Archive for September, 2005

Safety Versus Convenience at DeWitt Clinton
September 21st, 2005

Students at DeWitt Clinton High School have voiced their opposition to the school’s newly installed metal detectors, saying that they are a hassle — especially since the long lines to get into the school now mean that no one can leave campus at lunch. After 1,500 students marched to the office of the Department of Education on Monday, department officials agreed to a meeting to discuss their concerns.

The New York Post agreed that the school should do something to limit the inconvenience, but agrees with the idea of having metal detectors. “In the long term, the city needs to find ways to reduce violence — perhaps by increasing the police presence in schools,” writes the New York Post. “Until then, detectors are a must.”

Gothamist’s message board, meanwhile, was filled with a range of opinions on those involved — praising the students’ initiative, blasting the students for being spoiled, reminiscing about the days when children were respectful, insulting the teachers union, and so on.

This morning, a New York Times article described the event as “a lesson in modern-day democracy“; but Gothamist thinks the lesson will actually be about how to develop a healthy sense of cynicism: The blog “expects students will soon learn that the Department of Education is very good at listening but maybe not so good at doing.”

By on September 21, 2005, 3:27 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Education | 2 Comments »

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What Ferrer Should Say
September 21st, 2005

Wayne Barrett and the Village Voice have penned a speech for Fernando Ferrer’s campaign to use to criticize Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Voice’s Ferrer gives Bloomberg credit for continuing to bring down crime, and for calming Giuliani-era racial tensions. But he is also setting out to prove that Bloomberg — who slips into the side door of the White House to talk to Karl Rove, says the poor get better health care than the rich, and sees the office of mayor as just “the icing on the cake of a grand life” — acts like the billionaire Republican he is.

“Have you ever heard Mike Bloomberg so much as acknowledge that one in five New Yorkers lives below the poverty line, 1.7 times the U.S. poverty rate?” the Voice would have Ferrer ask. “Has Mike Bloomberg even noticed that he lives in the wealthiest census tract in America, five subway stops away from the poorest? Why has the nation’s worst income gap … never provoked a comment, a program, or a policy from Bloomberg’s City Hall?”

By on September 21, 2005, 7:53 am
In category: Electoral Politics | Comments Off on What Ferrer Should Say

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Primary Pitfalls
September 20th, 2005

Democrats emerged from their mayoral primary without a meltdown, but, writes Bill Hammond in the Daily News, the state’s Republicans may not as lucky next year. With eight GOP candidates having already expressed interest in running for governor, the contest could be hard-fought, bitter, expensive — and hurt the party’s chances in November 2006.

It makes Hammond long for the days when party bosses chose their party’s nominees. Primaries, Hammond says, were supposed to be a reform, but you have to give the powerbrokers of old some credit: They wanted to win, had the clout to say “no” to narrow special interests and “tried to pick candidates with broad appeal.”

By on September 20, 2005, 2:46 pm
In category: Electoral Politics | Comments Off on Primary Pitfalls

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Unselecting TimesSelect
September 20th, 2005

Times Select The decision of the New York Times to start charging to access their columnists online, which they are calling TimesSelect has upset bloggers big and small.
Andrew Sullivan : “I don’t understand the New York Times’ decision to put its op-ed columnists in a web-cage where bloggers and others cannot read them without a hefty annual fee. Newspapers tend to want to increase their influence, not actively restrain it.”

Eddie Phanichkul: “49 bucks a year! JEEZ that’s a lot of money! Damn them!… damn them and their awesome writing”

Brian Dear of Brianstorms : I come to the site mainly for the columnists I have for nine? ten? years, having signed up for nytimes.com way back when it initially launched. Oh well. So much for visiting nytimes.com.”

By contrast (sort of)
“Gothamist welcomes Times Select with open arms
because this is clearly a reward for home delivery and suffering with newsprinty hands and annoying inserts (no, Gothamist does not care that the new Richard Meier building has apartment available for more than $5 million!). And also because we’ve always wanted to see a little orange icon littered across the screen.”

Times Select is at no extra charge for those who get the newspaper delivered, but
Felix and some dozen others in MeMeFirst have been complaining of technical problems, not just with Times Select but with their home delivery.

Mickey Kaus says there is no way to keep the columns off the Internet for free somewhere, and John Tabin attempts to prove this.

By on September 20, 2005, 8:33 am
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Budget Reform Proposal, Pro and Con
September 20th, 2005

Earlier this month, three good-government groups — Common Cause/NY, the League of Women Voters, and the New York Public Interest Research Group — urged the passage of Proposal One which will be on the ballot in November, and is intended to improve the budget process by taking away some of the power from the governor and giving it to the state legislature. The measure, said the groups, would make the relationship between executive and legislative branches closer to the way it is in most states, and result in a budget process that is more transparent and more accountable.

In today’s NY Post, Robert Ward of the Public Policy Institute disagrees, arguing the ballot measure “would actually eliminate budget safeguards created by some of the most revered political reformers in New York history, such as Govs. Al Smith and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. How? The Constitution now gives the governor primary power over the budget. Smith, FDR and others reasoned that governors would be more careful than legislators are with the people’s money because they were more likely to suffer politically if resources are wasted or taxes are too high. History has proven them correct. ”

By on September 20, 2005, 7:50 am
In category: Governing,Public Finance | Comments Off on Budget Reform Proposal, Pro and Con

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Stealing A Judgeship
September 20th, 2005

The Daily News protests the appointment of Assemblyman Frank Seddio to a newly created second Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court judgeship, normally an elected position that controls millions of dollars in patronage. (For background, see Gotham Gazette’s article Surrogate’s Court And Why It Should Go. The editorial entitled Stealing A Judgeship From The Voters begins:
“For sheer brass, no one in New York City politics surpasses Clarence Norman. While standing trial on the first of four felony indictments, the boss of the Brooklyn Democratic organization is giving a powerful judgeship to a hack whose only judicial experience was judging the Queen of Coney Island beauty pageant.”

By on September 20, 2005, 5:35 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Governing,Law | 1 Comment »

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How Long Would New Orleans' Mayor Last in New York?
September 19th, 2005

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New York Times columnist Joyce Purnick makes the case that New York City’s local leadership is superior to that of other cities.

New Yorkers expect their mayors and police commissioners to be in the center of it all. And those who fail to respond to a crisis – like Abe Beame, John Lindsay, and David Dinkins – are kicked out.

“Imagine that during a crisis, New York City’s police commissioner offered officers and their families five days off immediately to recover – in Las Vegas if desired – as the New Orleans police superintendent did,” she writes. “He’d be hooted out of town, and surely dismissed by the mayor.”

By on September 19, 2005, 1:16 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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The Winning Ticket?
September 19th, 2005

Anthony Weiner has won kudos for dropping out of the mayoral race — even if it seems Ferrer had 40 percent after all. But Chris Smith of New York magazine
thinks Weiner could have done more to help the Democrats by staying in the race on a Ferrer-Weiner ticket. Maybe Ferrer could have run as mayor and Weiner as a deputy mayor. But the details are unimportant. What matters, says Smith, is doing something to capture “the imagination of a complacent electorate.”

By on September 19, 2005, 12:15 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | Comments Off on The Winning Ticket?

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Battle of the Political Machines
September 19th, 2005

Newsday writer Dan Janison argues that Michael Bloomberg has been able to create a political machine equal to the traditional Democratic one in the city, in part by luring so many Democrats to work for him.

The Bloomberg machine has a “sky’s-the-limit campaign payroll [which] includes one former Democratic state director, one former researcher for the 2001 Democrats, a former top aide to a traditionally Democratic union and a former top aide to a late Democratic senator. Oh, and consultants galore who have worked mostly for Democrats.”

On the other side; “The `old’ machine, meanwhile, is now being revved up and souped up by the Democrats who – theoretically – have less money but more people at their disposal. In some ways the party has an alluring message in the small-d, democratic promise of a first-ever Latino mayor, mingled with the older slogans for more economic equity.”

Who will win – the old electoral machine or the new machine? Janison asks. And is the old machine broken – or just standing idle?

By on September 19, 2005, 8:23 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | Comments Off on Battle of the Political Machines

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The Daily News Speaks: End Judicial Nominating Conventions
September 19th, 2005

An editorial in the Daily News entitled The Faint Aroma of Performing Seals calls the judicial nominating conventions to create state Supreme Court justices, which begin tomorrow, “a thoroughly rotten and discredited process, where handpicked delegates act like trained seals for the party bosses” and says they should have been stopped. The editorial criticizes both a federal judge (presiding over a lawsuit against the conventions) and a judicial commission (assigned to examine the problem) for failing to take action.

By on September 19, 2005, 6:36 am
In category: Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Law | Comments Off on The Daily News Speaks: End Judicial Nominating Conventions

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The Times Speaks: Give Cabbies A Raise But Don't Cap The Gas Tax
September 18th, 2005

The recent spike in gasoline prices has increased costs both for New York City taxicab drivers and homeowners trying to keep their homes warm. In two editorials in the City section today, the Times weighs in on two proposals to ease the effects of the gas price hike.

The editorial writers support implementing a taxi fare surcharge of one dollar, and agree with the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance that this money should go directly to the drivers: Though New York’s taxidrivers got a 26 percent raise a year and a half ago, much of this was not passed along to the average driver. “It is not fair to insist, though, as the alliance does, on a suspension of the required service improvements, including the installation of better partitions in cabs.”

But the Times opposes a bill by State Senator Joseph L. Bruno to cap gasoline taxes, and give the gas tax money previously collected to elderly homeowners. “This is one of those ideas that sound perfectly reasonable but are not” — among the problems is the savings might not be passed along to drivers, and it would encourage more car use.

In a transportation-related Op-Ed piece, former Daily News reporter Jesse Brodey proposes building a second bridge just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge as a solution to the increasing traffic congestion in Westchester.

By on September 18, 2005, 9:49 am
In category: Gotham City,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Neither Ferrer NOR Bloomberg
September 17th, 2005

Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, in a commentary entitled Mayor Status Quo, doesn’t think much of the Democrats’ selection of mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer, “a bland, conventional liberal and two-time also-ran. Is it really any wonder that this party has been out of power in America’s largest city — where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5 to 1 — for going on 12 years now?”

On the other hand, neither does he think much of Michael Bloomberg, whom he accuses of fiscal mismanagement, insufficient political skills, and broken promises: “Mayor Bloomberg has spent much of his time alternating between doing some things he said he wouldn’t, and not doing other things he said he would.” An example of the first: Raising taxes. An example of the second: Rebuilding Lower Manhattan.

By on September 17, 2005, 12:36 pm
In category: Electoral Politics | Comments Off on Neither Ferrer NOR Bloomberg

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Stern With Weiner
September 17th, 2005

Henry Stern in New York Civic condemns Anthony Weiner’s decision to withdraw from the mayoral runoff: “If you run in an election, enlist thousands of volunteers to work to help you, raise millions of dollars from contributors, and above all take $1.7 million out of the city treasury through the Campaign Finance Board, you can reasonably be expected to let the people decide whether they want you to be elected or not. Your candidacy, once launched and funded and successful, does not belong entirely to yourself, to be disposed of at will to suit your future ambitions.”

He also blasts Weiner for doing “an enormous injustice to Gifford Miller. Most of your votes were likely to have been taken from him. If you were not serious about running, he should have had the chance to compete with Ferrer and Fields in a three-person race…[Miller] deserved the chance to compete without a kamikaze candidate knocking him out and then self-destructing on cue.”

By on September 17, 2005, 12:12 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Governing | Comments Off on Stern With Weiner

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Mike Bloomberg on John Roberts
September 17th, 2005

While Democrats in Washington D.C. are weighing how they will vote on the nomination of John Roberts for Supreme Court Justice, Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered a decisive view.

“What I was waiting for, as were many Americans, was a clear affirmation that the life-altering decision as to whether or not to have a child must be a woman’s decision,” the mayor said in a press release. “Unfortunately, Judge Roberts’ response did not indicate a commitment to protect a woman’s right to choose.”

In a commentary, WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer observes, “Our mayor, who hasn’t taken a stand on the Iraq war or Cindy Sheehan because they’re not New York issues, came out against the nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice. The official reason: to protect Roe vs. Wade. His unofficial reason: The fall campaign has now begun.”

By on September 17, 2005, 9:02 am
In category: Civil Rights,Electoral Politics,Law | 1 Comment »

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An Opportunity to Change the Primary System
September 16th, 2005

There is a good side to having a pointless runoff that will cost the taxpayers millions, says the Daily Gotham, because it “opens the possibility for significant election reform.” The answer is Instant Runoff Voting [a system that Gotham Gazette wrote about earlier this week.]

Runoffs end up being not only expensive but divisive, says the Daily Gotham, and they are ever more likely with a fratured electorate. If New York State law was changed to allow instant runoffs, it believes, “voters could finally vote their conscience and their true preference, and candidates would have to emphasize common ground and areas of agreement.”

By on September 16, 2005, 1:10 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Governing | Comments Off on An Opportunity to Change the Primary System

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Mayoral Primaries Past
September 16th, 2005

Reviewing past Democratic primaries, Times writers see things as being very different this year. Recalling the 2001 runoff between Fernando Ferrer and Mark Green, the paper’s editorial recalls, “Four years ago, New York had rancor and racial hostility. This year, after an extremely civil campaign, the city is moving toward a runoff in which the second-place finisher has already endorsed his opponent.”

And Clyde Haberman looks further back to to 1997 when Ruth Messinger hovered around 40 percent with Reverend Al Sharpton in second place. A lengthy recount and a court battle by Sharpton crippled her already long-shot campaign. Haberman thinks the main thing that may have changed this time around is the person who is in second place: “Mr. Ferrer, who counts Mr. Sharpton as a principal ally, caught a break. He was spared an opponent like Al Sharpton.”

By on September 16, 2005, 8:45 am
In category: Electoral Politics | 1 Comment »

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Don't Take the Money and Runoff
September 16th, 2005

a pile o\' money is necessary to win an election As silly as it seems, maybe the runoff should go on after all says the Times in an on the one hand, on the other hand editorial. Stopping it, as some have asked, would let the Board of Elections decide state law — not a good precedent. But if the election does go forward, the paper urges that Fernando Ferrer turn down the $421,000 in public funds the campaign finance system would give him to campaign for an election he can’t lose. The paper concedes Ferrer faces a billionaire in November but still thinks ” it would be a terrible first step for his campaign to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money for an election in which he is the only candidate.”

By on September 16, 2005, 8:32 am
In category: Electoral Politics | Comments Off on Don't Take the Money and Runoff

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Teaching Moskowitz
September 16th, 2005

Eva Moskowitz’s defeat — and Scott Stringer’s victory — in the race for Manhattan borough president should be a lesson for New York politicians, writes Leo Casey in edwize, a teachers union blog. Casey reminds readers that teachers and other unions backed Stringer, while Moskowitz “decided that the way to advance her political fortunes was to engage in demagogic attacks on public school teachers.” She should have known better, he says: “New York voters do not reward politicians who think that there is pay dirt in launching broadsides against teachers and unions.”

But Eduwonk, another education blog, thinks that may change — as long as the teachers union fights what Eduwonk sees as school improvements . In New York, says Eduwonk, reform “does seem an almost irresistible force…The question is, how many promising Democratic politicians will the teachers’ unions derail in the process?”

By on September 16, 2005, 8:29 am
In category: Education,Electoral Politics | 1 Comment »

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Mayor's Race and Public Money
September 15th, 2005

The New York Post admonished Anthony Weiner, calling his withdrawal from the mayoral primary disrespectful and contemptuous. “Weiner took $1.7 million in public tax dollars for the primary campaign. The idea behind matching funds is to level the playing field and ensure that the serious candidates have a viable chance to win the office — not to have the taxpayers finance a political expedition meant to soften the ground for a different campaign four years hence.”

Village Voice blogger Jarrett Murphy writes in Newsday that “the mayor is on pace to spend $100 million to get another term, and this after he spent more than a record $70 million-plus to be elected in the first place.” All public funds, he argues, “will be rendered almost meaningless by the virtually unlimited personal arsenal Mayor Michael Bloomberg brings to his re-election fight.”

By on September 15, 2005, 6:07 pm
In category: Electoral Politics | 1 Comment »

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Sun Endorses Bloomberg
September 15th, 2005

Bllomberg poses in an idyllic campaign setting The New York Sun endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg for re-election this morning, hailing his post 9/11 leadership, his aggressive approach to taking control of the schools from Albany, his hard line with the teachers union, and for choosing Ray Kelly, who has turned out to be “the finest police commissioner since Theodore Roosevelt.” Sounding surprised, the paper also said it found Bloomberg likable personally.

It did criticize Bloomberg, however, for being “too quick to raise taxes and too quick to offer special tax breaks to powerful developers or businesses”, for borrowing too much, and for banning smoking. If Anthony Weiner would have stayed in the race, said the Sun, it would have held off.

By on September 15, 2005, 3:47 pm
In category: Electoral Politics | Comments Off on Sun Endorses Bloomberg

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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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