My wife and I got involved (perhaps way TOO involved) in local Brooklyn politics thanks to a high school friend of hers who ran for a judicial position. At about the same time we were recruited into the brawl that is Brooklyn politics, I was organizing protests to "welcome" the 2004 Republican National Convention to NYC. In the end these two things led to my becoming a well known blogger in Brooklyn (primarily at Daily Gotham) and my wife becoming an officer (currently 2nd Vice President) of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID).
So every year we attend the CBID annual dinner. And blogging about it since 2007. 2008 was a particularly good dinner, noted for Chuck Schumer giving a rousing speech which I wrote about and titled "I'm Not Afraid of John McCain!" In that speech Schumer predicted the huge victory of Barack Obama. The 2009 dinner not only honored one of my favorite members of Congress (Nydia Velasquez) but also gave one of the best rundowns of single payer healthcare I have ever heard, thanks to Dr. Oliver Fein (who I believe I saw this year as well but he didn't speak). Can't find my write up about 2010 but my 2011 coverage included some videos of some of the speeches (thanks to the efforts of Raul Rothblatt). Not sure if I blogged the 2012 dinner since Daily Gotham was dead at that time and I was focused more on work and family than politics.
But last night's dinner was another good one and had many elements that would have been huge shocks 4 years ago.
CBID is the most reform and liberal of the Brooklyn "reform" clubs and is well known for asking the hardest questions of politicians at their monthly meetings and for many years stood up to the corrupt local machine led by the now disgraced Vito Lopez. They have sometimes put ideology before practicality, but have become more united and practical in recent years and so have become more effective without losing their reputation, often repeated last night, of being some of the most active and hard to please of Democrats in Brooklyn. I believe most speakers last night gave some version of the line "CBID sets the bar very high for elected officials."
Chuck Schumer was there, as always, and gave one of his usual excellent speeches. He continued a theme I first heard pushed at the community swearing in ceremony for Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. Coming from that event I was one of the first people to blog that Comprehensive Immigration Reform was about to be a major push by the Democratic Party. I think it was FIRST mentioned at Nydia's event by NYC Comptroller and (very) likely mayoral candidate John Liu, but then reiterated quite deliberately by speaker after speaker. Last night both Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman (my Congresswoman) Yvette Clarke emphasized Comprehensive Immigration Reform as a must pass plank this year, practically daring Republicans to commit political suicide by opposing it. Again, this kind of strong progressive rhetoric by Democrats is quite welcome and I am glad it is continuing. Schumer and Clarke also both emphasized gun control as a major plank in the Democratic agenda for this year, again practically daring Republicans to sacrifice themselves on the altar of NRA fanaticism.
Four mayoral candidates also attended last night. Missing was Christine Quinn...perhaps remembering that she was once the recipient of CBID's "Tarnished Fork" award (a tradition they sadly have given up and really should bring back!) for her central role in the seemingly now ignored slushgate scandal.
Bill Thompson gave a short speech (a great tradition many more speakers should follow!) basically congratulating the honorees and praising the efforts and high standards of CBID, messages conveyed by every politician who spoke...in a more long winded manner. I am warming to Bill Thompson's relaxed style, and I am reminded by
more and more people that despite his boring reputation, he came far closer than anyone expected to defeating Bloomberg and he may have a better chance than I have given him credit for.
John Liu gave a rousing speech as always. A brilliant man who highlighted his excellent record as Comptroller. Honestly, his record as Comptroller reaffirms why I endorsed him. He did NOT officially announce his candidacy, but he did seem to be semi-officially announcing that he will officially announce very soon. Of course even though he has not announced, most people are treating him like a candidate for mayor. As usual he directly acknowledged the investigation against his campaign, again welcoming the scrutiny and emphasizing his transparency. CBID in the past worked closely with John Liu and his campaign and was impressed with the care his campaign took verifying donations. In fact, his campaign was one of the MOST cautious and this was long before the investigation. If what we saw was typical of his campaign, then I am sure he will be absolved with no problem. I personally always find it amazing that Liu's campaign gets all this scrutiny from the media while Bill de Blasio's past shady campaign practices (which involved SEVERAL candidates in addition to Bill, involved the entire Working Familiies Party, and WERE ACTUALLY FOUND ILLEGAL but not prosecuted as long as money was given back), and Quinn's massive slushgate scandal are being ignored. Of the three, there is no doubt in my mind that John Liu is the most honest and transparent. Maybe damning with faint praise comparing him to Quinn and de Blasio, but this is NYC politics and these are three of the front runners and so it is an appropriate comparison.
Sal Albanese also attended and gave a speech. I apologize to Sal for missing his speech. I was talking to John Liu during it.
Bill de Blasio came late and so spoke to only the last of us to leave. As always he gave a good speech but with little substance. As my wife says, he can talk a good line but has never really done anything. I tend to point out that for all his talk about supporting Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project ONLY because of the affordable housing, it is amazing that he hasn't said a word about it since the affordable housing part was dropped...as many predicted to de Blasio's face when he was such a supporter. If he is that easily fooled or that much of an enabler for unscrupulous developers, I don't want him as a mayor.
Scott Stringer also came. Let me just say he needs to tell different jokes when he comes over to Brooklyn. First time was funny, but we already know you're from Manhattan and you don't need to tell the getting your visa stamped joke every time. Stringer also gives a good speech but my wife remembers his role enabling Columbia's land grabs so we are somewhat skeptical about him as well. Still, when challenged about Columbia's land grabs he once did give me a somewhat convincing explanation for why he felt it was the best possible deal...somewhat convincing, I say, but "best deal possible" has been an excuse used by many for many really lousy and rather corrupt real estate deals in NYC and I think our politicians may need to redefine for themselves the words "best," "possible," and "deal." Too often people like de Blasio and Stringer (and let me be clear I consider Stringer MUCH better than de Blasio, but in this they seem similar) are like my former City Councilman David Yassky. Yassky, as my wife used to comment, seemed to surrender to developers before the negotiations even started, calling the surrender the "best possible deal." At a bare minimum it is a bad bargaining technique yet is too often used by NYC politicians when faced with developer money. read more »
I would like to highlight a mayoral candidate forum that occurred January 31st, 2013...it seems to be one of the most comprehensive candidate forums to date. It was held by The Uptown Current, a "forum for local writers, artists, and filmmakers to cover what is taking place in northern Manhattan by covering a wide range of topics." It is worth plugging the Uptown Current itself as well as highlighting the candidates who came to speak at their forum. Here are YouTube videos from that forum.
Bill Thompson Speaks at Northern Manhattan Mayoral Forum
John Liu Speaks at Northern Manhattan Mayoral Forum
Sal Albanese Speaks at Northern Manhattan Mayoral Forum
From our local Coffee Party (the progressive answer to the rapidly fading right wing Teabagger extremists):
KochBusting: Ending the Spell—An evening to expose and oppose the influence of the Koch brothers" will feature a panel of Koch brothers’ experts: Lee Fang, Contributing Writer to The Nation and fellow with The Nation Institute; Lisa Graves, Executive Director Center for Media and Democracy; and John Nichols,Washington Correspondent for The Nation. The event will be held on Thursday, March 14, from 7-9 PM at All Souls, 1157 Lexington Avenue at 80th Street. The panel will be moderated by Laura Flanders of GRITtv.org.
The renowned panelists will tackle what the Koch brothers have been doing, and what they have been funding, to co-opt our democracy and make it work for themselves. It will cover their activities during the run-up to the last election, in American colleges, in the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC), in climate change denial, and in the corporate effort to destroy organized labor.
KochBusting: Ending the Spell is presented by the Big Apple Coffee Party and the Peace and Justice Task Force of All Souls, and is co-sponsored by The Nation.
KochBusting: Ending the Spell is free and open to the public.
For further information please call 212-252-2619 and go to KochBusting: Ending the Spell Facebook event page.
For my part, I have started boycotting Georgia Pacific paper products since they are owned by the Koch Brothers. I don't want to be giving these anti-democracy right wingers money each time I wipe my ass or blow my nose.
I have been a supporter of Yetta Kurland since she tried standing up for keeping St. Vincent's Hospital open (see bottom of page for this issue). I think she was right when she took that stand and I think she gets a lot of issues better than most candidates out there. AND she is getting a lot of good union endorsements.
Here's the latest from Yetta Kurland for City Council:
Local 46 Officially Endorses Yetta Kurland for City Council;
Calls Her a “True Friend of the Working Class”
Today, Terry Moore, Business Manager of Metallic Lathers Union Local 46, announced his union’s endorsement of Yetta Kurland, a progressive Democrat running for City Council in New York’s 3rd Council District (West Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen). The seat is currently held by Christine Quinn, who is running for Mayor.
“There are many candidates who claim to support labor and the working people of our City but who, in the end, don’t deliver. It’s with great pride that we support Yetta, someone who has a long history as an ally of labor and a true friend of the working class. Yetta will be a voice for all of us, someone we know will fight for us,” said Moore.
Local 46, 2500 members strong, is one of the City’s most established building trades unions, serving the metropolitan area since 1897. Members work on concrete structures including bridges and skyscrapers; they are at work on the new World Trade Center tower. They also work in commercial and residential construction, performing work on suspended ceilings and architectural lath and plaster.
Kurland is a civil rights attorney, educator, small business owner and community activist who has been empowering her community for over two and a half decades. A lifelong New Yorker, she currently resides in Chelsea. She is also the host of Yetta Kurland LIVE!, a popular weekly progressive talk radio show on WWRL1600 AM.
Local 46 adds its endorsement to a growing list that includes many labor unions: TWU Local 100, Amalgamated Transit Union International, CWA Local 1180, District Council 37, Local 372, the NYS Machinists District 15, IATSE Local One Theatrical Stage Employees, New York City Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 (DC 37 AFSCME), as well as others.
NEW YORK METRO AREA POSTAL UNION ENDORSES YETTA KURLAND FOR CITY COUNCIL
The Executive Board of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, APWU, AFL-CIO has unanimously endorsed Yetta Kurland for City Council in District 3.
"Yetta Kurland is the kind of person we need to have in elected office. Her experience as a civil rights attorney means that she knows the struggle of the poor, the disenfranchised and the middle class. Yetta fights the good fight with everything she has, and understands the power of working in coalitions with community groups and labor", said President Jonathan Smith.
"I am honored to receive the endorsement of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, the largest local in APWU. I am deeply inspired by the hard working clerks, motor vehicle operators and maintenance workers in Manhattan and the Bronx who serve millions of New Yorkers every day and keep our city running smoothly", said Yetta.
Yetta has already received labor endorsements from TWU Local 100, Amalgamated Transit Union International, CWA Local 1180, District Council 37, Local 372, the NYS Machinists District 15, IATSE Local One Theatrical Stage Employees, New York City Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 (DC 37 AFSCME) as well as endorsements from national and local groups including Emily’s List, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, McManus Democratic Club, The Chelsea-Midtown Democratic Club, the Women’s Democratic Club of NYC, Voterbook NYC, and others.
Yetta Kurland, 44, is a civil rights attorney, radio host, and community activist. She is a progressive Democrat running in New York’s 3rd City Council District. The district includes the West Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen and is currently represented by Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
For more information, go to Yetta Kurland's website.
And for those interested in why I started supporting Yetta, here she is in 2011 fighting for St. Vincent's:
Sent to me from the Dept. of Medical Ethics at the NYU Medical Center
ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival Screenings
March, 8 2013 3-5PM: 550 1st Avenue, Alumni Hall B, NYU Medical Center
Presented with ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, March 7-12, a showcase of award-winning films by and about people with disabilities. For more information, please visit: www.reelabilities.org.
Free and open to the public!
- WILLOWBROOK, Directed by Ross Cohen (USA, 2012, USA, 16 min, Narrative): In 1964, a young pediatrician begins his residency at Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, only to discover that the institution is conducting Army funded experiments on developmentally disabled children. Based on true events.
- FLYING ANNE, Directed by Catherine van Campen (Netherlands, 2010, 21 min, Documentary): Eleven-year-old Anne is the kind of beautiful girl you can’t take your eyes off. The longer you look, the more you see her ‘tics’ from her Tourette’s syndrome – she suddenly spins or licks something. Anne is afraid of being teased at school and tries to keep her tics in check though she prefers ‘flying’ through life, so no one notices her tics.
Discussant: Arthur Caplan (Director, Division of Bioethics, NYUMC) and Barron Lerner (Professor of Medicine, NYUMC)
Moderator: Helena Hansen (NYUMC and NYU Department of Anthropology)