Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bloomberg seeks to end progressive era reforms

March 2011 Update : Over seven months after our original post, we see some validation from reporters Fred Siegel and Sol Stern : Bloomy's bubble bursts : New York City voters finally realize -- there's no there there

Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Goldsmith want to unwind the improvements in checks and balances that were instituted in response to the political corruption during the Tammany Hall era.

 Michael Bloomberg, Tammany Hall, Progressive Politics, Political Reform, Integrity in Government, Public Service, Thomas Nast, Suzannah B. Troy, muckrakers

At a July 20, 2010 breakfast meeting, Stephen Goldsmith, the new Deputy Mayor of New York City, was compared to Jane Jacobs for the way he applied ''urban renewal'' to Indianapolis. (Meanwhile, Ms. Jacobs fought ''urban renewal'' when Robert Moses tried to ''apply'' it to Greenwich Village, but accepting the comparison to Mr. Goldsmith would have meant we were talking about historical facts, which doesn't seem to ''apply'' to what Mr. Goldsmith has learned about New York City's history.) Now that he is in New York City, Mr. Goldsmith has joined forces with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to transform New York City.

In the presence of political reporters Erik Engquist and Michael Scotto, the new deputy mayor described his political beliefs, which serve to underpin his worldview and approach to government.

Mr. Goldsmith said that a progressive form of government developed after the political corruptions scandals associated with Tammany Hall, and Mr. Goldsmith credited progressive reforms with professionalising the way that cities work. He said that we don't hire ''buddies'' anymore. Neither do we award government contracts in ways that would be questioned, he said. (Again, whether the hiring of, and awarding contracts to, ''buddies'' no longer happens is a matter of historical fact, and we'll let you decide the truth.)

But now, Mr. Goldsmith said, all the rules that made government free of corruption have worked to make government more complex. He cited as an example that all these rules have created a lack of authority in the city, and the city needs to get rid of the requirement of having to need permission from another level of bureaucrats before anything could be done if city officials hope to bring efficiency to the way the city government could be run. He seemed to say that he believed that the rule-based system needed to be changed, so that city employees could be ''liberated,'' and that this would result in civil workers being able to be creative while also being held accountable.

The way that he sees things, Mr. Goldsmith said, public service used to attract people, who were interested in helping the public. Instead, he said, public service is now only about enforcing the rules.

To Mr. Goldsmith, rules may be problematic to the kinds of changes he envisions bringing to New York City government, but rules have a reason for being : they are needed, because people are apt to have lapses in integrity. Anytime that politicians have an opportunity to privitise government services, there is a temptation to award government contracts to their well-connected friends or political allies.

The model of how he privatised government services while he was mayor of Indianapolis would be difficult to do here, in New York City, because he believes that the progressive rules in New York City give no discretion to the city's workers.

According to Wikipedia, ''Keeping corruption out of politics was a main goal of the progressive era, with many Progressives trying to expose and undercut political machines and bosses.''

To be fair to Mr. Goldsmith, his opinions about reforming the rules that govern city employees extend to ''unlocking'' the potential of the existing city workforce. He said he believes that progressive era rules were set because one could not trust the discretion (or judgment) of government employees. But once you begin to give higher level government employees discretion, one very quickly creates a situation, where political leaders begin to misuse that discretion. Political bosses are often associated with dishonesty, self-dealing, conflicts of interest, profiteering from government, and other forms of corruption.

Take, for example, the way that Mayor Bloomberg came to win a th3rd t3rm as mayor.

Before the end of his second, and what should have been his final, term in office, Mayor Bloomberg advocated for an extension of term limits, which would have resulted in the possibility that he could have run for a th3rd t3rm as mayor. With help from the City Council and a secret deal with Ronald Lauder, Mayor Bloomberg won the change in term limits through a vote by the City Council instead of through a voter referendum. (The New York Times even reported at the time that the mayor was ''pressing many of the community, arts and neighborhood groups that rely on his private donations to make the case for his third term,'' and the newspaper of record has just reported that at least one of those charity organisations, the Doe Fund, received millions of private monies for, what amounts to, its support for changing the term limits law.) What the mayor did was rely on the discretion of the City Council to change the law governing term limits, and, in a clear case of a conflict of interest, he urged the charities, which have depended on his private donations and government contracts, to support the controversial change in term limits law. Last year, Mayor Bloomberg was elected to a th3rd t3rm ; it was reported that he had spent approximately $109 million only to win by an unexpectedly slim margin of less than 5 per cent. Meanwhile, nobody knows whether electioneering payments amounting to $1.2 million that were made from the mayor's personal accounts to the Independence Party were intentionally not made from the mayor's campaign account in order to circumvent campaign disclosure requirements.

To get the new kind of ''better, faster, cheaper'' governance structure that the mayor wants, for example, the CityPragmatist blog has reported that there is a current movement by the 2010 Charter Revision Commission to, among other things, increase the mayor's discretion over city agency reports. If we had a City Council that could collectively do an honest thing, then the increase of the mayor's discretion would come at the cost of City Council's ability to review and ''extend or enhance'' any city agency report. But the reality is that right now, we have a City Council that has compromised its own integrity, because it is currently involved in a scandal over the disposition of discretionary slush funds.

Research and history published on Wikipedia indicate that some of the reforms of the progressive era brought more transparency to government. ''Progressives moved to enable the citizenry to rule more directly and circumvent political bosses ; California, Wisconsin, and Oregon took the lead. California governor Hiram Johnson established the initiative, referendum, and recall, viewing them as good influences for citizen participation ....''

What were the motives of City Council members,
who supported Mayor Bloomberg's extension of
term limits ?

Artist and social media commentator Suzannah B. Troy was also present to witness Mr. Goldsmith's speech at his July 20, 2010 breakfast meeting. She has described the vote by City Council to allow an extension of term limits a conflict of interest, because the same extension of terms limits was self-serving : it allowed many council members to run for, and win, a th3rd t3rm, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Ms. Troy has criticised the mayor for denying voters a referendum on the change in term limits.

Two months after the questionable City Council vote to extend term limits, a judge affirmed the mayor's tactic, The New York Times reported. (It was in the 1990's when terms limits had originally come into being in New York City after having twice been approved by, ironically, voter referenda.) We are now so far removed from progressive sensibilities that not even judges appreciate or respect voter referenda that are concerned with checking the power on politicians (in other words, to prevent the rise of political bosses). Going back to the history about past political corruption in New York City, the term ''Tammany Hall'' is "used to refer to a corrupt system of buying or controlling votes." Wrestling away from voters the control over term limits is precisely what the mayor, City Council, and now the judicial system have done. Surely, all these signs indicate that we are returning to a modern-day ''Tammany Hall'' era.

And based on the mayor's use of his private donations to charities, we are witnessing the very revival of political patronage : expecting, receiving, and rewarding groups for their electoral support. Add to that the fact that Mayor Bloomberg makes large and questionable electioneering payments from his personal accounts to political parties, and you have a situation that is rife with potential abuses.

Respected political reporter Gabe Pressman has described how the influence of money can corrupt politics.

"Abraham Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg of his ideal of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. He didn’t mean government of the fat cats and by the fat cats. With all due respect to the feline family -- and I happen to love cats -- Lincoln was an apostle of democracy in a purer sense. ¶ The machinations of millionaires and billionaires are foreign to what he believed. The lack of strict laws governing campaign expenditures continues to be a disgrace to our country."

Meanwhile, in a recent blog post on The New York Times, somebody commented, "How many times do we have to vote for term limits before they become permanent law ?" While we may still think that history shows us that we can count on established legal precedents and codified progressive reforms for how our votes get counted and how our government works, Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Goldsmith believe otherwise. And it is their twisted and warped sets of beliefs, which are not based on facts, that seem to carry the day.

Bloomberg's 9/11 Hypocrisy

Even as he tries to lay-off firefighters and close firehouses, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg accuses Congress of disrespecting 9/11 first responders.

''Mayor Michael Bloomberg is lashing out against Congress’s decision to drop a bill to provide health coverage for September 11th first responders,'' reported NY1.

''This is an attack on America,'' Bloomberg said. ''People that went in for rescue and recovery, it’s Americans trying to help Americans, and Congress is unwilling to stand up. They preach patriotism and when it comes down to it, partisan politics.''

While the mayor criticizes Congress for failing to pass a $7.4 billion measure that would have provided health coverage for September 11th first responders, the mayor is, at the same time, trying to layoff firefighters, who provide a critical level of support for public safety and national security here in New York City.

Listen to the new Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith talk about how the Bloomberg administration believe that laying off firefighters, cutting their retirement benefits, and closing down more firehouses are important goals during the remainder of Mayor Bloomberg’s ill-fated and karmically-doomed third term.

And while New York Representative Anthony Weiner may go ballistic on his colleagues for opposing healthcare for September 11th heroes, who is keeping the mayor accountable for undercutting civil defenses and emergency preparedness measures here in New York City ?

Just look at how petty and small-minded the mayor can be towards FDNY : his disdain toward first responders and rescue workers is inconsistent with how he is now, all of a sudden, criticising Congress and questioning the patriotism of Democrats.

CB2 locks the zoning at St. Vincent's site


July 27, 2010 - West Village, New York - Over one hundred members of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital came out to the Community Board 2 Full Board Meeting at Elizabeth Irwin High School on Thursday July 22nd to demand a resolution that would protect land use at the St. Vincent's Hospital Campus to ensure it is used for a hospital.

After hours of testimony, in a showing of solidarity with the community, the Board passed a resolution calling on elected officials and the Bankruptcy Court to protect the existing land use by opposing any changes to the zoning, use and occupancy or any other law that would eliminate hospital use at the site. The board also called on the Bankruptcy Court to set up a Community Council, with the aid of the New York City Corporation Counsel, to represent the community in the Bankruptcy Court's procedures.

Yetta Kurland, a civil rights attorney and member of the Coalition stated, "This is an incredible victory for our community. Thanks to the courage and leadership of many Community Board members and the continued hard work of so many who have been fighting since the hospital closed on April 30th, we now have a resolution that our elected officials must listen to. We will settle for nothing less than a hospital at the St. Vincent's site."

The strong language that "opposes all changes in land use" was not initially on the agenda for the meeting. But after hearing testimony from members of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital and other community members speaking in favor of a land lock, the Board changed course and demanded that the resolution be amended to include such language. Arthur Schwartz, a civil rights attorney and member of Community Board 2, negotiated the language for the amendment to the resolution which was passed by a vote of 29 for and only 6 opposed.

Another Coalition member and St. Vincent's Physician, David Kaufman, MD, stated, "The hundreds of thousands of residents that live and work on the Lower West Side and the physicians who serve them desperately need a full service hospital and emergency room. I congratulate and thank Community Board 2 for their support and recognition of this critical need."

Eileen Dunn, RN, a St. Vincent's nurse and member of the Coalition, thanked the members of Community Board 2 ; she said, "Community Board 2 has shown its true commitment to those they represent, and I thank them for acknowledging, through this resolution, the importance of the health and safety of the people of the Lower West Side."

The Board's resolution puts them on record opposing any changes to the zoning, certificate of occupancy or other part of the land use that would eliminate the hospital use. Community Boards, while advisory, are considered an essential part of the ULURP process required to achieve such changes. Speaker Christine Quinn who also plays a vital role in the ULURP process is also recently on record stating that she "will continue our push for a full service hospital here." A full copy of the resolution is included below.


At its Full Board meeting on July 22, 2010, Community Board 2 (Manhattan) adopted the following resolution:


WHEREAS, the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital has resulted in the community's loss of an emergency room, in-patient hospital, Level 1 trauma center and the capacity to address a widespread public health emergency such as a natural disaster or act of terrorism, creating a significant gap in the health care services available to the residents of this community board and the entire Lower West Side of Manhattan; and

WHEREAS, as heard by the community board during the June 14 and July 15, 2010 public hearings and at previous community meetings, there is widespread public support for the re-establishment of a full-service, acute care hospital on the former St. Vincent's campus, and the community board reiterates its strong support for such a hospital at such location, as well; and

WHEREAS, all or part of the current St. Vincent's campus is the most logical, cost-effective, and central location for the re-establishment of such a hospital or other health care facility that will adequately address the community's myriad health care needs, and, in fact, may be the only location suitable for such a facility, which compounds the urgency of this resolution.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Community Board No. 2 opposes all changes in land use laws, zoning rules, landmarks laws, or any other laws that would eliminate hospital uses at the site of the former St. Vincent's; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOVED that CB2 shall seek to petition the Bankruptcy Court and create a community committee to explore in a publicly transparent manner, all options for the St. Vincent's campus, and requests assistance from the NYC Corporation Counsel to assert such a petition; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that CB2 urges our elected officials to join the Community Board in this petition.

# # #

Update on St. Vincent's Hospital

NYS Department of Health commissioner Dr. Richard Daines needs to do the right thing.

What does a ‘‘needs assessment’’ mean for us in our efforts to get a hospital at the site of St. Vincent’s ?

First, although the efforts are well intentioned, some have been working to have a ‘‘needs assessment’’ done to prove to the New York State Department of Health that we deserve a hospital in the Lower West Side of Manhattan. But if you look at the law, it is the NYS Department of Health, which needs to prove to us that we don’t need a hospital – not the community that needs to prove to them that we do need a hospital.

We should not be shifting the responsibility away from the NYS Department of Health, but rather pushing them to do the right thing – and remedy what we see as a serious breach in New York State law and a grave threat to public health and safety in Lower Manhattan.

Not only was the hospital not been closed in a safe manner, but the NYS Department of Health is required to continue the services that the hospital provided or go through a formalized procedure to determine that the services are not needed, which would include public input and public notice.

Why is it important to acknowledge that it was a violation of New York State law to shut St. Vincent’s down without a ‘‘closure plan ?’’

Because, according to the law, the closure plan needed first to be approved by the NYS Department of Health, so that it ensured safety not just in the way it was closed, but in the aftermath, including safeguarding records and ensuring continuing services. The closure plan isn’t a thing of the past, it affects community members now, including access to their medical records, and it entitles our community to continued health and medical services.

What have we done to get a new hospital ?

At the City level, after pressure from residents of the Lower West Side, Community Board 2 has passed a resolution that confirms that they will not allow a change in zoning or use for the hospital facility.

This will stop developers from attempting to convert this space into more luxury residential property. Also, we are delighted to read in a recent letter to the Chelsea Now newspaper that New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn “will continue our push for a full service hospital here.” The Community Board and Speaker Quinn are making clear, as powerful parts of the ULURP process, that they will block any attempts to put anything other than a hospital at the site of St. Vincent’s.

What do we still need to do ?

At the State level, we must put pressure on the NYS Department of Health and on its commissioner, Richard F. Daines, M.D, to comply with the law. New York State Senator Tom Duane has gone on record as saying a hospital is achievable, and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried has also pledged his support. Sign our petition to add your voice to this important cause.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mike Bloomberg's disdain toward FDNY grows

Bloomberg: NYC to Fight Ruling on 9/11 FDNY Memorial

Posted: Tuesday, 27 July 2010 2:59PM

NEW YORK (AP/1010 WINS) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will contest a court order to list a retired fire captain alongside his former colleagues on the Sept. 11 memorial.

Bloomberg said Tuesday the city "will fight this in court." He says the Fire Department of New York made a reasonable choice to list only active-duty firefighters in an FDNY section on the memorial.

Retired Capt. James Corrigan was working in a private fire safety job for the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. That's how officials planned to list him on the memorial when it opens next year.

His family says Corrigan acted as a firefighter that day while helping colleagues and deserves the same recognition on the memorial. A Queens judge agreed with the family on Monday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Idle Indulgences

Cars can sit, idling or parked, but veteran servicemen cannot put up tables as sidewalk vendors near the Mercer Hotel.

In New York City, everybody is always getting parking tickets for trying to park on the street.

Except for around the Mercer Hotel.

Suzannah B. Troy has reported that she has witnessed police officers walking passed idling or parked cars outside the Mercer. Pictured here, Ms. Troy stands next to the Mercer, with empty parked cars behind her.

There is a sign that says, "No Parking," but the idling or parked cars around the Mercer are empty. The cars are supposed to be loading and unloading, but there is no one loading or unloading, and these cars are never ticketed. If you are looking for parking spaces in SoHo around Mercer and Prince streets, go over to the Mercer, where the cops don't issue you tickets for parking your car. But you have to be right in front of the Mercer, not across the street, where you will get ticketed.

Just don't try to set up a table on the nearby sidewalk to sell your arts and crafts.

Because around the Mercer, limos, private cars, Cadillacs, and Range Rovers, are allowed to park in no parking zones for the convenience of the hotel's A-list guests, but veteran servicemen are not allowed to set up sidewalk tables. Sidewalk vendors are part of what gives SoHo its sizzle and joie de vivre, but, according to Ms. Troy, cops are issuing tickets to sidewalk vendors, but not to the illegally parked cars around the Mercer Hotel.

Now that Ms. Troy has taken this story public, she has already experienced harassment and intimidation from an anonymous person, who Ms. Troy has said she thinks might be an employee of the Mercer.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NYC has been disfigured

Can anybody recognise New York City anymore ?

Suzannah B. Troy gives us a preview of Amanada Burden's speech, scheduled for later this morning.

"One huge reason Mike almost lost to Bill Thompson," Suzannah B. Troy wrote on her blog, "was he and Amanda Burden displaced so many New Yorkers and made over our city like a bad plastic surgeon."

Suzannah's video has already been picked up by Queens Crap.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Manifest Destiny

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose hobby is using the City Council to skirt the City Charter, and socialite Amanda Burden, whose own hobby is city planning, are modern day imperialists, only they operate in New York, where they are abusing eminent domain to rob Native New Yorkers of their land and property rights. Just like ethno-centric European settlers, who rounded up and moved Native Americans off of their lands, Mayor Bloomberg and City Planner Burden are the source of massive displacement of Native New Yorkers.

Present day city planning projects and policies are having serious consequences for native New Yorkers : look at the legions of people, who have had to flee from the unaffordable rents of East Village apartments, only to have to resettle in other area codes. Look at how entire swaths of Manhattan no longer have a hospital ; the Lower West Side used to be served by St. Vincent's Hospital, before other megamillionaires, the Rudin family, began to salivate at the idea of converting the former campus of St. Vincent's into still yet more luxury condominious. How many steam pipe explosions, Con Edison manhole fires, the Queens blackout of 2006, construction crane collapses, dangerous sidewalk electrocutions, or subway budget blackholes have happened under Mayor Bloomberg and City Planner Burden ? When will enough be enough ?

To add insult to injury, now comes City Planner Burden, who will be speaking tomorrow at what would be an unconscionable venue of the National Museum of the American Indian. But remember, these people so easily rob us of our property rights, so they naturally have no conscious.

The title of the speaking seminar is : The Changing Face of New York’s Neighborhoods: A Population Update. Meanwhile, I can tell them that the city's population is changing, precisely because the population is fleeing as a direct and deliberate outcome of the mayor's and city planner's cold and heartless city planning policies and real estate development deals.

Seating at this disgraceful public event is naturally limited and subject to screening by the mayor's office, but just in case you can lie your way in to heckle at the city planner, the mayor is asking you to call his Special Projects Office at (212) 788-2569, or send an e-mail to The mayor's office is asking you to please include your name, agency and phone number.

With their displacing real estate development deals and construction crane accidents, Mayor Bloomberg and City Planner Burden are resettling Native New Yorkers either into other boroughs, into New Jersey, or into early graves, therefore making more land in Manhattan available for homesteading by wealthier, white Americans.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stop and Frisk

Bob Herbert of NYTimes : End the NYPD policy of ''stop and frisk''

The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has published an opinion essay, in which Mr. Herbert asks Gov. David Patterson to sign into law a bill that would end the New York City Police Department's unconstitutional practise of making a list of innocent citizens who have been ''stoped and frisked'' by cops.

". . . Allowing the police to continue accumulating these permanent files on the innocent, an abomination in and of itself, would also encourage the cops to continue their Jim Crow stop-and-frisk policy, which has led to the systematic harassment and humiliation of young black and Latino residents who have done absolutely nothing wrong.

This racist policy needs to stop — and stop now . . . ."

"The Police Department has compounded this outrage by loading information on these innocent New Yorkers into its permanent database of stop-and-frisk encounters. The database is one of the first stops for cops investigating actual crimes. Thus, these innocent individuals become a permanent focus of the police, not because of anything they’ve done wrong but primarily because of their ethnic background . . . ."

Separately, The New York Times published information that indicated that, "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg 'will urge the governor to veto the bill,' a spokesman, Jason Post, said."

Remember, this is the same mayor, who ordered the NYPD to spy on and illegally arrest and detain thousands of protesters to the 2004 Republican National Convention. When it comes to civil liberties and civil rights, our mayor is incapable of knowing what is the right thing to do.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lady Bunny's Fireworks Message

Courtesy of @Lady Bunny from FaceBook :

"If you aren’t concerned about the current state of affairs in this country, you’re no patriot. And if your love for this nation is confined to waving a stupid flag one day a year and you aren’t ready to pitch in and help get us back on track, by the next 4th of July you’ll be lucky if you can afford a damn hot dog. Luckily, you’ll still be able to enjoy the fireworks even if a foreclosure has made you homeless."