Monday, December 31, 2012

Highlights of 2012 Blogs

Today is the last day of 2012, and we use this week's blog to look back at the highlights of the 2012 Manhattan Viewpoint blogs.

NYPD Abuses Increase While Stop and Frisk Evolves

We began 2012 frustrated by the additional abuses of the NYPD that were added to the racist stop-and-frisk policies that we have been facing from years from the NYPD. The NYPD beat NYC residents and killed an unarmed young man. The outrage we felt was increased by learning that the NYPD had been tracking muslims in Newark, NJ. The last straw was the revelation that the NYPD was spying on left-of-center groups despite the lack of evidence that any threat was presented by the groups.

Stop-and-frisk abuses by the NYPD began to decline in April of 2012 because of community pressure for change.

We end 2012 praying that Mayor Bloomberg's and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's unrepentant support for stop-and-frisk abuses of people of color in our city will end early in 2013 rather than wait for a new Mayor to take over.

Other Highlights

Congressman Charlie Rangel was re-elected after a long and difficult campaign.

President Obama won all of the most educated states in the US as he earned a second term as President.

Colonel Young Park remains in disrepair but now has community support for an upgrade.

The Barclays Center opened in Brooklyn.

Hurricane Sandy devastated our community.

Looking Forward to 2013

The NY Times described the upcoming year's political focus well.

"Mayoral politics will dominate the local headlines. Mr. Bloomberg’s many would-be successors will not have the personal fortune he spent to win office ($174 per vote in 2009). Which of them will end up on the November ballot: Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker? Joseph J. Lhota, who is leaving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to look into running as a Republican? Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner?"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Republican Lhota Joins NYC Mayoral Race

Last week, Joe Lhota resigned as chair of the MTA to prepare for a run for Mayor of NYC as a Republican.

Joe Lhota

Joe Lhota was a Deputy Mayor during the Giuliani Administration and played a leading role in the Administration's response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. He is a trustee at the City University of New York and a former Chief Administrative officer of MSG, the owner of the Knicks, Rangers, the MSG cable channel, and Madison Square Garden itself.

Lhota was chair of the MTA, the state authority that operates NYC's buses and subways and provides regional rail service in and around NYC while controlling the bridges and tunnels in NYC. He began in that role in the beginning of 2012 and remained there until last week when he resigned to start his campaign for Mayor of NYC.

MTA Fair Hikes

During the approximately one year that Joe Lhota was the leader of the MTA, he angered NYC residents by raising subway fares and bridge tolls.

Republican Mayoral Primary 2013

His Republican opponents in the 2013 Mayoral primary have established significant support.

"The Queens and Manhattan county organizations are in the corner of billionaire John Catsimatidis, while the Bronx and Brooklyn chairs have said they support former Bronx Borough President Adolfo CarriĆ³n."

Whichever of these three Republican candidates for Mayor wins the primary will face a daunting Democratic advantage in the general election. In fact, one poll suggested Lhota would lose a general election by a 60% to 9% margin. Therefore, many will view the Republican race as barely relevant. That view is dangerous. Republicans have now won five straight general elections for Mayor in NYC, and both Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Giuliani are likely to be pushing hard for the Republican nominee in November 2013.

Democrats must both find the right Mayoral nominee and come together in unity behind that nominee in order to return the Democrats to power in NYC for the first time since David Dinkins left office after the 1993 general election. It has been 20 years.

Monday, December 17, 2012

NYS Senators' Marriage Equality Support Punished

With last week's concession of defeat by State Senator Saland, three of the four Republican State Senators who supported marriage equality will no longer be in the State Senate.

Marriage Equality Victory in NY

In June of this year, the New York State Senate approved the marriage equality law that now governs our state. The Assembly had already passed it, and the Governor signed it immediately.

The State Senate passage was made possible by the support of four Republicans State Senators who joined with all but one of the Democrats in the State Senate "after an intense and emotional campaign aimed at the handful of lawmakers wrestling with a decision that divided their friends, their constituents and sometimes their own homes."

Three of Four Republicans Not Returning to the State Senate

Since the thrill of the June victory, we have had a primary election and a general election. Those elections have not been kind to the Republicans who courageously pushed marriage equality over the finish line in New York State. In the end, the loss of these Republicans strengthened the Democrats and strengthened the support in the New York State Senate for marriage equality.

The New York Times described what has happened to the four Republican State Senators who supported marriage equality:

" . . . when the Legislature returns to Albany next month, only one of those four senators will be among those sworn into office. One, facing the prospect of a tough challenge, decided not to run again; a second was defeated by a more conservative Republican in a primary, and on Thursday, a third conceded defeat after a monthlong paper-ballot counting process in a three-way race in which a more conservative candidate drew so many votes from him that the race was won by a Democrat.       
"Activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue nationwide had kept a close eye on the fate of the four New York Republicans, whose re-election battles were depicted as a de facto referendum on whether it was electorally safe for Republicans to support same-sex marriage. Gay-rights advocates talked hopefully of being able to persuade Republican legislators in other statehouses that voting for same-sex marriage did not amount to political suicide.        
"But, same-sex marriage opponents paid for billboards to denounce the incumbents and predicted that voters would punish the senators for switching their positions. The outcry against the Republicans had an awkward side effect — although conservatives contributed significantly to their fates, two of the three are being replaced by Democrats who support same-sex marriage.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Promotes Common Sense on Immigration

Last week, New York City Mayor Bloomberg provided an alarming yet accurate view of the need for US immigration policies to promote the arrival of new talent in the US from abroad.

Immigration Challenges

While the United States political culture includes elements of string opposition to immigration, the US is actually a large importer of talent, and our country needs to increase that importation.

During the Republican Primary season in 2011 and 2012, Republican Presidential  candidates competed to see who could be most opposed to immigrants to the United States. While many Republicans now regret their anti-immigrant focus, the competition amongst candidates to prove their hatred for immigrants reflected the strength of ant-immigrant sentiment in the Republican primary electorate. Mitt Romney won the Republican Primary in part by inventing the notion that immigrants should "self-deport" based on policies he would implement as President.

The Republican regret of their anti-immigrant stance is appropriate. Immigration is key to economic growth, and many parts of the US economy will be underserved without significant immigration activity. Allowing prejudice against immigrants to interfere with our opportunities to build and strengthen our economy will leave us with lower quality lives for decades to come.

Mayor Bloomberg Defends Immigration

Mayor Bloomberg is correct when he states that “we are on the wrong side of global competition. Our economy depends on immigrants, and currently our immigration policy is what I call national suicide,”

"National suicide" would appear to be hyperbole, but the notion that the United States is currently volunteering to harm itself by pushing talented people to make their contributions elsewhere is absolutely accurate.

Bloomberg stated that many of the talented immigrants now helping the US to strengthen are here on student visas, and their talents will leave the US to help strengthen other countries (perhaps even our enemies) if we do not allow those immigrants to remain in the US.

“They are our future, and we are driving them out,” Bloomberg said. Changing immigration policy to promote the importation of talent to the US is mission-critical. “I don’t think there is anything more important Washington could do for us.”

President Obama Is Expected to Seek Improved Immigration Laws

In the early part of 2013, after the fight over the fiscal cliff has been decided, we expect President Obama to make immigration reform a top priority.

We hope to make New York City a tech-focused hub for the US, and doing so will require significant talent from outside of the US. As New Yorkers, we need President Obama to make immigration reform a priority and open up opportunities for our city and the rest of the country to enjoy stronger economic growth.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cumo Heads to DC for Sandy Pitch

Today, Governor Cuomo will be in Washington, DC to seek support from Congressional leaders for $42 billion in federal government assistance related to the Sandy superstorm.

Cuomo's Pitch to Congress

Governor Cuomo's trip to Washington, DC today is aimed at persuading Congress to support his plan for a $42 billion cash infusion from the federal government to help New York State recover from Sandy and to create new infrastructure that will prevent future damage in major storms.

After stating in mid-November that the federal government should pay 100% of the costs endured by the state and local government in New York State resulting from Sandy rather than the traditional 25%, and after refusing to join Mayor Bloomberg on the Mayor's trip to Washington, DC, one cannot be surprised to see Governor Cuomo making a solo trip to our nation's capital with a request for such a large cash contribution from Congress.

Cuomo's approach seems to have started off on the right foot. He asked a Republican representative from Long Island to set up a meeting with the Republican Speaker of the House.

Bloomberg Undermine's Cuomo's Pitch

In a classic example of Mayor Bloomberg's extraordinary incompetence, the Mayor spoke out against Governor Cuomo's $42 billion pitch to Congress before the Governor had a chance to deliver the pitch in Washington.

Bloomberg stated that we should focus on adding to NYC's subway system rather than preventing future floods.

As the NY Daily News wrote:

Bloomberg cited climate change when he endorsed President Barack Obama, but has recently said he doesn't expect a storm similar to Sandy to ravage our subways anytime soon.

"It hasn't happened in 100 years, and if you take that precaution that's good -- but at what expense," he said.
"We need more subways to take people to parts of the city where they live now and they didn't live when the subways were built 100 years ago," Bloomberg said.

Sadly, Bloomberg is too ignorant of Washington politics to understand that Cuomo's first assigment is to ask for the moon and then fight for as much as he can. He also clearly fails to realize that contradicting the Governor's proposal from the Mayor's office is a recipe for less money coming to NYC from Congress, and outcome for which Bloomberg should be held accountable if and when it comes to pass.