Monday, July 26, 2010

Rangel: Proven Effectiveness and Presumed Innocent

With the Ethics Committee in the US House of Representative unable, thus far, to reach a settlement with Representative Charlie Rangel regarding allegations of ethics missteps, we look at Gabe Pressman's view and continue to hope for a settlement.

Settlement Hope

We hope that the US House and Upper Manhattan's Charlie Rangel can settle the Ethics case without a trial. Representative Rangel is accused of missteps that are nearly all self-reported and nearly all paperwork snafu's. The accusations themselves have always suggested sloppiness rather than greed. He is not even accused of any behavior that would have harmed his constituents, and he has not been accused of any sort of cover-up. Both the Rangel camp and the US House should recognize that a trial benefits no one, and the US House should not ask Representative Rangel to suggest that he knowingly committed any ethics violation.

We have highlighted previously that the US House has a record of targeting African American members of Congress for ethics investigations; in November 2009, we learned that 100% of the members of the US House of Representatives under investigation were African American, even though many non-African American lawmakers had been referred to the Ethics Committee for its review.

Presumed Innocent - Proven Effective

Charlie Rangel continues to have a presumption of innocence. He also has a record of achievement that eclipses that of any current member of Congress.

Gabe Pressman assessed the situation well last week. Charlie Rangel has served with dignity and effectiveness for 40 years.

He is a war hero who brought $5 billion of funding specifically to urban areas across our country. He has consistently served as the voice of those whose voices are often ignored. He has made our country stronger, and he has made Upper Manhattan stronger through his decades of service.

Charlie Rangel should not leave Congress this year. He was elected by the people of Upper Manhattan. We Upper Manhattan voters are the only people who should decide whether the member of Congress who represents us should be replaced. We have decided 20 consecutive times that Charlie Rangel is the best person for the job. On September 14, 2010, we will decide again who represents us. No one in Congress should suggest that he or she has better judgment than we do. We've been right 20 times in a row.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Governor Paterson Restricts Use of Stop-and-Frisk Data

While the abuse of communities of color through rampant stop-and-frisk activity targeting innocent New Yorkers will continue under the Bloomberg Administration, Governor Paterson has courageously signed legislation ending the practice of retaining the information collected in the abusive stop-and-frisk incidents. In the past, it had been held in perpetuity.


The stop-and-frisk record of the current Mayor is inexcusable. We have highlighted several times how outrageous that stop-and-frisk record is.

The current Mayor supports a policy of stopping innocent people of color in record numbers. The stops keep increasing despite the fact that approximately 90% of those stopped are persons of color and the fact that approximately 90% of those stopped are not arrested. In some communities of color, the number of stops in each of the last four years is more than the size of the population.

In New York City, an innocent white resident has a 2.6% chance of being stopped by the police, while an innocent Black resident has a 21.1% chance of being stopped by the police. In only 15% of the stops was the "fit the description" excuse used by the NYPD. In reality, the NYPD's own excuses for stopping innocent New Yorkers are in almost all other circumstances that the victim of the stop was acting suspiciously.

In communities of color, the Mayor's approach has fostered unnecessary tension and animosity between the community and the police. That tension and lack of trust endangers New Yorkers and promotes crime. Because they are routinely abused by the police, communities of color are less likely to cooperate with police, and criminals are emboldened by the knowledge that the community and the police are not coordinated and do not trust each other. Criminals are more dangerous when they know that the communities they plan to victimize are already being victimized by the police. Communities of color suffer as a result of this dynamic, and we are already seeing crime rates rising as well as increasing numbers of crimes going unsolved as a result of the Mayor's racist policing formula.

The End of the Database

While the Mayor has not been held accountable for the poor policing, racism, and destructive nature of his stop-and-frisk approach, the State Legislature and the Governor have taken action against the Mayor's database of innocent New Yorkers of color.

Until now, every one of the more than 500,000 innocent people stopped each year by the NYPD has had his or her information stored in a database controlled by the NYPD. That approach has resulted in law suits and additional anger in communities of color. In a classic case of adding insult to injury, the database consists of the personal information of people who have been abused by the NYPD.

Last week, Governor Paterson signed legislation eliminating the NYPD database of innocent people of color.

While the leadership of the NYPD attempted to argue that the elimination of the database of innocent people would cause increased crime, common sense suggests otherwise. It is disgraceful that the NYPD would state that innocent people of color need to be catalogued in a database as if all people of color are destined to be criminals; as if having a record of the movements of innocent people of color will help the NYPD arrest them when they inevitably turn to crime.

In truth, the best way to prevent crime is to make the NYPD less of an abusive force in the lives of New Yorkers. Perhaps the elimination of the database will help convince the Mayor to turn the NYPD toward protecting New Yorkers instead of abusing them.

Today, we salute the New York State Legislature and Governor Paterson for improving lives and for standing up to the Mayor of New York City.

Monday, July 12, 2010

LeBron Rejects NYC; Stringer Heads to Connecticut

Last week, we learned that LeBron James chose Miami over New York City, and Manhattan's Borough President has been forced to schedule his traditional, heterosexual marriage in Connecticut by his own commitment to human rights and New York State's failure to lead our country's March to marriage equality.

NYC Fails to Attract LeBron

The biggest prize in this year's incredibly rich crop of NBA free agents was LeBron James, and LeBron is headed to the Miami heat to join the other next two biggest prizes of the free agent frenzy in the NBA, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Though New York City is undeniably the greatest city in the world, the most sought after NBA free agent chose Miami. Irrespective of the choice he made, LeBron should be cheered in NYC for the way he showed all of us that a young Black man can take charge of his life and make difficult but sound, unsentimental business decisions with class, intellect, and maturity.

In the end, James, Wade, and Bosh took ownership of their careers at young ages. They set aside their individual desires for the accolades of their adoring fans and embraced the concept of working together to be winners. Even those of us who wish the Knicks could return to the playoffs and compete for a championship should recognize the impressiveness of what these three young men have already accomplished by working with each other to take control of their destiny.

Miami can never be New York City, but the Miami Heat's three superstars deserve our best wishes as they attempt to vindicate their collective decision to take less compensation, share the spotlight, and value winning championships above all of the other goals that often conflict with winning championships and serve to confuse our greatest athletes into mismanaging their athletic careers.

LeBron is Alex Rodriguez before 2009, the biggest star in his sport but a star without a championship - the favorite for each year's MVP Award but someone who has never won a championship or even come particularly close. Rodriguez focused on joining a team that could help him win a championship, he changed defensive positions to let the local hero remain in place, he demonstrated a willingness to take less money, and he played unselfishly. Rodriguez won a couple more MVP Awards before finaly playing in and winning his first World Series after carrying his team throughout the playoffs. Dwyane Wade is Derek Jeter, the local hero who has won a championship with his original team and invites other superstars to join him in winning additional titles. Rodriguez took six years playing next to Jeter before he won a championship, and one should expect that LeBron's patience is much shorter than that of Rodriguez.

LeBron, as a student of the history of the NBA, understands that a single superstar is never a formula for winning a championship.

The Sixers in the 1980's needed Dr. J. AND Moses Malone. The Bulls needed Jordan and Pippen and Horace Grant and Paxson and Rodman. The Lakers needed Kobe and Shaq; then Kobe and Gasol and Artest and . . .

Here in NYC, we will lament our failure to attract LeBron, but we can learn from LeBron's focus on his ultimate goal and his determination not to be derailed. Also, we can see these three young men play together often - against the Knicks and the Nets.

Manhattan Borough President Heads to Connecticut

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is getting married in Connecticut because he doesn't want to get married in New York, a jurisdiction that doesn't permit same sex marriages. At Manhattan Viewpoint, we have warned that New York State's refusal to lead on this key human rights issue could cost us economic opportunities provided by gay and lesbian couples from all over the country who would wish to marry in NYC if they could. But, Scott Stringer's decision highlights another risk. Heterosexual couples who care deeply about the rights of their fellow residents of New York may reject New York as a marriage location in solidarity with those who are excluded.

Let us appreciate our Borough President for his empathy and his commitment to his beliefs. Let us also demand that New York State change directions and begin to treat all of its citizens equally with regard to marriage.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bloomberg Avoids Racially Integrated Administration

Mayor Bloomberg continues to establish new lows in his racial record as Mayor if our great city. He has eclipsed the noisome racial record of Rudy Giuliani, and there seems to be no end to his racial missteps.

Worse Diversity Record Than Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani is generally viewed as the classic anti-Black elected official. He refused to meet with any Black elected officials while he was Mayor, even when those Black elected officials were state-wide officials. He regularly engaged in racially incendiary rhetoric, and he participated in a racist protest against Mayor Dinkins during Dinkins' term as Mayor.

However, Mayor Bloomberg, who succeeded Giuliani, has a racial record that is worse than Giuliani's.

We have repeatedly highlighted the record level of stop-and-frisk incidents in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg and the ugly racial dynamics of the stop-and-frisk incidents and the resulting database of innocent-yet-abused people of color.

We have also highlighted Bloomberg's focus on maintaining racially discriminatory practices in New York City's Fire Department.

Last week, we saw the New York Times lay out the statistics to demonstrate that Bloomberg has been worse than Giuliani in terms of the hiring of persons of color to senior positions in New York City government.

Lack of Diversity

As the New York Times has pointed out that while Chicago and Los Angeles have senior staffs that are 52% and 61% white, respectively, New York City has a senior staff that is more than 70% white. In fact, in most key categories, the figure is far closer to 80% white than 70% white.

New York City's white population is 35% of the city's overall population, but Bloomberg has carefully avoided having the City's leadership reflect the City's population.

In fact, in every category investigated by the New York Times, Bloomberg's diversity record was worse than Giuliani's, and both Giuliani and Bloomberg has records far worse than Mayor Dinkins. The Mayor has refused to acknowledge that he needs to reverse course with regard to his anti-Black and anti-Hispanic governance philosophy.

We continue to hope that the Mayor will change his approach on race in his third term as Mayor, and begin both to value diversity and to oppose racism. Thus far, he has promoted racism and opposed diversity. Time is running out.