From NY1: New York City Comptroller John C. Liu sat down with Errol Louis to discuss The People's Budget, his proposal to revamp the City's budget process.
A short time back I took City Councilmembers Steve Levin and Brad Lander to task for, what seemed at the time, a casual decision to defund the Doe Fund's clean up efforts in Park Slope. I particularly took them to task for misleading statements and for denigrating the Doe Fund overall, which I found difficult to stomach because the Doe Fund is one of the most successful (among the ONLY successful) organizations for reducing recidivism among parolees.
Steve Levin has shown no interest in this issue...or any issue in the district from what I can tell. I guess as long as he has the backing of corrupt Party Boss Vito Lopez (his mentor) he feels he can cruise along with no problem...particularly since he also managed to get the formerly decent Working Families Party backing him as well, creating a nasty and disgusting alliance between the Vito Lopez machine and a Working Families party that at BEST skirted the law, and in reality had to scramble to avoid prosecution after breaking some campaign finance laws for the likes of Steve Levin.
But Brad Lander, who I have had some serious disagreements with, seems different than Steve "Vito's Kid" Levin. Brad Lander HAS been involved with the community, even if I disagree with him on the Doe Fund's role in the community, and he took the time to respond to my article taking him to task.
Let me begin by reviewing what I wrote before, then quoting Councilmember Brad Lander responding to my article, then giving something of a rebuttal from myself and giving a different opinion from Councilmember Daniel Dromm. read more »
I want to preface this article by saying that Councilmember Brad Lander has been doing some good things recently which I want to acknowledge before I lay into him on this issue. In particular I want to re-emphasize the good work Brad Lander has been doing with the Center for Anti-violence Education (which my wife teaches at) to get self-defense classes for women in the areas where there have been a spate of assaults on women. I should note fellow Councilmember Steve Levin has NOT been involved in helping the community on this issue. Councilmembers Brad Lander, Sara Gonzalez, Tish James have and they deserve credit for it.
But there is another issue where Brad Lander and Steve Levin have made, in my mind, a serious error.
It all started with my building's resident Yenta (by her own admission) asking me why 7th Ave is no longer being cleaned up. Until recently, she observed, men in blue outfits (a collaboration between the city and the Doe Fund aimed to help the homeless and parolees transition back into society and employment) would help the city empty the garbage and clean the streets. Recently those blue-uniformed men disappeared from 7th Avenue and in their place garbage piled up everywhere adding to what my wife already referred to as the "7th Ave. Stink." I have to say 7th Ave. smells worse on average than any other street I personally walk down in Brooklyn or Manhattan. And now that the Doe Fund people have disappeared from 7th Ave. the stink is getting worse.
To me this is not, however, primarily about the cleanliness of our neighborhood. It is about a program that is one of the most successful in the nation in getting homeless and parolees back into society. Here is the description of the Doe Fund from their website:
Ready, Willing & Able is The Doe Fund's holistic, residential, work and job skills training program which helps homeless individuals in their efforts to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. Ready, Willing & Able has helped more than 4,500 men and women become drug-free, secure full-time employment, and obtain their own self-supported housing. The program targets the segment of the homeless population considered the hardest to serve: single, able-bodied adults, the majority of whom have histories of incarceration and substance abuse. Criteria for acceptance into the program is that the applicant be ready, willing and able, both physically and mentally, to work and maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Folks, this kind of program saves taxpayers money in the long run. Like vaccinations and education, programs like this are one of the best investments society can make with taxpayer money. And, like cutting education, cutting this program is one of the dumbest moves a government can make because it will COST us all money in the long run. read more »
You didn't need to be a neurosurgeon to see over the last year that this state would be facing a fiscal crisis. Collapsing investment banks - which we used to havem but don't anymore - certainly made clear that the revenue side of the budget would be facing some strain.
Now, the governor is preparing to make cuts to that budget, and it's not going to be pretty.
Gov. David A. Paterson said in an interview on Sunday that he would almost certainly seek billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, as well as midyear reductions in school aid, to address New York’s worsening fiscal condition.
He also said he expected to urge labor unions to reopen the contracts they have struck on behalf of public employees as a way to avoid or decrease layoffs.
WFP hasn't yet weighed in with multiple email blasts, but of one thing you can be certain: nobody's cutting a dime to schools while Randi Weingarten yet breathes.
WFP's most excellent Dan Levitan emails over a release announcing a joint effort by the Working Families Party and Straphangers to fight the proposed fare hike for the subway. There's even a web site, HaltTheHike.org.
Working Families Party, Straphangers Campaign Launch Online Effort to Win Funding for Mass Transit, Prevent Fare Hikes
New York – Fighting to “keep mass transit affordable for working people,” the Straphangers Campaign and the Working Families Party announced today the re-launch of www.haltthehike.org, an online campaign to prevent MTA fare hikes by winning adequate public aid for mass transit from the city and state.
Over 7,000 New Yorkers have already used the website to send Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg a clear message: “With the economy down and the cost of living up, New Yorkers can’t afford a fare hike two years in a row. To keep public transportation affordable and reliable we need more city and state aid for mass transit.”
“Over the last 30 years, public transportation in New York has seen an incredible revival,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “With gas prices up and MTA ridership booming, now is not the time for city and the state to abandon transit riders and the MTA. Public transportation can meet the needs of a growing city, but not without adequate public investment.”
“Public transportation is the lifeblood of our city,” said Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor. “With the cost of living skyrocketing in New York, working people can’t afford fare hikes two years in a row. But simple math says without proper aid from the state and city, transit riders will end up picking up the tab.”
The two groups plan to continue the campaign to win funding for public transportation and prevent MTA fare hikes throughout the fall and into next year’s legislative session in Albany.
“The fight to keep the subway affordable is never ending, but it’s a fight we need to win,” added Dan Cantor.
Transit riders already pay more than their fair share of keeping the MTA running. In 2006, riders paid 55% of the costs of running the subways and buses. Metro-North riders paid 58% and LIRR riders paid 47%.
Riders elsewhere pay much less, funding an average 37% of the costs for the biggest 50 transit systems nationwide. Riders in Philadelphia, Boston, and Los Angeles pay 37%, 29%, and 23% respectively of the costs for their transit systems.
They have a real point: New Yorkers pay more for our mass transit than anyone else in the country. A fare hike falls disproportionately on lower- and middle-class riders who have no alternate means of getting from A to B. Sure, the economy is in the toilet, the budget not doing all that well, but there are better ways to finance the essential infrastructure of the agglomeration than by going, as usual, to the people most dependent on using it.