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New York

Mayors' Races: New York and Moscow

by: DocJess

Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 08:05:11 AM EDT

Tomorrow in New York City the mayoral primary will occur after three terms of Mayor Mike. It is in certain ways a repeat of the 2008 Presidential primary (if the polls are to be believed) but there are some really important lessons from the races.

Before we get there, let's talk about the Moscow mayoral race which is a truly amazing set of events. First, Sergei Sobyanin won with 51% of the vote. He's a Putinite, and the current mayor. But there were 5 challengers, including Alexei Navalny. Navalny received 27% of the vote. Anything over 20% was considered to be a huge win. Navalny won't contest the vote, although he (and many others) believe the fix was in. Still, turnout was about 26%, so this is really great for the potential of actual candidates eventually winning.

Alexei Navalny is head of the People's Alliance, a sort-of political party opposed to Putin, and therefore, an unregistered party. He's a blogger, a lawyer, an activist, and recently released from prison. He'd been indicted on trumped up embezzlement charges (which in Moscow is more common than you might think), convicted, and then released pending appeal. (The jury's still out, as it were.)

Back across the pond...until late summer, Christine Quinn, current Speaker of the City Council, and also serving a third term, was the "inevitable" next mayor. And wow, the thinking went, the first woman mayor of NY and the first openly gay mayor of NY. (Ed Koch was theoretically the first gay mayor of NY.)

The line had been that Christine Quinn would win the primary, but with less than 40%, thus there would be a runoff. So the question was: who would face Quinn in the runoff: Anthony Weiner, John Liu, Bill Thompson, or Bill De Blasio. And then Carlos Danger imploded, Bill Thompson faded, Liu didn't get traction and Bill De Blasio ran a liberal campaign and may well cross the 40% threshold on Tuesday, and thus be the next mayor of New York City. (The Republicans don't count...that's over. There are also two additional Democratic candidates, neither of whom broke above 1% in the polls.)

So let's look at De Blasio. His campaign is based on the idea of two New Yorks: rich Manhattanites and everybody else. He is incredibly opposed to stop-and-frisk (currently being investigated by the FBI), is far left on every issue, and just take a look at this ad, his first to run on TV. (By the end of the ad, you should be able to figure out who the woman in the yellow shirt is...)

There are a number of issues, in addition to stop-and-frisk that De Blasio is progressive about: paid sick days (which Quinn opposed), a small tax on the wealthy to fund early childhood education, and public financing for elections. If you want to see where all the candidates stand on a variety of issues, click here.

Face it, if De Blasio wins tomorrow's primary, it will mean that a candidate espousing liberal ideas can win. Clear enunciation of the things we liberals believe in heart and soul. You may say "Well, that's NY, it wouldn't play in Peoria." Perhaps not, but potentially Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, to name a few.

Think NY has had liberal mayors? Um...David Dinkins in the early '90's, and before that, you'd have to go all the way back to the early years of John Lindsay in the mid-60's. Koch? Guiliani? Bloomberg? Not so much. It would be fantastic to see liberals getting a foothold at the municipal level. Remember, the past two years have been hell on regular people less because of the Federal government, and more because of what states have done. New York City, remember, has a higher population than all by 11 states. Think about the possibilities...

We'll see tomorrow.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

NY-26: Defying the Odds

by: SarahLawrence Scott

Mon May 23, 2011 at 10:57:22 AM EDT

On the heels of a Siena poll showing Democrat Kathy Hochul up by 4 in the special election in New York's 26th congressional district, PPP has released a poll showing Hochul up by 6. Both polls show very similar results, which is notable for a special election with multiple candidates: normally figuring out who is actually going to vote makes these kinds of races very tough to call. 

Notably, Kathy Hochul has momentum: according to PPP, her favorability rating has gone from 46/40 a few weeks ago to 51/37. It is rare for a candidate's unfavorables to drop at this stage in a race, and indeed her opponents are now viewed much less favorably, with Republican Jane Corwin going from 42% unfavorable to 52% unfavorable, and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis going from 43% to 62%.

This is a complicated race, with four candidates on the ballot. The fourth is Green candidate Ian Murphy. I'd say he's not much of a factor, drawing 1% of the vote according to Siena and 3% according to PPP. But as we learned in 2000, those small segments might make the difference in a race so close.

But look at those favorability ratings again: 51% in favor of Hochul, and 52% unfavorable toward Corwin. So even if all of the Davis and Murphy voters jump ship and choose between the two major-party candidates, Hochul wins. That's so startling, it needs to be said again: in a straight up race between Hochul and Corwin, Hochul would be projected to win.

How can that be? In part, it appears that Democrats are fired up and Republicans are dispirited. In 2008, McCain beat Obama in this district by 6%. But in PPP's poll, the likely voters tomorrow voted for Obama by 5%. That doesn't mean the poll is suspect: it means that a lot of McCain voters aren't planning to vote this time.

Which means this race will come down, as so many do, to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. There's still time to help. In a number that seems quaintly small by today's standards, the Hochul campaign just sent out an email saying they are looking to raise $8500 more today to finance the GOTV effort. If you'd like to contribute, you can do so here.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The NY-26 Special Election

by: SarahLawrence Scott

Mon May 02, 2011 at 14:56:53 PM EDT

On May 24th, the voters of New York Congressional District 26 will go to the polls for a special election to choose a representative to replace Chris Lee, who resigned after an online sex scandal. There are four candidates on the ballot:

  • Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, the Democrat (also on the Working Families line)
  • State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, the Republican (also on the Conservative and Independence lines)
  • Industrialist Jack Davis, the Tea Party candidate
  • Blogger Ian Murphy, the Green candidate
NY-26 is as rusty as the rust belt gets--chronically economically depressed, taking blow after blow over the decades from the continued loss of manufacturing in the region. It's also been reliably Republican, although not by overwhelming margins: in 2008, McCain beat Obama 52 - 46% in this district.
Last Friday, Siena released a poll on this race. In a dynamic that should by now be familiar, the Tea Party and the Republican candidate split Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, leaving Hochul with a chance: Hochul polls 31% to Corwin's 36% and Davis' 23%. (Murphy gets 1%.) With 9% still undecided, it remains anyone's race.
Aside from the Tea Party/Republican dynamic, this race will act as something as a referendum on the Ryan plan to "reform" Medicare: despite the unpopularity of President Obama in the district (39% favorability), 59% oppose "lessening entitlements like Medicare and Social Security." Hochul has been hammering away at Corwin on this issue, and it might just put her over the top.
Some at DCW have expressed fears that Hochul is too pro-business, and that progressve support should be thrown to firebrand Ian Murphy instead. (Read the comment thread here.)
Hochul is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Emily's List, and NARAL Pro-Choice. While unabashedly pro-small-business, her statements have not exactly been friendly to a corporatist agenda:
Millions of hard-working Americans have lost their jobs due to unfair free trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA. In New York State alone, NAFTA has cost more than 50,000 workers their jobs.

The United States government can no longer support trade deals that suppress wages, cut benefits, and weaken our workers’ rights to collectively bargain and form unions. Supporting deals like the U.S. – Panama, U.S. – Columbia, and U.S. – South Korea Free Trade Agreements will only cause the same harm that NAFTA has already done. We don’t need to look any further than Western New York to see that these policies do not work.

This could be close--very close. And along with the recall efforts in Wisconsin, this could send a powerful message to conservative politicians that they have gone too far.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Census 2010 -- New York

by: tmess2

Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 19:33:20 PM EDT

To finally wrap up the two month long review of the census numbers is New York. 

After the 2000 census, New York had 29 representatives.  The first four districts were all located on Long Island in the counties of Suffolk and Nassau.  The Fifth District included parts of Queens and Nassau.  The next eleven districts were entirely within New York City.  The Seventeenth District included parts of the Bronx and Rockland County.  The other twelve districts headed gradually north and west through "upstate" New York with the Eighteenth and Nineteenth being the immediate suburbs, the Twentieth, Twenty-first and Twenty-second being the next ring out, the Twenty-third being northeast New York reaching the Canadian border, the Twenty-fourth being central New York, the Twenty-fifth being the area around Syracuse, and the other four districts composing the western part of the panhandle of New York.

After the 2010 Census, New York has lost two seats and is down to 27 representatives.  The new target number is 718,000.  

At a quick glance, Nassau and Suffolk are going to be about 39,000 short of an even four representatives.  So instead of being  wholly in Nassau, the Fourth will not take in part of Queens or Brooklyn.  The Five Burroughs of New York City combine for a total population of 8,175,133 which works out to just over 11 representatives with 277,000 excess.  In other words, after giving 39,000 to the Fourth District, the last complete New York City district will be the Fifteenth, and the excess 238,000 will be going into the Sixteenth rather than the Seventeenth. 

Looking at the current map, districts six through twelve are all wholly contained within Brooklyn and Queens with district 13 being split between Brooklyan and Staten Island, and district fourteen being split between Queens and Manhattan.  With the new numbes, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, have a little over seven representatives combined with 178,000 left over.  That means that after dumping the extra 39,000 into the fourth, the last whole district withing Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn will now be the Eleventh rather than the Thirteenth.  Bottom line -- one of the two representatives to be dropped is coming from Queens and Brooklyn.

For the remainder of the state, the numbers do not make for an district that is being cut.  Rather it will be a case of a slow adjustment heading out of New York City and the far Western side of the state.  Of the thirteen current districts wholly or partially in upstate New York, they range in size from the Nineteenth (just under 700,000) to the Twenty-eighth (around 612,000).

As best as I can guesstimate, the new Sixteenth and Seventeenth will be composed of the northern Bronx plus Rockland and Westchester Counties (basically the current Seventeenth and Eighteenth with some minor adjustments).    There will be an excess 63,000 to go into the new Eighteenth.  Likewise, the old Nineteenth (composed of the remainder from Rockland and Westchester, plus part of Orange, Putnam, and Duchess County) will be the new Eighteenth.  There will be 115,000 excess from part of Orange and Duchess to go into the neighboring district. 

From this point on is where things get tricky.  Currently the excess from Orange and Duchess is split between the Twentieth and the Twenty-second.  Both districts (and the Twenty-first) also contain other partial counties.  Schenactady (in the Twenty-first) and Saratoga (in the Twentieth) were among the faster growing counties in New York).  My hunch says each of these districts bumps a little bit northward and westward.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 242 words in story)

Would You Vote for Ian Murphy?

by: DocJess

Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 06:00:00 AM EDT

OK, you think you've never heard of Ian Murphy, but you likely remember that someone pretended to be one of the Koch brothers, called Scott Murphy, and got him to admit to his ulterior motives in the Wisconsin collective bargaining imbroglio. Yup. Ian Murphy. In a wickedly funny twist of fate, Ian lives in the district that used to belong to Chris Lee. Him, you remember: Rabid "family values" guy, sent a shirtless picture of himself to a woman (emails here) and resigned before, he hoped (in vain), people would find out he was also trolling the transsexual section of Cragslist. As I often say, you can't make this stuff up.

From his website, this is how Murphy describes himself and why he's running:

I’m an art school dropout who’s done some drifting both geographically and career-wise. I’ve worked as a landscaper, cashier, shopping cart pusher, butcher’s assistant, janitor, cow-milker, milkshake engineer, building manager, drywall installer, plumber, carpenter, painter, illustrator, door-to-door salesman, dish washer, paperboy, paperman, and some other illustrious gigs.

The narrative is bound to be that I’m not qualified to serve in Congress. B******t. I’m a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I have common sense and authenticity on my side. I’m a real guy who won’t sell you out for a quick buck. And I’ll fight like a cornered wolverine to make the voice of the people heard.

Well, that’s about it. I’m a simple guy who just wants to ensure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from NY-26.

Platform? He wants to stop stuff like this:

I’m fed up with Democrat and Republican lies. One of those lies? That it’s time America had an “adult conversation” about our budget and the deficit. The conversation goes like this: Our country’s broke and we, the people, have to reduce our living standard to pay for corporate greed.

Of course, they’d never use that kind of honest language. But throughout the land workers are being denied their collective bargaining rights, social programs are on the chopping block — even children are being kicked off of food stamps! At the same time, insanely wealthy corporations who should pay their fair share, often pay no taxes at all.

He then goes on to list those companies paying no taxes

The Special Election is 24 May. If you want to contribute, this is the link.

If you lived in NY-26, would you vote for Murphy? If you want to see your other choices, you can link to them here. And this is what Murphy has to say about some of them: 

I am pro-Craigslist transsexuals. Unlike your last Congressman, however, I am not a terrible hypocrite. And unlike my Republican opponent, I am not a discriminating jerk.

Me? I'm sending a check. I've had it with the status quo, and the only voice I have in NY-26 is my checkbook. And yes, I'm still seething that my amount is capped, while GE, BofA and the rest can give as much as they want, and have that money since they pay no taxes. But what about you?

<!-- Altering or removing this link is a breach of the Vizu Terms and Conditions -->

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Public Servants

by: SarahLawrence Scott

Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 01:14:07 AM EST

A pair of stories caught my eye today, and made me think.

First was an issue related to pensions for highly paid employees of the University of California. Prior to 2007, due to an IRS rule, they "only" earned a pension on the first $245,000 of their annual salary. In 1999, these executives were apparently promised that if the IRS rule were ever lifted, then their entire salary would count toward their pensions. The IRS did agree to grant a waiver beginning in 2007, but the pensions of these employees remained the same. And then, this year, UC President Mark Yudof recommended against raising the amount of the pensions.

In response, three dozen of the people affected wrote a letter to Yudof, threatening legal action if the increase were not granted. While I don't believe the full text of the letter has been released (someone please provide a link in the comments if it has), the San Francisco Chronicle obtained a copy and printed excerpts. The most amazing bit:

UC could give in and grant the higher pensions. Any other decision would be "demoralizing" for executives, they wrote.

This comes at a time when the University of California system is drowning in a sea of red ink (a $21.6 billion deficit), even after raising tuition 32% this year. I would think that would be demoralizing enough in itself for the people who are among those running the place.

It's hard to believe that, in the wake of the AIG bonus scandal, people can still be this stupid. If they'd stayed quiet until better times, and helped the University to weather the budgetary storm, then perhaps at some point they could have gotten some of the increase. As it is, public opinion will demand that they lose their jobs.

Which brings us to the second news item. 

The New York Post is reporting that some elements of the New York City Sanitation Department have been purposefully slowing down clean up from the recent blizzard as a form of legal protest. According to the Post story, labor relations with Mayor Bloomberg have been very tense recently:

 In the last two years, the agency's workforce has been slashed by 400 trash haulers and supervisors -- down from 6,300 -- because of the city's budget crisis. And, effective tomorrow, 100 department supervisors are to be demoted and their salaries slashed as an added cost-saving move.

According to the story and to City Councilman Dan Halloran, several of these supervisors retaliated by asking their workers to stage a slowdown. In addition, an unusual number of workers called in sick, or asked for "emergency leave."

A bit of caution must be used in interpreting this story, as Halloran is a Republican, the New York Post is an unabashedly conservative paper, and this gives them an opportunity to critique unionized public employees. But I heard Halloran as the guest on a San Francisco news broadcast today, and he was refraining from calling out union leadership, instead attributing this to individual supervisors upset with their pending demotion. While the Post and Halloran may at some point add their own political spin to the story, my intuition is that there is some truth behind it.

And if so, the slowdown has endangered lives--in fact, cost lives. When streets are not plowed in a timely fashion, emergency vehicles cannot get through. In one particularly horrifying example, a newborn baby died when it took 10 hours to reach a hospital. 

You can probably see why the two stories are linked in my mind. In the first, the employees may be legally justified in demanding their pensions be increased, but foregoing that increase is the right thing to do. In the second, the sanitation workers have cause to be demoralized by recent cuts, and the union has a right to object vigorously and legally. But putting innocent people's lives at risk during an emergency is never justified.

I would write more, but the (alleged) actions of both small groups leaves me "demoralized." 

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Charlie Rangel, Indicted

by: DocJess

Sun Aug 01, 2010 at 07:22:27 AM EDT

On Friday afternoon, I received a call from Matt, on behalf of himself and Oreo. They had known that my house was under construction, and that I'd be at the hospital this week with a family member, and hadn't been all that concerned when I was unable to post. But when Charlie was indicted on 13 charges, and I didn't have something up on the 7 charges missed, they feared the worst, and wanted to make sure I was still alive.

My only comment on the Rangel indictment is as a native New Yorker. I accept bribery, corruption, pay to play, unpaid taxes, and all the rest as part of the system: people do these things, these things are wrong, and there should be a price to pay, although there often isn't. So it goes. But Charlie has four, count them FOUR rent controlled apartments. For that, he should have to give up all four, be prevented from ever getting one again, and do serious jail time. Rent controlled apartments in Manhattan are really, REALLY tough to get, and he personally cheated 3 constituent  families, and that, I cannot abide. If you have never lived in Manhattan, you can't really understand.  

Nothing is stopping him. Charlie's birthday is in June, but the gala fete celebrating his 80th will be held on 11 August, with Aretha Franklin performing, and tickets running from $200 to $2500, proceeds to the Rangel "Victory Fund." He's polling at 39%, which would generally be considered endangered, but that's against 4 challengers, and it was the first poll out after the indictment. Most voters in his district have never voted for anyone but Charlie Rangel. Ever in their voting lives. 

In all likelihood, he may be reprimanded, he may be censured, but it's likely he won't be ousted. And that he'll be re-elected. And so long as he gives up the four apartments, I don't care. In fact, if he raffled them off as a campaign stunt, that might be the thing that raises his poll numbers. He'll then resign in January, pick a successor, and things will return to normal. I feel that way about Maxine Waters, also. She's going to go to trial over financial improprieties: she's likely guilty, too.

But this is 2010, and the problem is less the people, and more the process and the system that makes these things so easy for elected officials. On the other hand, I'd like to see Ben Nelson ousted from the Senate for his voting record and his soon-to-be vote against Elena Kagan. This to me is the REAL crime. Charlie and Maxine and a bunch of other pols (including Blago, who will be sharing a cell with his predecessor if he doesn't jump bail and take off for a country with no extradition treaty) are guilty of pay to play. It goes on in many forms at all levels of government. Until the system is changed so that this cannot happen, people will do it. It hurts a few people, and benefits others. But someone like Ben Nelson, who can single-handedly ruin things like health care, climate change, unemployment and other safety net benefits, etc., is hurting millions of people, and really needs to be stopped. 

Would I have said this in 2008? Nope. But the country has become so polarized that I'm willing to accept some corruption on both sides if we can hold a voting majority, as opposed to a numerical majority, and get important legislation passed without trouble. If we can get things on the right track, with people back to work, the economy humming, and Main Street trumping Wall Street, then will be the time to look at the system and fix it. 

Discuss :: (29 Comments)

Charlie Rangel goes to Trial

by: DocJess

Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 05:09:16 AM EDT

It's about time. Thanks, I feel better now.

Charlie Rangel is going to trial in front of the House Ethics Committee. The public organizational meeting will be next week, when the full charges will be announced. Politico is reporting that this occurred because House Democrats, Republicans and Charlie himself, couldn't cut an acceptable deal. Who knows? Politico is a Republican site.

The snark part is that if I was going to compile the charges list, I don't know whether I'd start with the four rent-controlled apartments, the parking tickets, payments to his son for the non-website, the bribes, the virtual extortion normally called pay-to-play, or the unpaid Caribbean taxes because, as Charlie said "I can't read Spanish." If you are new to DCW, or haven't kept up, type "Rangel" into the "Tags" link, and you can read all 29 posts. By way of trivia - the last House member to be tried on ethics violations was Jim Traficant in 2002. He got out of jail a few months ago, and his petitions were denied last month, so he won't be on the November ballot as an Independent running for an Ohio seat. 

The serious part: The MSM will all be talking about how this can cost Democrats the House. I disagree. I believe that a public trial of Charlie Rangel is important, and a positive step. There is no doubt that the Republicans are more guilty of more crimes than the Democrats. (If you don't know the list, you really haven't been paying attention.) There is a huge difference between ***A*** crook, and institutional crime. Look at William "Cash" Jefferson, currently serving 13 years. That didn't bring down the party: the guy was guilty, and the proof was the 90 grand in his freezer. Ousting individual crooks strengthens the honour of the party. Also, a fair and open trial of Charlie Rangel allows the House Ethics Committee and potentially (please, PLEASE) the Senate Ethics Committee to go after the whole lot of crooks: start with Ensign, run through the rest of the C Street boys, and work up to Shrub and the Prince of Darkness for treason and crimes against humanity. 

And hey! wait! what if this was the beginning of the end of pay to play and the overreaching hammer of lobbyists. Sorry -- it's early, I'm tired -- but still, a girl can dream. 

I'm glad Charlie is finally going on trial. But even if he is convicted, I wouldn't worry about him. First, he's 80 and he's got so many places to live that just picking an abode outside of DC will take some time. Then, he could vacation in the Caribbean since he finally paid the back taxes. Plus, he's welcome in Jamaica where he won the "Order of Jamaica" last year. Not to mention, he could be the Mayor Curley of our time, and get re-elected even from jail! (No, the House won't jail him, although they legally can.) And yes, it wouldn't surprise me if he were convicted by the House and then won this November over Powell IV. A lot of possibility of full circle things there....it would really be funny if he won but the House refused to seat him, and then he sued, and won another term while the court dithered....wait, that was Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Back in the '60's. You have to admit there is a "full circle"-ism to this whole thing! 

Off to meet my electrician, as today is "electrical rough-in day". Have a great Friday. 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Tidbits for a Monday Morning

by: DocJess

Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:46:16 AM EDT

Andrew Cuomo has announced for New York Governor. This was no surprise, and it will be nice to have a Cuomo back in the mansion. You can watch the announcement here. He proposes a number of interesting things, including that elected members of state government (which are supposedly part time positions) will need to disclose their other income sources. Expect blow back.

If you don't remember it, here's a clip from Mario Cuomo's 1984 Keynote address at the 1984 Democratic Convention. See if you see any parallels to anything else....like today's IIE, especially the C Street contingent. While other speeches (like Ted's "...and the dream will never die") are more liberal rhetoric, this is the ultimate speech against corporatism.

The second tidbit is that when Rand Paul canceled his Meet the Press visit, he was only the third person in history to do so. Use the comments if you know the other two. I'll let you know if you're right around noontime.

Finally, my Saturday began with the weekly jaunt to the dog park, where Olivia got out of the car, threw up, laid down, and could no longer walk. While it looked identical to me like her stroke 3 years ago, it turned out to be an inner ear infection. (Note to dog owners: if there is sudden onset, and the dog has nystagmus, which is the dog's eyes going side to side very quickly, that's 99.9% inner ear infection.) My vet was out of town, but came back to see her. We saw the vet at around 9:30 p.m. after a day you don't want to know about. After a full hour of evaluation, chiropractic adjustment, and the first homeopathic remedy, we carried her out to the car to rest so we could argue politics, while Olivia rested a little before the half hour drive home. 

I'll spare you the details, but the next time someone says to you that the Arizona boycott is wrong because they are an Article 5 person, point out that California has AS MUCH RIGHT to boycott as Arizona does to enact legislation (which may or may not hold up in actual court.) Trust me, it moves the conversation along.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Why isn't New York bidding for the 2012 conventions?

by: Matt

Wed May 05, 2010 at 22:05:33 PM EDT

Simple. Madison Square Garden will be undergoing construction every summer from 2011-2013:

One type of renovation at Madison Square Garden will begin this summer when the Knicks try to sign players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh.

Another type, one that will modernize the 42-year-old arena, will move into high gear next year with the first of three summer shutdowns. Each year, construction will start with the end of the Knicks’ season, or the Rangers’, whichever comes later.

Turner Construction is renovating the arena and needs about 20 consecutive weeks from the end of play.

So the home of the 1976, 1980 and 1992 Democratic Conventions, and the 2004 Republican Convention, will look brand new by the time 2016 site selection is taking place four years from now. Just saying.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Charlie Rangel: Challenged

by: DocJess

Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 15:40:03 PM EDT

On Tuesday 14 September of this year, there will be a primary. On the ballot for the most densely populated of all US Congressional Districts will be two names: Charlie Rangel, and Adam Clayton Powell IV.

I bet you think I'm going to talk about how nice it is that someone is challenging Rangel because I've been so closely following his ethics issues. Well sure, that's amusing, but there more here. So much more. And kids, it's rich: like tapestry.

Let's talk Powells. 

Start with Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. Born in 1865 to a white slave owner and his mother, a slave. Grew up to be a religious man.

Then, there is Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. A pastor like his dad, he was elected to the House in 1945. First black elected from New York. Ever. Second black from any Northern state post-reconstruction. He and William Johnson were the only blacks in the House (and none in the Senate) from 1945 through 1955. They were joined by one or two others, until black representation began to rise in the mid-to-late 1960's. Remember, the House and Senate dining rooms were segregated when Powell became a Congressman. Lynching for being black was legal. "N****r" was an acceptable term on the floor of the House. 

Stand in awe for what these guys did, and hear the song "We Shall Overcome" in your head. Be impressed: it was certainly the marchers, those who died of bomb blasts and took the beatings....but it was also the quiet rebellion of men like Powell, a CONGRESSMAN working to change a segregated dining room at his workplace. 

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr had a few, um, legal issues. It's a long story, but the Cliff Notes version is that the House refused to seat him. The kinds of "ethical" things he was charged with pale in comparison to the mastery of Charlie Rangel, and a bunch of younger pols. So, he sued. The Supremes eventually said the House had to seat him. Justice is slow, and in the interim he won ANOTHER election. 

In the end, though, he lost a primary to Charlie Rangel in 1970, and gave up his seat for good in January of 1971. As you know, Charlie's been there ever since. 

The district itself has been reapportioned a number of times, but only nudging north on the island of Manhattan. It started in Harlem, parts of which it still includes, but now also includes parts of Morningside Heights.  Of note, this CD used to be predominantly black, and now is predominantly Hispanic.

Now, as for "Adam Clayton Powell IV" - there are two of them. You think I make this stuff up....Adam Clayton Powell Jr was married three times. With his second wife, he had a son Adam Clayton Powell III. He's not running for anything. Adam Clayton Powell III had a son named Adam Clayton IV. He's also not running for anything. Meanwhile, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr and his third wife Yvette Diago Powell, had a son Adam Clayton Powell Diago. There is a Hispanic naming tradition which I don't understand well enough to explain (although I'm sure if one of you does, it will be in the comments in a little bit). Adam Clayton Powell Diago (who is actually the uncle of the other Adam Clayton Powell IV) changed his name to Adam Clayton Powell, IV in 1980 and he IS the one running against Charlie Rangel. 

The running Powell challenged Charlie in 1994 and lost by a landslide. In addition, he's been arrested for drunk driving, but got off when the jury settled on "driving while ability impaired" which in NY is a lot like a speeding ticket. Still - expect to see it again. Still, you're going to like ACP4, trust me. The Vieques arrest, the dedication to his district, the totality of him and richness of the family saga.

A race worth watching, and I know I'm sticking with it.

And oh, by the way - whichever one wins the primary wins the seat. If Rangel wins the primary, he may win the seat only to resign in January to be able to appoint his successor. The Powell-Rangel animose actually does go that deep. 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Reports Cuomo will announce for Governor in March

by: Matt

Sun Jan 24, 2010 at 10:41:09 AM EST

It's about time:

Andrew Cuomo is ready to run for governor.

New York's state attorney general is set to take on Gov. Paterson in the Democratic primary, a source close to Cuomo told the Daily News.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Bamberger declined comment, but a source close to Cuomo told The News, "He will make an announcement at the end of March. And what he will say is that he intends to run for governor. ... He thinks there are a lot of problems in the state and he thinks he can help solve them."

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Live in NY? Thinking of Harold Ford?

by: DocJess

Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 15:00:00 PM EST

Carpetbagger Harold Ford is, as you know, probably running against Kirsten Gillibrand in the primary. We know he only registered to vote in NY last fall, so he really does count as a carpetbagger.

Think he's an okay choice? How wrong you are....

Adam over at Open Left has some choice words about Harold's recent interview where he talked about sports. Despite being a native New Yorker who should know which team is which, I don't. It's that sports knowledge gap thing -- but you should read this and you'll get it. 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

December 2009 Gay Marriage Update

by: DocJess

Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:33:43 AM EST

We haven't written anything about gay marriage since the Maine vote early last month. A lot has happened, so let's catch up.

First, there was a ruling in Lewis v. New York State Department of Civil Service. It was a narrow ruling, but basically upheld that gay public employees who were married in other states needed to be granted spousal benefits in New York State. It was narrow in that it did not cover full recognition of these marriages.

Next, the anti-DOMA lawsuit we've all be waiting for has finally be filed:

The lawsuit was brought by seven gay couples and three widowers, all of whom were married in Massachusetts after it became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage in 2004.

In court documents filed Tuesday, the couples say the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because it denies them access to federal benefits given to other married couples, including pensions, health insurance and the ability to file joint tax returns. They argue that the law "eviscerates" the historic power of the states to establish criteria for marriage.

About time this was filed, and based on the 14th amendment, it has a good chance of winning. Section 1:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Then, we have Barbara Ann Radnofsky, candidate for Attorney General of Texas, and a lawyer. She contends that a clause in the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has some bad ramifications for married straight people. Subsection B reads:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Radnofsky's contention

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages. [...]

Radnofsky acknowledged that the clause is not likely to result in an overnight dismantling of marriages in Texas. But she said the wording opens the door to legal claims involving spousal rights, insurance claims, inheritance and a host other marriage-related issues.

"This breeds unneeded arguments, lawsuits and expense which could have been avoided by good lawyering," Radnofsky said. "Yes, I believe the clear language of B bans all marriages, and this is indeed a huge mistake."

In October, Dallas District Judge Tena Callahan ruled that the same-sex-marriage ban is unconstitutional because it stands in the way of gay divorce. Abbott is appealing the ruling, which came in a divorce petition involving two men who were married in Massachusetts in 2006.

And finally, from California, we have a petition drive to get a ballot initiative in front of the people which would ban divorce. This sign explains it all:

You too can vote to take away civil rights from someone

The idea, put forth by John Marcotte, is founded on the ideal that if marriage is so sacred, let's make sure it is SO sacred you can't get out of it. Or as he said:

Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more.

I love this as a, um, shove to all those hypcrites who believe in legislating against others but live in the "do as I say, not as I do" world. 

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Time for Hoffman to un-un-concede

by: Matt

Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 17:36:46 PM EST

While Doug Hoffman is going off the deep end in NY-23, charging that ACORN stole the election for Democrat Bill Owens, (I mean this is so ludicrous - almost all the charges leveled against ACORN have been about voter-registration fraud, of which there have been a few minor cases, and the GOP has tried, unsuccessfully, to charge ACORN with actual vote fraud, but to charge ACORN with vote-counting fraud, in, of all places, rural upstate New York? Wingnuts continue to amaze me. But I digress) the reality-based community is watching the numbers in the absentee ballot counting, and, while Hoffman may have had a minuscule theoretical chance when we started, well, no more:

It's over. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, leads by 3,105 votes with 3,072 absentee ballots left to be counted.

With 58.6 percent of all absentees counted, Mr. Hoffman has gained 71 votes on Mr. Owens so far.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)
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