Monday, October 26, 2009

Bloomberg Plays the Race Card as Rangel's Chief Tormentor Exemplifies Hypocrisy

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg played the race card in his fight to remain Mayor of our nation's largest and most wonderful city, and the Republicans' chief attack dog against Charlie Rangel was found to have failed to disclose $300,000 of profits from sales of oil industry stock before his last re-election bid.

Bloomberg Plays the Race Card

The New York City Mayoral race hit a new low last week when Mayor Bloomberg chose to play the race card.

After tacitly supporting Rudy Giuliani's racially divisive approach to the campaign and after spending far too many hours in the presence of Giuliani, Bloomberg seemed to attempt to one-up Giuliani and demonstrate even greater racial divisiveness than Giuliani.

When Giuliani spoke last week in an white community that had supported him heavily in his mayoral campaigns, Giuliani stated that electing Bill Thompson would bring back the "wrong" leadership that led the city in the early 1990's - an obvious reference to the only Black mayor in the history of New York City. With Bill Thompson seeking to be the second Black Mayor in New York City History, Giuliani stated that his white audience will likely be too afraid of crime to walk outside if Thompson is elected. Giuliani's racially divisive remarks were criticized by many prominent New Yorkers, but Bloomberg failed to distance himself from Giuliani's remarks. Instead, he tried to prove his own racial solidarity with those who oppose the Black community in New York City.

Bloomberg, when asked why he had not distanced himself from Giuliani's comments, launched into an attack on Detroit. Detroit??????? Why is Bloomberg campaigning against Detroit? "When Bill Thompson ran Detroit . . . " Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote about the Detroit reference:

Mr. Bloomberg has had many opportunities to disavow Mr. Giuliani’s remarks, to say that as a city we’re better than that, to repudiate (as he has before) the very idea that exploiting fear and division for political gain is acceptable in this great city. But he has chosen not to. He chose instead, later that same day, to raise the specter of one of the worst big-city tragedies in American history: Detroit, which was laid low by every ill you can imagine, including a catastrophic race riot in 1967. Detroit, said Mr. Bloomberg, “went from a great city with lots of good-paying jobs to a city that’s basically holding on for dear life.” Well, that’s true. But what’s that got to do with New York City, or this year’s mayoral election? New York is not an incipient Detroit. New York will not become Detroit if Mike Bloomberg is not re-elected.

The mayor disingenuously said that Detroit’s decline was more about economics than “some other things.” But anyone who knows the sad history of Detroit knows about those “other things.”

This had all the appearance of Mayor Bloomberg piggybacking on Giuliani’s fear-mongering. He picked the worst-case urban scenario available, a crime-ridden, destitute city from which most whites have long since fled, and offered it as a suggestion of what might be in store for New York, a thriving metropolis filled with people from virtually every ethnic group on the planet. Open a window, please. Some fresh air is in order.

Rangel's Chief Tormentor Exemplifies Hypocrisy

Last week, we learned that Texas Representative John Carter, the primary Republican attacker of Charlie Rangel, had failed to disclose $300,000 of profits from the sale of oil stocks. The hypocrisy problem is clear, but the story gets worse. The Lone Star Project website provides a great summary:

Unbridled Hypocrisy

What John Carter Said:
Carter’s complaint against Rangel centered on his failure to disclose profits on his personal financial disclosure. Carter has spent most of October bragging about his experience as a Judge and respect for the law and justice.
“I spent 20 years of my life in a courtroom making sure people followed the rules." (Fort Worth Star Telegram, October 9, 2009)
"Either this House repairs this damage, or the American people will have to replace this House." (Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 2009)
When asked about the looks he was getting from Rangel while he read his resolution, "I used to sentence people to death, and they’d glare at me” (Fort Worth Star Telegram, October 9, 2009)

What John Carter Did:
In 2006, Carter sold Exxon Mobile stock for just under $200,000 profit. He hid this profit from the public on his personal financial disclosure
In 2007, Carter sold Exxon Mobile stock for a profit just under $97,000. He hid this profit from the public on his personal financial disclosure.
On the bottom of his personal financial disclosure, Carter signed under the statement, “Any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies…this report may be subject to civil penalties and criminal sanctions.”

What John Carter Needs to Do Now:
Given Carter’s background as a Judge and his clear understanding of House rules based on his relentless attack on Mr. Rangel, John Carter should:
Ask the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics Committee) to open an investigation of his actions.
Immediately make public ALL financial holdings and transactions with Exxon and all other financial relationships.
Issue an apology to Mr. Rangel and to both Republican and Democratic Members of the Ethics Committee for questioning their competency and their integrity.
Refrain from making any floor statements or other public statements that do not directly involve legislation affecting his district or the State of Texas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crunch Time In NYC Mayoral Race

With only two weeks remaining until election day, Thompson continues to surge while Mayor Bloomberg continues to throw mud in a cynical, hypocritical, and demagogic fashion. Bloomberg and Giuliani have been campaigning together in recent days despite Giuliani's record of racism, divisiveness, and his staunch support for George W. Bush in the most recent Presidential election.

Hypocrisy and Mud

Mayor Bloomberg has based his campaign on one major fabrication: that Bill Thompson "ran the school system" in New York City many years ago. He has supplemented that cynical attack with criticism of Thompson's record as New York City Comptroller. In the first instance, he knows that he is lying, yet he continues with the attacks. In the second instance, he is contradicting himself after recently proclaiming Thompson the best Comptroller in the history of New York City.

Bloomberg's Education Lies

Certainly I can’t recall a more negative effort here than the Bloomberg campaign. Even if one doesn’t feel that Mr. Thompson is the best man to run the city, he is hardly the incompetent corrupt machine pol that he is being portrayed as. Just the opposite.

He is a smart, decent fellow who has made significant civic contributions to his city. His service as Board of Education president, a thankless task, was admirable. It can be argued that Mr. Thompson’s tenure marked a high point in educational progress for our children.

Test scores were legitimately rising in those innocent days before “No Child Left Behind” mandates were driving the State Education Department to begin the disgraceful “dumbing down” of tests to gin up scores that we’ve seen in the last few years.

Mayor Bloomberg’s contention that under the old decentralized system of school boards, there was corruption and confusion is true, but up to a point. He neglects to mention the role of Mr. Thompson and the chancellor at the time, Rudy Crew, in winning a major overhaul of the system by the legislature that, in effect, ended the powers of the local boards over hiring and put the local boards under that Chancellor, far more of an educator than Mr. Bloomberg’s chancellor, Joel Klein.

Bloomberg's Praise of Thompson's Record

In 2007, Bloomberg stated that he believed that Thompson would be considered the best Comptroller in New York City.

The video of the statement is compelling. The words are transcribed below.
"Bill, you should know, has been Comptroller of the City of New York for the same length of time I have been Mayor, and I think he will go down in history as maybe the best Comptroller the City has ever had."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bloomberg Endorses Giuliani For Governor

Mayor Bloomberg used the first Mayoral Debate tonight to endorse Rudy Giuliani for Governor of New York State.

Giuliani for Governor????

Mayor Bloomberg seems to be working overtime to prove that he should not be allowed to continue as Mayor. Tonight, he endorsed Giuliani for Governor.

Rudy Giuliani was extra careful to antagonize and disrespect communities of color when he was Mayor of NYC. Bloomberg wanted to make sure that New Yorkers who are opposed to progress for people of color know that Bloomberg is operating in solidarity with them. Giuliani is symbolic of ugly leadership.

If one was looking for an excuse to fight with all of one's might to defeat Mike Bloomberg, Bloomberg now has provided a clear motivational target - Bloomberg's billions of dollars are going to be combined with his political power as Mayor of NYC to elect Rudy Giuliani Governor of the State of New York.

It is time for us all to unite behind the only person in a position to defeat Mayor Bloomberg. Bill Thompson is that person.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama to New York: Drop Bloomberg

Despite intense lobbying by Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama endorsed Mayor Bloomberg's opponent, Bill Thompson, in the up coming Mayoral election in NYC.

Obama Backs Thompson

After being very publicly opposed to the campaign of David Paterson, New York's first ever African American Governor, and Paterson's efforts to remain Governor after the 2010 elections, President Obama embraced an African American candidate in New York last week. The President announced last week that he was supporting Bill Thompson for Mayor of New York City, though Bloomberg had invested heavily in efforts to convince the President to remain neutral (or to endorse Bloomberg) in the race for Mayor of New York City.

Plot Thickens

For months, the Press has tried to convince us that the race for Mayor of New York City is over. They have attempted to force us to believe that a billionaire Mayor (irrespective of the failure of his economic policies, irrespective of the brazen nature his violations of the civil rights of the residents of color in his city, and irrespective of the fact that he cynically engineered a re-writing of the city charter in order to allow his latest candidacy) is undefeatable by a tradition public servant candidate.

But, the Mayor has faltered. His poll numbers have not been capable of rising above the magical 50% level. Traditionally, an incumbent who cannot get above 50% is considered to be in tremendous trouble when facing only one major opponent. The Press seems to have re-written the rules for Bloomberg the way that Bloomberg re-wrote the city charter to suit his personal political goals.

The Mayor also failed to wrap up the union endorsements. Union support was the key determinant of the outcomes of the most recent run-off races for NYC Comptroller and NYC Public Advocate. In the Mayoral race, the union support behind Thompson is solidifying and becoming more aggressive, more vocal, more creative, and more impactful every day.

Bloomberg's Ambition Assumes NYC Voters Are Not Smart

Those of us who vote in this city are smart. We are not falling for Bloomberg's distortions and fabrications. We are not comfortable with the blatant racism of the stop-and-frisk record that Bloomberg has established (more stops than under any previous Mayor and people of color representing 90% of the stops; a database of all stopped individuals is maintained by the NYPD, and even though the NYPD generally avoids stopping white New Yorkers, the white New Yorkers who are stopped are far more likely to possess illegal guns or drugs than the people of color who are stopped). We are not in favor of Mayor Bloomberg's decision to refuse federal help in the form of food stamps for New Yorkers in need (Bloomberg's ideological opposition to "welfare" caused him to refuse the support offered by the White House). We are not satisfied with the Mayor's regressive taxation approach and the resulting record unemployment in our city.

Those of us who vote cast our votes for Obama in 2008 are eager to vote the way Obama wants us to vote in 2009. The President supports Bill Thompson, and so do we.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Liu and de Blasio Win Run-Offs; 2nd Ave Subway Frustration

This week, John Liu and Bill de Blasio were victorious in their run-off races for Comptroller and Public Advocate, respectively. Separately, frustration builds regarding the slow pace of the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway.

Liu Defeats Yassky in Comptroller Race

John Liu defeated David Yassky in the run-off from Comptroller by a significant 12% margin, making Liu the first Asian-American elected to city-wide office in New York City and making Liu one of the highest ranking Asian-American elected officials in the United States. Yassky's support from the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and US Senator Chuck Schumer was not enough to mount a major challenge to the solid union support enjoyed by John Liu.

There is a lesson in this election contest. The editorial boards have less impact on results than organized support on the ground. Yassky and Liu were excellent candidates who went toe to toe in the race and saw the organized support of organized labor carry Liu to a clear victory.

de Blasio Trounces Green in the Public Advocate Run-Off

Bill de Blasio defeated Mark Green by an eye-popping 26%. Unlike the Comptroller race that demonstrated the influence of organized labor in a low-turnout race, the Public Advocate race was a demonstration of the groundswell of support for the idea of anointing a new leader in New York City and a consensus against bringing back a leader from the past.

Mark Green had served as Public Advocate during the Giuliani years and never overcame the image of a politician who does not realize that he should have left the stage and not returned. Green ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1998. He sought the state Attorney General's office unsuccessfully in 2006, and he had been unsuccessful as a candidate for other offices.

de Blasio is also one of the few members of the New York City Council who vigorously opposed Mayor Bloomberg's successful efforts to change the City Charter to allow himself to seek a third consecutive term as the Mayor of New York City. Several City Council members who supported the Mayor's term limits change were defeated, and de Blasio's opposition of the Mayor undoubtedly helped him. Green had offered to allow Giuliani to serve longer than allowed by the City Charter after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and that contrasted with de Blasio's opposition to Bloomberg in a manner than benefited de Blasio in the primary.

We look forward to seeing how de Blasio and Liu perform in the years ahead.

Second Avenue Subway

With delays and budget over-runs continuing to mount on the 2nd Avenue Subway project, the MTA's Inspector General has initiated an investigation of the project.

Manhattan will benefit from the 2nd Avenue Subway project. It has received significant financial support from the federal government, and our local efforts must be carefully managed to ensure that further delays and and excess costs are avoided.