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 »
BREAKING NEWS: TWULocal100 Executive Board endorses #OccupyWallStreet and commits to organize Labor to support the campaign
Just got off the phone from speaking with Chrisine Williams, Executive Board Member of the Stations workgroup of Transit Workers Union's Local 100. I called her to clear up what was the actual position of TWU on the Occupy Wall Street peaceful protest. Unfortunately Business Insider scrapped a member blog post from DailyKos (meaning, it wasnt even from the site's actual editorial group) which was in itself based on tweets by the person who goes by the handle @NewYorkist.
So here's the scoop: The membership of New York City's Local 100 Transit Workers' Union DID NOT vote to march over to #OccupyWallStreet TOMORROW. What did indeed happen? The Executive Board of TWU LOCAL 100 are officially endorsing Occupy Wall Street. read more »
I believe that what has started in Wisconsin, and is spreading to other states, particularly Ohio and Indiana, is a real sea change in American politics...IF we come together and fight back as a united front. And New Yorkers can and should be at the forefront of this labor fight...as we have been at the forefront all along (see below). Plus we have to counter the bad image the Koch brothers are giving NYC.
Doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers, the NYC Billionaires, the Teabagger Republicans in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are trying to destroy the unions that brought us the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, child labor laws...the WEEKEND! Now the governor of Indiana saw which way the wind was blowing and backed off a bit, but these three states are currently the main battle ground between the pro-Billionaire Teabagger Republicans and regular working class Americans. And we have to win in these three states BIG time to slap down the right wing attack on our firefighters, cops, teachers and nurses.
The Republicans have bitten off more than they can chew. The American public, who basically prefer unions, firefighters, police, teachers and nurses better than billionaires, are not happy at all at the right wing attack on unions. In fact, the American public is telling the Teabaggers and their Billionaire Masters:
We're angry and we are NOT going to take it anymore... read more »
Alright NYC! Can we show Madison, Wisconsin some love?
It has been a long time since the progressive movement has been as together as it is right now, and we have the unions of Wisconsin to thank for it. Now is the time for real solidarity and it is up to us to step up to the plate and support the unions, protesters and Democrats of Wisconsin.
Here is a round up of some great ways to help jump start the progressive movement in America and show the Teabaggers (and before a Teabagger whines about my use of that word, THEY came up with it!) that America does NOT suppport their extremist agenda.
First, let's get to real basics. What could better encourage the masses to stand up to the Teabagger Republican extremists than pizza! They gotta eat, so why not send them a pizza. This comes from a Tennessee blog. From KnoxViews:
Looking for a way to show solidarity with the Wisconsin protesters? Send a Solidarity Pizza.
I love charts. Anything that visualized data is like *shiny* to me. It also shows that at least someone in Congress or the Senate has been doing their homework. Particularly when pointing out there were more jobs created under the private sector under the Clinton administration than under Bush.
The knee-jerk reaction would be to say, "how partisan". Yet that data on those charts make it hard to debate. Sure, the numbers could be off, but it's the kind of work I am seeing more and more from Democrats in Congress than from Republicans on these video clips from the floor.