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.