Every new decade, we are forced by various constitutions (federal and state), court decisions, legal frameworks, local charters, and other socio-economic-cultural-political precedents, to do a census count. This is essentially a precursor to reapportioning lines for legislative (and election/EDs) districts: on all levels of government (federal/state/local). You can say that it’s a tradition now.
Let me qualify that census counts are not used only for redistricting/reapportionment. It has become a tremendous tool/weapon in the arsenal of politicians, planners, pusillanimous-people, programmers, prostitutes, pimps, prognosticators, priests, policy-makers and the like.
You can also say that traditionally there are fights (expectedly) around issues dealing with redistricting/reapportionment. It can be rather contentious. It can be mind-boggling. The lengths that individuals in both the republican and democratic parties go to maintain power is something worthy of intellectual examination and meticulous scrutiny. The hope being (of course), that the more we study this as a phenomenon, the better the chances that we will eventually get to do it right. read more »
I hadn't heard about this, though in the midst of it my wife and I wondered whether we'd have to try and find a boat to get us back to Brooklyn where out daughter was. In the end the trains started up again, but in those early hours this was a very important action taken by regular folks while Dick Cheney hid in an undisclosed location and George Bush dithered.
Wed. Feb. 1
St. Francis College
Founders Hall Auditorium
180 Remsen St.
Every 10 years there is a census and after every census the entire country goes through the push and shove of redistricting. Each party tries to get an advantage for the next 10 years. That is normal...but the degree to which they go can vary from reasonable to so convoluted that it once created a whole new term: Gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is creating a district that goes so far out of its way that it looks ridiculous to any rational person.
These days reform minded folks, mainly Democrats, are pushing for independent redistricting, while Republicans are doing their utmost to consolidate power by gerrymandering every chance they can. I touched on this back in 2007 when Assemblyman Michael Gianaris came to a local political club meeting to discuss non-partisan redistricting. Gianaris pointed out overzealous gerrymandering by Republican Tom DeLay in Texas got him admonished by the House Ethics Committee. Assemblyman Gianaris put it well: let's focus on doing it fairly and getting it right, leading to more competitive races. That's why I am a Democrat, we think like that more often than Republicans seem to. Too bad Democrats don't ACT on it more.
Well that was back in 2007 and now that the census has happened and we are faced with an actual redistricting battle, it is time to doing it fairly and getting it right. But the Republicans in the State Senate have proposed an old school gerrymandering as an attempt to give themselves more power. My State Senator, Velmanete Montgomery, discussed this at a recent CBID meeting and brought in the proposed maps for the Brooklyn senate districts.
The proposed maps include some really strangely shaped districts. The one I will be in (SD20) would be composed of one pretty large area in Prospect Heights and further East. Then it has a small blob South of Greenwood Cemetery. Connecting them is a very strange arm that is about a block wide for most of its length. I happen to be in that strange arm, right about the elbow. When you see a district with a random long arm one block wide connecting two blobs, you KNOW the district is a textbook example of gerrymandering. SD22 is also very strange, consisting of 3 blobs connected by two narrow arms. The details don't matter. The key thing is the Republicans are behaving in a typical greedy manner while most Democrats I know are pushing for independent, non-partisan redistricting.
For all those Russians considering voting for Teabagger Republican Storobin against Lew Fidler, keep in mind that the Republican redistricting plan completely screws over the Russian voters. Why would Russians vote for a Republican now that it is clear Republicans don't give a rat's ass for them? In fact the Republicans seemed to have deliberately gerrymandered to limit the Russian vote. Strange.
But it isn't just Russian voters who are getting screwed by the Republican scheme, though they are one of the worst examples. All of NYC is getting screwed because Republicans are proposing districts that squeeze more people per district into NYC districts than in upstate districts, which is blatantly unfair because each and every district is supposed to represent roughly the same number of people. That's why we do it after each census! To divide the districts unfairly completely negates the purpose of linking the redistricting to the census.
This population deviation even makes the Republican Gerrymandering Scheme legally dubious. For state legislative districts, it is considered constitutionally dubious if the largest and smallest districts are more than ten percent apart. The Republican scheme pretty much reaches that limit and so puts NY State on shaky constitutional grounds. Many reform groups advocate ideally for no more than 6 percent apart, a standard some states (e.g. Montana) and Colorado even sets the standard more stringently (5 points). There are legal justifications for greater variance, most specifically in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. But maintaining partisan control over a state legislature is NOT a legally justifiable reason to deviate from equal and fair districts. read more »
Now this is the kind of entrepreneural spirit of innovation that I wish we had more of in America. But it falls to Scotland to start the process. A Scottish company is setting up to use the waste products from the whiskey industry to make a biofuel that can be used in existing car engines with a far smaller carbon footprint than using petroleum based gasoline. Good for the environment, good for energy independence, good for the economy, and it creates jobs as well (see, THAT'S how it's done!). From BBC News:
A new company has been formed to commercialise a process for producing biofuel made from whisky by-products.
Edinburgh Napier University's Celtic Renewables Ltd will initially focus on Scotland's £4bn malt whisky industry to develop biobutanol and other chemicals.
The company said biobutanol could be used as a direct substitute for fossil-derived fuel...
Celtic Renewables is now working with Scottish Enterprise to produce the biofuel from sustainable resources on an industrial scale.
Its fermentation process uses the two main by-products of whisky production - 'pot ale', which is the residue left in copper stills, and 'draff', the spent grains...
Research has suggested biobutanol provides 25% more power output than the traditional bioethanol. read more »
Newt "traditional values, nudge nudge, wink wink" Gingrich's success in the South Carolina Republican Primary taught us that Southern Republicans hate traditional marriage. I expect them to finally endorse same sex marriage very soon.
Either that or this whole Republican lip service to "traditional values" is nothing but a load of hypocritical bullshit. Then again their claims of "fiscal responsibility" are about as credible as Newt's support for "traditional values."
Why would ANYONE trust a Republican anymore?
Newt "Open Marriage" Gingrich attacks Clinton's morals. So it's okay if you're a Republican but not if you are a Democrat.
Republicans attack Weiner for flirting on line but forgive David "Diaper" Vitter for hiring a prostitute to dress him up in a diaper. So it's okay if you're a Republican but not if you are a Democrat.
Republicans reject Herman Cain for sleeping around, but Newt gets a surge for much the same. So it's okay if you are a WHITE Republican but not if you are black.
Clearly the TOP Republican value is Hypocrisy.
Lew Fidler has finally officially announced his bid for the March 20 special election to replace the corrupt Carl Kruger. And let this be my official endorsement of Fidler and my call for my fellow reform and progressive Democrats to give him a hand.
Current City Councilmemer and candidate for State Senate Lew Fidler has intrigued me for some time. He and I are often on the opposite side of some of the divides in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, but his ability at times to bridge those divides and at times be a better spokesperson for the reform side than I am has impressed me. At two County Committee meetings in a row he was one of the strongest reform voices and the one most critical of the machine despite his machine ties. Of course it put at risk his machine ties, but he had no fear of that risk and preferred standing on principle rather than take the easy route. Not sure he ALWAYS does that, but it is clear that he has little fear and does not care too much about the easy route. read more »
New York’s city council member Lew Fidler (D/46th council district/Brooklyn), stood on City Hall’s steps today (MLK Day), to announce that he will be accepting the nomination of both the Democrats and the Independence political party, to contest the upcoming special election for Brooklyn’s 27th senatorial district. This vacancy was recently created when the previously elected state senator (Carl Kruger) pleaded guilt to federal bribery charges.
Fidler was first elected to the council in 2001. He is a lifetime resident of the East Flatbush/Midwood area. His parents were well-known community activists with good connections to the black and Caribbean-American community. His father was once vice-president of the community board. His mother was an active PTA member and quite politically active. read more »
Hyrdofracking is a major threat to not only the safety of our drinking water, but is also a MAJOR issue when it comes to global warming. According to pretty much every major scientist out there, we are FUCKED if we allow hydrofracking. And yes that is a major scientific analysis...we are FUCKED if we let it go forward.
So it is about time we all stand up against hyrofracking because our drinking water and our ability to adapt to global warming as a nation will be screwed up. It is time to take a stand! From Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon:
Here's the statement I recently submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: read more »
The scorecard is VERY detailed and I can't do it justice in a short post. They cover homeless issues, race issues, gender issues including LGBT issues, poverty, etc.
Among the WORST rated council members is Chirstine Quinn. She gets a miserable 12% rating. Keep in mind this is the person who wants to be Tsarina...er, I mean MAYOR of NYC. She gets zero ratings for workers' rights, criminal/juvenile justice, disabled rights and voting rights and a very low score for housing rights. Is THIS what we want for mayor? Someone who is bad for workers, justice, disabled people, housing and voting rights?
In fairness, I want to look into the past records of former city council members who are competing with Quinn for mayor. Both Bill de Blasio and John Liu moved on from the City Council in 2009, both having refused to participate in Bloomberg's Third Term Power Grab the way Lap Dog Quinn did. So de Blasio and Liu BOTH are already better than Quinn on that issue alone to me. But let's compare Quinn, de Blasio and Liu in the 2008 and 2009 score card: (ranking system presented a bit differently each year it seems)
Christine Quinn: a mediocre 45% average score in 2008 and got a "C" for 2009.
Bill de Blasio: a mediocre 58% average score in 2008 (ranked 11th highest scoring council member) and a 2009 rating of "B" (8th highest scoring council member so made the top 10 list that year).
John Liu: an 61% score in 2008 (8th highest scoring council member so on the top ten list) and a 2009 rating of "A" (4th highest scoring council member, so also on the top ten list).
So Quinn is clearly the WRONG candidate for Human Rights. John Liu does BEST with Bill de Blasio coming in second. Note that Borough Presidents would not be rated on these score cards so I can't compare them.
The top scoring City Council members in 2011 are:
Melissa Mark-Viverito. Manhattan Council District # 8 – Democrat (Score: 90%)
Helen D. Foster. Bronx Council District # 16 – Democrat (Score: 88%)
Letitia James. Brooklyn Council District # 35 – Democrat (Score: 88%)
Jumaane D. Williams. Brooklyn Council District # 45 – Democrat (Score: 86%)
Charles Barron. Brooklyn Council District # 42 – Democrat (Score: 80%)
Brad Lander. Brooklyn Council District # 39 – Democrat (Score: 74%)
Gale Brewer. Manhattan Council District # 6 – Democrat (Score: 73%)
G. Oliver Koppell. Manhattan Council District #11- Democrat (Score 65%)
Jimmy Van Bramer. Queens Council District #26- Democrat (Score 65%)
I want to note that included on this list are council members I have agreed with and ones that I have disagreed with in the past. I will say that I am happy that Tish James is among the top, and congrats to Brad Lander, who I have had many a run in with, for making the top.
Let me emphasize a few things. First, one of the best parts of the score card is its analysis of the City Council process itself. It shows that basically a bill has little shot of even having a hearing let alone being voted on if it doesn't have either the support of the mayor or the speaker. This emphasizes something I have said MANY times: NYC has one of the weakest City Councils I have seen, almost 100% dominated by the mayor and his lap dog speaker, Quinn (hat tip to the attendees of my Eating Liberally group last night who used "Bloomberg's lap dog" to discuss Quinn). NYC is possibly the least democratic of cities. Now I have only seen it under Republicans like Giuliani and Bloomberg, so a don't know if it was different under a Democratic administration, but I somehow doubt it. Certainly it is clear Quinn, a Democrat, would be just as dictatorial as Tsar Bloomberg.
Second I want to emphasize that this scorecard doesn't cover ALL important issues, so I would not use this as my only way to judge a council member, but it does cover some extremely important issues, particularly ones taken up by Occupy Wall Street, so politicians who got a low score should look to their record a bit. read more »
This comes from the Downtown Independent Democrats. I encourage everyone in the vicinity to take part in the discussion.
Community Board 2 has changed locations of future meetings on NYU’s expansion plan in order to handle the crowds.
The new locations are listed below. INCLUDING TONIGHT'S [Jan 10] MEETING AT 6:30.
All meetings begin at 6:30 pm.
TUES JAN 10 TRAFFIC & TRANSPORTATION
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Father Demo Hall, 25 Carmine Street (Carmine and Bleecker Sts) [NOTE: now passed]
THUR JAN 12 PARKS
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Father Demo Hall, 25 Carmine Street
TUES JAN 17 SOCIAL SERVICES & EDUCATION (new school)
Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South, upstairs
WED JAN 18 ENVIRONMENT (including Construction Effects)
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Father Demo Hall, 25 Carmine Street
We, the people, are making our voices very clear on NYU’s megalomania.
Overcapacity crowds showed up at last week’s Town Hall and again at last night’s Community Board 2 zoning meeting.
See: Tensions High at NYU Expansion Meeting read more »
For the first Central Brooklyn Eating Liberally meeting of 2012 we will meet Tuesday, Jan. 10, 7 PM at Coco Roco, a great Peruvian restaurant on 5th Ave in the South Slope:
Coco Roco in Park Slope
392 Fifth Ave. (6th & 7th St.)
Brooklyn, NY 11215
I haven't been to Coco Roco for some time, but it was once one of our favorite local restaurants. I particularly like their Pan con Chicharon, a simple pork sandwich but very tasty and satisfying. Their Rotisserie Chicken is also fabulous. Great Ceviche as well, though when we found we tended to overspend if we started hitting that part of the menu. Worth it, though.
So how about those Republican primaries, huh?
The Putumayo collections of music are a wonderful way of discovering new music from parts of the world you have never thought of. I was introduced to them, interestingly, by my son back when he was 3 and 4 years old. When we visited California we would always visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And we would always stop at the gift shop and my son would consider whether he would spend his souvenir option there or somewhere else. More recently he has moved on to other sources of souvenirs (always interesting) but initially he was always interested in listening to the various samples of Putumayo CD collections and he would pick one for his souvenir.
During his excursions into the Putumauyo CD collection, the African selection, the Women of Africa selection and the Mali selection each caught his attention, and I tip my hat to his choices because they all are amazing collections. One artist from the Women of Africa collection I have highlighted before is Afia Mala, a Royal Princess of Togo and Benin. All three are fantastic...but today I want to highlight music from Mali. read more »