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In The News:


(apr '00) Money Train
There have been an interesting development in the all-too-talked about Senate race between Hizzoner and HRC. While many put their money on Hillary, both literally and figuratively, it now seems that Mayor Giuliani is raising the big bucks. In the latest reporting period, from January 1 to March 31, the Mayor raised $7 million, while Mrs. Clinton raised only $4 million. These recent figures confirm that the price tag for the race is rapidly spiraling out of control. The Mayor has raised a total $19 million during the course of his "campaign" (though of course, he has yet to declare his candidacy) already surpassing the amount Sen. Schumer raised for his Senate contest in 1998 against Al DĂ•Amato. Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, is hovering around $12 million, less than half the $25 million Clinton advisers had targeted as a fundraising goal. Should the Mrs. Clinton continue to lag behind in fundraising, her campaign may face serious trouble, despite what her staff asserts.

DZjˆ Vu
Rick Lazio has announced that he will reconsider a bid for the US Senate. Lazio, a Republican Congressman representing Long Island, feels that Giuliani's slippage in the polls is an indication of future disaster. Lazio feels that he has more universal appeal to the voters of New York and therefore would be more successful in a race against Mrs. Clinton. The State Republican Party and Governor Pataki remain supportive of Giuliani.

Jessica Sounds Off:

While James Brady's recent op-ed in Crain's New York Business includes many objectionable digressions, his main message, urging Senator Moynihan to run for re-election, is a welcome relief from the usual Rudy vs. Hillary sparring. Brady notes, "there were better candidates on the ballot in Russia last week." He's right. After a prolific career in politics, and a quarter century in the Senate, Sen. Moynihan will hardly consider Brady's request. But for the sake of New York politics, we wish he would.

Susan Reefer is a Republican pollster and media strategist. She is based in New York City.

"Sensation" Ruling


Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that the Mayor's efforts to punish the Brooklyn Museum for mounting "Sensation," its controversial exhibit of British shock art, violated the First Amendment. Judge Gershon ordered the Mayor to resume monthly payments to the Museum, and to halt his campaign to remove its Board of Directors. Lawyers for the Museum are now seeking a permanent injunction (Judge Gershon's is temporary) while the Mayor, who called her ruling "the usual knee-jerk response of some judges," is appealing to have it reversed.

Mr. Giuliani now alleges that the Museum conspired with British advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, owner of the art on display in "Sensation," and with Christie's, the auction house which has sold works for Saatchi in the past, to inflate the value of his collection.

While these allegations seem unsubstantiated, hundreds of emails, memoranda and financial statements produced in court have raised serious questions about the probity of the Museum's fundraising methods.

David Barstow laid out some of the details in a 6 December New York Times article: Not only did Museum Director Arnold Lehman deliberately conceal the fact that Saatchi donated $160,000 to help foot the bill for "Sensation," but he also gave the collector a major role in determining the exhibition's content, provoking museum staff to worry aloud that Saatchi was taking over control.

Barstow describes an intricate web of ethically dubious wheeling and dealing. Lehman binds himself more tightly to Saatchi, enlisting the collector's aid in soliciting $50,000 from Christie's. Lehman has lunch with Patricia Hambrecht, president of Christie's America, and suggests that the Museum needs to "rethink its entire approach to contemporary art," an area of interest to Christie's. Weeks later, Christie's sells off $ 21,000 of art from the Museum's collection. Dealers representing artists featured in "Sensation"come up with more bucks. Rock star David Bowie donates $75,000. Bowie's for-profit website acquires exclusive rights to show "Sensation" on the Internet and Bowie himself records the audiotour. Lehman asks the Third Millenium Foundation, a Swiss foundation promoting arts education, for $200,000, falsely claiming he has already secured "several gifts" of up to $350,000. Lehman also presents the foundation with an "artificial budget" inflating the price tags of the programs it will fund.

The most conspicuous questions surrounding "Sensation" - whether the Mayor should withhold funding from a publicly-supported museum just because he doesn't like the art it chooses to display, whether a man should splatter white paint on a canvas - are easy. More complex and more nuanced are the questions now emerging about how art institutions fund, mount and promote mammoth exhibitions in a climate of limited public support.

L'AFFAIRE MARY BOONE: On December 6, Manhattan art dealer Mary Boone was cleared of a charge of unlawful distribution of ammunition. Ms. Boone, arrested in September after displaying handmade guns and a vase filled with live 9-millimeter cartridges that visitors were invited to take home as souvenirs at her Fifth Avenue gallery, described her subsequent overnight stay at the Tombs as an "adventure." "Art is the only thing I believe in and I'm glad to be arrested over it," she declared.

Kati Sounds Off:

There is something entertainingly Tom Wolfean about the goings-on at the Brooklyn Museum - to say nothing of Mary Boone's recent brush with the law. And it's easy to point a finger at Arnold Lehman for putting the resources of a publicly funded institution behind an exhibition that - religious issues aside - was arguably low on artistic merit, though high on radical chic. It also appeared to embroil him in questionable financial practices. The truth is, however, that when public support of the arts is at best partial, visibility (ergo hype) is at a premium. Further, one finds the money where one can - be it from Charles Saatchi, Christie's, Phillip Morris, or Rudolph Giuliani. The Arts today make strange bedfellows.

Kati Kormendi is a freelance writer and actress; the former Artistic Director of the Magellan Project, a multiarts theater; and the creator of The Serpent's Eye an online eco-art gallery. She has written for Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan, and Talking Leaves magazine.

The Top NYC News Stories of 2000


Our Experts Prognosticate...

Mitchell Moss Director, NYU Taub Center:
"1. Brooklyn D.A. Investigates Williamsburg Building Violations.
2. Developers Question New Zoning Proposal.
3. Immigrants Pour In As Russian Economy Collapses.
4. Yankees Stay in the Bronx."

Philip Reed NYC Council Member, Manhattan
"1. The Diallo Trial.
2. Union Contracts.
3. Hillary and Rudy."

Diana Fortuna President, Citizens Budget Commission:
"I only have one top story. All of the City's labor contracts expire
next year, so we can expect the collective bargaining negotiations to be a big story in 2000. With luck, it won't be a story just about the politics of negotiation, but a serious discussion of how government could work better, and how workers could share in savings generated by new technology and other productivity improvements."

John Sabini NYC Council Member, Queens:
1. Solid Waste.
2. Stadium Financing: Yankees, Mets.
3. Diallo Trial and Racial Tensions.
4. Labor Negotiations.
5. The Senate Race and Other Effects of Term Limits.

Seth Mnookin Reporter, The Forward:
"1. Obviously, the Senate race. If for no other reasons than it provides better political theater than NY reporters have had in a nice, long time.
2. The ugly fallout in the mayor's office when dozens of loyalists united by power descend into backstabbing and infighting.
3. The New York Mets' world championship.

Roberta Weisbrod Activist, Brooklyn:
"The Waterfront."

Al Appleton Regional Plan Association:
1. Second Avenue Subway.
2. Boom or Bust for Dot Coms.
3. Search for Crew Successor.
4. Frenetic Politicking, All Levels.
5. Zoning.

Madison Parke, Gotham Gazette Columnist:
1. Rudy and Hil.
2. Indictments and Trials in Williamsburg.
3. Stocks and Real Estate Cool Off.
4. Hot, Hot Summer.
5. Everyone Runs for City Council.

 

News Round-Up


The Topic: "Elections" refers to the processes through which candidates appeal to the citizenry, and the citizenry chooses who among those candidates will represent them. Also known as: the basis of democracy; a passZ phenomenon. Near synonyms: voting, campaigns.

The Context: By and large, New Yorkers don't vote. Though the number of registered voters who turn out on election day has fluctuated, the overall trend has been downward. Fewer people voted in 1997 than in 1953, though the number of registered voters rose by more than a million (never mind how many more were eligible). In the last School Board election, a mere 3.3% of those eligible actually voted. This declining turnout has been a gradual process that has become a reality of NYC politics.

Susan Reefer is a Republican pollster and media strategist. She is based in New York City.

Final Draft Of The City Council Anti-War Resolution


Proposed Res. No. 549-A

Resolution calling on the government of the United States to make all efforts to work through the United Nations Security Council in a manner that would reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and the primacy of human rights in our international relationships, and to take all appropriate steps toward securing the participation of other nations and international bodies in the effort to ensure that Iraq does not possess biological, chemical or nuclear weapons and toward promoting human rights for all the people of Iraq; and further calling on the government of the United States to work through the United Nations Security Council and with other nations to ensure the unimpeded access of United Nations weapons inspectors to all areas of and facilities in Iraq and to ensure that the inspectors be given a full and fair opportunity to conduct their efforts in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions; and further calling upon the Council of the City of New York to oppose a pre-emptive military attack on Iraq unless it is demonstrated that Iraq poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States or its allies or unless other options for achieving compliance with United Nations resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their development have failed.

By Council Members Perkins, Baez, Barron, Boyland, Brewer, Clarke, Comrie, Davis, DeBlasio, Dilan, Espada, Foster, Gerson, Gioia, González, Jackson, Koppell, Liu, Lopez, Martinez, the Speaker (Council Member Miller), Monserrate, Moskowitz, Quinn, Reed, Reyna, Sanders, Seabrook, Serrano, Stewart, Vann and Yassky

Whereas, The manner in which the United States government is responding to the crisis involving Iraq has caused great concern among many New Yorkers, resulting in one of the largest public demonstrations in the history of the City of New York on February 15, 2003; and

Whereas, The Council of the City of New York is the locally elected voice of the people of the City of New York; and

Whereas, Saddam Hussein has violated United Nations resolutions requiring his government to destroy biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, cease the development of such weapons and permit international inspection of all areas and facilities to ensure compliance with such resolutions; and

Whereas, Although international weapons inspections barred by Iraq in 1998 have been reinstituted in response to international pressure, particularly from the United States, there is evidence that despite some cooperation, Iraq is not fully complying with United Nations resolutions; and

Whereas, It is imperative that Iraq not be allowed to possess, use or export biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, or weapons of terror, and that Iraq fully comply with United Nations resolutions; and

Whereas, Since taking power in 1979, Saddam Hussein’s regime has committed human rights violations against the Iraqi people on a massive scale—documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others—and we condemn these crimes and the ongoing oppression of the Iraqi people, including the Kurdish, Shiite and other minority groups; and

Whereas, It is in the interest of all nations, including the United States, that threats to world peace and violations of human rights be dealt with in accordance with international law and, whenever possible, on a multilateral basis; and

Whereas, A pre-emptive United States military attack on Iraq, absent a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States or its allies and absent the support of the international community would violate our commitments to the United Nations charter; and

Whereas, War has grave repercussions in terms of loss of life; and

Whereas, While it is difficult to project the financial costs of war, a thorough analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that the total cost of invasion, occupation, peace-keeping, reconstruction, nation-building and necessary humanitarian assistance might range from $150 to $750 billion;

Whereas, Such cost would place an enormous strain on our nation’s ability to maintain the infrastructure, human services and social programs necessary for our nation’s security, general welfare and progress; and

Whereas, It has not been substantiated that all other means of disarming Saddam Hussein in accordance with United Nations resolutions have been attempted and have failed; and

Whereas, The United States government has not articulated how a military attack would result in the formation of an Iraqi government that rejects the development of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and promotes freedom and democracy; and

Whereas, In the event that our armed forces are called into combat in Iraq, we recognize, honor and appreciate the commitment, service and valor of our military personnel, and together with their families, we fervently hope for their safe return; and

Whereas, This resolution speaks of the United States’ response to the current crisis involving Iraq and does not address any action the United States might take in response to any future humanitarian crisis; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the government of the United States should make all efforts to work through the United Nations Security Council in a manner that would reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and the primacy of human rights in our international relationships, and should take all appropriate steps toward securing the participation of other nations and international bodies in the effort to ensure that Iraq does not possess biological, chemical or nuclear weapons and toward promoting human rights for all the people of Iraq; and be it further

Resolved, That the government of the United States should work through the United Nations Security Council and with other nations to ensure the unimpeded access of United Nations weapons inspectors to all areas of and facilities in Iraq and to ensure that the inspectors be given a full and fair opportunity to conduct their efforts in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions; and be it further

Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York opposes a pre-emptive military attack on Iraq unless it is demonstrated that Iraq poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States or its allies or unless all other options for achieving compliance with United Nations resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their development have failed.

 

Other Links:

 

 

The First Draft Of City Council's Anti-War Resolution - Submitted October 22, 2002


Res. No. 549

Resolution calling upon the Council of the City of New York to oppose the Congressional Resolution allowing President George W. Bush to unilaterally declare war against Iraq without the authority of the United Nations, or without evidence that the United States is in imminent danger due to actions by the government of Iraq.

By Council Member Perkins and Stewart

Whereas, At this fragile moment in our history, each misstep in our judgment has the potential of being magnified exponentially, and could bring with it the most devastating consequences imaginable, not just in the Middle East but to our own shores as well; and

Whereas, The resolution authorizing the President to make war and any ensuing actions that our Government might take must therefore be grounded in a solid and responsible understanding of the real consequences of such actions; and

Whereas, A preemptive attack without evidence of imminent danger to our country would shatter the rule of international law, and would clear the way for similar actions by other rival states such as China and Taiwan, and India and Pakistan, among others; and

Whereas, If we are to rally around to the cause of eradicating what many in Congress believe is a corrupt and highly volatile regime, and an equally dangerous dictator, we must first consider such intangibles as the risks to our troops, especially with the knowledge that Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons in war and would most likely do so again; and

Whereas, We must gauge the level of support from countries in the Middle East and that of other U. S. allies; we must also gauge the potential for escalation of the war to draw in other countries in the region; and

Whereas, While the members of Congress struggle with the President's demand for open-ended authority to go to war, domestic issues of the greatest concerns are being ignored: the budget is in severe deficit and education programs to improve our public schools have not been funded; and

Whereas, As consumer confidence also wanes and the public's faith in our business leaders diminishes with each new revelation of financial impropriety, we must ask ourselves if this administration does indeed have a plan to defray the economic costs of the war, and if so how these costs will be shared by our allies; and

Whereas, If we are to commit ourselves to such a drastic course of action, one that will undoubtedly produce an unknown number of casualties for the young men and women of our nation, we must be certain that our actions are deemed absolutely necessary, and only after every other approach to solving this problem has been exhausted; and

Whereas, Before we commit ourselves to what will be a severe military campaign, one unlike any other we have ever fought, one that will tear at the seams of our national conscience, we must first demand that our President explain himself and present his reasons in the most emphatic, most intelligible and in the clearest of ways; and

Whereas, We should not be swayed by the President's use of allegory to defend and define his call to war — it is not, nor was it ever simply a question of good versus evil, or right versus wrong — these distinctions simplify, reduce and attempt to justify a course of action that is problematic at best, and by no means morally sound in judgment; and

Whereas, We are a nation with a keen moral conscience, with the ability to reason through even the most trying circumstances that history has created; as such we should be resolute and morally determined to not repeat the same mistakes our leaders have made in the past, mistakes that have cost thousands of lives and, if perpetuated in the President's unilateral declaration of war, will undoubtedly cost thousands more; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York opposes the Congressional Resolution allowing President George W. Bush to unilaterally declare war against Iraq without the authority of the United Nations, or without evidence that the United States is in imminent danger due to actions by the government of Iraq.

 

Other Links:

 

A New Executive Order


While walking back home from work, Chris Un was harassed by two men who shouted, threw soft drinks and threatened to hurt him. Un thought about calling the police, but remembered that a friend from the consulate had warned him about a new crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

"I was afraid that the police were going to arrest me instead," said Un, a former student who had overstayed his visa.

These kinds of fears were why the city had not allowed the police and city workers to question anyone's immigration status. But that changed in May when Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued Executive Order 34 allowing the city's agencies, including police, to report illegal immigrants to the federal government.

Un is among many of the 400,000 illegal aliens in New York who came to believe that the order was an anti-immigrant measure.

After months of intense pressure from immigrant advocacy groups and the City Council, Bloomberg finally issued a new executive order in September.

Executive Order 41, dubbed as "don't ask, don’t tell," replaces Executive Order 34 and prohibits city agencies from inquiring or disclosing immigration status of New Yorkers who come into contact with city government.

"This gives assurances to all law-abiding New Yorkers… that the confidentiality of information you give to the city will stay with the city," Bloomberg said.

Some argue that the mayor simply failed to clarify what Executive Order 34 was supposed to do, since similar policies have been successfully implemented with support from immigrants in other cities.

Designed to comply with the 1996 federal law, the language of Order 34 was vague enough that a literal reading of the order would allow police to make "sweeps of immigrants who are not suspected of any crime," attorney Scott Rosenberg told the Village Voice.

Until Order 34, every mayor since Ed Koch had followed a "don't tell" policy and didn't cooperate with the federal immigration agency. In 1996, Congress passed a law that said the city cannot forbid city workers from voluntarily reporting illegal aliens. Mayor Rudy Giuliani resisted but lost when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the federal law and ruled in 1999 that Koch's policy was illegal.

Though similar to Koch's order, city officials said, Order 41 does not violate federal law since it follows guidelines from the 1999 ruling by making confidential a larger class of information -- for example income tax records, sexual orientation, status as a victim of domestic violence -- not just immigration status.

Critics added that the mayor's change of heart comes at a time when he needs immigrant support, especially from the Hispanic community, to help boost his sinking job approval rating.

"Given the general erosion of his position in the opinion polls, Bloomberg really needs to have a strategy for rebuilding support in these constituencies," John Mollenkopf of the Center of Urban Research told the New York Times.

However, others are pleased with the new initiative and don't think that it matters whether the mayor has a political agenda. "What is really important is not the mayor's reasons … but the end result of his decision to amend the order," wrote columnist Albor Ruiz in the Daily News. "Bloomberg actually made [Executive Order 41] the strongest local confidentiality policy in the nation."

But as Bloomberg took steps to protect New York City's illegal alien population, Congress was taking another to toughen federal immigration law. This past July, Representative Charles Norwood of Georgia introduced the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act, which would allow local police to enforce federal civil immigration law. At the moment, local police can only enforce criminal immigration law. No one is quite sure how the CLEAR Act would affect Bloomberg's executive order.

An immigrant from Bangkok, Thailand, Chaleampon Ritthichai is the editor of The Citizen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time To Pull The Plug


The New York Post Editorial

August 17, 2005 Wednesday

TIME TO PULL THE PLUG

The Uniformed Firefighters Association's decision yesterday to withdraw support for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, citing two controversial museums proposed there, may have ended the threat of institutionalized activism at Ground Zero.

Good for the UFA.

The union's "membership and our 9/11 families believe that the memorial design will take away from the memory and sacrifice of the firefighters who bravely gave their lives during the most horrific terrorist attacks our country has had to face," UFA President Steve Cassidy said.

Good for Steve Cassidy.

It's going to be especially hard now for the International Freedom Center and the Drawing Center to buck the opposition to their presence at Ground Zero.

The UFA speaks from the moral high ground: 343 firefighters died on 9/11.

Interestingly, the UFA announcement came on the very day that The New York Times - among the staunchest backers of the IFC and the Drawing Center - was reduced to attacking the sister of a pilot killed on one of the 9/11 planes, Debra Burlingame.

In a scathing editorial, the paper said criticizing the IFC's plans "may mean little more than subjecting them, essentially, to the veto of Debra Burlingame."

"Neither Ms. Burlingame nor her followers can be allowed to dictate the future [of Ground Zero]," it continued.

But Debra Burlingame is "dictating" nothing. Neither are the firefighters.

They are simply insisting that anti-American activism of the sort implicitly embedded in the IFC and the Drawing Center is inappropriate at any memorial site. And they are right.

The Times should be ashamed.

Happily, the tide is shifting: The Drawing Center has all but withdrawn, and the IFC was read the riot act last week by Gov. Pataki's main man at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., Chairman John Whitehead.

If, by Sept. 23, officials aren't satisfied with the IFC's plans, "we will find another use or tenant . . . for that space," Whitehead said.

Again, for the record, there's nothing wrong with critical debate or even negative portrayals of America.

Just not at Ground Zero, where nearly 3,000 innocent people died.

The Times, of course, thrives on trashing America. And where better to do that than at Ground Zero?

But this paper has run scores of editorials, columns and news reports on the issue. So have numerous other publications.

Web sites are abuzz.

Plus, folks all over have joined the movement; 40,000 have signed its petition. (Indeed, grassroots America is taking note: Today, the tiny town of Anthony, Kan., will join in a "Take Back the Memorial" rally. Way to go, Anthony!)

At home, three local congressmen have threatened to work to bar federal funding for the memorial. Philanthropists, too, are balking - as Whitehead relentlessly reminds everyone.

So it's hardly just Burlingame and family members. And now add the UFA, representing 22,000 firefighters and wielding exquisite moral authority, as a foe.

Ironically, the Times, for all its personal vitriol toward Burlingame, essentially admitted she's right: that a chief concern is that the center will be "a place where people engage in free speech."

Now, three cheers for "free speech."

But there's a place for unfettered, raucous, rollicking, disrespectful-for-effect political debate - and that place, purely and simply, is not at the Ground Zero memorial.

To be sure, the Times got one thing right yesterday: It decried Pataki's lack of strong leadership regarding the two museums. He should have pulled the plug on them weeks ago.

So here's hoping the UFA's announcement will give him the cover he apparently feels he needs to do the right thing.

Which is to exorcise the IFC and the Drawing Center from Ground Zero, once and for all.

 

No loft lost


Loft-dwellers again found themselves political pawns in the Albany budget battle. The Loft Law, first passed in 1982, allows artists to live legally in commercial loft spaces in the City. The law aims to bring those buildings converted to residential use into compliance with NYC and NYS housing laws. The recently-passed legislation grants loft-owners another 21 months to be in compliance, so they may eventually receive a residential certificate of occupancy. Of the estimated 4500-5000 loft units in the City, only one-third has achieved compliance; a substantial number are awaiting inspection.

As in each of the last two legislative sessions, the issue was held hostage to the larger budget battle. Assembly Speaker Silver was unwilling to compromise on an issue of great interest and importance to his constituents. The Loft Law was to be part of an omnibus bill, but last minute efforts by the Governor to add Powerball to the bill dissolved the tentative consensus. The law finally passed, but only once paired with the renewal of Quick Draw Video Lottery. This odd pairing has earned loft residents and owners yet another extension in this 17 year saga.

Norma Sounds Off:

It is ironic that 'the world's greatest city', whose identity is so closely associated with the arts, should have such ill-defined policies about it. In fact, there is no coherent City policy about the arts. Decisions are made ad hoc from year to year. The City needs to decide what are issues of importance and budgetary priorities in the arts.

Norma Munn is Chair of the New York City Arts Coalition, founder and President of the Artists Community Federal Credit Union, and former Chair of The City Club of New York. 

Waiting for a sign


The Topic: "Elections" refers to the processes through which candidates appeal to the citizenry, and the citizenry chooses who among those candidates will represent them. Also known as: the basis of democracy; a passZ phenomenon. Near synonyms: voting, campaigns.

The Context: By and large, New Yorkers don't vote. Though the number of registered voters who turn out on election day has fluctuated, the overall trend has been downward. Fewer people voted in 1997 than in 1953, though the number of registered voters rose by more than a million (never mind how many more were eligible). In the last School Board election, a mere 3.3% of those eligible actually voted. This declining turnout has been a gradual process that has become a reality of NYC politics.

Susan Reefer is a Republican pollster and media strategist. She is based in New York City.



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