are going to be presented with a real choice for the office. Marty Markowitz is an affable guy, gets plenty of laughs and is generally well liked. Yet his hearty support for Bruce Ratner and the Atlantic Yards development is loathed by Brooklynites that wish to preserve their home and not let an obnoxious developer dictate what is blighted and what is not. Markowitz was instrumental in helping Ratner to demolish several of downtown's blocks, using eminent domain to throw many residents to the curb.

Eugene Myrick isn't having any of it, and that's one of the reasons he's running:

Eugene Myrick, 37, recently became the first candidate to announce he's challenging the powerful two-time incumbent on the Democratic line in this September's primary.

Myrick's support is mostly over his opposition to Bruce Ratner's $4.9 billion project to build an NBA arena and 16 residential and office towers in Prospect Heights, a project for which Markowitz is widely considered to be the biggest booster.

The challenger -- who runs a bridal Web site with his wife, ex-KISS-FM deejay Kesha Monk -- told The Post he's upset with "sweetheart" cost-saving deals cut last week by the state and MTA to bail out Atlantic Yards, and ripped Markowitz for openly supporting them.

The Daily News recently started a "throw the bums out" campaign in response to the State Senate debacle. However, that "party" can be extended to local government and unfortunately, Markowitz is just another bum, despite the persona. I wish Myrick the best of luck in his race and hope that when Brooklyn goes to the polls, that they punish Markowitz for his collusion and install Myrick to give the borough a real chance for change.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Seemingly Endless Drama In Minnesota Shows Signs Of Closure

It has been almost eight months since the 2008 elections, yet Minnesota still does not have one of their state's senators over in Washington. After a recount of a closely contested race, Al Franken held a narrow but definite lead over incumbent Norm Coleman. Fall, winter and now spring have passed us by and Norm is still challenging the results in the state's Supreme Court, despite not wanting any legal challenges soon after voters cast their ballots (of course he was winning by a small margin at the time). Well despite Mr. Coleman's feet-dragging, fellow Republican and Governor Tim Pawlenty is making it clear that with the Court's ruling, he is ready to let his state have the representation they deserve.

From Politico:

Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) said Sunday he has no plans for further delay in certifying the results of the state's disputed U.S. Senate election so that Republican Norm Coleman can pursue a federal court challenge.

Pawlenty told CNN that he would abide by whatever ruling the Minnesota Supreme Court makes in the contest, where Democrat Al Franken appears to have an upper hand.

"I'm prepared to sign [the certification] as soon as they give the green light," Pawlenty said. “I’m not going to defy an order of the Minnesota Supreme Court. That would be a dereliction of my duty."

Well I'm glad that this governor is ready to serve his state, unlike a certain southern GoOPer. It is far past the time to challenge the results of this race. Minnesota should have their fair share of representation in the Senate and despite the split results, Franken still won the most votes and therefore should be allowed to do the job he was elected to do.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Times-Union Staffers Debate "People's Business" And "People's Work"

When you are a politician and current New York State Senator, which cliché works better? Yeah, it is a tough question considering the current predicament.

The Victims Of NY Senate Chaos Aren't In The Capitol

There are plenty of crybabies in the senate chamber. Some, but not all senators have been seen throwing temper tantrums over the pledge of allegiance, who gets to sit on the rostrum as well as sneaking in before business hours to lay claim to the prestigious shameful institution of government that is the state senate. The theatrics mesmerize the eyes of the press and earn the scorn of the voters. In these tough times, a good deal of those voters are depending on their government to provide financial assistance so that they can get back on their feet. Unfortunately for them, petty politics trumps the needs of New Yorkers.

From The NY Times:

Despite having the support of the governor, labor leaders and advocates for the unemployed, a bill to raise weekly jobless benefits on July 1 and close the gap in the state’s unemployment trust fund was not addressed by state lawmakers before their regular session ended this week.

The maximum benefit, which had been $405 a week for about 10 years until the federal economic stimulus program temporarily added $25 a week, is significantly smaller than those available to residents of New Jersey and Connecticut. New Jersey’s maximum is $584 a week; Connecticut’s is $576.

Negotiations to make the bill more palatable to employers continued through the weekend, giving its supporters hope that Gov. David A. Paterson would present a compromise that could be enacted. But with party leaders distracted by the battle for control of the State Senate, no progress was made.
No progress, none at all. Meanwhile, people are going to be out there suffering from Albany's ineptitude and their neighbors in Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are going to be blanketed by their state legislature. These senators who are at fault should be ashamed, and at least two of them, the turncoats, should be in jail (though each has his own reasons).

NY Blade For Bloomberg??

The New York Blade has already endorsed the main opponent of Bloomberg's chief ally in the City Council, so why on Earth would they think about endorsing the Mayor's re-election? It is a potential endorsement that Matt Arnold of the NY Liberal Examiner thinks is bizarre given Bloomberg's record on LGBT issues (before the beginning of election season of course). Arnold makes the case for the Blade to think again before sending that issue to print.

From The NY Liberal Examiner:

I’ve heard from a reliable source that the New York Blade, one of the city’s main LGBT newspapers, plans to endorse Mike Bloomberg for re-election. Which would be pretty bizarre, unless they’re wanting to narrow their readership to Log Cabin Republicans.

Mike Bloomberg could never be mistaken as an advocate for the LGBT community. When Gavin Newsom was marring gay couples in San Francisco in 2005, Bloomberg instead appealed against a court ruling that would have allowed gay marriage in New York City, and he won, which is why gay people are now forced to look to the State Legislature to make marriage equality happen. And when the city council passed the Equal Benefits Law, requiring that contractors who do work with the city avoid discrimination and offer gay employees the same work benefits offered to straight couples, Bloomberg again sued to prevent that from being enforced, and again he won.

So Bloomie has damaged the LGBT community in very concrete ways. It’s nice that Bloomberg has had an election year conversion and now thinks that the time is right to press for gay marriage (in 2005 he told a HRC fundraising audience that gays needed to be “patient.”) But switching over this year doesn’t undo the damage his administration has caused. Honestly I can’t imagine what the Blade would be thinking by endorsing him. Unless, perhaps, it has something to do with all that ad money Bloomie has been spending on the paper?
Advertising is an important factor in the health of newspapers these days, but I hope the Blade isn't susceptible to that type of influence over their editorial decisions. That would be a real shame given their usually stellar record.

Welcome To The Jungle, Er, I Mean Albany

New York, this is your State Senate not at work. After the pledge of allegiance, both Dems and Repubs try to hold dueling sessions.

I wonder what's in store today? Since the Governor is threatening to withhold pay, both sides now seem willing to show up.

Contrary To GOP And DINO Spin, Public Option Will Save Us Money

The Democratic caucus may have a majority, but DINOs (Democrats in name only) have been trying to appease their Republican friends in the Senate to nix any and all possibilities of giving Americans a choice on whether they want a public or private health care plan. Allies of private insurance groups (like all Republicans, Sen. Max Baucus(D), Sen. Conrad (D) and other conserva-dems) protest that a government-run health care plan would cost more money and put bureaucrats between you and your doctor (as opposed to the bureaucrats that work at Cigna, Blue Cross, Aetna and so on). However, when the plan is actually thoroughly studied, we see a different reality from the naysayers spin.

From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A nationwide health insurance exchange that includes a Medicare-like government option could save $1.8 trillion more than if only private plans are offered, a prominent private U.S. health policy group said on Wednesday.

Federal spending on health-related costs would still rise from 2010 to 2020, but they would be less with a plan that pays doctors and hospital rates similar to the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund.

The New York-based health policy research group compared possible savings a health insurance exchange could bring under three different scenarios. One would include a Medicare-like plan along with private insurance. Another would instead offer a government-run plan with rates somewhat higher than Medicare. The final one would be private insurance with no government plan at all.

In our society, competition is a healthy thing for the economy. Why opponents who generally like the free-market (or so they say) want to limit consumers' choice is just a bit confusing. I guess they can toss aside their principles when a nice fat campaign check will suffice.

Of course, both sides know that a public option will ultimately benefit Americans who want good, quality health care. The difference is that one side wants people to have it, and the other doesn't.

Bloomberg Shows His Warmth For The Homeless

There have already been stories about how much empathy Bloomberg has for the least amongst us in the city. The latest to come from the desk of the plutocrat Mayor is sadly, not much different. His biggest supporters say that because he runs a media empire, running a city government should be pretty much the same way. Bloomberg prefers efficiency, expediency and a business model to good government, fairness and dedication to the public good. Unfortunately, one does not lead to the other and unless you are trying to make a profit off the city than that idea needs to be dropped in a hurry. Just like with Mayoral Control of the schools, Bloomberg is looking to bring "efficiency" to the city's homeless.

From The Gothamist:

The number of families sleeping in shelters is near an all-time high; according to the Department of Homeless Services, there were 34,774 people in shelters last week, including 9,361 families. The Bloomberg administration is now seeking state approval for a new set of policies intended to move families out of shelters more quickly and, according to the Times, apply the "market-driven, incentive-based philosophy to homeless shelters that it has used in schools." Under the new rules, the city would pay shelters more than the usual rate, which is roughly $100 a day, for the first six months that it houses a family. But after six months, if the family has not found permanent housing, the shelter would be paid 20 percent less than the standard rate. Homeless advocates deem the new policies "mean-spirited" and worry that families would be forced out after six months. But Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor for health and human services, insists families would only be ejected for "refusing to look for housing, refusing to seek employment, anything that is an unreasonable refusal to participate in the steps they need to take to overcome their homelessness." In April, homeless advocates blamed Bloomberg for the rise in homeless families.
Bloomberg meanwhile lives in his own world where those numbers are falling, thanks to some faulty calculations. The key thing is that the Mayor is looking to strip funding from homeless shelters when in these times, we need more assistance in that area to catch people who are falling behind. This isn't about market equilibriums and cost-benefit analyses, we are talking about real, live human beings and our city's government should be able to recognize that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sanford May Be Toast??

Well it has certainly been a crazy day down in South Carolina. The pundits are going overboard in talking about this scandalous subject. GoOPer Ron Christie think Sanford may be toast for having an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman for several years but I think we all know that Sanford is beyond toast, he's completely and utterly finished in politics.

Forget the Presidential run in 2012, he should be brought up on impeachment charges for leaving his state unattended with no one in charge lest an emergency come up. Not only did he disgrace himself and his family, he put all of South Carolina at risk.

Right Idea, Wrong Man

Albany is a wretched mess and everyone knows it. Legislators are failing to take care of the public's business thanks to a dysfunctional system that fosters corruption and subsequently a few of those corrupted legislators made a power grab that shut down the government. While most of us would love to see a power sharing agreement where both sides kiss and make up something equitable, the reality is that our leaders are a bunch of petulant children who would rather strut their stuff than get anything substantive done. Even the stuff that got done yesterday is all for nothing.

The question though is what to do about it. Beneath the chaos of the moment, there are so many problems with how the institutions of our state work that there is no realistic way for them to work with the benefit of the people in mind. What we need is to re-write the rules so that government works for us, but the man that is talking about these comprehensive reforms should not be allowed anywhere near the process.

From The Daily Politics:

The former mayor’s plan, outlined in an OpEd in the New York Times, calls for a constitutional convention that would, among other hot button proposals, impose term limits on all Assembly and Senate members, as well as all statewide elected offices.

In addition, Giuliani said he would push to empower the governor to set revenue estimates on his own; change the deeply partisan way in which state lawmakers draw electoral districts; toughen campaign finance laws; make it harder for legislators to boost taxes; and establish clearer lines of succession for the LG's office, which has remained vacant since last March when Gov. David Paterson took over for the scandal-scarred Eliot Spitzer.

Not Suprisingly, Espada's Very Late Campaign Finance Report Says Nothing

More than seven months after the 2008 election, Pedro Espada finally filed a campaign finance report with the state. He had hurriedly filed after learning prosecutors were about to file criminal charges against him. Despite that belated "compliance," what's in that report is what counts and by looking at what he wrote, there's really nothing there.

From Newsday:

Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada and his campaign committees owe the state Board of Elections roughly $13,500 for filing late. Espada owes about $3,200 of that and told the board the check was in the mail.

The treasurers of his campaign committees are responsible for the rest of the fines and reports, which still haven't been filed.

In his personal filing, Espada says there were no reportable contributions or expenses.
"The check's in the mail," he says. Sure Pedro, we believe you. The fine he owes might never be paid (unless under threat of a judge) but that $3,200 pales in importance to the missing contribution and expense reports. All candidates are required to give detailed accounts of what is taken in and spent so they can be examined by the people they represent (or the watchdogs in the middle). Espada however, could care less about the law and the people it is meant to serve. The fact that that information is missing speaks volumes about what he is hiding. Just one more reason why this criminal needs to be booted from state government (and into state prison).

Excellent Question Congressman Kucinich

Currently the Congress is considering the issue of climate change and how the U.S. should start getting their act together. While the Republicans complain that there is too much in there to help the environment, Congressman Kucinich sees it the other way.

Scary Thought For The Day: Albany Is Run By A Bunch Of Five Year Olds

It's chaos.

Sixty-two Senators (not all of them bad mind you) who collectively, supposedly, represent millions of New Yorkers in one house of a bicameral legislature are as a whole, failing us miserably. Yesterday Paterson called the first "special" session into the senate chamber and while they did pass a hundred bills, the legality of that is in doubt.

What's worse was the way it was all handled. First the Democrats ran into chamber at 12:30pm and locked themselves in, then the Republicans pounded on the door to start their own session at 2pm and the Democratic caucus joined in around 3pm. The place looked more like a kindergarten class than a primary institution of our state's government.

Quoting heavily (but deservedly) from The Times-Union:

And so it went, with the Democrats acting as if there were no one else in the chamber, until 3 p.m., when Stewart-Cousins gaveled in for Paterson's special session, kicking off 20 minutes of wildly dysfunctional governance.

Stewart-Cousins recognized Smith, who noted that the chamber had not yet received copies of the bills listed in Paterson's call for a special session. Winner and Skelos attempted to interrupt Smith whenever he rose to speak, and Stewart-Cousins did the same to Skelos.

Stewart-Cousins then ordered the Senate to stand at ease until 5 p.m., and the Democrats began to carry on conversations and exit the chamber.

The Republicans made a quorum call to determine if 32 members were present, and Winner called out the names of Democratic members who were in the Senate but not responding to the roll call ("Sen. Adams is present ... Sen. Aubertine is present in the chamber").

Although Winner declared that quorum was established, the absence of the governor's bills prevented the Republicans and Espada from moving forward with the legislation.

Stewart-Cousins banged her gavel. "Senate stands at ease," she said.

"Senate is in session," Winner declared.

As the scene unfolded, the Senate began to devolve into something resembling an unruly study hall. "You gonna punch somebody, Parker?" Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, said as Kevin Parker spoke to the Democratic side of the chamber. (Parker faces assault charges for an incident involving a New York Post reporter.)

"Don't you dare tell me I'm out of order -- you're out of order!," Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Bronx/Westchester, exclaimed after Winner attempted to gavel her down.

The GOP and Espada ultimately left the chamber, saying they would return once the bills had been received. But it was the Democrats who returned to the chamber first after the bills had been distributed.

Although there were at that point only 31 members in the chamber, the Democrats claimed that since all 62 Senate members had stood for the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the 3 p.m. session, quorum had been established. In order for that quorum to be questioned, one of the Republicans or Espada would have had to enter the chamber to do so -- which would, of course, had given the Democrats the 32nd member needed for a quorum call.

After the Democrats had passed the legislation on the governor's list and left the chamber, Republicans returned to adjourn for the day.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is your state senate.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Problem With Idle Teachers? Hire More Arbitrators

The news about New York City's idle teachers went national today, highlighting the tens of millions spent on teachers that sit around all day on the taxpayers' dime. Several hundred of them exist here and there are many other cities, like Los Angeles, that have a similar problem because teachers who are in limbo are protected by their unions so that they aren't just thrown out on the street because some kid or fellow educator accuses them of wrongdoing. It is a great story because the waste of money is just ridiculous. Yet the solution is incredibly simple.

From The Huffington Post:

Teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings around the nation typically are sent home, with or without pay, Karen Horwitz, a former Chicago-area teacher who founded the National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse. Some districts find non-classroom work _ office duties, for example _ for teachers accused of misconduct.

New York City's reassignment centers have existed since the late 1990s, Forte said. But the number of employees assigned to them has ballooned since Bloomberg won more control over the schools in 2002. Most of those sent to rubber rooms are teachers; others are assistant principals, social workers, psychologists and secretaries.

Once their hearings are over, they are either sent back to the classroom or fired. But because their cases are heard by 23 arbitrators who work only five days a month, stints of two or three years in a rubber room are common, and some teachers have been there for five or six.

Being in the "rubber room" for up to three years is appalling. Having 23 people who work once of twice a week to remedy teacher misconduct situations is simply a bad case of mismanagement. So let the teachers keep their strong protections, this isn't a case of a union having too much power. If anything, with so many people making complaints about other teachers for minor infractions (just read the rest of the article to get a picture of what I mean), the teachers need to be properly protected until an arbitrator can determine if there really was a problem in the first place.

The simple solution of course.....hire more arbitrators, or simply make the ones the city has work more hours. Easy. Simple. Case closed.

Obama Issues A "Major" Smackdown On Iran

Fox News' Major Garrett's question today was meant to knock the President for not being strong enough with the events occurring in Iran. Barack however, saw this one coming a mile away, and puts this fastball way back into the seats.

Howard Dean At Hunter College Today--2pm

Do you have the afternoon off? Interested in meeting Howard Dean? Want to talk about the health care debate going on in America (and the alternate reality the Senate is debating)? Well if you answered yes to those three then there's an event today at 2 o'clock for you. Howard Dean will be at Hunter College for an already packed forum focused on how the legislation for health care reform is progressing in the Congress.

The event is being hosted by several local progressive groups, including one that I am a member of, Democracy for New York City:

Gov. Howard Dean will be in New York City for a public event to speak about his work on behalf of Healthcare for All, co-sponsored by DFA, Democracy for NYC (local coalition group of DFA), Rekindling Reform, NYC for Change, Metro New York Health Care for All, and Three Parks Independent Democrats.

When: Tuesday afternoon, June 23rd, 2-4pm

Where: Hunter College School of Social Work, 129 E. 79th Street, at Lexington Ave., in Manhattan

Subway: 6 train to 77th Street. For other trains and buses, get address-to-address directions at

RSVP: Space is limited! Please scroll down to RSVP.

Join us! There are over 30,000 lobbyists in Washington D.C. but there are over one million DFA Members nationwide. Join Gov. Howard Dean and local grassroots groups to learn how to beat the lobbyists at their own game!

The RSVP list is currently closed but everyone is encouraged to show up anyways as there will be additional room provided in case the space fills up completely. This is one of the most important issues facing the nation, and the more people that are actively participating in the process, the more likely we'll be able to convince the Democratic majority in the Senate to do the right thing and include a public option.

Bloomberg's Fiscal Hypocrisy

When Mayor Bloomberg was making his case for extending term limits to the city council, his public relations front centered around the false premise that because he was rich, he could also manage the city's finances in tough times. Since the bill was pushed through so quickly by his allies in the city council, no one had enough time to properly review (or even let the people decide if they wanted to relinquish the term limit law they had voted on twice) if what he was saying even made sense. Now with the details of the budget and the view of NYC's fiscal future become a bit more clear, we see that the Mayor was a big part of the problem in getting us where we are today.

From The NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is sounding the alarm over New York City’s pension system these days, calling it “out of control.”

Costs have ballooned, he says, threatening to bankrupt the city. Municipal unions and lawmakers in Albany created the crisis, he suggests, and left the city holding the bag.

But interviews and budget records show that the Bloomberg administration itself is responsible for much of the growth in city pension costs over the last eight years, and has repeatedly missed opportunities to rein in the spending.

Since Mr. Bloomberg took office, city contributions to the pension system have jumped nearly five-fold to $6.3 billion, from $1.4 billion, and they now account for one out of every 10 dollars in the city’s budget.
Now don't get me wrong, I love that workers got raises. Yet the role of the Mayor is to have the right leadership to help city workers without over-taxing the city's ability to stay afloat. The worst thing about it though, is that Bloomberg claims to be something he's not. If he were to say something closer to the truth (that he was looking for the support of municipal workers at the expense of the city's financial health) then perhaps we could look at this through a different lens. Bloomberg however wants to be everything to everyone so that he can hold onto power for another four years, and that is something every voter should be well aware of when going to the polls in the fall.

Dr. Dean Discusses The Politics Of Health Care With Olbermann

The battle over health care reform is frustrating for the great majority of Americans that want to see a change in the way our nation treats our sick (whether they be insured or not). Yet while the Republican minority in the Senate are resolute in not helping solve the problem, Democrats are split between helping corporate health interests and the public. Dr. Dean tries to ease hesitant Dems into seeing that millions outside of Washington are watching what choices they make and if need be, will replace them come next election.

Senate Dems' Terrible Idea

Oh my holy god, here we go again. No, not the U.S. Senate, the New York State Senate are considering a deal that includes Espada as one of the leaders of the institution. With more than two weeks behind us since this mess began, Espada has become more unstable and dangerous with his actions and comments. Last week his power began waning with Monserrate's re-defection and claims of having two votes were received with chuckles, not respect. So for the Democratic caucus to consider letting him in on a power-sharing deal is ridiculous.

Yet they are doing it:

ALBANY—After singling him out for attack last week, Democrats are saying that they would be open to a power-sharing arrangement that prominently involves Pedro Espada Jr.

They emerged from a closed-door strategy session to announce that they were seeking to postpone the special session David Paterson has called for tomorrow.

Senator Jeff Klein said that conversations were ongoing toward some kind of a bipartisan operating agreement for the chamber. "Well, if one day we have John Sampson, the other day we have Pedro Espada, I think that's an agreement we could live with," Klein told reporters. "The Senate Democrats have been proposing this power-sharing for a week."

In the post Senator Liz Krueger stood firm with her opposition to him as President Pro-Tem, but she would conference with him while he was still in the Senate. What that means exactly, no one outside the Senate knows. Perhaps he could get a committee he likes (though the one he has now is to his liking) or some other important role. Regardless, what the Dems should be doing is working to marginalize and eliminate his presence from Albany, not help to elevate him based on his wholly unethical political behavior.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dems In Congress!!! Listen To The People!!!

This Democratic senator, and many like her in Washington simply do not get it. They already have federal health insurance and frankly, many are too much like their brethren across the aisle to fully comprehend how much Americans need comprehensive health insurance legislation. The fact is, the current system of making a small number of wealthy people more money by ravaging the status of health care in the nation is not working. Economist extraordinaire Paul Krugman does get it, and I sincerely hope that every single one of these decision makers reads this article in its entirety.

From The NY Times:

America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.
It isn't a radical plan, in fact, it is quite "conservative" in that people get to make the choice for themselves which plan they like better. Yet the Republicans in Congress make it out to be something it isn't and that is something Democratic members like Dianne Feinstein must learn to ignore. The latest polls show 75%, yes, 75% of Americans want some type of universal coverage. So quit buying into that rightwing tripe and do what the people tell you!

Superfund Gowanus!

Despite Bloomberg, De Blasio and Tollhouse Brothers wanting to develop by the toxic Gowanus Canal, the people that live in the neighborhood beg to differ. This half-hour, citizen-driven special is dedicated to showing everyone why the canal must be taken care of by the Superfund. A quick cleaning by the city is simply not enough, so sign the petition to make it so today!

Westboro Hate Church Helps NYC Synagogue Raise Cash

If you haven't heard of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church, prepared to be sickened. The church sent a few of its members into Manhattan yesterday, primarily to protest Jews for their general support of the GLBT community (I for one, am one of those Jews). The protests started early in the morning and even though I knew it was happening beforehand, I personally felt like getting a couple extra hours of sleep since I get next to nothing during the week. As I expected, for every Phelps-loving hater of humanity, there were more than ten that opposed them. The synagogue happened to be around the corner from Council District 3 challenger Yetta Kurland, and she had an excellent response to the anti-semitism that these misguided souls brought with them.

Now the community response on the streets was fantastic, but what I loved most was that it raised money for the synagogue, to the tune of $10,000:

Leaders of the synagogue, which is currently using rented space in the West Village, asked supporters to pledge a dollar or more for every minute that the six bigoted bumpkins protested outside. After almost an hour, they raised $10,000, thanks to the Westboro Baptist Church protesters, who were vastly outnumbered yesterday by a counter-demonstration of some 150 synagogue supporters. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum tells the Daily News, "The synagogue wants a building so we're hoping this will help us get a building. We're not intimidated by them. We're joining together today to show that we ... simply reject their language, their violence, and we won't be scared away by them."
Not only am I grateful for the fundraising the synagogue pulled off, I am ecstatic that it countered what Phelps is ultimately up to. I believe that Phelps may or may not believe what he encourages his followers to do, but the real motivation is to profit monetarily from that hate. Getting press at military funerals and yes, this synagogue is what Phelps wants, but if it can also raise money for those that have good intentions, then so much the better. Phelps is going to continue on hating and the media will cover him from time to time. So what everyone else should do is to beat him at his own game.

Newsday Supports Campaign Finance Bill In Assembly

I was pleased to see Newsday's quick post about the public finance bill that had passed the Assembly last week. With all of the bills being pushed onto the senate by Governor Paterson, this has to be at the top of the list. Our system of electing people to represent us is fundamentally broken and the power of money has far too much influence on how things work (just ask Pedro Espada). However, the bill...and Newsday's backing of it, hardly goes far enough.

From Newsday:

Last week, the Assembly - that half of the State Legislature that is still at work - passed a bill that would create public financing for state elections. The bill is modeled on the New York City system, which has succeeded in opening city elections to many new faces. Participating candidates would receive a 4-to-1 match for individual donations up to $250, and donors could give just $2,000.

The bill would phase in public financing beginning with the 2010 race for state comptroller. A widening pay-to-play probe of the Alan Hevesi years demonstrates the high stakes; the $154-billion pension fund should be far better insulated.

A phase-in is best, too, when state coffers are this empty. Full public funding would cost $100 million to $125 million over a four-year election cycle. Of course, the potential savings in reduced public corruption are incalculable.
Yes, those benefits are incalculable. I'm 100% with you that we need to get money out of politics, but if Newsday wants to see that as much as I do, then we need to push for real reform. Now I understand that Albany isn't going to do this willingly but proponents must talk about the benefits to get more people on our side and the political will power to not only limit the size of donations, but to make large contributors irrelevant. It already works in Arizona and Maine, it can work here too, but only if we fight for it.

Note To Meghan McCain: Do Not Try Debating Paul Begala

Ms. McCain and Mr. Begala were two of Bill Maher's guests this past weekend. Needless to say, Paul has a lot more political experience than know how than the daughter of John McCain. So she should have known that when she tried criticizing the Obama Administration for something she knows nothing about.

Try not to feel bad for her, she did accept the opportunity to go on. It isn't as if anyone made her debate the big bad Begala.

Paterson Makes Senators Work, But Marriage Equality Is Up In The Air

Today is the official last day of Albany's legislative calendar, but Paterson is calling a special session for Wednesday. He wants the senate to take care of business, though the outcome of a special session is in the hands of the 62 members (or as Espada believes, everything is in his hands). One thing that Governor Paterson is not willing to put to a vote is the marriage equality bill that he had demanded so vociferously a few weeks ago. Or will he?

From The NY Times:

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson said in an interview Sunday night that he would make sure that the State Senate votes on same sex-marriage legislation before it breaks for the summer, hours after he and his administration had refused to commit to forcing a vote on the issue.

The development came as the governor announced plans to call the Senate to a special session on Tuesday, after trying unsuccessfully for two weeks to broker a compromise in a leadership battle that has deadlocked the chamber. But Mr. Paterson dismayed gay rights groups in his comments at a news conference early Sunday afternoon, when he said same-sex marriage would not be on the special session’s agenda.

“It has always been my intention to see same-sex marriage come to the floor,” he said, adding, “I don’t want there to be any confusion.”
Yet sowing confusion is what he seems to do best. Making one comment leaning one way and then backtracking later in the day is just one more indication of what a weak governor he is. We probably will not see that vote come up this week, but if Paterson has the courage to call another session (he says he does at least) then we might, or we might not. Listening to the governor lead the state is worse than going by a two-bit psychic that sets up shop on the sidewalk.

Monserrate Gives A Whole New Definition To "Jesus Freak"

Ah, the egos of politicians who think that they are all that and a bag of chips.

Two weeks ago when Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada jumped ship to the Republicans and put the state senate into chaos, no one knew where this was going (and we probably still don't). Yet one thing we know for sure is that the mental states of Albany's two biggest renegades is clearly alarming. Domestic abuser Republican Senator Monserrate put that on display for all to see this past weekend.

From The NY Daily News:

Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens), who briefly aligned himself with the Republicans before jumping back across the aisle to deadlock the Senate 31-31, appeared with other lawmakers at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

Speaking on Sharpton's radio show, Monserrate commented, "You know, I'm never gonna compare myself to anyone in the biblical context."

And then ... he did.

"I remember Jesus himself, when he saw that in the temple there were merchants setting up shop, [he] began to turn over a few tables along the way ... to get the people's business done right," Monserrate said.

Monserrate clearly has a few delusions when it comes to his place in the world of Albany politics, but at least Sharpton put him in his place by reminding him that even Jesus planned his resurrection out better than Monserrate (especially since he has no chance of coming back from this).

Oh and of course Espada did not stay quiet either, likening his opposition to a "jihad" and claiming that only he has the votes to be President of the senate. Thankfully though, there are cooler heads within the senate that are less than thrilled with the two traitors.

"When Hiram compared himself to Jesus, I vomited a little," snarked one lawmaker present for Monserrate's address.

And a flabbergasted Senate Democrat said "the longer [Espada] runs around the state sounding like Idi Amin, the more he's alienating Republicans, Democrats and everyone else."

Now if only we knew who those Senators were, and more importantly that they are doing something to take down Jesus and Idi Amin.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gotbaum Accuses Quinn Of Political Payback For Opposing Term Limit Extension

Three cheers for Betsy Gotbaum this morning, when she proudly stood in front of City Hall and lambasted Speaker Christine Quinn for not restoring funding cuts to the Public Advocate's office. Gotbaum, with just a few months left in office, pulled no punches and accused the Speaker of withholding funds for the city's watchdog office because Gotbaum opposed Quinn's push to extend term limits from eight to twelve years.

NYC Council Hands Out Nearly $50 Million In Pork

Times are tough, the Mayor and Council tell us we must skimp and save to weather the economic storm. They're doing that by increasing the sales tax, cutting city services and of course, pulling in almost a billion in fines. However, despite preaching to New Yorkers about fiscal responsibility, the Council is terrible practicing what they legislate for the rest of us. Thanks to Quinn's "reforms" concerning city spending after she was caught in a slush-fund scandal, we get a whole 24 hours to see what they are going to spend on member items. The possibility that this so-called transparency will do anything to combat their wasteful spending is slim to none.

From The NY Daily News:

The funds are disbursed by Council members to several thousand nonprofit and charitable groups that defenders say will help a wide variety of needy constituency groups.

But it also lets Council members - most of whom are running for third terms because they and Mayor Bloomberg lifted the prior two-term limit - boast they've brought home the bacon.

In a public disclosure on Thursday fraught with missteps, Council aides said the new pork pie is to be spent as follows:

  • $17.7 million dispensed by the individual 51 Council members, with some members getting to dole out bigger slices because they chair major committees or hold leadership posts;
  • $17.9 million dispensed through Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan);
  • $7.7 million equally divided among the 51 members to give to youth-service groups;
  • Another $5.5 million to be disbursed by the members to senior citizen groups.
  • A Primary For Pedro In The Works

    We are at the end of week two for the state senate debacle and Senator Pedro Espada's quest for power has taken some interesting turns in such a short time. First the GOP attempted to make him the temporary Senate President. Then he threatened to bring other Democrats with him besides Hiram to the other side (never happened, Hiram even left him). After that he found a key to the locked-up Senate chamber and held pretend sessions where nothing got done except for a lot of grandstanding. This week he tried to claim he had two votes because the Pro Tem is kind of like the Lieutenant Governor (he stopped). Then Democrats tried to negotiate, Pedro kicked and screamed, Republicans around him started to realize how toxic Espada is and is being pushed into the background of the power struggle.

    Despite Espada's quick rise and fall in this ridiculous leadership battle, he is still going to face consequences for helping the GOP pull this stunt. While the Bronx DA is after him for his criminal doings, Haile Rivera might be the answer to his political backstabbings.

    From The Daily Politics:

    After receiving several calls from community and clergy leaders in the district regarding Haile running for the 33rd Senatorial District and in light of the actions of our current State senator Pedro Espada Jr., Haile will be giving this race serious consideration, only after he helps elect Councilman Eric Gioia as the City’s next Public Advocate.

    He will be reaching out and speaking to the Chair of the Bronx Democratic Party Carl Heastie before he makes any formal announcement.

    As you know, Haile was a strong early supporter of President Barack Obama, when no elected official in the Bronx (except Michael Benjamin) believed that Obama stood a chance.

    But Haile stood behind his candidate, who he supported for US Senate back in 2004 as well and it paid off. Haile is no stranger to his community and to the issues affecting the residents of the 33rd Senatorial District.

    But again, Haile is completely dedicated to Eric Gioia and helping elect someone who will give New Yorkers a voice at City Hall and who’ll roll up his sleeves and work to solve problems.

    We will keep you posted.

    Putting out a press release like that means one thing. As long as no superstars step up to challenge Pedro, Haile Rivera will knock Espada out next fall. Rivera, as far as I know, is not covered in the stench of the majority of Bronx politics. He certainly looks like a breathe of fresh air for the 33rd District (of course the inside of a garbage truck would be healthier to breathe in than standing near Espada) and that is exactly what the district, and the state, desperately needs.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Move Over Media Matters, Here Comes Fox News

    Whenever I need a laugh, or a reason to throw something at the television/computer monitor (take your pick) I catch a video clip from Fox News. Their latest talking point goes after ABC for committing the unspeakable crime of giving President Obama a platform to talk to the nation about his health care plan. I know, I know, I'm just as outraged as you.

    Dems Will Drink Monserrate "Lemonade" While Spilling Out The Espada

    State Senator Liz Krueger puts it best when assessing the situation where the Democratic caucus got one of two senators that defected. Monserrate is most certainly a lemon as far as the Democratic party goes but having him around for now keeps Espada's plans at bay, at least for the time being. Between now and the 2010 elections, before Pedro can be defeated at the polls, the caucus has an idea for Republicans to start the business of the Senate up again.

    From The Daily Politics:

    The Senate Democrats are trying a new tactic in their ongoing war with their Republican colleagues, calling on them to dump Pedro Espada Jr. as temporary president and replace him with somebody else.[...]

    So far today, I have received no fewer than three press releases from Senate Democrats - Klein, Liz Krueger and Dave Valesky (they're really covering the spectrum here, both geographically and ideologically) - calling for the Republicans to chuck Espada overboard. (Make that four: Sen. Craig Johnson sent one out, too, so they've got the Island covered).

    This is interesting, because it almost seems like the Democrats are acknowledging that Espada is indeed president - why would he need to be bumped if he wasn't actually in the post? Klein rejected that idea, however, insisting state Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara's ruling did not address that point.

    All the Democrats are saying is that they understand Republicans see Espada as President and if anyone wants to make any progress in negotiating a power-sharing arrangement, then Espada has to be pushed to the back of the GOP bus. Espada is a dangerous individual who has no place in the state senate to begin with, and for him to be so close to the governor's office is a disgrace to our state. Until the voters take care of him next year (or the justice system, whichever comes first) the Republicans had better keep Espada contained.

    Another Increase From The Rent Guidelines Board

    Summer is upon us (even though it doesn't look like it outside today) and for landlords of rent-stabilized buildings, it is time to salivate over how high the Rent Guidelines Board will raise rents. Of course, the tug of war will consist of the usual, "rents are too high" versus "our expenses are too high so we must have a large increase" and in the end the Board will pick something in the middle of the preliminary numbers. For this year, that means 2 to 4.5% for one year leases and 4 to 7.5% for two year leases.

    Gothamist has some more details:

    Of course, that doesn't sit well with the tenants. One told NY1, "A year and a half ago I had pneumonia and I was hospitalized due to lack of heat. They do not deserve an increase at all and many many other tenants are going through the same thing." And Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer pointed out that last year's hikes—4.5% for one-year leases, 8.5% for two-year leases—was approved when landlords said energy prices would rise, when in reality they didn't. Stringer said, "So come clean, admit you made a mistake and the reason you freeze the rents is because you rent gauged last year based on a faulty set of assumptions." But landlord Jimmy Silber said, "If people want a rent freeze, let's have a freeze on real estate taxes and water and sewer taxes, plumbing increases and legal increases."
    Basically, no matter how much screaming and shouting occurs from either side, there will be an increase of some sort. If people really want to change how this is done, they'll want to get rid of Pedro Espada and his GOP buddies so that the Democratic senate can get back to enacting reforms to help tenants get back rights that Republicans and a few developer-friendly Democrats (like Espada) have been stripping for the past few decades.

    Crazy Palin Supporters On Parade

    Sarah Palin has accepted Dave's (unnecessary) apology for making jokes about her daughter and A-Rod, but her diehard supporters are still demanding Letterman resign. Cenk Uyugr takes a look at just how loony this bunch was outside of the Ed Sullivan theater this week.

    Thompson Should Answer De Blasio's "Excellent Question"

    Despite the attention given to the clusterf*&k in Albany, Mayor Bloomberg still gets tons of press and amplifies it with tens of millions in campaign advertising. We all get that he is running for re-election, but is there a race? One smart voter asked that question of City Councilmember and Public Advocate candidate Bill de Blasio. His response is something that actual mayoral candidate Bill Thompson should take to heart.

    From PolitickerNY:

    De Blasio said it was an “excellent question” before going on to say, “It’s up to us to make sure there is a mayoral race in this city. There is one and we have to regard it as such, we have to talk about it as such."

    He goes on to say it’s “irresponsible” to consider the race a forgone conclusion. “There is a deep desire for change among the populace, a lot of frustration with City Hall, tremendous frustration over the economy, obviously” and “a lingering anger over the term-limits decision.”

    Of course, Bill is not one to talk about frustration with City Hall and wanting change. Still, it is right that people want change. The only problem is that New Yorkers need to know who can actually provide it. Thompson must get out there if he stands a chance against King Bloomberg.