Tuesday, November 30, 2010
An editorial in the Daily News this past Sunday supports the effort to roll back the two-term exemption for incumbents. Most New Yorkers may not be aware that the two-term limit on the ballot that passed this past November by such a wide margin (74-26) contained an exemption for incumbents so that they get to serve three terms. I strongly opposed that provision during my service on the 2010 Charter Revision Commission. That is why I have joined a broad coalition of civic leaders, including Henry Stern of NY Civic, to launch a public petition drive to give voters the chance to decide whether or not they want to exempt incumbents from this law. We need 30,000 signatures to put it on the ballot in 2011 -- I suspect that New Yorkers will have a lot to say about this issue. If you want to get involved or want to sign the petition please visit NY Civic's website.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Here is a link to an article by Andre Hawkins at City Hall News reporting that Councilman Jimmy Vacca has come out in support of Cathie Black for schools chancellor. UPDATE: Bronx News Network has this article showing that Bronx pols are split on the appointment.
Here is a link to an article reporting that a number of elected officials, including State Senator Elect Adriano Espaillat, are calling for Congressman Charles Rangel not to be censured. The Congressman was recently found guilty of 11 counts of ethics violations by Congress but these guys say he has been punished enough? I am not sure what punishment they are referring to? You can already see the type of bold leadership our new State Senator from Riverdale will be providing us in Albany.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The day of reckoning has finally come for the Riverdale Review. For those of you who do not know the Review, it is a free weekly rag put out by Andy Wolf (yup, that's his beautiful mug to the left), who also runs the Bronx Press Review. Over the years, the big, bad Wolf has set a new standard in yellow journalism by personally attacking anyone who disagrees with him. I am proud to say that I am one of his favorite targets -- which means I must be doing something right. After 15 years of trashing schools, community leaders and politicians, a large and diverse contingent of people in and around the Riverdale area have decided that enough is enough. They formed a new organization called "Recycle the Review" that is leading a boycott of the paper. This article from the Riverdale Press (not to be confused with the Review) sets forth the tremendous success this group has had in just one week. Their facebook page provides details about the boycott and includes some of Wolf's finest work. There is an online petition you can sign here. I support their efforts, and ask everyone to pass it along to your friends and lets score a victory for responsible journalism (not to be confused with blogging, which allows the public to spout our personal opinions!).
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
This article from Sam Roberts at the NY Times shows that New York ranked lower than every state in the nation in voter turnout. Despite contests for every statewide race, New York's turnout was lower than any mid-term election for at least 3 decades. Only about 32 percent of eligible New York voters went to the polls on November 2nd. This is a trend that continues to grow. The real question is what does it mean for the future?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Bronx News Network has Congressman Eliot Engel (yes, he is a Bronx Congressman--just some portions of it, and some would say he also represents parts of Maryland but that is the subject of another story), commenting on Congressman Charlie Rangel being found guilty of ethics violations by a Congressional panel.
Friday, November 12, 2010
While his stances often cause many Bronxites agita, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. deserves some credit for a bold stance he has taken against outside income and Lulu's for state elected officials. Capitol Confidential reports that the Senator has introduced legislation that would eliminate outside income for state elected officials, and he also wants to see Lulu's (stipends they get just for doing their jobs) eliminated as well. These reforms would go a long way towards changing the culture in Albany and Senator Diaz deserves kudos for taking a strong stand on it. Now, will any of his colleagues join him?
Today's New York Post Editorial takes issue with Governor Elect Mario Cuomo's choice of Bx. Beep Ruben Diaz, Jr. to sit on his economic advisory team. They basically relate that his appointment is ironic given,"That would be the same Ruben Diaz Jr. who a) presides over a borough with a 13 percent-plus jobless unemployment rate, and b) torched 2,200 jobs at the proposed Kingsbridge Armory shopping plaza in 2009, just because retail-union bosses told him to." You can just put that Armory on Diaz's political tombstone now. UPDATE: here is an article by Adam Brodsky at the Post discussing the living wage study controversy and more details on the Kingsbridge Armory. Cat Fight: As reported by Celeste Katz in the Daily News, Diaz fired back at his critics (namely the Post) today.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Celeste Katz at the Daily News has a posting that says that Pedro Espada continues to ignore the Board of Elections, and has failed to file his post-election financial statement. Espada owes thousands of dollars in fees -- now that's a lot of sushi.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Yea that's me calling for a new movement to close the loophole on the new two-term limits for city incumbents. You can find some of the details from this article by Chris Bragg at City Hall News, but the main point is that although the Charter Commission I served on gave the public the option of going back to two-terms for city elected officials, we exempted incumbents from this change if they are not already in their third term. I strongly objected to this provision, and wrote a minority report stating that position. That is why I believe that in order to finish the job we started we should give the voters the chance to decide whether they want to have the two-term law apply to incumbents as well. This can be done either by another charter commission or by public referendum. Right now the most likely route is a public referendum that would require thousands of signatures. Would you sign it?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Adam Lisberg at the Daily News reports that three politicians have charged that a living wage study commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg will be biased against the idea of the living wage. Three members of the Industrial Agency Board -- Comptroller John Liu, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, and Manhattan BP Scott Stringer -- will ask the board to rescind their June decision to commission a $1 million study on the living wage. They charge that "the study will be subject to the biases of a study team that is being chosen by the mayor's office."
Crains is reporting that Walmart is poised to make a big push again to try to get a store open in NYC. Walmart recently hired Mayor Bloomberg's former campaign manager Bradley Tusk to help its efforts, and they are looking at smaller store sizes which would negate the most powerful tool used to keep them out -- City Council zoning regulations. The Crains article mentions the Kingbridge Armory as an interesting backdrop, "Meanwhile, leaders of the city's building trades are still irritated that the retail union engineered the defeat of a proposed mall at the Kingsbridge Armory last year, killing 1,000 construction jobs. With its members facing 30%-plus unemployment rates, the trades have little incentive to join the retail unions in fighting Walmart, which said it will build with union labor. The Building and Construction Trades Council declined comment." Meanwhile. other big box stores such as Costco and Target are thriving here and employing a lot of people. What do you think about the possibility of Walmart coming to NY?
UPDATE: The New York Post reports today that New York City residents spent $165 million at Walmart even though there is not a store in the 5 boroughs. This would seem to contradict a quote by this union official, "Walmart is still not welcome," said Stuart Appelbaum, of the national Retail and Wholesale Workers union." Who is this dude to speak for 8 million New Yorkers?
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Politicians around the state are holding their collective breath as they anxiously await the news about whether Democrats or Republicans will control the State Senate. As reported in the NY Times, there could be a 31-31 tie, but there are still 3 seats too close to call (it appears that 2 of those are leaning Republican). One fascinating wrinkle involves our very own State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. As you may recall, he joined with Pedro Espada and Hiram Mosserate in the past to cross party lines and shut down state government last year. Even though he lost his two amigos, he is still hinting that he might cross party lines and join the Republicans if he does not get his way -- and in a closely deadlocked Senate that could make all the difference. Capitol Confidential is reporting that Diaz is already threatening he may jump ship if he does not get his way on certain issues. I wonder why there isn't a similar movement to remove the Senator from the Democratic party that we saw with Espada? Sounds like a job for our crack team at Bronx County!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The term limits question on the ballot passed with flying colors this past Tuesday by a 74-26 margin. So city elected officials are again limited to two terms and are forbidden from changing the law for themselves. But, we are still stuck with a provision that exempts incumbents who are not in their third term from this law and allows them to serve three terms. As a member of the 2010 Charter Commission, I strongly opposed this loophole for incumbents but was unable to garner the needed 8 votes. Celeste Katz at the Daily News has an excellent article today on how two city councilmen will be treated differently because of this provision, and how one of them will be able to stay in office until 2025! The incumbent loophole exempts 60 percent of the city council, two borough presidents, the comptroller and the public advocate. Stay tuned because we really need to fix this loophole and finish the job we started.
Monday, November 1, 2010
So you will need to turn your ballot over to see two questions put there by the Charter Revision Commission when you vote tomorrow. In full disclosure, I served on the 15 person commission, so of course I strongly advocate that you vote YES on both questions. Question 1 on the ballot gives us the option of going back to two terms for city elected officials (which, as you will recall was changed by city elected officials in 2008 after we already voted twice for it). It also includes a prohibition on these guys changing this again for themselves (which was the best we could do to stop this practice). But what I did not approve of was the exemption of incumbents who are not in their third terms already. I opposed that in the Commission and have written articles for the Daily News and Gotham Gazette expressing my opposition. But despite that one provision we should vote YES now and figure out a way to close the incumbent loophole in 2011. Question 2 is a list of good government reforms that will put you to sleep if you read them all, but suffice to say that they will help make city government more efficient so I hope you vote YES there as well.
Although I have given up on trying to predict elections, all the polls are indicating that there could be tremendous upheaval in our state and federal elections tomorrow. We know there is a lot of voter discontent out there, but how that plays out at the ballot box is unclear. We did not see a throw the bums out mentality prevail in the primaries this past September, but general elections are different. Here, the involvement of multiple parties can cause havoc (unless you live in a one-trick town like the Bronx). So one day before we vote in NY State, we see a tie in the polls in the race for AG between Schneiderman and Donovan and in the race for Comptroller between DiNapoli and Wilson. The NY Times is reporting that the Democrats facing losing State Senate they won just two years ago. All polls are showing that the Gov's race is over with Cuomo holding a huge lead over Palladino. On the federal front, both US Senators also hold huge leads in the polls, but polls are showing many close house races that could upset the Democratic control of the House. It should be a fascinating night for any political junkie. What are your predictions?