Monday, April 30, 2012

Black Radio Merger in NYC

Two of New York City's leading Black radio stations are merging to become one.


WRKS ("KISS") and WBLS have competed for supremacy in the Black radio market in New York City for more than 30 years. They divided up the leading Black voices from the syndication market and divided up the listener base of lovers of Black music (Hot 97 and Power 105.1 continue to compete for portions of the audience as well).
Both WBLS and WRKS have been the top-rated station in the city at various times, and even in low periods they have routinely averaged well over a million listeners apiece per week.
This morning, KISS changed its format to sports talk in a takeover by Disney's ESPN Radio. WBLS lives on as a leading Black radio station and takes on many of the voices and history of KISS.


The coming weeks will be a time of mourning for KISS rather than a period of celebrating the combination of these two great stations.
It's a sad day for urban radio.  
The leadership of WBLS deserves praise for spending last weekend celebrating the 30 year history of KISS and for sounding the alarm regarding the contraction of Black radio rather than praising itself for outlasting KISS.
"I think it's sad," says WBLS spokesperson Deon Livingston. "A station that serviced our community for 30 years is gone, their voice is gone."
Let us all commit to support Black radio in NYC. KISS is gone. Let us preserve what remains.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yale Offers an Alternative to Stop and Frisk

Mayor Bloomberg's brutally racist stop-and-frisk approach to law enforcement in NYC has not reduced crime. Now, a Yale professor and his student propose that NYC use an approach that has worked elsewhere.

Stop and Frisk Is a Failure

We know that Stop and Frisk does not work. Looking at murder rates and stop and frisk incidents shows that crime has not declined during the era of intense stopping and frisking of young men of color in our city. In fact, the Bloomberg approach, and its Apartheid-based vision in which all young men of color are investigated as criminals on a daily basis with probable cause being merely their combination of youth and skin color, has caused great pain and suffering in communities of color while not improving the safety in those communities.
[A]lthough the stop-and-frisk rate increased six fold, the murder rate continued the same slight rate of decline during the last decade as it has since 1997.
Mayor Bloomberg and his police chief Ray Kelly defend stop and frisk tactics by using the "big lie" that stop and frisk reduces crime. They know it does not reduce crime, yet they increase the number of young men of color who are stopped each year. They vocally and forcefully defend the practice as if their minds have been replaced by the mind of Bull Connor.

Many New Yorkers have given up on attempting to "talk sense into" Bloomberg and Kelly, and the conventional wisdom is that people of color will continue to suffer until a new Mayor takes office in 2014.

We should not give up so easily. Bloomberg undoubtedly wants to have a positive legacy, and he likely could be convinced that having a legacy of being more racist than Rudy Giuliani will be less and less attractive as the years pass. Bull Connor was controversial in his time. Today, he is the epitome of race-hatred. Years from now, Bloomberg will be viewed as the staunchest defender and promoter of institutionalized racism in the United States in the early years of the 21st Century. He must have moments when he'd rather be viewed as a positive force. Also, there is no guarantee that Bloomberg will not seek to be Mayor for at least another four years. He might try to stay in office to position himself for new opportunities, and he might decide that only he will keep stop and frisk in place. Bloomberg has changed the term limits in the past, and his wealth allows him to scare off potential challengers. Bloomberg might be the Mayor for the rest of his life, and young men of color should assume that Bloomberg's life will be long - far too long to wait for the end the of the Apartheid approach that he brought with him.

So, we need to keep telling the truth. We need to keep up the pressure. Mayor Bloomberg must end his racist approach to policing or resign. There is no middle ground, and we cannot assume that the Bloomberg nightmare ends in 2014. There is no firm expiration date for stop and frisk. It will end only when we raise our voices and make Mayor Bloomberg, Ray Kelly, and their Bull Connor brains choose a new direction.

Yale Professors Offer an Alternative

A new direction is what is offered by a Yale professor and his student.

It would be new for Bloomberg, but it is what worked to reduce crime in NYC previously. It was brought to New York City by Mayor Dinkins. It has worked in Boston and Seattle as well as in may other parts of the United States.

What the Yale professor and his student call "focused deterrents" relies on the community and the police force developing a positive relationship. In NYC, Bloomberg and Kelly have turned police and the community into enemies. They have demanded that the police abuse the innocent people in the community when the police should have been protecting the innocent and building trust in the process.

Developed by the criminologist David M. Kennedy, focused deterrence is in many ways the opposite of stopping and frisking large sections of the population. Beginning with the recognition that a small cohort of young men are responsible for most of the violent crime in minority neighborhoods, it targets the worst culprits for intensive investigation and criminal prosecution.
Focused deterrence also builds up community trust in the police, who are now going after the real bad guys instead of harassing innocent bystanders in an effort to score easy arrests. . .
Rather than sweep through and stop large numbers of young black men, the police built strong relationships with residents, promising greater responsiveness if they took back the reins of their community and told their sons, nephews and grandsons that the violence and the overt dealing must end.

"Going after the real bad guys" is what we seek.

If the NYPD will end its terrorizing of innocent people and collaborate with the community to "go after the real bad guys", we can reduce crime and save Bloomberg from a Bull Connor legacy at the same time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bloomberg Takes on Guns

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg was on the attack against "stand your ground" laws and was shown to be under attack by the National Rifle Association.

NRA Spends Heavily to Defeat Microstamping 

The New York Daily News reported that the National Rifle Association donated more money to members of the New York State Legislature than to any other state in our country. Since 2003, the NRA has donated more than $200,000 to New York politicians in order to oppose Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to bring microstamping requirements to New York State. We have endorsed the push for microstamping.
Microstamping would reduce crime, enhance crime solving, and would not undermine the lawful use of firearms for hunting. In fact, microstamping is expected to add only $12 to the cost of the average firearm, which has a total cost of $450.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party in New York State is focused on maintaining its relationships with the gun manufacturers who do not want their products to cost $12 more. The Republicans are willing to trade lives for the support of the gun manufacturers. The Republicans in the State Senate voted against the legislation and killed it. Only one Republican supported the legislation, and even a former law enforcement officer who is now a Republican State Senator failed to support the legislation and disappeared from the floor of the State Senate during a key moment in the effort to enact this life-saving measure.
With the NRA spending heavily to defeat microstamping, we must all rally behind the measure with greater focus. California adopted microstamping legislation in 2007, and the NRA views blocking the spread of that smart approach to New York State as a high priority. Countering the NRA requires all of us to stand up and be counted.

Stand Your Ground

The "stand your ground" laws that have become associated with the tragic February 2012 death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida came under attack by Mayor Bloomberg last week. The NRA promotes these laws because they give ordinary residents that self-defense protection typically provided to law enforcement. If a killer feels threatened, his killing is justified, and he is immune from prosecution.

In states that have passed a "stand your ground" statute, justifiable homicides have skyrocketed. In a sense, these are invitations for residents to murder other residents without consequences for the murder.These laws undermine law enforcement attempts to keep our communities safe, and they promote vigilante behavior in our society.

The increased loss of life is tragic, and the support of the NRA for this increased loss of life shows how morally bankrupt the NRA is.

As the Mayor has stated:
These laws have not made our country safer; they have made us less safe. And that's why so many law enforcement leaders oppose these laws. It's why some legislators who voted for these laws are having second thoughts. And it's why today, we're launching a nationwide campaign urging legislators to take these steps: Reform or repeal these laws where they have been passed, or defeat them in states where they have been introduced.
We, as vocal critics of the Bloomberg Administration, are well aware that Bloomberg is taking on powerful critics by being on the right side of the gun issues we face.

Monday, April 9, 2012

NYC 911 System Debacle

New York City's 911 emergency system will be 7 years late and $1 billion over budget, and the Mayor of NYC is focused on ensuring that the public does not have the opportunity to read the report that explains what went wrong.

911 System - $1 billion of Additional Costs

Our city already faces the burden and the embarrassment of the City Time Scandal in which the Mayor ignored warnings from his subordinates and allowed the City to suffer a $740 million loss on what was supposed to be a $60 million project to improve payroll management for city employees. In one of the strangest moments of the Mayor's 10 years in office, he stated that the $740 million loss represented a "pretty good job" by his administration.

Now, we have learned that the Bloomberg administration's poor (or nonexistent) oversight of the implementation of a new emergency 911 system is going to cost an additional $1 billion and take 7 years more than original planned.

Mayor Bloomberg sought a third term based on an argument that he possessed superior management skills, yet his mismanagement of the city's funds is one of his clearest "accomplishments" of his 10 years. His failure to control the city's funds will create challenges for his successors and for our city's residents for many years to come.

Hiding the Report

Predictably, the report on the investigation into Mayor Bloomberg's $1 billion of mismanagement of the city's emergency system is being held captive by the Bloomberg Administration.
Bloomberg, talking to reporters Tuesday, defended response times to emergencies — though the unions and City Hall have long sparred over how the times are computed.
“Obviously, things are working. Can we always do it better? Sure. We’ll look at everything, and anybody that’s got suggestions, we'll be happy to take them in,” Bloomberg said, adding that the report will come out when the time is right.
“It’s a preliminary report and we’ll put it in when we get a final report that pulls together all the relevant data.”
The system has 911 operators handle most incoming emergency calls and dispatch them electronically into the police and fire response system. Callers used to have to talk to as many as three operators. The new framework also gives the operator a digital map of where the caller is located.

In February, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ordered the report to be released, but the city recently made an 11th-hour appeal, charging that the document’s release would inhibit city bureaucrats from properly analyzing the system.
Bloomberg is once again opposing the judicial system as the judicial system attempts to hold him accountable.

Monday, April 2, 2012

New York State Budget Passed On-Time

Though some may complain that the New York State budget process is controlled by three people, the process produced an on-schedule and responsible budget for the second year in a row.

First Early Passage Since 1983

The budget was passed a day early, and that hasn't happened since 1983.
The euphoria over the passage was met by some dissent.
“It is a not a good bill and it is not a bill I can vote for,” said Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), during the debate over the Aid to Localities portion of the budget. Krueger argued the bill did not go far enough to aid struggling communities.
Senate Democrats have also tried -- and failed -- tried to attach several hostile amendments to the spending bills. Among the banished amendments were measures to create a statewide health insurance exchange, approved the state version of the Dream Act, and boost school aid for struggling school districts.
But, the budget and the process that brought it to early passage have many positive elements and is deservedly winning praise from both parties.

Why Are Both Parties Happy

What held together were Cuomo's top priorities including a massive New York Works job-creating program and just about every item in his budget proposal presented two months ago. The Legislature, however, amended nearly all and rejected some.
Silver got an increase in the welfare grant once rejected by Cuomo, reinstatement of early intervention procedures in pre-kindergarten for kids in need, an increase in community college aid, and the right of Medicaid patients to get prescriptions their physicians deem best even if they are more expensive brand-name drugs.
Skelos can claim a long-sought doubling of the DNA database for law enforcement, eliminating the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax for thousands of small businesses and schools, and keeping open the regional Department of Transportation offices slated to close.
The state's EPIC health care program was expanded to a fill the "donut hole" in Medicare, averting a spike in co-pays for seniors. Silver and Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous secured $100 million for upstate road repair to keep pace with downstate on transportation, a critical issue to salve upstate-downstate tensions in the Legislature.
The Future

Cuomo will propose two more budgets before he faces a vote on his re-election. Some worry that those budgets will be geared toward winning votes rather than responsibly preparing our state to thrive over the long term. Interestingly, Cuomo is expected to be a Presidential candidate in 2016. We can guess that Cuomo may begin to campaign for President with his 2013 and 2014 budget proposals. Those same budgets may draw more opposition from Republicans because of Cuomo's electoral goals.

Whether because of the re-election fight looming or because of a planned campaign for President of the United States, Cuomo may find that his two-year streak of on-time, respectable budgets becomes increasingly more difficult to extend.