Monday, December 30, 2013

The Council speaker race : Where are the reforms ?

The Editorial Board of The New York Times finally weighs in on some of the controversies surrounding the Council speaker race, admonishing mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's strong-arming the Council to select Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next speaker.  "The mayoral meddling in Council business was unsurprising but unseemly," The NYTimes Editorial Board wrote, adding, "especially from someone who used to accuse Speaker Christine Quinn of being too close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg."  (Mr. de Blasio Picks His Speaker * The New York Times)

But The NYTimes Editorial Board stopped short of noting the campaign finance investigation and the possible ethics investigation involving one of Ms. Mark-Viverito's lobbyists, Scott Levenson.  Further, the Editorial Board seemed to be resigned to accepting Ms. Mark-Viverito's speakership without demanding any reforms to end the backroom deals that traditionally shape the selection of the Council speaker.  There are nine more days before the City Council meets to select its next speaker.  Before then, let's hope that The NYTimes Editorial Board strengthens its demands for reforming how the Council speaker is selected, so that the corruptive influence of money and lobbyists can be eliminated, irrespective of whether County bosses and lobbyists from either the right or the left are the ones trying to game the system.
In an editorial by Robert George published in The New York Post, the mayor-elect was again called a hypocrite for criticising the outgoing Council speaker for subjugating herself and the will of the Council to Mayor Bloomberg.  "The man who overtook current Speaker Chris Quinn in the Democratic mayoral primary largely by suggesting she was Mayor Bloomberg's toady will soon be a mayor himself - with his own self-chosen go-fer serving as speaker."  (Bill de Blasio's council coup * The New York Post)
Like The NYTimes, The NYPost didn't call for reforms to end the backroom deals in the Council speaker race.  Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ms. Mark-Viverito's rival for speaker, Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, was trying to woo some of Ms. Mark-Viverito's supporters, noting that "political maneuvering has been going on for months," but The WSJ report also stopped short of calling for reforms to end the backroom deals that determine the speakership.  (All-Out Bid To Change Speaker Vote * The Wall Street Journal)

A separate column by Fred Dicker published in The NYPost reported that Gov.Andrew Cuomo was said to be opposing Ms. Mark-Viverito's speakership.
"The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn't want to see the city turned into a People's Republic of New York at the same time he's trying to make the state at least look like it's business friendly," an anonymous political observer told Mr. Dicker.  ( Cuomo pushing to block de Blasio speaker pick Mark-Viverito * The New York Post)

After weeks of taking a leading position on examining the clear campaign finance violations and possible ethics violations, The Daily News has since become quiet.  (No to Mark-Viverito * The New York Daily News )(Keep the bums out * The New York Daily News)  

Reportedly, some of Ms. Mark-Viverito's supporters are unions, but outgoing Speaker Quinn also had union support.  It's not about who supports speaker candidates :  What prevents speaker candidates from conducting their leadership campaigns with transparency, compliance with regulations, and with integrity ?  How can we restore faith in the Council speaker, if the candidates seeking to succeed Speaker Quinn play by the same rules of the broken political system as did she ?  (Lobbyists Turn Out for Mark-Viverito's Swearing-In Ceremony * Politicker)

Now that Democrats are at war with one another over a blatant power grab in the Council speaker race, can someone with some authority call for reforms to end the backroom deals and the corruptive influence of money and lobbyists in politics, especially in the Council speaker race ?  If the good government groups are silent and the political reporters and the Editorial Board of The NYTimesabdicate their responsibility, can we count on the editors of The Daily News to be our public advocate ?


The Shifting Balance of Power in NYC Politics ; On One Side Are County Party Bosses and Big Business, On Other Side Are Lobbyists And Special Interests

Both Sides Play By The Same Playbook Of The Broken Political System : Flouting Or Even Breaking The Rules : Both Sides Exploit Citizens United ; The Kraken Bears Down On Democracy

But where are the reforms to end the cynical trap of corruption ?

Rather than reacting with resignation that the Council speaker can only get picked by making backroom deals, using lobbyists that trigger campaign finance investigations, possibly violating ethics rules, and inspiring shaming editorials from the city's leading newspapers, what can progressive reformers demand in this stead ?

All these newly-converted "progressives," but nobody's coming forward to propose a truly progressive reform agenda to fight the corruption of backroom deals ?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Major Snow Storm To Hit NYC, But de Blasio Has Yet To Name Sanitation Commissioner

Do you remember the last time we had a major, who didn't take a major snow storm seriously ? Sanitation trucks got stuck in the snow, because they started too late, and some side streets in Queens looked like barricades of snow got dropped down on us, with no way of possibly getting out.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chiara de Blasio : The media hypocrisy of addiction and recovery

Sex and drugs : Personal privacy should matter, but in politics, love affairs and rehab gets manipulated, depending on what there is to gain.

When news broke that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's spokeswoman, Lis Smith, was having an affair with a married man, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Mr. de Blasio tried to downplay the story. "I respect Lis as a professional," Mr. de Blasio told The New York Daily New, adding, "But I also respect her right to privacy, so I’m not going to get any further into it."

His reaction to Ms. Smith's love affair with a married man contrasted with how the de Blasio campaign reacted to news of former Rep. Anthony Weiner's extramarital sexting.

Indeed, there was a lot of pressure on Mr. Weiner to resign from the mayoral campaign "for the good of the city," in particular from Mr. de Blasio's political operatives.

But Mr. de Blasio is not applying that same standard to Ms. Smith.

A year ago, the reporter Hunter Walker wrote an "exposé" of Mr. de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, who formerly identified as a lesbian in her youth, a time when she also experimented with marijuana.

Even though Mr. Walker was confronted by LGBT activists over his sensational story, he today alluded to possible political motivations would drive the media to attack the sexual proclivities of Ms. Smith, a motivation he never acknowledged about his own article on Ms. McCray. Essentially, all these stories that violate a person's privacy, whether the subject is a politician's wife, his daughter, his spokesperson, or his challengers, call for sensibilities that at the very minimum put into perspective the timing and relevancy of such stories, to at least minimize the sensationalism and to maximize the benefit to the public, if that is the "real motivation" behind these kinds of stories.

Mr. Walker may not have been entirely motivated by malice, perhaps it was only a lack of awareness of his heterosexism. Maybe after LGBT activists confronted him, he may have become aware of the heterosexism bias. There are ways to bring about cultural competency, but when politics is the backdrop, it's difficult to exactly gauge motivations.

Meanwhile, reaction to a controversial column by Andrea Peyser in The New York Post triggered a passionate defense of Ms. Smith that didn't seem to exist for Mr. Weiner.

When former Democratic mayoral primary candidate Christine Quinn confessed to her problems with bulimia and alcoholism, there was a reaction by some to what seemed like a blatant press manipulation play for sympathy by the Quinn campaign.

But when earlier today, the de Blasio campaign put out a video featuring Chiara de Blasio recounting the story of her recovery from depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse, the de Blasio campaign were fully dumping on the public's lap very private details about Miss de Blasio's life.

The contrast between Mr. de Blasio's treatment of his spokesperson and his daughter reveals that when the campaign can milk sympathy from the media, there is no such thing as a right to privacy.

The contrast between the Mr. de Blasio's treatment of his spokesperson and Mr. Weiner reveals that when you can score political points, there is no such thing as a right to privacy.

The contrast between the political response to Ms. Quinn's recovery and Miss de Blasio's recovery reveals that not everybody recovering from addiction will get sympathy.

And the contrasts between Mr. Walker's aggressive treatment of Ms. McCray, the press's hands-off approach to Miss de Blasio's addictions, and an emerging narrative of manipulation in Miss de Blasio's revelations, reveal that the de Blasio family may now be pressuring the media in order to give its own spin to thorny issues.

One troubling aspect with all these stories is that leaders can truly have a positive impact on others, when they take to the news or talk shows to discuss social problems. Ms. Quinn had an undoubtedly positive impact in talking about bulimia and alcoholism that may have changed the course of some peoples lives -- for the better. As Miss de Blasio might have done, as well.

However, it's the situational ethics that lead politicians to scheme and manipulate either political attacks or pleas for sympathy -- each for their own benefit -- that discredit these kinds of stories.

Was the de Blasio camp trying to distract the media from another story by dropping Miss de Blasio's recovery story on Christmas Eve ? One may never know.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Other Woman : Will the Media Give Lis Smith the Weiner Treatment ?

Bill de Blasio's campaign once asked Anthony Weiner to drop out of the mayoral race because of his sex-capades.

Political insiders were all atwitter today, commenting on a shocking The New York Post story reporting that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's spokesperson, Lis Smith, was having an adulterous love affair with the still married, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Given revelations of her adulterous love affair with a married politician, to what standard will de Blasio's spokesperson, Lis Smith, be held ? Will she be given the Weiner treatment ?

When former Rep. Anthony Weiner was campaigning for the Democratic mayoral primary, he was berated for his sexcapades. Even the de Blasio campaign issued public denunciations of the Weiner campaign. In strong contrast, some insiders took to Twitter today to try to insulate Ms. Smith from criticism.

Whilst others were comparing Ms. Smith with a prostitute.

News only broke about their adulterous relationship last night. It is too soon to know whether the de Blasio administration will condemn Ms. Smith's controversial relationship with Mr. Spitzer, which some are describing on Facebook as between "consenting adults." This is in stark contrast with how the de Blasio Democratic mayoral primary campaign treated Mr. Weiner.

See also : "Bill de Blasio Calls on Anthony Weiner to Exit Mayoral Race" (Politicker)

Are married men having adulterous affairs treated according to one standard, but women, who are the "other woman," treated according to another ?

If the media is forgiving and accepting of Ms. Smith playing the role of the "other woman," does that mean that they were wrong for the tabloid trash talk against Mr. Weiner ?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This Week In Bill de Blasio Conflicts of Interest : Rafael Cestero

Bill de Blasio transition advisor may be creating conflict of interest : The New York Daily News

Dick Dadey, a Christine Quinn loyalist who never confronted Quinn's administration of the City Council over corruption, is now coming forward to charge that the incoming de Blasio administration is guilty of more conflicts of interest.

The affordable housing developer Rafael Cestero is vetting possible agency heads for the New York City Housing Authority and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, The New York Daily News is reporting, adding that, "Cestero's role creates the possibility that one day he might be lobbying or doing business with the appointees he's helped to select, creating a conflict of interest, experts said."

However, Cestero's role has been being hidden from voters and the media, and in the opaque shadows of developers and lobbyists controlling government leadership positions, the only thing that can result is corruption.

If the de Blasio administration doesn't do something to stop all these conflicts of interest, maybe we just have to wait for Cestero to rig development deals with NYCHA and NYCHPD, resulting in the kind of embarrassing scandals that will perhaps lead to reforms in how the mayor-elect will choose his deputies ?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bill de Blasio Prods City Council to Elect Puppet as Speaker

de Blasio once criticised Quinn for enabling Bloomberg, but now de Blasio wants an enabling Council speaker of his very own.

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito said on Wednesday that she had lined up enough support to win the speaker's post, thanks to the intervention of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

Checks and balances are for stooges.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bill Bratton Bill de Blasio Stop-and-Frisk Protest at The Nation Gala

Activists Protest Outside The Nation Magazine Gala, Honoring Bill de Blasio, Who The Nation Had Endorsed. Now, de Blasio Was Rewarding Them By Appearing At Their Gala In Exchange.

Protest against Bill Bratton's record on Stop-And-Frisk and against Bill de Blasio for picking him as NYPD commish ; at The Nation Magazine Gala at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, NYC.

Bill Bratton is the architect of Stop-And-Frisk, a police policy that has been shown to be a state-sponsored program of racism that targets minorities.

Watch as activists jeer former NYC Public Advocate Mark Green, former TV talkshow host Phil Donahue, former GMHC CEO Ana Oliveira, Manhattan Borough President-elect Gail Brewer, and The Daily Show contributor Lewis Black for standing by Bill de Blasio's pick of Bratton as NYPD commish. Bill de Blasio, and possibly Bill Bratton, snuck in through the freight entrance at the back of the building, avoiding protesters. They used an FDNY practice exercise as a decoy to close West 19th Street from some activists.

This was a private event, but yet there was Bill de Blasio abusing his authority over NYPD and FDNY to use public resources for a private event -- a similar complaint that reform activists used to have about Christine Quinn. This is not change ; rather, this is more of the same.

de Blasio misused FDNY resources by deploying a fake emergency practise exercise at the back of the building, where activists were protesting last night.

Was the FDNY decoy exercise deliberately planned to interfere with last night's protest ?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Likely Course of de Blasio Mayoralty

Friday, December 6, 2013

Did Bill de Blasio put up his son Dante to lie to voters about ending the "stop-and-frisk era" ?

WATCH ON DROPBOX : Bill de Blasio Bill Bratton Stop and Frisk Hypocrisy

Did Bill de Blasio put up his son Dante to lie to voters about ending the stop-and-frisk era ?

After Bill de Blasio barely won the Democratic primary with about 40 percent of the vote, top aide to Christine Quinn complained about a controversial TV advertisement broadcast by the de Blasio campaign, featuring his son, Dante.

"That ad killed us," the Quinn aide groused, anonymously, to The Daily Beast.

“He’s the only Democrat with the guts to really break from the Bloomberg years,” Dante promised in the TV commercial, adding, "And he is the only one who will end a stop-and-frisk era that unfairly targets people of color."


The controversial de Blasio campaign ad featuring his son, Dante, was widely reported to be one factor that helped his campaign surge following the implosions of the Quinn and Anthony Weiner campaigns. But now that de Blasio has appointed Bill Bratton to become the next NYPD commish, critics question the promises made by de Blasio -- and his son -- that de Blasio would end the "stop-and-frisk era."

Bratton shot up to fame by driving down crime based on his "reliance on 'stop-and-frisk,' in which officers detain individuals they deem to be suspicious and search them for guns, and which has been linked to racial profiling by critics," reported KQED News.