Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Radicalism of Bill de Blasio

ACORN, for example, represents an interesting point of connection between Obama’s radical past and de Blasio. ACORN exercised substantial de facto control over the leftist New Party. Former ACORN head Bertha Lewis has close ties to de Blasio and has predicted a comeback for ACORN’s successor group under a de Blasio administration. Patrick Gaspard, a former New Party staffer with close ties to ACORN is not only a former Obama White House Political Director, but is one of de Blasio’s closest friends, and played a central role in shaping de Blasio’s campaign for the Democratic mayoral nomination. ("The Radicalism of Bill de Blasio" By Stanley Kurtz, National Review)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How committed is Bill de Blasio to adopting progressive reforms ?

Bill de Blasio and Land Use : Liberal Mayoral Candidate Would Continue Many of Bloomberg's -- and Quinn's -- Policies

In the weeks leading up to Christine Quinn's defeat in the Democratic primary election, it came to be known that one of the slimy Rudin lobbyists responsible for influencing the City Council to approve the controversial St. Vincent's luxury condo conversion plan had already found a way to get access to Bill de Blasio, the presumptive leading mayoral candidate. Hosted on Scribd is an e-mail about the controversial lobbyist, James Capalino, that was exchanged between Donny Moss and I.

After a couple of weeks of careful consideration, I have produced a new YouTube video about this e-mail exchange.

One major reason that activists organised to vote Quinn out of office was because of how she sold out the community in favor of her campaign contributors and powerful big business interests. Real estate developers have enjoyed great influence over city government, so much so that voters have had almost no way of participating in important community decisions. For example, voters desired saving the zoning on the St. Vincent's campus for a replacement hospital, but big business interests were able to ride roughshod over voters because of their use of lobbyists and the outsized influence of campaign donations.

After the primary election, Bill de Blasio announced that he would not appear at fundraisers unless contributors could package together donations of at least $75,000. In addition to embracing lobbyists that helped Rudin privatise the former real estate of St. Vincent's, de Blasio was now embracing the out-sized influence of money in politics.

How could it be that activists, who carried the reform banner to organize and defeat Quinn in the mayoral primary, now turn the other way after de Blasio has now begun to adopt some the same tools of the broken political system as did Quinn ?

The concerns over who gets access to political candidates are serious. As some of you may know, when Andrew Cuomo was running for governor, some St. Vincent's activists approached his campaign people over the need for a hospital to replace St. Vincent's. Cuomo's campaign people told the St. Vincent's activists, "We'll see you after the election." After the election, what did Gov. Cuomo do ? Within days, he formed the Medicaid Redesign Team to continue the work of closing hospitals, and he appointed Stephen Berger to head the Brooklyn Working Group in an attempt to specifically close hospitals in Brooklyn. Similarly, some AIDS activists tried to reach out to the de Blasio campaign this year to determine if his campaign platform would include more ambitious goals to confront HIV/AIDS, but the AIDS activists were told by de Blasio's campaign people, "We'll see you after the election."

After all the community organizing, town halls, and protests in which activists have engaged to fight for a hospital to save St. Vincent's, just hearing the phrase, "We'll see you after the election," should activate a powerful recognition : that de Blasio means to make no public commitment to champion for the reforms that that many communities say they want to see brought about in the next mayoral administration.

Some activists, who participated in the movement to vote Quinn out of office, have been doing this work for over 22 years -- from the time when Quinn first arrived in the political scene in New York. It becomes too late to try to hold a politician accountable once the politician gets elected into office. Using Quinn as an example, she will have spent about 15 years in City Council spread out over 5 terms in office. During this time, in what direction has this city headed ? There was no way to hold her accountable during these 15 years, except to finally vote her out of office. That's the only way.

As challenging as it was to vote Quinn out of office, what lesson should we be drawing from this experience ? What wisdom is there to be had ? The reality is that Quinn was just a symptom of a broken political system. The root causes of the political system being broken still exist. In the last two years, our activism was influenced by important principles from the Occupy movement, and that is that inequality, corruption, and the undue influence of big business interests is what keeps our government broken and non-responsive to voters' needs. Knowing all that we know, do we wait for politicians to max out on term limits before they should be held accountable to voters, or should politicians be held accountable even before they win an election and are sworn into office ?

It all comes down to what you think, because it was you, who was made voiceless under the Bloomberg-Quinn administration. Our immediate contribution to push back against the broken political system was to vote Quinn out of office, but based on the messages that de Blasio is telegraphing to the community, voting Quinn out is not enough to bring about reforms. Now that she will soon be gone, what else do you need to do to reclaim your government ?

Please think about this, because the movement to bring about reforms is not over, yet. The movement needs you to step forward, because not everybody is fighting for reforms, and compromises are being made that may not serve your best interests. The only way for you to make sure that your best interests are being served is for you to step up and speak out. Your voice and opinion counts. Make it be heard.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bill de Blasio Violates PFAW's Emphasis On Right To Cast A Vote That Gets Counted

Last month, mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, center, appeared with Kathleen Turner, a director of People For the American Way Foundation, at a campaign stop in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Bill de Blasio, Kathleen Turner, Howard Dean, and Chirlane McCray on the UWS - PFAW photo 2013_08_27_BDB_Kathleen_Turner_Howard_Dean_zps5853768e.jpg

Robert Adler, a Staten Island special prosecutor, has been issuing subpoenas to investigate improper campaign financing to candidates the Working Families Party aided in 2009, which include Bill de Blasio and his race for public advocate. Meanwhile, the ''progressive'' group People For The American Way is rallying to support de Blasio's mayoral campaign, even though he has violated important PFAW principles, such as the right to cast a vote that counts.

Earlier this week, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson conceded his loss in the Democratic primary election, even though the New York City Board of Elections had not yet completed its count of 80,000 paper ballots. Consequently, Mr. Thompson conceded even though the Board of Elections had yet to certify the primary election outcome. On NY1 The Call, many callers complained that Mr. Thompson was bowing to pressure from the de Blasio campaign in order to shore up Mr. de Blasio's standing with fundraisers. Callers felt that voters were being betrayed, because Mr. de Blasio was forcing an election outcome out of political expediency at the cost of allowing the 80,000 paper ballots to be counted.

At Mr. Thompson's concession speech, he groused that it was unfair that the Board of Elections had failed to timely count the votes cast in the Democratic primary election. Previously, Mr. Thompson had urged the Board of Elections to make sure that every voice would be heard, that every vote would be counted. But on the occasion of Mr. Thompson's concession, Mr. de Blasio never once address the issue of the uncounted votes, which citizens had cast, and which would not be counted toward the Democratic primary election results.

Donate Your Twitter Account to Bill de Blasio Sold Out

Click on "Donate Your Account" (below) to donate tweets from your Twitter account to our campaign to put pressure on Bill de Blasio to move to the left and to adopt a truly reform, progressive agenda.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How can Bill de Blasio stand up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the hospital closing crisis ?

Bill de Blasio Andrew Cuomo Bill Thompson photo 2013-09-16Bill-de-Blasio-Andrew-Cuomo-Bill-Thompson_zps4c42cc21.jpg

Only two months ago, mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not doing squat to save the community hospital closing crisis being brought about by Gov. Cuomo's political appointee, the Wall Street investment banker Stephen Berger. But now, Mr. de Blasio is holding hands with Gov. Cuomo in a show of "unity." Healthcare activists question how Mr. de Blasio will be able to pressure Gov. Cuomo to reverse course on hospital closings, if they how appear to have brokered political backroom deals to support each other in the election and reelection cycle ?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Partnership For New York City Went From Vilifying BDB To Endorsing Him. WTF ?

How did Bill de Blasio manage to sell out so fast ? Maybe it has to do with how within the course of about a week's worth of time Kathy Wylde, the corrupt CEO of the Partnership For New York City CABAL, managed to go from vilifying Bill de Blasio to endorsing him ?

Bill de Blasio Triangulation To Power Clintonista Way

"The deeper you look, the stronger the evidence that de Blasio’s victory is an omen of what may become the defining story of America’s next political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left," writes Peter Beinart in an article, "The Rise Of The New New Left" for The Daily Beast, noting that, "It’s a challenge Hillary Clinton should start worrying about now," adding, "If history is any guide, the sentiments behind Occupy will find their way into the political process, just as the anti-Vietnam movement helped create Eugene McCarthy’s presidential bid in 1968, and the civil-rights movement bred politicians like Andrew Young, Tom Bradley, and Jesse Jackson." Although Bill de Blasio is a definite Democratic Party insider and Clintonista -- he served in the Bill Clinton administration and was Hillary Clinton's senatorial campaign manager -- he was shrewd and politically calculating to position himself to the left of the other mayoral candidates, but Beinart seems to take de Blasio's move at face value. "Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign offers a glimpse into what an Occupy-inspired challenge to Clintonism might look like," he adds. But what if de Blasio was just triangulating his way into power by telegraphing signals to outside pressure groups, and nothing more than that ? De Blasio can hardly challenge Clintonism if he is using the same unprincipled machinations from the Clinton playbook.

Moreover, the article seems to minimize that voters made a wholesale reject of Christine Quinn's boss-style politics. It cannot be denied that Occupy sensibilities played a role among some of the anti-Quinn activists. But, Occupy sensibilities could not have entirely backed de Blasio's campaign, especially given his apparent use of an independent expenditure group to help his campaign circumvent public campaign finance limits and his close working relationship with real estate lobbyists, who have been responsible for the loss of hospital infrastructure to the Bloomberg-Quinn's administration's emphasis on gentrification.

Will Bill de Blasio Fight For A New Hospital To Replace St. Vincent's ?

Bill de Blasio made campaign stops in front of the luxury condominium and townhouse complex that Rudin Management Company is constructing on the former site of St. Vincent's Hospital. These campaign stops were meant to highlight the healthcare injustice of the spree of hospital closings in New York City. Will Bill de Blasio lead the charge to call for a full-service hospital and Level I Trauma Center to replace St. Vincent's, or were all those campaign stops just exploitation of the issue to drum up votes ?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What you don't know about Big Bad Real Estate Corrupt Bill de Blasio

Digging deeper into de Blasio's associations


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2013, 4:30 AM
Lindsay, Beame, Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg. De Blasio?

It’s a bit incongruous, isn’t it? Think about how much we knew about his predecessors before they became mayor, how large they were, how long all but Bloomberg had been in the political square. Then think about how little we know about Bill de Blasio.

We know he’s tall. We know he’s an anti-Bloomberg icon. We know he ran the public advocate office, with its scant $2 million budget, for four years. We know for eight years before that he chaired one of the lowest-profile City Council committees, the General Welfare Committee, and rarely talks about it.

In recent days, the Daily News published a story about the $54,000 his campaign has taken from slumlords on his own watch list, and the Times one about his ballyhooed but phony push to get Wall Street to sign a pledge not to give to super PACs. Other than these pieces, however, de Blasio has made it to the primary finish line as a virtual blank slate, turning a fresh and forceful presence into the only asset he needs.

Unlike opposing candidates like Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson, who’ve done enough in powerful posts that we have issues with them, de Blasio is the beneficiary of having done so little we only have what he says he’ll do to consider.

Here are three windows into de Blasio that don’t define him, but reveal a bit more about his character and background.

His wife’s employers
No mayoral candidate has featured his wife as a virtual co-candidate like de Blasio has Chirlane McCray. She is everywhere: on the trail, in the ads.

Yet the campaign has refused to provide a complete bio of her, despite repeated emails and requests over the last two weeks. Dan Levitan, de Blasio’s campaign spokesman, has declined to answer basic questions about her work.

Here’s what we know, cobbled together from various sources.

McCray’s brief bio on de Blasio’s campaign website cites her work as a speechwriter ­ for Mayor Dinkins (in 1992), State Controller Carl McCall (1994-1996) and City Controller Bill Thompson (2002-2004).

That bio omits her two-year stint at Citigroup in 2004-2005, where she wrote speeches for CEO Chuck Prince, according to sources that worked there with her.

Identified as one of the 25 people most responsible for the financial crisis, Prince is famous for celebrating the subprime and leveraged-buyout marketplace. He once said, “As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.” He was forced out of Citigroup in late 2007, just before the collapse, and apologized three times in later congressional testimony for what he’d done.

Her most recent job, at the direct mail firm Mack/Crounse, began in 2010, right after the company helped run de Blasio’s campaign for public advocate (she left in February 2013).

One of the partners in the Washington-based company, Jim Crounse, had been a friend of Bill for years, and a predecessor Crounse firm had also steered de Blasio’s first campaign, his 2001 City Council win. Add up everything de Blasio paid Crounse firms over the years, and it totals nearly $3 million.

In early 2010, Mack/Crounse hired McCray as a senior vice president. The company had no office in New York; she worked out of her home.
A review of election expenditures to Mack/Crounse during McCray’s years there failed to turn up a single client McCray could have brought to the firm. Levitan, de Blasio’s campaign spokesman, refused to name one.

Asked specifically about McCray’s work at Citigroup, Levitan declined to answer. Perhaps the man running against Wall Street doesn’t want to let voters know it once helped pay his mortgage.

De Blasio hasn’t always thought that a candidate’s relatives were protected turf. When he ran against Mark Green for Public Advocate, his Mack/Crounse produced mailings again and again launched unbridled attacks on Green’s brother, Stephen, a major developer. There was never a smidgen of evidence that Mark Green had done anything wrong, and no one other than de Blasio ever alleged it.

“Hell hotel” backer
Last year, de Blasio took the unusual step of soliciting a second round of political contributions from a dozen individuals and unions that had already maxed out to his 2013 campaign. He contended this was legal because he was using the latest contributions to pay off debts from his 2009 run for Public Advocate.

(The city’s campaign finance officials permitted it, though in an audit released this summer the agency found that he had commingled the 2009 and 2013 funds and fined him $10,000 for doing so, part of $20,500 in penalties the CFB imposed on de Blasio’s campaign.)

One of the first to make a second maximum donation was Alan Lapes, a man whose name should have set off alarms in the de Blasio camp. With other family members joining, Lapes ultimately gave a total of $14,850.

Lapes was exposed in a 2007 Daily News story about a “hell hotel” he ran for the homeless and pilloried ever since in audits and news accounts as the worst operator of violation-saturated transitional shelters in the city.

The city controller found in 2010 and 2011 audits that Lapes and his associated businesses had 2,250 violations in their private shelter apartments, the latest example of what it called a history of “longstanding, documented, hazardous and unsanitary conditions” in their facilities. The audit said the Lapes’ extended empire owed the city $1.4 million.

As far back as 2006, the New York Post reported that Lapes had worked for the Podolsky family and was “the public face for bona fide bad guys,” since three members of that family had been convicted of waging what Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau called a “campaign of terror” to drive low-paying tenants out of their buildings. Lapes is still associated with the Podolsky family in several of his shelter projects.

The Lapes donations to de Blasio went unnoticed until February 2013, when Lapes’ projects on the West Side and in Carroll Gardens were the subject of a front-page Times story and New York magazine reported his contributions to the public advocate.

In Carroll Gardens, a Brooklyn neighborhood de Blasio had represented for years, the Coalition for Carroll Gardens got an injunction against Lapes’ conversion of a 10-unit building into a shelter for 170 men. Controller John Liu cancelled a Lapes contract and announced a new audit.

Finally, after two weeks of headlines, the Post got de Blasio on the phone. “I’ve just made the decision to return the money,” he said. “That’s all I have to say.” Refusing to answer the question of whether he knew Lapes’ background before taking the contributions, he said he just wanted to “move on.”

In fact, we have learned he never returned $4,950 of the Lapes contributions ­ keeping Lapes’ wife’s donation. Nor did he return $4,950 from Daniel Murphy, Lapes’ security consultant at the “hell hotel,” which the Daily News said was plagued with guns, drugs and hookers. Robert Hess, a former city housing commissioner that is also involved in the Carroll Garden project with Lapes, hosted a 2013 fundraiser for de Blasio and is listed as bundling and giving over $5,000.

News of the contributions stunned de Blasio’s old friends and allies in Carroll Gardens, who’d been talking to him for months about joining the fight against Lapes’ shelter. Elected officials like Councilman Brad Lander, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assemblywoman Joan Millman and State Sen. Daniel Squadron signed several letters to city agencies. De Blasio didn’t sign any of them, nor did he attend any of the coalition meetings.

The coalition co-chair, Steven Miller, who said he talked to de Blasio with some frequency, told me: “I do think Bill has a long history of accepting money from very pro-development sorts of people. I would say that it would’ve been better if Bill figured out how to return the money on his own. There was pressure to return the money. If de Blasio chooses to continue relationships with slumlords and people who are profiting off housing the homeless, this would be a very negative indicator.”

De Blasio finally signed a letter opposing the project in May, after he returned some of the donations.

The yellow taxi lobby
De Blasio, a beneficiary of significant campaign contributions from the taxi industry, became one of the most prominent supporters of their successful efforts to block state legislation that would’ve allowed 13,000 “borough taxis” to work the streets where yellow cabs barely go, including Northern Manhattan and much of the outer boroughs.

This was popular legislation; the state Assembly and Senate passed it in three days. The black and Latino caucuses of the City Council and Assembly wrote unanimous letters in support. The mayor and governor agreed that the sale of new medallions associated with the bill would mean a billion dollars in additional revenue for the city.

Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn boss and assemblyman who’s since resigned over sex harassments claims, and a Republican state senator were the only elected officials that joined de Blasio in this fight. When the cab industry filed suit to stop implementation of the law, de Blasio submitted an amicus brief in support of the cab owners.

A review of all contributions to de Blasio raised by or made by taxi lawyers, owners and other associates in the 2013 campaign tallies $254,451, making them de Blasio’s biggest backers by far. Fleet owner Ron Sherman is the most powerful taxi leader, just as his father Donald was in the 1980s before he was convicted in a federal felony case, and he orchestrated the de Blasio deluge of support.

Richard Emery, one of the lawyers who argued the case for the taxi industry and became a major bundler for de Blasio contributions, told me that he contacted de Blasio to discuss the taxi case because he “had represented Bill on a police case” and “had a long relationship with him.” Emery asked him about signing on and he “said yes right away.”

Emery said he was either already a member of de Blasio’s finance committee or became one after that conversation, and that Sherman began “responding to [de Blasio] because of his position on this issue.”

Those are three snapshots of the man who would be mayor.

Barrett is an investigative journalist and Nation Institute fellow. This report has research assistance by Calin Brown, Zach Bergson and John Santore.Read more:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Has Bill de Blasio already sold out ?