Browsing Category "Blog"
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.

19 Jun
2013
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Congresswoman Clarke and Cuban Espionage

Maybe you’ve heard of the Cuban Five. If you haven’t, the Cuban Five are a group of five Cuban prisoners (from whence they get their catchy name), serving time in federal prison. With the support of Castro’s government, the Cuban Five operated as an espionage group in Florida’s Cuban community, and information they provided to Cuba enabled Cuban MIGs to shoot down a Brothers to the Rescue plane operating in international airspace. Brothers to the Rescue is an aid organization that conducts aerial patrols keeping an eye out for folks fleeing the Cuban regime via raft, so that they can be rescued. Three U.S. citizens and one permanent U.S. resident died in the attack. After a lengthy trial, in 2001 the Cuban Five were convicted on 26 separate counts related to espionage. They have since engaged in numerous appeals, including a request that the Supreme Court review the case (that request was denied). The Cuban Five are now really the Cuban Four, with one of the men having served his sentence and been released.

A few weeks ago the Cuban Interest Section (Cuba’s de facto embassy in the United States) organized a protest demanding release of the Cuban Five/Four, and protesters marched in front of the White House with signs reading “Defend the Revolution” and sporting Che Guevara t-shirts. None of which would be worth much attention, although a cynical observer might note the irony of protesters engaging in pro-Cuban activity that would get them jailed in Havana were it pro-American activity.  Other than that it would be worth a collective yawn…except for the fact that the protesters were invited to a reception hosted by Yvette Clarke, Brooklyn’s own representative (pictured below), and her Chicago counterpart Bobby Rush. As one would expect, the Cuban government celebrated the reception.

yvette clarke

What is one to make of this? Our (speaking of NYC as a whole) representative hosts a reception for pro-Castro protestors sponsored by the Cuban government. The same Cuban government that is one of four nations on the Department of State’s list of nations who are State Sponsors of Terrorism, along with Iran, Syria and Sudan. The same Cuban government that allows only 3% of its citizenry to have access to the internet; that regularly jails teenagers for “pre-criminal social dangerousness;” and that ignores basic tenets of human rights, jailing and torturing opponents to the regime, whom they term gusanos.

Gusanos such as Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, arrested and beaten for exposing that cholera medication provided by the World Health Organization was not being distributed to the Cuban people because the regime sought to downplay the seriousness of a 2012 outbreak;  Ariel Sigler Amaya, who spent a decade behind bars for protests against the government, and emerged a broken and emaciated wreck; rapper Angel Yunier Remon, imprisoned for composing lyrics against the regime; blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo who has suffered beatings for blog posts critical of the Cuba’s leadership; and at least 6,000 other perceived dissidents in the last year alone, according to the Directorio Democratico Cubana.

This is what I make of it; I’m disgusted and embarrassed. Disgusted that my Congresswoman (I live in her district) would enhance the legitimacy of the Castro regime, and embarrassed that my Congresswoman would see fit to host an event in support of spies who were found guilty of espionage against the United States.

Shame on you Congresswoman Clarke.

17 Jun
2013
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Free Trade Between EU and US

At the recent G8 summit President Obama and PM Cameron discussed starting talks about establishing a free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. The first negotiations would start on July 8th of this year and they hope by 2014 to have an agreement. “America and Europe have done extraordinary things before and I believe we can forge an economic alliance as strong as our diplomatic and security alliances, which of course are the most powerful in history,” said Obama.

France, which blocked the idea in the 1990s, is threatening to block the agreement again. They are afraid of the cultural competition from Hollywood and online entertainment. Nice to know the French haven’t changed.

The agreement is excepted to create 2 million jobs for the two sides of the Atlantic. Trade between EU and the US already makes up one third of global trade and is worth just shy of $3 billion a day. The German non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation study shows the trade agreement would help the US more than the EU. For the US the free trade would create a 13% increase in GDP per capita compared to the 5% for the EU. The study also suggested that the UK would benefit.

14 May
2013
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Scandalmania!

Yesterday, on the radio program “The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this:

“What I’m trying mightily to do is not allow the Scandalmania–’cuz you know how the press is with scandals and that becomes all-consuming–I don’t want that to eclipse the session and I don’t want it to derail the session because we have a lot of good work to do out there for New Yorkers who just want their government to function,”

This quote is pretty interesting. First, Cuomo has the audacity to complain that the press is covering Democratic legislators’ arrests. That’s what the press is supposed to do. The press isn’t making these Democrats break the law. And Second, Cuomo’s logic doesn’t make much sense. He wants the press to stop talking about the scandals because “New Yorkers just want their government to function,” but it is because of the scandals that the government is not functioning.

Here are some more about Scandalmania!

The ‘Complicated, but All Bad’ Scandal in New York’s State Legislature

FBI had eye on nine Democrats

New York corruption probe: Names released of 7 elected officials recorded by disgraced state Sen. Shirley Huntley
For Officials on Tape, Legislator’s Invitation Was Ruse

Officials Named in Huntley’s Wire List Proclaim Innocence at Varying Speeds

13 May
2013
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IRS Targets Conservative Groups

The revelation that the IRS “decided to target” conservative groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their name is truly disturbing.  One of the most troubling aspects to this breach of trust is that no one seems to know who is responsible.

The American colonists protested “taxation without representation”. Today we have taxation without accountability. Those involved with targeting specific groups may be fired, but the underlining issues won’t be fixed. Under the constitution, Congress has the power to levy taxes—yet the responsibility of enforcing those taxes have fallen to nameless bureaucratsthat cannot be held accountable by voters.  Thus, the IRS department that oversees tax-exempt groups and has the ability to decide which of those groups are tax-exempt or not targeted for extra scrutiny and perhaps even harassment groups with tea-party or patriot in their name. Tomorrow it could be another group or criteria. The issue isn’t that they targeted conservative groups, but that the IRS is able to target political groups’ period. And this is yet another reminder that our tax code needs reform.

Reuters reports ““Exactly who at the IRS made the decisions to start applying extra scrutiny was not clear….” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) told NBC, “Somebody made the decision.” And on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said, “There has to be accountability for the people who did it.”

How can we have “accountability” for that nameless, vague “somebody” who made and encouraged “the decision” to “target” specific political groups?

10 May
2013
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A Republican Plan

Peter Wehner has an interesting article today titled “The Republican Party’s Road Back to Victory” on RealClearPolitics. His ideal road is to be “the party of reform and modernization” and he gives five areas for Republicans to concentrate.

They are:

Entitlement reform

Tax code reform

Immigration

Education

Energy

I would add one other point. The Republican Party should focus their efforts on being the party of “reform and modernization” in the cities. New York City is a good place to start.

9 May
2013
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Dems Corruption Continues

2013 for New York Democrats is turning into a nightmare of their own making. Six more New York City Democrats are under federal criminal investigations. Those named in the investigation are John Sampson, Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery of Brooklyn; Malcolm Smith (again, see below) and Jose Peralta of Queens; and Ruth Hassell-Thompson of The Bronx. Ex-senator Shirley Huntley (Dem.) wore a wire exposing the others to help herself win some leniency in her own criminal investigation.  Senate Democratic spokesman Michael Murphy commented, “This is an extremely trying time in Albany.” I agree for Democrats. For Republicans this can be a time to showcase an alternative to corrupt Democrat NYC politics.

1 May
2013
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The Continuing Story of Bill’s Bungalow

On Monday, subscribers to Bill de Blasio’s New York City Public Advocate email list received what looked to be a thought provoking email from the Democratic primary candidate; a query asking “Where has all the affordable housing gone?” Unfortunately, Mr. de Blasio’s email proved little more than a screed setting forth tired Democratic tropes about raising taxes, mandating construction, and subsidizing housing. Since Mr. de Blasio didn’t answer his own question, we’ll take the opportunity to steer him in the right direction. Indeed, Mr. de Blasio needs look no further than his own backyard…because he has one, literally.

There are many reasons New York City lacks affordable housing (rent stabilization, burdensome regulation, lack of available land), but one of the most pernicious is the way in which property taxes are allocated. Reading about taxes is about as soul crushing as attending a Nickelback concert, so please bear with me.

New York City is blessed with a property tax system that is simultaneously arcane and archaic, but it breaks down roughly into four different property classifications. Class One properties are individual houses, residential properties of up to three units, and most condos under four stories. Class Two properties are taller condo buildings, most co-ops, and larger rental buildings.  We’re only going to discuss Class One and Class Two, the classes pertaining to housing, so Class Three (Utilities) and Class Four (Commercial/Industrial), won’t to concern us here.

Class One properties, and those Class Two properties which are condos and co-ops are typically taxed at a far lower effective rate than the remainder of Class Two properties, which are larger rental buildings. Therefore, if you live in a large rental building, you’re typically paying a far higher effective tax rate than folks living in a house. As a tenant of a large rental building, this tax is invisible, because it is incorporated into your rent; essentially, your landlord passes the tax on to you.

So just how bad is the disparity between property taxes paid by residents of houses, condos, and co-ops on the one hand and residents of large rental buildings on the other? Property taxes on large rental buildings are about 5 times as high as those on houses, condos and co-ops. While Class One properties make up about 49% of the City’s total real estate value, their share of the City’s property tax revenue is only 15%. Out of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, New York City has one of the lowest tax rates on individual housing, coming in at number 44. Meanwhile, taxes on large rental housing are the second highest in the country.

Judging from his campaign photos and his statements, Mr. de Blasio is a homeowner in Park Slope, which puts him squarely in the Class One category. Those larger rental buildings which pay 5 times as much as Mr. de Blasio are typically found in New York’s less affluent areas, such as Inwood and the Bronx, where residents are often young, poor, or minorities, and usually a combination thereof. Simply stated, Mr. de Blasio’s lower tax rate is subsidized in effect, by the higher taxes paid by residents of larger apartment buildings, who can less afford it.

To answer to Mr. de Blasio’s question, “Where has all the affordable housing gone?” is pretty simple: to benefit Mr. de Blasio and his ilk.

If Mr. de Blasio is truly earnest about increasing the availability of affordable housing, one of the first proposals he can champion is to make New York’s property tax system equitable for all its residents by flattening the rates. Raising taxes on those Class One properties and Class Two properties which are condos and co-ops, and lowering taxes on the large rental housing predominantly occupied by the City’s poor and lower middle class families, would be one positive -step towards making housing affordable for all our City’s residents.

25 Apr
2013
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Politics As Usual For NYC?

Queens senator Malcolm Smith (Democrat) pleaded not guilty this month to charges that he bribed to get onto the Republican mayoral ballot. He got caught while talking to co-conspirators for hours with an undercover FBI agent posing as a wealthy real estate developer. Smith agreed to use the power of his senate chair to get state money for the suburban town Spring Valley, which the FBI agent’s “company” was hoping to develop.

Queens Councilman Dan Halloran (Republican) is charged this month for offering bribes using his delegated taxpayer-funds.

Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (Democrat), who is involved in The New Age Social Adult Day Care Center, was charged this month for bribing to pass legislation that would block other adult day care centers being opened near his.

Malcolm Smith’s lawyer told reporters that “Smith is a dedicated and highly respected public servant.” If Smith’s lawyer had paid attention to a recent poll that shows 91% of New York voters believe “legislative corruption is a serious problem,” he would realize no one is going to believe him.  In addition, 81% of New York voters believe more corruption stings will come. The poll also pointed out that a third of voters actually believe it will be their senate or assembly representative that could get busted. Now, New York City has had its fair share of corrupt politics (Tammany Hall comes to mind), but what’s disturbing is how New York voters suspect it could be the very elected officials who they put into office. What does that say about the voters in this city? And what does that say about the faith they place in their choice in elected officials?

 

22 Apr
2013
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Can I make a decision for once?

The New York City council is aiming to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said, “The more difficult it is for [young people] to gain access to tobacco products, the less likely they are to start smoking. The more likely they are to live longer.” This continues the policy against tobacco use in the city. Ten years ago smoking was banned in bars and restaurants and recently there has been a push to conceal tobacco products in stores so children can’t see them. The city has also expanded in other unhealthy habits. They have made selected restaurants place calories on their menus to guilt you to order healthier food items. They have pushed to curb New Yorkers’ usage of salt and sugary drinks. There are ads showing how far you have to walk just to walk-off the soda you just drank. There seems to be a new ad campaign out every week telling subway riders how to live their lives according to the experts in government. Ronald Reagan in a 1964 speech put it this way: “We believe in our capacity for self-government or… we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite… can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” Republicans believe the former, while Bloomberg and Quinn believe the latter.