Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How Quinn & Thompson Worse on Health, Tenant, Wage, Other Issues Than deBlasio

*UPDATE analysis on Bloomberg's racist double-standard against deBlasio *Quinn, Thompson, Jenny, Johnny come latelies *Your last minute cheat sheet for making the case that deBlasio has been progressive on these issues since before the 2013 campaign really got underway this spring, and so deserves to win the September 10 Democratic primary in the 2013 race for New York City mayor. *Celeb endorsements. Incorporating Capital New York reportage, which this blog was following since ca. 2009 in its earlier incarnation.
         *Scroll to end for analysis and response on double-standard regarding Bloomberg's position regarding deBlasio's family, including video of family's response to Bloomberg's attacks
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been criticized as being mayor Michael Bloomberg's ally in the city council. You can surmise this perspective in these stories: Amid Backlash, Quinn Supports Bloomberg’s Term Limits Plan, Bloomberg Ally Won't Call for Bloomberg Investigation, Mayor Making It No Secret: He’ll Endorse Quinn in 2013. Yet, there are other specific issues at which Quinn and former city comptroller Bill Thompson have fallen short on some major progressive issues. Essential sketches of these issues follow, as well as links so that you can check out the stories for yourself.

Tenants group endorsing New York City public advocate Bill deBlasio for mayor:
David Howard King on Monday, 29 July 2013
The Eye-Opener:
Tenants PAC Endorses De Blasio, Never Considered Weiner
Bill de Blasio gets our endorsement for his commitment (in his words) to “re-set the agenda” for a genuine progressive city government, to “de-program the Bloomberg years”; for his opposition to privatization of city services and to government as a handmaiden to private profit takers; for his support for mandatory inclusionary zoning requiring developers to include affordable apartments in all new buildings; and for addressing the economic inequality that is driving more New Yorkers into hardship and poverty.
Crain's Insider reported in "Real estate puts money on Quinn" that she took in the share of real estate donations: $800,000, about 14.2% of her campaign total. The site also reported that of the top 100 corporations active in making political contributions 67% of the donations went to Quinn.

The Observer:
De Blasio Blasts Quinn’s Affordable Housing Plan as ‘Multi-Billion Dollar Giveaway’ to Developers By Stephen Jacob Smith 2/14 5:20pm

 Actions reek of pay-to-play scandals or kick-backs; donation from John "Zuccotti Park" Zuccotti
While deBlasio did accept a $4,900 donation from the Rent Stabilization Association, that donation can be seen as dwarfed by the donations that Thompson received from interests that stood to benefit from his actions while chairing a state land authority. As Nathaniel Herz in Crain's Insider, "Thompson’s $300 million Battery Park City bill, Mayoral candidate approved big breaks for donors", May 16, 2012, reported, the owner of Milstein Properties, which owns over 500 Battery Park condos gave Thompson the $4,900 legal contribution limit on January 11, 2012. His wife and son gave donations totaling $14,850 on the same day. This was while Thompson was the chair of the Battery Park Authority, the landlord for the land upon which the condo buildings sit. Appointed in 2010 by then governor David Paterson, Thompson only resigned as chair on the week of May 6, 2012, but not after several lucrative authority favors given to Thompson benefactors.

The same Crain's Insider article reported that Thompson helped Brookfield Properties, another company affected by the Battery Park City Authority's decisions:
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson voluntarily left his post as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority last week – unlike predecessor James Gill, who exited in shame after the authority spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on parties and meals on his watch.
But Thompson’s stewardship will cost the city much more, thanks to two deals that he and his board of directors approved on behalf of the mayoral candidate’s campaign contributors.
Last year, the board unanimously agreed to roll back a scheduled increase in fees paid by Battery Park City condominium owners by nearly $280 million.
. . .
Also taking a bite out of future Battery Park City funding to the city are millions of dollars in rent reductions that Thompson and the board unanimously approved in March to help Brookfield Properties pay for a glitzy overhaul of its retail space at the World Financial Center.
And Thompson has been paid handsomely by Brookfield: the vote by Thompson and the rest of the Battery Park authority board came after Thompson received over $15,000 from lobbyists and others with ties to Brookfield Properties. The authority board gave a $22.3 million tax break a few months after donations to the Thompson campaign.

Crain's Insider reported that one Thompson bundler and Brookfield lobbyist, Albany lawyer Jerry Weiss, bundled $15,400 from six different donors to the Thompson campaign on one day this winter. Two other Brookfield related persons, one a lobbyist, another a lawyer, gave donations totaling $3,200. These are the only donations from these individuals in the city campaign finance board’s database, which has records going back more than two decades. The Crain's Insider article closed with a clincher:
Thompson’s campaign listed Eagan’s [James Eagan, another Brookfield-associated personality] donation—and the five others initially tied to Weiss—as coming on December 5. On that same day, Brookfield chairman John Zuccotti and his wife Susan each gave Thompson their own $4,950 contributions. Three months later, the Battery Park City Authority’s board voted unanimously to approve the resolution to deliver Brookfield its $22.3 million rent break.
The Daily News ran a story with parallel details. While the story was pulled in short order from its website, another site, BatteryPark.TV, has the article archived at "Why did Bill Thompson abruptly leave BPCA?"
(Yes, that Zuccotti, the real estate magnate for whom Zuccotti Park, the site of the Occupy Wall Street occupation, was named. How ironic: the UFT gives money to the Occupy protesters, and their man for mayor, Thompson, has received money from John Zuccotti. Might be embarrassing to the UFT higher-ups if word got out.)
Moreover, the Battery authority under Thompson hired the high-powered Gibson Dunn firm's lead litigation attorney (and Rudy Giuliani era deputy mayor) Randy Mastro to secretly renegotiate the authority's contract with Asphalt Green. Mastro, who's famous for defending Chevron in a case pursued by Ecuador over poisoning of the Ecuadoran Amazon, has been the largest fundraiser for Bill Thompson. Read "More conflicts of interest from the Bill Thompson era BPCA."

UPDATE: You know, it is a funny coincidence: his biggest campaign donation fundraiser is the Republican senator from the Reagan/Bush I years, Alphonse D'Amato. By 1992, D'Amato got hit with a slew of corruption charges, of giving generous favors to family and big campaign contributors. We look at Thompson's consistent pattern of sweetheart perks going to campaign contributors, and we wonder, how far back did his friendship with D'Amato start? Was he learning the wrong lessons from D'Amato? Forget about advocacy for increased wrap-around social services from him. He charged that president Bill Clinton wasn't aggressive enough in cutting welfare. We worry about Tisch's test agenda influencing Thompson. But what of D'Amato's agenda? He was a pioneer in advocating tax incentives for prison privatization. We worry over the prison pipeline; but Thompson's main financial backer has backed prison profiteering.

Quinn, deBlasio and city comptroller John Liu were the only Democratic Candidates on June 13, 2013 to call for freezes of rents at all rent-stabilized units.

The New York Daily News, reporting late (October 10) during Thompson's 2009 campaign, "Pension middlemen gave $158K to Bill Thompson's campaigns and got $2.2B in city business" reported that Thompson got more than $158,000 in campaign donations from pension fund middlemen who got over $2,2 billion in business from New York City, while Thompson was New York City comptroller. Los Angeles-based Wetherly Capital gave more than $40,000 to Thompson's campaign; at the same time, the company received $317.5 million in city pension benefits. Thompson also received more than $60,000 from persons with ties to Shelbourne Securities, which is run by a Thompson friend, William Howell, who was the placement agent of $315 million of New York City investments in 2008. Placement agents figured prominently in securities or political scandal probes that played into Andrew Cuomo's political rise as state attorney general. Disgraced Liberal Party boss Ray Harding had plead guilty in October 2009 to taking $500,000 from a Shelbourne affiliate in a pay-to-play scheme.
The story of Thompson giving deals to donors has received more recent attention in the NY Times: "As Pension Chief, Thompson Gave Work to Donors"

Top News Today & NY Daily News De Blasio rips Quinn's sick-day bill | Politics ... › Politics › De Blasio rips Quinn's sick-day bill‎
Mar 31, 2013 - Bill de Blasio hammered away at the paid sick days bill brokered by mayoral rival Christine Quinn — and vowed not to relinquish it as an issue on the increasingly contentious campaign trail.
DeBlasio ripped Thompson's bid to wait a year for paid sick leave bill 'pointless.'
DeBlasio has also pointed to Thompson's less-than-passionate stance towards the bill prior to March 2013. Crain's Insider reported February 25 on Thompson's tentative stance:
Former comptroller Bill Thompson has been quiet on the issue of paid sick leave, preferring to let fellow Democratic candidates Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu take the lead in criticizing Ms. Quinn on the issue. His campaign says he supports the concept of paid sick leave, while preferring to stay on the sidelines until a final, presumably amended bill is introduced.
. . .
Like Ms. Quinn, Mr. Thompson has been criticized by his rivals for often failing to take a position on politically charged issues like paid sick leave and a living wage for workers on government subsidized construction projects. He initially opposed a living wage bill until changing his stance [NY Post, May 2, 2012: "Wage-bill foe puts it in reverse" after a compromise was reached by Ms. Quinn.

From Capitol New York, May 1, 2012: Bill deBlasio rapid response to the Christine Quinn conniption
Though Public Advocate Bill de Blasio only came out in support of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, "living wage" legislation in December [link to Dec. 18, 2011 Times story], he wasted little time capitalizing on Council Speaker's Christine Quinn's awkward defense of Michael Bloomberg's honor yesterday afternoon. Into late 2011 Quinn opposed allowing a council vote on the living wage bill, despite the fact that most members supported the bill.

DeBlasio is well-known for his protest arrest in defense of Long Island College Hospital. Less known is his successful move to protect the hospital.
From the New York Times, July 22, 2013:
On Friday, as the State Health Department was in the process of approving important steps in the hospital’s closing, Mr. de Blasio successfully petitioned a State Supreme Court justice for a temporary restraining order, then delivered it by hand to the hospital’s administrators. On Monday, an appellate judge affirmed the temporary restraining order and ruled that the hospital had to restore the level of service that existed on Friday afternoon.
Next to Quinn's instrumental role in overturning the city term limits law which happened in a 29-22 vote in October 2008, enabling Bloomberg to have a third term as mayor, there is her controversial history with the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, which then got slated for luxury condo development: Quinn received donations from six developers collectively gave $29,700 to her potential mayoral campaign fund, developers that stood to gain from the redevelopment of the plan. Some reporters have argued that Quinn was not "an unalloyed supporter" and that she sought to scale down the subsequent development project. I say, this is hedging and the Quinn still is suspect for taking the money and doing a favor in not fighting the hospital closing more fiercely.Watch the video here for more on Quinn's role in the St. Vincent's controversy.

But this was only one of many hospital closings under Quinn's watch as council speaker. An online excerpt from an anti-Quinn book has delves into her record regarding hospital closings. Similar to how mayor Michael Bloomberg has developed a list of schools for co-location, there was a commission, the Berger Commission, which created a list of hospitals to shut down. Quinn was invisible in the fight to oppose the closures until very late in 2006, shortly before the Commission's recommendations went into effect, January 1, 2007. For more see: Roots of Betrayal: The Ethics of Christine Quinn, available now for a free preview on Scribd.

Thompson has been dogged by his long-standing ties with an executive who thrived while Bedford-Stuyvesant's Interfaith Hospital suffered financially. See Wayne Barrett, WNYC: Strange Ties in Bill Thompson's Brooklyn Backyard
Had Thompson come [to a June 2013 demonstration], he would have been protesting against his own one-time business associates. In 2010 and 2011, as the hospital plunged toward bankruptcy, Thompson was serving as a paid member of the advisory board of a Kurron sister company, working intimately with the owner – a man named Corbett Price who’d been his friend since the 1990s and whose family, employees and firm have donated nearly $20,000 to Thompson campaigns, starting with his first race in 2001.
During that time, Kurron and Price have cut a trail of financial and medical mismanagement, run-ins with regulators and public controversies – not least repeated clashes with healthcare unions – up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
So Thompson’s paid ties to Kurron – during a period when he was planning a second run for the mayor’s office after his near-victory over Michael Bloomberg in 2009 – raise important questions about his attentiveness to detail, his judgment and his choice of associates.
See also Amsterdam News and Perdido Street School.

From RBE/Perdido Street:
Mayoral candidate William Thompson ignored councilwoman's pleas to audit CityTime program, sources say

Back in 2010, Wayne Barrett reported on Thompson's "damning" connection to Michael Bloomberg that may have had something to do with his refusal to audit Bloomberg's CityTime project:
Bloomberg and Thompson: The (Really) Odd Couple: Now it can be told: The surprising ties between the billionaire mayor and the poor slob who ran against him.
Postscript: see this important new piece at Perdido Street: Bill Thompson Used Pension Funds To Pay Off Cronies, Donors And Connections.

DeBlasio's Call to Speaker Quinn for a moratorium on school co-locations

The NYS Regents Chancellor that was a key player in creating NYS's APPR, appointing Commissioner John King, and quite possibly the Advance teacher evaluation system in New York City.

Have reservations on the testing overemphasis in New York City teaching and learning? One of the major architects of this, Merryl Tisch, is Chairwoman of the Thompson for Mayor committee. That thought alone should give you pause. Read and listen to her words on Common Core, testing and Thompson here and here, and here for her impact on New York State education.

Daily Kos: NYC Mayor: Bill de Blasio (D), The Only Candidate Who Will End The Stop-And-Frisk Era
DeBlasio rightly criticized Thompson's stop and frisk position as too weak. On June 28, when mayor Bloomberg in the morning actually said that the police (NYPD) were stopping white New Yorkers too much and minority New Yorkers too little, deBlasio went on the offensive on the same day, saying that it he had "better numbers, the numbers that have come from the NYPD for years showing that almost 90 percent of those stopped are innocent in every way, shape or form. Which confirms the very point. We're not going after suspects in specific crimes. … Stop-and-frisk is being used with an incredibly broad brush."
DeBlasio pointed out that Quinn and Thompson were no better on racial profiling, that Quinn voted against the racial profiling bill. He pointed out that Thompson also opposed that bill and opposed the police oversight inspector general bill. Quinn wants to keep NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, who has spearheaded Bloomberg's aggressive, broad sweep of black and Latino youths and men.

Bill de Blasio Runs as the Anti-Bloomberg, June 17, 2013 6:11 pm By Carlos Rodríguez Martorell | Via Voices of NY
And this one, by progressive man of letters, George Packer, in the NewYorker: BILL DE BLASIO’S VISION
On May 30th, at the New School, the candidate sketched a powerful picture of the issue that he wanted to put at the center of the race: the city’s “inequality crisis.” “Right now, as we’re gathered this morning, one New Yorker is rushing past an attended desk in the lobby of a majestic skyscraper,” de Blasio began. “A few miles away, a single mother is also rushing, holding her two young children by the hands as they hurry down the steps of the subway entrance…” The first New Yorker is thinking about how to profit from the bull market in stocks; the second is trying to figure out how to pay her grocery bill.
Yet, as Packer noted, the timing did not work well for deBlasio, as his speech generally coincided with Anthony Weiner's reentry into politics via a last minute run for the mayoralty.
With deBlasio's strong stands on issues of civil rights and economic justice it is little surprise that in July he received the endorsements of central Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and singer, actor and veteran civil rights activist Harry Belafonte. Earlier, in March, former NY ACORN executive director Bertha Lewis endorsed him. In May, he received endorsements from actress Susan Sarandon and Russell Simmons, hip hop impresario, both longtime advocates of progressive causes. Also that month, actress --and public school parent-- Cynthia Nixon lent her support to deBlasio's campaign. At the start of August, The Nation endorsed deBlasio for mayor, touting his proposals to narrow the city's huge inequality gap (documented here and here). The same month, education professor and activist Diane Ravitch also endorsed deBlasio. And many UFT members are commenting on an 8/29 posting on its Facebook page, on how out of touch the union is, and wondering why Thompson and not deBlasio.
UPDATE: UFT DESPERATION: Apparently the UFT is putting out false literature, claiming that Thompson is promising retroactive pay raises. Pathetic that they feel that they have to stretch the truth to have Thompson win. And there's this equally unsettling news of UFT desperation from NYC Educator blog's comments:
"Chapter leaders have been asked to go to every teacher in their schools and gauge the level of support for Thompson. to engage those who are wavering or unsure of who they are supporting, and to try to gin up as many votes as they can for Thompson."
It would be understandable if this was about a thoroughly labor candidate coming from the ranks of workers, to represent workers. But Thompson is an old-time hack pol, lining his pockets with contributor cash.

*One New York. Rising Together
*A Progressive Vision for a Thriving New York City Tech Industry
*Street Safety Plan
*A Progressive Vision for the Film and TV Industries in New York City
*Distance Matters: What Closing Two Hospitals Would Mean for Brooklyn

So, there you have it, evidence in some nutshells that Quinn and Thompson have not done well by the citizens of New York City, and how deBlasio, while not a few progressives' (including this writer) dream candidate, is far better than the two former front-runners.

UPDATE: *Bloomberg employing a racist double-standard *Bloomberg and other media and political critics are racist for bringing up the ads with Dante. *Bloomberg's classist remark missed in all the media reaction
Why would I make such a flat-out statement?
Because: Nearly all politicians haul out their families, whether it be a family shot at home, or the whole bunch tramped out onto the election night stage, it is common place. And if pundits do not call it shameless exploitation when they do it, then they should not do it when members of the deBlasio family campaign for making statements and appearances in favor of him.
Yes, it is not that unusual for children of candidates campaign for their parents. So when we hear reactions of "racist" in response to Dante's ad for his father and we ignore history in the modern media era, we think it racist to be intolerant of Dante's ad and not critical of parallels. Think of the daughter of John McCain. Who screamed racist or exploitative when she campaigned and blogged for him, and wrote a book, My Dad,John McCain? She was so busy campaigning for him she said that she was to busy to have a love life. Her subsequent memoir indicated that she nearly overdosed on Xanax on election day.h 

And spouses campaign on their husband's behalfs. Did anybody call it racist when Jackie Kennedy did a campaign spot en espanol for voters to vote for her husband John?
Did anyone say racist when Callista appeared with Newt Gingrich with amazing frequency in his presidential bid last year? 

So, deBlasio shouldn't campaign with his wife because she's black? If you say that and ignore the history of modern American political tradition, then that's racist.
In fact, it is so common-place for candidates to have their families (or their partners) by their sides in public or in campaign literature, that it sometimes raises eyebrows when a candidate almost NEVER even refers to them, let alone has photos of them in any campaign lit. Readers will remember a barrage of Bloomberg lit four years ago --yet do you remember any photos with his family members? Could it be that they are less than thrilled with the idea of their likeness being used to support him in campaign lit? Do we sense some jealousy on Bloomberg's part.
Aside from that, Buzzfeed did some research into Bloomberg's own campaigning history. It is in stark contrast to the conditions that he dictated to Bloomberg. Here are the highlights of their reporter Andrew Kacynski's research:
“I mean he’s making an appeal using his family to gain support . . . It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote.
Yet this is precisely what he did eight and twelve years ago.
According to a report from Newsday during his 2005 campaign Bloomberg, who is ethnically Jewish but not observant, sent out “an eight-page mini-magazine with photos of ‘Mike the Mensch’ wearing a yarmulke. A headline atop one of its pages proclaims: ‘Orthodox Jewish Families a Priority For Bloomberg.’”
Likewise in 2005, according to the New York Times wearing a yarmulke while speaking to Hassidic [sic] Jews in Brooklyn “appeared on a dais adorned with blue balloons that read ‘Mike the Mensch.’”
During his 2001 campaign for mayor, Bloomberg also sent direct mail to Jewish voters as well pointing out the fact he was Jewish.
The “glossy direct-mail” items read “he learned from his parents,” and went on “Mike Bloomberg for Mayor — Protecting Our Community.”
The brochures said “has been an active supporter of many volunteer and non-profit organizations,” naming specifically the the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.
So, Bloomberg called deBlasio a racist for allowing his family to appear or speak on his behalf. He is apparently practicing a double-standard. (OK, there's another issue here: the Bloomberg wouldn't or at least didn't campaign for him.)
The defenses were zingers yesterday. The other Democratic candidates are to be credited for defending deBlasio and his family. --Curious how tepid Quinn's remarks were, though.
Former NY ACORN executive director Bertha Lewis gave a most tweetable defense: From Capital New York:
“Big Mikey says that Bill de Blasio is a racist. I mean: What?! Seriously?! Because he’s a father, a husband and a man who is proud of his family of color?! Well I am, too. And if Bill de Blasio’s a racist, so am I! So are we all,” she declared at the event. “Big Mike, your days are numbered. Come Tuesday maybe you’ll finally get the message: no fourth term for you.”
DeBlasio's wife and daughter also responded to Bloomberg's charge:
“Do I look like an inanimate object or a tool?” she said, laughing [in] disbelief. “I walk. I talk. I make my own decisions.”
Mr. de Blasio’s daughter Chiara further mocked the suggestion, from Capital New York:
"Everything I do for the campaign is my decision," said Chiara, "and I think that—or at least I suspect, I wasn't born 20 years ago—that my dad did not know he was running for mayor and he did not seek to marry a black woman to put her on display."
Video from Capital New York:
Again, we need to be mindful of American political tradition in the modern era, otherwise criticizing the appearances of the deBlasio family is a racist double-standard. Or maybe there's festering jealousy going on, on mayor Bloomberg's part.

Somehow missed in all the hubbub over Bloomberg's racism allegations was his casual expression of his blatantly classist view of the way that urban economies should run. Note what he said, emphasis added:

"The way to help those who are less fortunate is, number one, to attract more very fortunate people. They are the ones that pay the bills."
He has left out the working class and the middle class. He is saying, "make a healthy environment for the richest and everyone else will be taken care of." This is classist because it is disregarding the worth and the working lives of the working people. This is classic trickle-down economics, straight out of the economic policy playbook of Ronald Reagan, the man on whose coattails D'Amato was elected in 1980. This is the ignored issue in Bloomberg's interview, and the looming issue facing New York: how can we make this city livable, affordable for the mass of the population? By the status quo, we have the hedge-funders and the oligarchs, the very large lower income working class, and a shrinking middle that are thinking of leaving because the city's cost of living is unaffordable.