Real Deal NYC

New York City + the world's political news.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Endorsements In The Current Political Atmosphere

I spent some time over the weekend considering endorsements, especially in light of Freddy Ferrer's success in the democratic primary. What do his myriad endorsements mean to democratic voters across the city, and do these political endorsements arise from the efficacy of the candidate?

Endorsements are a staple of any industry: Hollywood uses them to sell movies, i.e. if you liked this older movie, you will like this new one; music labels promote newer bands by putting them on tour with established ones; athletes promote products because they have been paid to do so. These are all examples of endorsements which benefit the endorser and the endorsee, and there could be some argument over who is in fact endorsing who in some cases.

But who exactly pays attention to these endorsements? Members of sub-communities rally around those whom they have endorsed for the benefit of themselves and to make it known to external communities what exactly they want through an endorsement, or who the best person will be to get what it is that they want. This takes place in political clubs, non-profit organizations and from other, possibly more viable, politicians or public figures.

In the case of Ferrer, the democratic community has come to rally around him to let its members and external communities know who they believe will be the best candidate for mayor. But why? Why rally around a candidate when there are so many reasons not to?

It is known that City Comptroller Bill Thompson would like to run for mayor in 2009, as most likely will Anthony Weiner. Chuck Schumer's wife is a commissioner under the current mayor, and there is debate over whether that could change under a Ferrer administration (probably not). Hillary Clinton, David Dinkins and a number of other democrats have expressed no desire to criticize Bloomberg or his policies, and have in fact refused to do so. Others, like Eliot Spitzer, have expressed dismay with some of Ferrer's proposed policies, like the stock-transfer tax.

So why have all of these prominent democrats come to rally around Ferrer? It is not for the sake of Ferrer becoming mayor or his policies taking effect, but for their own efficacy in office or in public life. So why should the Democrats of New York heed this call to rally around our nominee? When this question is answered in full, I will consider voting for Fernando Ferrer.

Although Bloomberg has promoted a number of heinous atrocities against freedom of speech, human rights, and has lent his support to a president who is running our country into the ground, he will win. This is true for the very reason that the media and even our own democratic public figures cannot give us a straight answer on why he should not be mayor for four more years; whether it be because Ferrer would truly be a better mayor and why, or that anything he has done in four years has been excruciatingly wrong.

I will end in a disclaimer. Although I have never considered not voting when given the opportunity to do so and take my voting rights very seriously, I do not consider either of the mayoral candidates worthy of my support. I will go into the voting booth on November 8, but unless circumstances change dramatically, I will be skipping over the section for mayor.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Freddy, Give Up Already

Today's New York Times article on Manuel Gonzalez, longtime ally of Freddy Ferrer, finally uncovers the unfortunate truth about the Bronx democratic machine. Gonzalez, who spent time in jail on Vellela-related charges, has strongarmed contributors to Freddy's current campaign. The Times, which plays apologist for Freddy's ties to Gonzalez, points to all the evidence of corruption in the Bronx machine, but never calls it what it is.

The only way that Freddy seems to be able to keep his numbers up is by staying out of the spotlight, which, when running for mayor is antithetical to your mission. Everytime he sticks his neck out or an article is written on his past, Ferrer loses support in the polls. When will the media begin to realize this, and when will we finally stop hearing about this? How about November 8.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Truth About George (the other one)

I recently came across the website, www.thetruthaboutgeorge.com, which has a tremendous amount of interesting facts about how George Bush is running our country into the ground. This particular paragraph struck me:

Bush Addresses Anti-Choice Marchers
During the annual "March for Life" in January, Bush spoke with anti-choice marchers who descended on Washington D.C. In a message broadcast to the marchers, Bush promised that his administration was working to foster a "culture of life" through legislation like the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban and the "Unborn Victims of Violence" Act. Bush also told the marchers that a U.S. without abortion is slowly coming into view. "We're making progress in Washington," Bush said.

It is unfortunate that George Bush made the decision to have a dialogue with extremists who are interested in limiting the rights of women in our country, but will not meet with the mother of a fallen U.S. soldier, whose death is directly linked to his foreign policy. I wouldn't call that the catalyst for a 'culture of life,' but then again, whose lives are we preserving and why? In depth, through all the backdoor policy changes and executive orders, we see that George Bush is not interested in life, but in a militarized society, where big business rules, women are put "in their place," and the poor and elderly are left to fend for themselves. I believe the word for that is: oligarchy.

In addition, how often is it that presidents meet with protestors in Washington, DC? I can tell you quite frankly, the president sent a large group of gentlemen to meet with my friends and I in whatever neighborhood we were in during an IMF/World Bank protest, and they were not exactly friendly. I would say we were trying to preserve the lives and livilihoods of poor people across the globe. So, moral of the story: I think you get it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Debate

I will back away from the spin, the he-said, she-said, and stick to the point. I thoroughly enjoyed the lightening round of questions, as candidates rarely ever answer with 'yes' or 'no.'

I did think the question to Mr. Miller on where his children will attend school was irrelevant. Some aspects of candidates lives should remain private, as it is difficult enough to be in the public spotlight, and his (seeming) unwillingness to send his children to public school does not make him unqualified to be mayor. What I saw in his answer was an unwillingness to commit to anything without the facts and that is what I would like to see from a mayor.

On the other hand, I think the most obviously independent and undervalued democratic candidate is Anthony Weiner. He is an overachiever and has done a great job for his constituents while in the city council and U.S. House. He gave succinct answers and talked up good proposals for middle class New Yorkers, which is a great message to stick to (and he is).

As some of you know from previous posts, I am no fan of Freddy or Virginia. Freddy's slow paced style of public speaking is condesending and irksome, and I can't imagine how he was able to finish any answers in the alloted time. Virginia could barely put words together to form a coherent sentence other than affordable housing is her number one priority, but hey, join the club, what are you really going to do about it? Hopefully not what she has been doing: (nothing).

I would imagine that the viewing audience for this debate was minimal, as it is vacation season and with Bloomberg's popularity, interest in the mayoral race is not at an all-time high. However, I will now make my official endorsement, barring any more pro-Guiliani gaffs, I believe that Anthony Weiner is the best candidate out of the democratic field.

However, since I have no loyalties and I am not an elected official I can give that statement a footnote. While Weiner may be the best candidate, I believe Gifford Miller has the best field operation. While Freddy, as the leading candidate in the polls, was filing his nails waiting for union endorsements, and therefore union machines to do his campaign's grunt work, Gifford was putting together a tremendous operation all over the city, second to Bloomberg who has millions to spend (and all the big union endorsements). I am excited to see how this plays out on primary day, and like many New Yorkers, I will be fresh from my vacation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jeanine.

I will be brief today. Jeanine Pirro has:

~contempt for the terrific job Hillary has done for New York
~referred to herself in the third person
~craved [negative] attention from the national media
~a deadbeat husband that should not be compared to our fabulous former prez
~a picture of herself and a monkey on her website in lieu of her husband (good idea)
~and no chance of beating Mrs. Clinton, who will wipe the floor with Pirro's facelift come November 2006.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Our Homes and Our Schools

The public school system in New York breaks down into two groups: if you can afford to live where the good schools are, your children will most likely complete school; or, if you cannot, your children will be shuffled through inadequate schools until they lose interest. It is a self-perpetuating system.

Today I noticed a quote from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's press secretary, Ed Skylar. Commenting on City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's class-size reduction ballot initiative, he said, "His voter-friendly class-size proposal is pure fantasy and would be impossible to implement."

I understand the difficulties in reforming our public school system, but any initiative to reduce class size and focus individual attention on students would prompt a break-through in reform efforts. Mayor Bloomberg has made no public move to reduce class size. Miller has proposed bringing class size in New York City in line with the rest of the state.

Throughout the city and state the disparity in real estate tax funding of public schools is visible. The funding of city schools is complicated. However, if that funding system changes, and all of our schools are funded equally, our class structure will begin a shift towards egalitarianism. Our population will become more educated, civic-minded and responsible.

While this may not be in the best interest of power politics, it will be in the best interest of our democracy. Every single person in our country is capable of rational decision-making on what is best for his or herself, their community and their nation when given the right tools to do so.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Profiling, Searches: Attacks on our Democracy

It is quite obvious that random searches on the New York City subway system are unconstitutional. Our constitution's 4th amendment protects "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Now, I understand we live in uncertain times. In my travels yesterday I happened upon a friendly middle aged woman waiting for the elevator in a subway station. We waited patiently at the back of the crowd of people boarding the elevator only to be shut out because our fellow passengers would not make room. This struck up immediate conversation on how the people of New York City turn into wild animals when they board mass transit without regard for anybody but themselves.

The conversation quickly turned to the random searches in subway stations. As frequent riders of the MTA system, we know, as many do, these searches have two direct consequences: one, riders constantly reminded of the dangers of riding the subway and therefore living in fear; two, a false sense of security because of random searches, while a number of coherent safety precautions are not provided. This includes more MTA employees in stations equipped to react in an emergency situation, chemical/biological weapons detectors, bomb sniffing dogs, and layers of impact-resistant padding for tunnel walls. All of these precautions can be found in other urban systems, but ours, the largest and most frequently threatened, has none of them. Police officers in the subways are helpful, but are just as vulnerable in an attack as any civilian.

With the current threat level here in New York and in London, the MTA must be transparent and act quickly to secure its riders. Unfortunately the MTA does not have a track record of acting swiftly to implement any measure, unless it is, of course, a fare hike.

In times of fear, the public is lead to believe that searches or profiling will assist in keeping the system safe. However, as pointed out by the NYPD and a number of city officials, profiling has not worked in the past. Timothy McVeigh is an example of that; as a white American male, few would have profiled him as a mass-scale bomber.

While London officials have called for profiling, rather than waste their time searching elderly women or others who may not be considered threats, the liberal democratic model in America bars any profiling of its residents based on religious, racial or gender affiliation. Not only would profiling and random searches not succeed in keeping New Yorkers safe, it would begin to erode our civil liberties and in turn, our democracy. We must be vigilant in protecting our civil liberties; our democracy is something that we must work to preserve, because like our subways, it is always vulnerable to attack.