Articles by " Mona Salama"
30 Mar
2014
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All My Children

 

Photo Courtesy - NY Post

Photo Courtesy – NY Post

Since being sworn in as our 109th Mayor of New York City, Warren Wilhelm Bill de Blasio and his administration has decided to overturn many of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s decisions that have helped New York City prosper.

De Blasio’s latest plan of attack focuses on charter schools. The Mayor has decided to block the opening of nine charter schools from the 45 schools that were set to open this Fall. Out of the nine blocked, three are Success Academy schools, run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz.

 

 "Sorry kid, politics comes first."


“Sorry kid, politics comes first.”

The Mayor refuses to show any signs of compromise, and argues that co-location of charter schools was a rush decision made by the previous administration. With no contingency plans for the co-location reversal, these schools are now left to fend themselves.

As a result of the Mayor’s political posturing, over 700 kids – mostly minority students from low-income families – are now forced to return to failed neighborhood schools they have tried to escape.

Charter school operations are provided with government space and are run by non-profit organizations that continue to flourish year after year with now over 183 schools in New York City serving 70,000 children. Charter schools are the best public city schools with success rates of over 60% passing the English exams and 80% passing the math exam, both far beyond the city averages.

During his mayoral campaign in 2013, de Blasio was a huge critic of charter schools,making it clear that he will impose a moratorium on co-locations and charge charter schools rent.  He also specifically targeted Moskowitz’s charter schools must no longer be “ tolerated, enabled, [and] supported” by the city. After taking office, he announced a plan to cut $210 million over the next five years for classroom space and redirect them to add 7,000 new pre-kindergarten seats.

de Blasio justifies his war on charter schools, stating that the City can  “no longer devote the moneyto charter schools expansion… and frees up the money for other priorities.” With no contingency plans whatsoever, this all-out war on successful, high-performing schools that enroll minority children of low-income neighborhoods has de Blasio biting his own ‘Tale of Two Cities’ narrative.
For a brand new Mayor who won based in part on his divisive ‘Tale of Two Cities’ theme and the need to bridge the gap between rich and poor, this latest attack of charter schools is a political threat and poses a double standard. Perception is quickly becoming reality, as de Blasio’s popularity has nose dived to a 38% approval – in sharp contrast to his huge victory in November. His underlying agenda at the moment is to focus on resources for Universal Pre-K by taxing the rich, even though there are funds ready to be allocated by Gov. Cuomo.
The ones who will be affected the most by de Blasio’s decision are the children of NYC- our future. There is no valid reason for this occurrence. Charter schools demonstrate success and the children benefit academically from attending. Charter schools are not a threat to a normal public school; in reality, charter schools are public schools run independently by nonprofit groups. Charter schools are proof that public education is mismanaged by government. All the talk about children from the Mayor is to make sure his overall political agenda of Universal Pre-K happens not only with funding from Albany, but demanding income tax increase on the wealthy – his real goal.
This is just a politics gimmick. The real goal for New Yorkers is providing good schools for our children to attend. Charter schools are more important in reviving our failing education system. No Mayor or any legislator should be able to block access to quality education that charter schools provide. Any plans of charter school expansions set up by the past administration should not be sacrificed at the altar of progressive politics. It is a vindictive way the Mayor created to be different for the sake of being different. It harms the children in which  he serves and only serves to perpetuate his notion of a “Tale of Two Cities.
 
#ChartersWork

 

8 Jan
2014
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City Council Speaker Race Equals a Multiplication of de Blasio’s Progressive Influence

 

After New York City elected a new mayor, the city council speaker’s race began to heat up behind closed doors. Why behind closed doors, might you ask? This race is not to be determined by the constituents of New York, but rather by all 51 city council members in a vote scheduled today. Now, with 48 of the 51 city council members from the Democratic Party, this race is hardly in the Republican’s favor. Most significantly, motivations are high for newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, in ensuring the future speaker’s ambitions fall in line with his progressive agenda, especially considering the speaker’s prime responsibilities include working towards consensus with the mayor and city council on issues including overseeing city agencies, zoning, and setting the city’s budget.

The race for the secondmost powerful political office in the city after the mayor has two contenders, frontrunner Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman from District 8 (East Harlem), and Dan Garodnick, Councilman from District 4 (Upper East Side into Midtown East). Bill de Blasio’s top choice and candidate who received 30 official statements of support from council members is Mark-Viverito. The 30 official statements of support are four more votes than what is required in order to become elected speaker. Leading up to today’s anticipated vote, the candidates faced off in debates in public forums throughout all five boroughs. Along with this process and even more influential, numerous behind-the-scenes dealings among political brokers and special interests groups set forth by the de Blasio’s progressive caucus have strongly influenced the great majority of councilmembers who provided the official statements of support for Mark-Viverto. The measures de Blasio is taking are unconventional and causing quite a stir amongst Democrats.

The absolute goal of de Blasio in his quest to secure a self-selected speaker is that the newly elected speaker’s agenda aligns with his, and he/she is ready to work with him, not against him. Therefore, tying Mark-Viverto’s foreseen victory directly to de Blasio and his influencers now ties Mark-Viverto directly to the progressive caucus. While she holds the position of speaker, this notion of indebtedness to his extreme efforts further enhances de Blasio’s high-strung liberal agenda. de Blasio’s agenda also comes with pending rules of reform. These spark from former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s iron grip of control on the council over the past 8 years. The progressive caucus is aiming for progressive legislation and rules reform in order to put the checks on the power on the speaker. As the progressive caucus grows and sways their choice for the race, it is highly questionable whether or not county leaders are still powerful enough to sway the decision, or if members of this such progressive bloc will decide to vote with their caucus coalition.

Even with the battle between the two Democratic candidates heating up, the three Republican city council members’ influence still remains slight. Two Republican members hail from Staten Island and one from Queens. Both Mark-Viverto and Garodnick have expressed they will push forward continued Hurricane Sandy relief aid, in which all three districts with Republican representation were most affected. However, with only three Republican members on city council, the GOP is currently denied majority incentives, including chairing committees. Nonetheless, these council members pledged to voice opposition in areas including Mark-Viverto’s decision not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during city council meetings, the Provision of sick time earned by employees, and the tax increases on high-income earners in order to fun pre-K.

With the favorable candidate for city council speaker so closely aligned with Bill de Blasio and with only three sitting city council members from Republican party, the agenda and policies set forth are highly unlikely to be anything but favorable for the Republican party. This also is a huge indication of how much force, power, and change de Blasio is not afraid of igniting in order to move his progressive agenda forward.   Stay tuned today for the initial unfortunate and negatively impacting outcome of Bill de Blasio’s mayoral victory. This is only the beginning.

 

Written by Melissa Marovich

Live feed and Researched by Mona Salama

7 Nov
2013
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Moving backwards NYC

This year election was a landslide for democrats especially for progressive liberals. The 49 points victory for Bill de Blasio was one of the worst defeat for the GOP after a 20 year mayoral control.
The landslide in part was led by 96% of the 30% black population. Capturing more votes then the first elected black mayor David Dinkins in 1989.
Many voters believed his charismatic personality, pledging to help the poor and the working class with a progressive change. His biracial family helped affect voters decision during the primary and a landslide in the general, using his children in commercials and bring his wife in every campaign event. By using his family it helped showed a connection between a relationship of blacks and whites. They believe it will help model a better relationship of connections.
This victory is said to help bring a black voice to city hall after a feeling of neglected for almost 2 decades. They want a change in the stop question and frisk program in terms of ending it and de Blasio has made a promise to end this program. During the primary, de Blasio ran an ad using his son on this issue of stop and frisk by bashing it as a racial profiling. His frequent voice of this program on black men helped receive an electric reception throughout the campaign trail. The message helped make an impact winning majority of black votes with a win in the tough primary battle after polling with only 10% in June.
Many blacks feel optimistic of the future. A continuation of all the good that has happened in 20 years might not continue under de Blasio since he stated he will change many of Mayor Bloomberg policy such as public safety, education and zoning.
Instead of thoroughly explaining how de Blasio will implement his progressive reform in city hall, in which its not in details and the short notes is scary unrealistic, his campaign strategy was based on relationship with diverse voters based on shared experience and values which helped bring a record of turn out numbers. Being vague on his progressive populist view will come out once in office and how he works with city council, unions and Albany to get what he stated in his campaign platform. His main campaign platform was raising tax on an income of over $500,000 to sponsor universal pre-k programs in NYC. In regards to public safety, he wants community policing but to end the stop and frisk program, which help bring crime down to a record low. Retro active pay in unions was a big deal in this election where de Blasio has been vague on how to deal and negotiate with unions contracts. It will cost the city $7 billion, 10% of the city budget in which the city can’t afford can bankrupt the city or cause major budget cuts in schools, public safety and programs the city funds yearly. Will de Blasio turn NYC as another Detroit or keep the fiscal spending reasonable? Will crime rise after a 12 year drop? Will de Blasio become another Dinkins 2.0?

4 Nov
2013
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Daily News Tale of Negative Endorsement

The daily news endorsed Bill de Blasio for mayor with less than 24 hours left before the polls open. The endorsement doesn’t come as a shocker since the daily news is a liberal newspaper catering to democrats and union leaders. De Blasio a candidate with 20 years of political service but no managerial experience is expected to run a $70 billion budget –but how?!
The daily news endorsement editorial if read by readers in details will show a great disservice to this election. Quotes from daily news show how this endorsement was like a back room deal to help his mayoral campaign with its final push. Quotes shows it’s double standard such as “The silly season of Bill de Blasio vowing to exile carriage horses as a first order of business is over. De Blasio must soon face reality — and tackle tough issues.” There is no progressive way to help bring this city booming. It can only bring it backwards.
The article continues with de Blasio strong campaign that bashes the twenty years of booming capital and safer city that he believes will continue with his stances differ than what is in use. His tale of two cities campaign platform of wishful thinking will come to an end once it comes time to be a manager by balancing the city budget especially with union endorsements siding with de Blasio in hopes for a new contract and retroactive pay. A budget with no room to for retroactive pay will only happen if there is a trigger in tax increase on the middle class.
Using his family to help with his campaign strategy as a coy to cover his resume to run this city by imploding an unrealistic vision of progressive platform. Naive voters are taking them for granted by bring nothing to the table then empty promises and dead end issues due to his ideology.  If elected mayor, de Blasio is going to have to rethink his views and come to reality when issues that many New Yorkers change such as public safety and education.
De Blasio issue on public safety is disgusting to even hear. The centerpiece of his campaign was a full on attack on the department’s program of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people suspected of criminality. An anti police candidate with no respect to the 34,000 New York finest, flipped flopped during the debate against republican candidate Joe Lhota. On one debate he attacked the finest for doing their jobs but the last debate he praised the officers for doing their job and keeping New Yorkers safe. After the federal judge was overthrown for believing stop and frisk was unconstitutional, de Blasio lashed out after praising officers the day before, by promising to occupy the police department continuing the fight to end stop and frisk. He also promised to remove Ray Kelly as police commissioner, whose record of strategically anti-crime that helped drastically reduce crime.
On education, de Blasio promised to increase universally Pre-K by taxing the wealthy. This main campaign slogan will be dead in Albany by governor Cuomo who seeks re-election in 2014. If it does go through Albany, this promise might take years or as de Blasio stated 5 years. Sounds like Lenin right?
De Blasio is not in favor of charter schools due to being in the pockets of the UFT and wants to charge rent on charter schools. His few ideas of helping schools achieve is to get parental involvement and retain new teachers to help with the new academic Common Core standards. He opposed Bloomberg education reform and wants to reform and replace them with better insinuation even though it has helped many kids grades improve.
Lacking managerial skills to run this city unlike his opponent Joe Lhota, he is known to flip flop on issues and make promises as an elected official he can’t keep. De Blasio is “willing to reverse course to suit political needs”. A typical political democratic candidate willing to say anything to get elected. As public advocate, he promised to create low income housing near Barclay center as a deal to create this arena. The center is there but no housing has been built. Joining the fight to save the Long Island hospital was the heart of his primary campaign when he was lagging behind. As public advocate he did nothing to get the attention to save the hospital or helped with getting governor Cuomo help on this issue.
A negative endorsement and not a vote of confidants is what the daily news is suggesting. Vote for de Blasio and you are on your own is basically what they are implying. Vote for Joe Lhota. Be safe not sorry

4 Oct
2013
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NYC Mayoral Race Talking Points

1.    Democratic Party Mayoral Primary:

  1. Pursuant to New York law, in primaries for City-wide offices, if no primary candidate achieves in excess of 40% of the primary vote, there is a run-off. Democratic candidate Bill De Blasio barely surpassed this 40% margin in the Democratic mayoral primary.
  2. Bill Thompson came in second place in the Democratic mayoral primary conceded on 9/16/2013. Thompson conceded despite the fact that the Board of Elections’ archaic procedures had yet to count some 80,0000 votes.
  3. Citing the importance of intra-party unity, Thompson and Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed De Blasio for Mayor.
  4. There exists significant tension between Governor Cuomo and De Blasio due to agenda both disagreement. Diblasio’s campaign pitch has been to raise taxes on the wealthy to support expanding universal Pre-K program, contradicting Governor Cuomo movement on cutting taxes. Before his endorsement, Cuomo was “curious to find out the real plan for raising taxes on the wealthy for a program.”
  5. There are also concerns amongst Democrats that the liberal De Blasio agenda would create difficulties for Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign. If De Blasio is elected, both would clash on taxes, class warfare and charter schools.

2.    Joe Lhota Mayoral Campaign, Update

  1. Mayor Bloomberg will not endorse anyone in the mayoral general even though days before the primary it was stated by his administration the mayor would endorsed Lhota if Diblasio would win the democratic line.
  2. During the primary, Bloomberg criticized DiBlasio for running a campaign as “racist” for featuring his biracial family. Bloomberg went on the record in New York Magazine how Diblasio is using his family for support by tailoring a message along with his campaign slogan “a tale of two cities” as a destructive strategy.
  3. The New York Post ran a story a week before the primary that Bloomberg was “set to endorse Lhota” citing information from City Hall insiders. However endorsements can be damaging to both candidates. For example:

i. Endorsements play a huge role in helping voters decide who to pick for their next mayor. Many voters don’t follow local politics but psychologically it is known that many follow their endorsements over their political views
ii.     In 2001, during Mayor Bloomberg’s first mayoral run he was behind in the polls, until endorsed by Mayor Giuliani. Had Giuliani not endorsed Bloomberg, it is likely that Bloomberg would have lost to far left candidate Mark Green.
iii.     Like Giuliani and Bloomberg, Lhota is a conservative on issues of public safety and fiscal responsibility, while being a libertarian on social issues.
iv.     Pundits disagree on whether a Bloomberg endorsement would help Lhota, given the public’s tepid feelings toward the Bloomberg Administration.
v.     Endorsements from other Republicans are similary lacking, although former Governor Pataki has endorsed Lhota.
vi.     Unfortunately, John Catsimatidis did not show party unity in a similar fashion to Democrats. Catsmatidis attributes his loss to Giuliani’s support for Lhota.

3.    United Federation of Teachers (“UFT”)

  1. After sitting out the 2005 and 2009 mayoral races, the UFT came out in strong support of the Thompson campaign, spending some $2.6 million. The last mayoral candidate endorsed by the UFT that won the general election was Mayor Dinkins.
  2. UFT president claimed that the UFT would be “kingmaker” and was “making a mayor, making a winner.”
  3. Lhota requested a meeting with the UFT, but was rebuffed. However, Lhota recently met with Al Sharpton, and found many areas of common ground.

4.    The Race Begins – Lhota vs De Blasio vs Carrion

  1. De Blasio’s “Tale of Two cities” campaign slogan is attracting voters which helped him from being in 4th place in June to winning the democratic primary by over 15% from Thompson 25%.
  2. Lhota is now working with all the odds against him, recent polls put Lhota below 25% of voters.
  3. Lhota claims that De Blasio’s campaign slogan is class warfare, trying to breed resentment between those who live in the rest of the City and those who live on Park Avenue.Lhota believes that De Blasio’s campaign is radical, not progressive.
  4. Lhota seeks practical, straightforward governance as the goal – building on what we have done, not tearing down what has happened.  Lhota argues that new jobs, affordable housing programs and Pre-K programs can be funded from cost savings rather than raising taxes.
  5. The independent candidate Carrion is on the attack from both rivals as out of touch. He  has criticized DiBlasio for using rhetoric of class warfare, making promises that will carry New York down the road to Detroit. New Yorkers down the road of Detroit (similar to Lhota statement). Carrion has attacks Lhota as “insular” and his work as chairman of the MTA as not a leader to take us into the future.

5.    Low Voter turnout– Good or Bad?

  1. This year’s primary in September saw a total of only 700,000 registered voters voting.
  2. Only 22% of registered Democrats, and 12% of registered Republicans voted in the primary election.
  3. New York state is ranked 47/50 in voter turnouts
  4. Low turnout historically benefits incumbents and machine candidates since only prime voters will show up to vote and vote for their choice . If more voters came out to the polls, can this tip the scale?

Edited by Roger S.