Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Quack, Quack.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Endorsements for Tuesday's Primaries

These endorsements are based on one thing only: true blue, principled, consistent and active opposition to Atlantic Yards. And if you think that is too "single-issue" keep in mind that Atlantic Yards involves nearly every single important issue to New York City in the 21st century (we said nearly, not all).

With that in mind, our choices for the primaries on September 15

33rd Council Race (soon to be former Yassky seat)
-- Vote for Ken Baer or Ken Diamondstone

35th Council District (Absolute no brainer) 
-- Vote for Letitia James
(Delia Hunley-Adossa should be investigated, not on a ballot.)

36th Council District (Absolute no brainer) 

39th Council District (soon to be former de Blasio seat, also a no brainer)
-- Vote for Josh Skaller

Public Advocate (Absolute no brainer) 
-- Vote for Norman Siegel

Sorry, but they all stink when it comes to Atlantic Yards, but if you must hold your nose, and hold it hard and tight, David Yassky is the only one of the four who has at times, over the years, been critical of Atlantic Yards, though he does support it. But we repeat, they all stink when it comes to Atlantic Yards. (Note well that Melinda Katz never saw a real estate developer she couldn't embrace.)

-- Vote for Tony Avella

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Old Gray Lady Dare Not Mention Atlantic Yards, Even When It Would Be Enlightening

The Times, unsurprisingly, has endorsed Brad Lander in the 39th Council District primary. Unsuprising because Lander safely straddles the fence and The Times loves that kind of stuff. Here's the endorsement:
District 39, Brooklyn (Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Borough Park):The top three candidates to replace Councilman Bill de Blasio, who is running for public advocate, are a remarkable group. Josh Skaller, a former Harvard composer of computer music, has made a name fighting big development in the area. Bob Zuckerman, a former director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, is an activist for environmental issues and gay rights. But it is Brad Lander who has the stronger history of working with the diverse issues the Council addresses. As the former director of the Pratt Center for Community Development and longtime director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, Mr. Lander has worked for affordable housing and for more jobs, parks, mass transit and other community needs. We endorse Mr. Lander.
Kudos to The Times for noting a strong field of candidates and who the frontrunners are. But notice the paper's non-reference-reference to Atlantic Yards:
"Josh Skaller, a former Harvard composer of computer music, has made a name fighting big development in the area."
Only The Times, with its conflicted relationship with Forest City Ratner, could turn "Atlantic Yards" into the generic "big development in the area." Had the paper actually used the name of the big development Skaller has been fighting it would have alerted readers who care about Atlantic Yards who their candidate is; by diluting it thoroughly the editorial has underinformed its readers and done a solid for Lander. (And that's not to mention the fact that Skaller is well-known for many other reasons including being the former president of the area's most active and reformist political club.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bill de Blasio is Tall

We got this three-foot long campaign piece from Bill de Blasio in the mail the other day, and a similar piece of lit today. This is one inner panel of the piece:

Yup, Bill de Blasio is claiming to be a "BIG GUY." Each panel on this piece and the other one we got states that he is a "BIG GUY," and that as a "BIG GUY" he will stand up for New Yorkers.

It is absolutely true that Bill de Blasio is a TALL GUY. But we don't know how BIG he is. We do know that he has been a small guy when it comes to standing up for "all New Yorkers" in the Atlantic Yards development fight and many other development fights in and around his district. 

Tall Guy? Yes. "BIG GUY?" We don't think so.

(Note: This running on one's size thing might be a first; we can't be sure. But can you picture campaign lit from Abraham Lincoln: "Vote for me, I'm a BIG GUY.")

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Atlantic Yards Questions for Tonight's Avella, Thompson Debate

Understanding that only one question is likely on this subject, here are a few suggested questions about the biggest proposed development still breathing (besides WTC) in NYC for tonight's NY1, Daily News, WNYC Democratic Mayoral Primary debate:

Do you support the Atlantic Yards project? Why or why not?

As Mayor would you allow mega-projects such as Atlantic Yards to bypass ULURP?

What is your position on eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project and for "economic development" in general?

Can you critique Mayor Bloomberg's involvement with the Atlantic Yards project?

Comptroller Thompson, as comptroller have you undertaken any type of audit or cost-benefit analysis of the project?

Councilman Avella, as Zoning and Franchises Committee chair and a member of the Land Use Committee, why have you not held a hearing on Atlantic Yards even if it wasn't required? Have you tried to?  

What is your view of the role of community boards in making land use decisions? What should the role be? 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

De Blasio, Why Start Now?

Here is the front of one of Public Advocate candidate Bill de Blasio's (why is he running for this office?) recent literature:

And here is an inside page; note the highlighted passage we're concerned about:

The highlighted passage reads:
Fighting Overdevelopment in Brooklyn
All too often, development in our city is pro-big business and anti-neighborhood. As Public Adovcate, Bill will fight overdevelopment, making sure Brooklyn's development projects reflect community values. And he will always push for more truly affordable housing for hardworking New Yorkers.
It's a good use of buzzwords by the Councilman. But why would he start doing all of this now? 

Let's look at...Atlantic Yards, the consensus poster child for overdevelopment, the consensus poster child for "pro-big business" development, and the consensus poster child for "anti-neighborhood" development. Atlantic Yards is the consensus poster child for ignoring "community values" entirely. And Atlantic Yards would have barely any "truly affordable housing" even under the best case outcome.

Atlantic Yards has been controversial since 2003 and would be built right in de Blasio's backyard. Yet h has never gone past the most tepid criticism of small aspects of the project and when he has, he has done nothing beyond press statements or not-so-strongly-worded letters. 

He supports Atlantic Yards, which demonstrates everything his literature says he "will fight." Or to be more accurate let's look at what de Blasio said about the Ratner project most recently at Public Advocate debate according to
...De Blasio said in the past he has supported the project for the jobs and affordable housing it would create, and that while he still supports it, he is against the way the process is moving forward.

De Blasio added he is against the project receiving more subsidies, and said there should be a new EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) and a full disclosure of the current project plan.

Upon being pressed on the issue, de Blasio said the neighborhood around Atlantic Yards is rapidly gentrifying and without affordable housing it would be further gentrified.
So there you have it, more buzz words, more non sequitur and new improved gobbleydeegook. 

He supports it and is against it.

So why, Mr. Councilman, would you start doing now (or, god forbid, in the Public Advocate office) what your campaign lit imagines you to have done in the past?

Or perhaps we misread. Perhaps the literature, all in the future tense, is an admission that he has done none of this fighting of "big-business" and "overdevelopment" in the past. 

But we doubt that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Putin Pulls a Bloomberg

From the Moscow Times:
Putin's Constitutional Junta

What is most interesting about the term increases for State Duma deputies to five years and for the president to six years is the reaction to these changes. We heard hearty, prolonged applause by the Kremlin lackeys in the audience when President Dmitry Medvedev made his announcement in the state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 5. On the other hand, ordinary Russians are strangely silent on the issue...

There are two reasons why Putin rushed to change the Constitution only six months after stepping down as president. First, he sees the political and economic dangers of falling oil prices. The house of cards built on an eight-year oil boom is crumbling. Second, Putin understands that as the crisis develops, there could easily be a fierce battle among opportunistic politicians and businessmen to seize troubled assets.

Putin must act now before it is too late. In only six months, a rival group could be formed as an alternative to his siloviki to take advantage of the public discontent and power vacuum caused by the crisis. If this group becomes powerful enough, it could even rally around Medvedev and convince him to dismiss the prime minister based on the government's failures in handling the crisis.

This threat may seem farfetched, but Putin cannot completely dismiss it. When oil was more than $100 per barrel, the Medvedev-Putin duo could get away with its ersatz, or "sovereign," democracy. But during a financial crisis, it will be much more difficult to keep pulling the wool over the people's eyes.

Putin believes that during troubled times, the government and the Kremlin must be in the hands of a benign autocrat who is totally immune from critics and an opposition. Amid a state of emergency, the nation's leader needs to have a full mandate for six -- or, even better, 12 -- years.

This looks as if Putin is carrying out a constitutional junta. The only difference between his junta and the one in Latin American is that Putin is taking pre-emptive steps now to avoid a military coup later. This way he can maintain a semblance of democracy by packaging the coup in constitutional trappings...

Only difference is the people in New York have by no means been silent.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why Is Bill de Blasio Running for Public Advocate?

Why Is Bill de Blasio running for Public Advocate, rather than for a third Council term or for the Borough President seat he had been running for prior to the Mayor's power grab? We don't know.

We understand that he is afraid of Marty's war chest and popularity, though if Bill de Blasio thought he was the right man for that job prior to the power grab, presumably he'd think so now regardless of Marty's love in parts in of the borough.

If he was the man for the Public Advocate job prior to the term limits fight, then why wasn't he running for that office then? And if he wasn't the man for that open seat then, why is he the man for that open seat now? He's not.

His explanation sheds little light on the question. He told the Courier Life chain of papers (not on line yet):
"The reasons (for running or public advocate) are straightforward and a lot of it is the experience I just went through in my leading the efforts against Mike Bloomberg extending term limits. It points out we need elected officials who stand up and express viewpoints of the people."

"The safe thing would have been to stay in the Council, but I think I have something to offer in the public advocate job, and we need people who can stand up to the mayor and I've proven I can do it. That's how I look at the world. To organize the people to defend their interest."

Well, we don't remember Bill standing with the people, or organizing the people other than his leadership on the term limits fight (and even that can be considered self-serving and political gamesmanship.) Standing with the people, we think, would mean challenging the obnoxious Markowitz despite the risk of defeat.

Sure, de Blasio has at times expressed tepid criticism of Atlantic Yards, but overall through the years he has been an unconditional supporter, and while he has meekly questioned the project at times he has never "organized the people."

We'll see how he approaches Atlantic Yards on the Public Advocate campaign trail.

He says he can stand up to the Mayor, as the term limits fight proved, but when else has he stood up to the Mayor and how can he stand up to the Mayor when he's afraid to even stand up to Markowitz?

We'll stick with Norman Siegel for Public Advocate, as he has been the shadow Public Advocate for at least the past five years, during which time he has made it clear why he's the right person for the job. De Blasio, on the other hand, just decided he is the right man for the job because he is afraid of Markowitz and because Gotbaum won't run again. Those aren't good reasons.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Disgraceful, Disgraceful, Disgraceful: Bloomberg Meets YouTube

The NY Times links to a video from 2005 (mashed up) where Bloomberg calls a legislative override of term limits "disgraceful":

YouTube Clip Uses Bloomberg’s Words Against Him

“The public wants term limits and while there may be — it may be that the City Council has a right to override them, deliberately saying to the public ‘we don’t care what you think’ is, I would use the word ‘disgraceful.’ “ — Michael R. Bloomberg, Nov. 22, 2005.

These words, uttered shortly after the mayor’s resounding re-election victory in 2005, may be coming back to haunt Mr. Bloomberg.

Opponents of the plan by Mr. Bloomberg and members of the City Council to extend term limits for the city’s elected officials through legislation — nullifying the outcome of two voter referendums — unveiled an ad on YouTube on Monday that assails the mayor as a hypocrite.

The video shows the mayor making the above remarks, and then homes in on the mayor’s mouth as the words “‘we don’t care what you think’” and “disgraceful” are repeated, again and again.

“Who’s disgraceful now?” the closing shot of the ad asks. “Demand a public vote on term limits.”

The ad was created by, a Web site set up to oppose the term limits plan...

The Mayor's spokesman declined to comment to the Times.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Putins on the Hudson: Mike, Mort, Rupert, Arthur and Christine

The Putins on the Hudson "rear their heads":

Mike Bloomberg says, "I'm doing this for the people of New York City who cannot live without me. It is a sacrifice I must make, my pals at the dailies, and Christine, said I should!"

Mort Zuckerman says, "Go for it, pal."

Rupert Murdoch says, "Run, Mike buddy, Run!"

Arthur Sulzberger Jr. says, "Hey Mike, like you, we love the idea of abolishing term limits—the will of the people be damned, they can vote later after your $200 million campaign."

Christine Quinn says, "Hey Mikey, no worries, we know there is no time to waste. We'll introduce the bill on Tuesday! Whatever you want. Rah rah rah YAY!"