Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Who is David Paterson?

I sure as hell didn’t know the answer to that question until I saw the cover of New York Magazine today. Maybe I’m the only one? But in case you didn’t know, David Paterson is the governor of New York State and he is legally blind.

Wowza. I’m going to go read the rest of this article later. I feel like a lame citizen for not knowing to begin with.

Don’t forget: register to vote!

I’m sure that you, like many people, have been at least slightly aware of all the political talk going on lately. You can’t really avoid it, even if you don’t watch the debates or read the political blogs or read the newspaper headlines – it’s everywhere in this general election year. Maybe you’re undecided. Maybe you’ve been decided since you were old enough to tell the difference between red and blue. In any case, if you haven’t already, you gotta register to vote.

In NYC, you can register by mail (scroll down to see links to downloadable voter registration forms), or you can stop by one of NYC’s Board of Elections offices (or use this convenient Google Maps link to find your nearest office). It’s really easy and the board of elections officials will help you if you have trouble with the form.

But hurry! If you’re not registered yet, you only have until October 10 to register to vote in New York State (this deadline also applies to changes to party affiliation for 2009). So pop your voter registration in the mail ASAP, or if you really want to be sure, take it in to the Board of Elections on or before October 10.

Ungreen Day

Photo of Round Valley from landbigfish.com

Today I received two bits of news that depressed me greatly – the failure of the congestion pricing plan and NJ’s proposed budget plan to close a number of state parks. Both legislative proposals relate to the environment and quality of life in this area.

The first issue – the congestion tax – has caused considerable debate, even among New Yorkers. Just take a look at the post below. I supported the plan for environmental reasons and I think its death shows a selfish lack of concern for the issue. I enjoyed hearing this quote from Bloomberg, “It takes a special type of cowardice for elected officials to refuse to stand up and vote their conscience on an issue that has been debated, and amended significantly to resolve many outstanding issues, for more than a year” (from www.ny1.com).

At the same time, I just heard the sad news that NJ budget cuts will result in the closure of a number of NJ state parks – including High Point and Round Valley. Environmentalists have suggested a number of alternative solutions to the park closings, including increasing the camping fees, but so far these suggestions have been ignored. These parks serve as campgrounds, swimming holes, fishing spots, and hiking trails for so many people! I’ve been a frequent visitor since childhood and, even now, try to get to one of these spots for a summer camping trip. Not far from the city, they act as some of the closest campsites and natural escapes for New Yorkers. They represent a natural and beautiful side of New Jersey so many people forget – a side Corzine doesn’t seem to think is that important to keep.

And today is just two weeks away from Earth Day!

A "Mensch" in the Governor’s Mansion

Today on ABC news, reporter NJ Burkett was in Albany, talking with legislators to get their take on Governor Eliot Spitzer’s resignation, and our new Governor as of Monday, David Patterson.

It had already been mentioned several times that New York State’s first African-American and legally-blind governor is well-liked and has a great sense of humor. But Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind summed it up as only the Yiddish language can: “He’s a mensch”, said Hikind of Patterson. For those of you who don’t know Yiddish, or aren’t from New York, a “mensch” is someone every Jewish young lady wants to bring home– a real man, a human being, a really good guy!

Nice to know we will have a mensch in Albany!

Mayor Bloomberg: not running, but has suggestions

In this morning’s New York Times, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg penned an op-ed entitled, I’m Not Running for President, but…, declaring in no uncertain terms that despite all the rumors and the people encouraging him to run, he is not running for President. He does, however, have some suggestions and ideas about what can solve our country’s problems, and he makes some interesting points. We have, particularly in recent years, a history of partisan bickering that tends to impede progress. He says that though he is not running, he will change his mind on one thing – if he decides that a candidate is committed to addressing the country’s problems in an independent fashion rather than sticking with the party line, he will endorse them and help them win.

From the article:

The changes needed in this country are straightforward enough, but there are always partisan reasons to take an easy way out. There are always special interests that will fight against any challenge to the status quo. And there are always those who will worry more about their next election than the health of our country.

This seems like a reasonable approach, and I hope he finds his candidate. I still haven’t found mine.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right But They Can Feel Great

I came accross this tale out of Brooklyn, in which a number of people are proposing using the government’s now apparently, unlimited power to sieze private land and take a now prime piece of land from the drug giant, Pfizer which was happy to recieve a solid chunk of New London, CT from it’s owners for “redevelopment.” It might be interesting to see the company’s arguments in court.

“Now, though, the tables may be turned on the drugmaker, which wants to revamp a 15-acre site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where until recently it operated a plant for more than a century. A local assemblyman isn’t content with Pfizer’s plans to sell the property to a private developer, who would replace the plant with mixed-use development that the drugmaker maintains will include affordable housing. Vito Lopez, however, wants to use eminent domain – of all things – to seize the property, because he doesn’t believe enough, if any truly affordable housing will be created.”

It’s Presidents’ Day– What Does This Mean?

It’s Presidents Day. Why do we have this holiday? I feel compelled to remind everybody of the significance of this holiday. Unlike July 4th, nobody’s having a barbecue or a family celebration. Nobody’s going to church or temple or mosque to commemorate. There’s no parade. There’s no festival, block party, race, street fair. It’s February after all.

Today is a day off from school,[and part of a week off public school] and work — if you work in a government office or financial institution, or school. Most people are working today. There are door-busting sales, so that the retail industry can stock up for spring. There are no street-cleaning, aka alternate-side, parking restrictions. For union workers and/or civil servants, there is probably a wage-premium today– double-time, time-and-a-half, or more.

But let’s remind ourself that the holiday is PRESIDENTS DAY. At one time we had February 12 for Lincoln’s Birthday and February 22 for Washington’s Birthday. Some decades ago, the two days were merged into whatever Monday fell between the two. Do we know who George and Abe were, and why we celebrate them? Neither George Washington nor Abraham Lincoln could ever have imagined a black man or a woman voting, let alone running, for President. Yet, without their visions, this wouldn’t have happened. And that is the true meaning of today.

60% Chance Of A Revolutionary Election

We are living in interesting times for sure. Who would have thought a few years ago that we would be entering an election cycle with better than even odds of electing either the first black or the first female president or potentially a combined ticket of the two? That we have gotten to this point indicates that we truly have come a long way as a country and marks the final transformation of a Democratic party that was for generations dominated by racists and violently defended both slavery and terror in the south.

A third and perhaps more transformative winner would be Ron Paul who could still show up as a third party candidate. We are now in the very sad situation, in which the only person likely to have been recognized by the founders as a true liberal and the only one who seriously seems interested in obeying the constitution is now a fringe candidate. This also seems to mark the tragic end of the Republican Party as a major defender of human liberty. They now defend waterboarding.
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Lessons In Hypocrisy

Hey Kids the UFT has another lesson in Hypocrisy for you.

“Hypocrisy (or being a hypocrite) is the act of pretending to oppose a belief or behaviour while holding the same beliefs or behaviours at the same time.”

If you want to get expelled use this example which I found on Streetsblog.

Resolution on Protecting the Environment — Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Whereas, it is a well established scientific fact that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming, resulting in great dangers to our environment; and…
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MTA Almost Wakes UP

It seems like the MTA has finally woken up to the potential value of the land it is selling at the Hudson Yards site, the last substantial piece of undeveloped land in Midtown Manhattan. It’s now interested in holding some kind of equity stake in the property and a cut of future profits from its development. This is highly logical, since a large chunk of the land’s value will come from the transit improvements the agency will be building such as the westward extension of the 7 line. The developers point out the potentially weakening property market and the billions they will have to be putting out as reasons for opposing such an idea.

Chanel Thirteen recently showed the American Experience documentary on the construction of Grand Central, a huge project largely funded through land development by the New York Central Railroad. A core problem at work here is that a government agency neither has the skills or more importantly the financial incentive (it’s not their money) to run the numbers properly and think about these projects in a business like way. Hong Kong’s awesome transit infrastructure is funded by a private company that also acts as a land developer.

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