Monday, September 08, 2008

Vote Bill Saunders for Male District Leader in the 57th

There is an important primary tomorrow for male district leader in the 57th Assembly District. Machine candidate Walter Moseley is trying to unseat incumbent Bill Saunders. Moseley is part of the Towns machind and, like Towns supports, Atlantic

Saunders has been a consistently outspoken Atlantic Yards opponent.

Brownstoner has more:
...There's a lower profile but important race in the 57th Assembly District (which encompasses Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bed Stuy). Bill Saunders, a fixture in the area for decades, is being challenged for the position of District Leader by Walter Moseley, a former employee of Clarence Norman, supporter of Atlantic Yards and part of the Ed Towns machine. As for Saunders, he's taken firm positions on two issues that may interest Brownstoner readers: He's been a critic of the Atlantic Yards process and, along with State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Councilmember Tish James, spoke up in defense of The Flea this summer when it was briefly under fire; Saunders has been endorsed by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats...
Vote Saunders on September 9th.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Normal Bedfellows: Lupe Todd, Ed Towns and Bruce Ratner

Lupe Todd is Ed Towns' campaign spokeswoman. Ring a bell?

Lupe Todd was Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards flack. Here she is defending Ratner's sweetheart deal with the MTA back in 2005. She eventually left the Ratner team, then signed on as Newark Mayor Cory Booker's spokeswoman only to be fired in her first year. (We don't know why.)

Returning to Brooklyn she switched from the corporate side of Brooklyn's entrenched political machine, to the political side of Towns' machine campaign.

Today, The Brooklyn Paper reports that upon 10th congressional district challenger Kevin Powell's release of a detailed 58-page policy guide ("A New Way for the 21st Century"), Lupe Todd came out swinging for her candidate Towns:
...But plans aren’t worth much if they aren’t put to action, said Towns spokeswoman Lupe Todd, who considered Powell’s policy guide naïve...

Todd should know about action: her candidate Towns has spent 25 inactive years on Congress. But that is the special skill of a flack who can work for Bruce Ratner and Ed Towns: defending the machine, defending indefensible track records.

Primary day is September 9th. Come out and vote for Powell. It's high time for new blood in the 10th congressional district.

The News: Elect Newell. Dump Silver.

After being endorsed by the NY Times last week, today Paul Newell, trying to unseat NY State's most corrupt politician—Sheldon Silver—received a resounding endorsement from the NY Daily News.

We couldn't agree more. It's time to elect Newell and it's time to dump Silver (and it's time for Luke Henry to pull out of the primary.

Vote on Tuesday the 9th.

Here's the Daily News endorsement:

Dump Sheldon Silver

The time has come for the voters of lower Manhattan to turn Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver out of office.

After 32 years in his seat, including 14 years as the Assembly's maximum leader, Silver embodies the insider's game that has captured the state Legislature, to the detriment of 19 million New Yorkers.

Silver's constituents would serve the cause of open, responsive government - and rock Albany to its foundations - by pulling the lever in Tuesday's Democratic primary for challenger Paul Newell.

Across America in this election year, people are demanding change. Let's have it in Albany, too.

Such a vote could mark the start of a revolution. For dumping Silver would send the unmistakable message that the people of this state want a responsible, deliberative Legislature rather than a boss-run fiefdom.

In the process, the lower East Side, East Village, Chinatown, Wall Street and Battery Park City would gain in Newell a well-qualified representative who is both in sync with the district's political leanings and in touch with grass-roots concerns about traffic, schools, affordable housing and sustainable neighborhoods.

Up against one of New York's most powerful men, Newell, 33, a community activist well-versed in the issues, has been knocking on doors. For the first time in many an election cycle, Silver has had to go knocking, too.

Nothing better illustrates Albany's lack of accountability than that Silver has not faced competition for reelection in 22 years. Only now is he being called to answer for so lowering the Legislature that it was properly branded the worst in the nation.

What happens in the Assembly is a charade. Individual lawmakers are all but irrelevant. They have surrendered their authority to Silver, who rewards loyalists with added pay and pork-barrel grants for their districts. (While dispensing a gargantuan $2 million a year to his own pet causes.)

The rank-and-file do what they are told - to the point that until recently, they were counted as automatically voting yes even though they were not present in the chamber. There are no meaningful hearings, and every bill that comes to the floor passes, as Silver dictates.

The big decisions are made in his inner sanctum, easily accessed by politically connected players who have much at stake in acts of the Legislature. In such a distortion of democracy, it's no wonder the state budget has ballooned beyond proportion.

Nor is it any wonder that in 1999, in order to spare some of his suburban members political discomfort, Silver killed the tax on commuters, costing the city a total of $6.4 billion and climbing. Think of what the money could have meant to the police, parks or schools.

Nor is it any wonder that Silver peremptorily buried Mayor Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan, along with $350 million in federal mass transit aid - without putting the highly debated proposal to a vote.

His high-handedness was all the more outrageous, representing, as he does, a district overrun by traffic from the three lower East River bridges and the Battery and Holland tunnels.

Then, too, Silver takes full advantage of New York's lax ethics laws to conceal how much money he makes serving as "of counsel" to a major firm of trial lawyers - a group that would be loath to have the Legislature impose any manner of tort or malpractice reform.

There have been times when we agreed with Silver on the merits of an issue. To his credit, he supported raising the minimum wage when it had been frozen in New York for years, and he was a key figure in securing school funding for the city. But those were bright spots in a bleak record.

When they go to the polls Tuesday, Democratic voters of the 64th Assembly District - perhaps 15,000 strong - have the opportunity to bring desperately needed change to all New York. And they have a solid choice in Newell, who displays impressive passion about the quality of life in neighborhoods across lower Manhattan.

Elect Newell. Dump Silver.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Brooklyn Paper Endorses Powell Over Towns in 10th Congressional District

Today The Brooklyn Paper published their endorsement of Kevin Powell over Brooklyn's entrenched 10th  Congressional District machine incumbent Congressman Ed Towns. While the endorsement doesn't make mention of Powell's opposition to and Towns' support of the Atlantic Yards project, it makes a compelling argument to vote for the challenger in September 9th's primary. 

Their positions on Atlantic Yards are just the cherry on top.

From The Brooklyn Paper:

Powell for Congress
Rep. Ed Towns has been in office since 1982. Yet in those 26 years, he has achieved so little that it is shocking that he has only rarely faced a Democratic challenger.

Towns’s self-proclaimed success at netting pork-barrel appropriations for his district (which stretches from northern Brooklyn Heights through Fort Greene and central Brooklyn on to East New York) is hardly the best measure of congressional talent. And even if it were, Towns is certainly no better than most of the other 434 House members at snaring key allocations.Indeed, Towns has been in the House longer than more than 400 congressmen — yet he does not even chair a committee! In an interview with The Brooklyn Paper’s editorial board, he touted his leadership of a government oversightSUBcommittee — one that reviews every single government purchase, he said. Yet when questioned, he conceded that he has not even held hearings to investigate the cronyism and overpayments that have been rampant during the Bush Administration.

Two years ago, when this newspaper reluctantly endorsed Towns for reelection, we wrote that “if the Democrats take back the House, Towns’s seniority will give him added clout.” The Democrats DID take back the House, yet Towns’s seniority has meant little to his Brooklyn constituents. Indeed, when asked to name his major achievements, he ticked off the same two bills that he mentioned at his endorsement interview two years ago!

And when the discussion turned to foreign policy, Towns was completely baffled by even simple questions about the Russian invasion of Georgia and the planned deployment of U.S. missiles in Poland — both stories that had been widely covered in the media that very week. Perhaps it’s not vital for every member of Congress to have a deep understanding of the entire world, but Towns was so clueless that we were left in shock.


Newcomer Kevin Powell, a rap music writer, inspirational lecturer and community organizer, has the kind of fire in the belly to shake up the doldrums that Towns tolerates. In his interview with The Brooklyn Paper’s editorial board, he put forth a vision of the kind of hard-working, easily accessible,knowledgeable and committed congressman he hopes to be.

It was hard not to catch Powell’s enthusiasm for changing inside-the-Beltway business as usual.

While Powell’s history of violence — including an incident as recently as four years ago — is alarming, a reckless past (as long as it stays in the past and as long as the candidate is genuinely open about his shortcomings) need not disqualify an otherwise meritorious candidate from elected office, particularly when he’s running against an invisible man.

As such, we endorse Kevin Powell for Congress in his uphill challenge to the status quo in the 10th congressional district.

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The Ratner Clan Likes Ed Towns

Four Ratners including Bruce and his extended family in Ohio, as well as Forest City Ratner's Cleveland-based parent Forest City Enterprises have contributed a total of $12,300 to entrenched incumbent Congressman Ed Towns in Brooklyn's 10th Congressional District. The Atlantic Yards Report breaks that news today:
...The contributors include Forest City Enterprises executives Albert Ratner and Jonathan Ratner, both residents of the Cleveland area, Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Ratner, as well as Brooklynite Rachel Ratner, the daughter of Forest City Enterprises executive Chuck Ratner...
Towns supports Atlantic Yards, while his September 9th primary challenger Kevin Powell opposes the Atlantic Yards project.

While the project is certainly not the central issue in the congressional primary race, the developer's largesse—coming from as far as Cleveland—shows how Ratner likes to cover all of his political bases.

As we stated last week, there is at least one federal angle to the Atlantic Yards controversy.

Off Topic:

Joe Lieberman? Are you kidding?

Not completely off topic. Senator Lieberman's top 2008 donors by corporation includes Forest City Enterprises. When ranked by industry, real estate comes in a close third.