Rock Hackshaw's blog
Lately there has been some controversy swirling around the decisions of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, relative to proposed school closings all over the city. If memory serves me right some players in this brouhaha have even gone to court to stop some (or all) of the proposed closings. I am told that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has opposed some (if not all) of these closings -at least in principle. But then the teachers union is usually an adversary of the chancellor’s office in an almost perfunctory manner, so this isn’t surprising. Now, let me preface this column by stating this: there are surely schools which should be closed -given years upon years of delivering poor quality education to its students; so I am not one trying to look over the shoulders of Department of Education (DOE) officials on the ground. Let’s be clear about that from Jump Street.
BARACK OBAMA: Undoubtedly, one of the best public speakers ever (especially from a prepared script).
Last night our president delivered his first official state of the union address: he was brilliant. Years from now speech instructors will be playing tapes of his speeches for their students; in fact; it’s probably happening already on many college campuses. Years from now books will be written compiling many of his speeches; some given even before he became one of the most historic of all our presidents. From here on in Barack Obama will be the standard by which great speakers are measured. He is undoubtedly one of the best public speakers ever (especially from a prepared script).
A funny thing happened on the way to the presidency though that bears noting. It was when he appeared before the congressional black caucus (at his request) to inform them that he was contemplating a run for the presidency. A significant number of black electeds thought the idea laughable. This is a fact. More than a few of them actually laughed at him and his idea. I mean that literally. Many others scoffed and others still were quite dismissive. They all know who they are.
Government should always try its best to avoid screwing the little man/woman. You know: the everyday people; the ordinary people like you and I. You see, without government we are left alone to the vagaries of greedy capitalists and unscrupulous speculators. Without government protections the strong and the wealthy will have too much power; much more than they already have. Much more than they already abuse.
Between the years 2001 and 2003, the residents of four dilapidated high rise towers in Brownsville, Brooklyn, were forced to relocate by the government of New York City. There were 368 apartment owners involved in this undertaking, and the lives of more than a thousand residents were possibly disrupted. The apartments were known as Prospect Plaza, in a nexus near Eastern Parkway, including small sections of Prospect Place and Saratoga Avenues.
Okay; so I hate political dynasties: it’s simple as that. Anything that seems to possess the trappings of royalty brings out the left-winger in me. Plus; in general, I find there is a tendency towards corruption once you allow one family to hold on to political power in any one area for too long. That’s just my suspicion; that’s all. I am making no accusations against anyone (or any group) here. Please, be mindful of that. I am just giving you a peek inside my scrambled brain that’s all -whether you want to peek in or not. LOL.
Anyway, over the years I have worked with many candidates who tackled the Boyland clan in Brownsville. At one time or another, the Boylands have simultaneously held the 55th Assembly seat; plus the 41st City Council seat; plus the district leaderships (both male and female) in the 55thAD. Plus they have even had family members on the local School Board. And they are colorful political players too. In fact, I have to admit that Brownsville has given us many colorful characters in the “game” of politics; but I will save that for another column.
From where I come in politics there is something called “paying dues”; it’s the reason I didn’t vote for Hilary Clinton in the general election of 2000. Although I endorsed her (and voted for her) in the primary that year, when the general election came I found her wanting. To me, the idea of moving into the state and immediately running for senate was revolting: so yes, I went with Rick Lazio (one of the few times I have voted Republican in my life).
Hilary ran all around the state on a “listening tour”, which I thought was an insult to my intelligence. Plus, I saw her candidacy as purely a stepping stone to a presidential run; and that was a turn off. So if I couldn’t vote for Hilary Clinton (a brilliant woman on many many levels), where the bleep is Harold Ford going with this trial balloon he has been floating for months now? Can you simply pack up a U-HAUL truck one morning, drive a thousand or so miles to New York, and immediately announce that you are contemplating a run for federal office from this state? Gimme a break! There are at least a million people better qualified to represent New York in the senate than this carpetbagger.
At a press conference held at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall yesterday, democrat senator John Sampson -Majority Leader of the New York Senate- pledged to donate ten thousand dollars from his salary, to aid the Haitian relief effort; in the wake of last Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. The earthquake which appears to be one of the deadliest in Caribbean history has devastated millions of Haitians when it hit 7.0 on the Richter scale that day; and since then, numerous smaller after-shocks have further heightened tensions in an already frail situation. Some estimates say that as many as a quarter million people have already died because of this earthquake.
The English Encarta Dictionary (North America) defines a “Don Quixote” type as “an impractical idealist who loves to champion hopeless causes”; I thought of this when I watched Charles Barron last Wednesday, as he tried to make his case for becoming Speaker on the New York City Council. It was the first stated meeting of the newly elected city council. Barron was pleading his case before this semi-august body, which will be 357 years old on February 2nd, 2010.
Late last year, when I first came upon the news item that NYC Councilmember Charles Barron (#42) was challenging Speaker Christine Quinn’s re-election, I thought to myself that this was a tremendous opportunity for Barron to publicly lay out his arguments for reform within this legislative body. I even went to some length to convey this to him in person.
Politically speaking, the year 2009 was rather elliptical. It started out with tremendous promise (Obama) and ended up somewhat unsatisfying. If I were to describe it in one word, I would say priapic (as in priapism). To all my grad students who regularly read my column, I could only say this: go look up some of these words/lol.
There were a few highs and far too many lows last year; and for me, getting the opportunity to peregrinate the 40th council district while campaigning for its city council seat was a political high that words could only deflate. Many people who went up to my website (www.rockhackshaw.com) in order to view my platform, contacted me to say that they were impressed with my thinking through some of the many issues facing us here in the Big Apple. That was quite encouraging during some very tough days last summer.
Councilmember Darlene Mealy(#41): learning from a close political victory; unlike councilmember Dr. Kendall Stewart (#45).
To some elected officials, a win is a win, is a win, is a win: no matter how close. And then they move on to their next term in office, learning very little from victory and arrogantly paying no heed to the warning signs. Ostensibly, lame duck councilmember Dr. Kendall Stewart (#45), fell victim to this political mentality recently (more on that later).
It appears however, that NYC council member Darlene Mealy is somewhat different. She recently overcame spirited challenges from former councilwoman Tracey Boyland, Tulani Kinard (endorsed by both Al Sharpton and Charles Barron), and activist Anthony Herbert. For the sake of full disclosure, let me also state that Mrs. Kinard was also endorsed here by yours truly. I have known both Tulani and her husband (Stan) for many years now, and have worked with them on many political initiatives. They are both educators and activists (political and cultural) who have paid lots of dues in the continuing struggles of colored folks.
After 16 continuous years of Republican mayors in New York City, you would think that there would be an urgency amongst democrats (nationwide) to get rid of this present pompous and arrogant mayor Michael Bloomberg: well you could have fooled me. After watching President Barack Obama (and surely his political director /Patrick Gaspard too) insult the democrat’s nominee William (Billy) Thompson, with what must be described as the worst half-assed endorsement ever given to a mayoral candidate for a major political party, I am demanding an explanation from the White House.
What the hell is going on?
Come next Tuesday 3rd November 2009, Mr. Carrie Solages will be on the ballot for County Clerk of Nassau. This Long Island native is a thirty year old lawyer employed at his family’s law firm (Solages and Solages). He has been described as “the young rising star of the Nassau County Democratic Party”. This description came from none other than Thomas (Tom) R. Suozzi himself: Nassau’s County Executive. Suozzi made this comment last May when he nominated Solages for the post.
Mr. Solages has been a member of the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights since 2007, and was an assistant District Attorney in the Bronx before starting with this law firm. He was born on Long Island to a black immigrant couple from the Caribbean nation of Haiti. If elected he will be the first black person to have ever held this position. Many Caribbean-Americans here (and not just Haitian-Americans) are quite proud of this candidate; expect a bump in turnout in certain parts of the county.
What’s the fuss?
Do tell me what’s happening?
All this talk from right-wing republicans about whether or not Barack Obama deserved to win the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize comes from spiteful and resentful perches. Always remember that there are very few people who possess the moral courage to support another’s success without envy. Republicans have demonstrated this with full regal display, ever since the day the announcement was made, that Obama had won the internationally prestigious and coveted Nobel Peace Prize: and attendant award(s).
Of course Barack deserved the Nobel: he earned it over the years with his articulation, suave, depth, sophistication and overall brilliance; despite a couple blatant mistakes. He earned it with his work on nuclear arms reduction while in the senate. He earned it with his commonsensical approach to diplomacy: engagement not confrontation; dialogue not escalation; inclusion not isolation; more mutual respect and less threatening behaviors; and so on, and so on. He earned it because he has raised hope and lowered fear. He earned it because he has charted a positive course forward for US foreign policy in the short-term. He earned it because of exactly what he accomplished: becoming the first mulatto to attain the office of US president. The rest of the world is quite aware of US racial history folks; trust me on this one.
I haven’t done a “grapevines” column in ages so here goes. Too many people are saying that David Paterson needs to step gingerly out of the upcoming gubernatorial race: too many people. I wonder why? If I were David I would be gearing up to run by giving them all the finger; which I suppose he is doing right now. This whole mess was handled wrong from the day Eliot Spitzer selected him for LG. Even though I am not sure David Paterson will get elected as governor, I still think he should run.
I hate it when the so-called “powers that be”, stifle competition amongst candidates and leave the voters with little or no choice (like they have now done with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand). By the way, do you know what Paterson said when he found out that he was selected to be Lieutenant Governor on Spitzer’s ticket? In his trademark jocular manner, I am told he said something to the effect: “surely, they couldn’t have vetted me”. He was right, wasn’t he? LOL.
TELL ME SOMETHING: IF MICHAEL BLOOMBERG IS MAYOR FOR A 3RD TIME, WHAT IS GOING TO STOP HIM FROM LEGISLATING FOR A 4TH TERM?
Okay, so many of you are going to say this is a stretch, but it isn’t: come next month, and let’s say Michael Bloomberg is elected to a third term as mayor (although I hope not), what is going to prevent him from overturning the term limits law again, and legislating himself a chance at being a four-term mayor? And furthermore, who is going to stop him? Pray tell.
The initial answer is as obvious as my handsome face: nothing. The secondary answer is even more obvious than my charm and wit: no one. Nothing and no one can stop Michael Bloomberg from going for a fourth term if he were to win again next month. Well, maybe the courts can (maybe).
In the recent David v. Goliath political story, the David is real (Governor David Paterson); the Goliath (President Obama and his White House staffers) however, are nothing but symbols of so many things wrong with our present democracy. The problem is that so many of our electeds are too compromised to do anything about fixing some of the structural defects within political parties. In both of the major political parties (Democrats and Republicans alike) party-politics tend to suck: simple as that.
One of pains that come with challenging incumbents is that you are quickly black-balled and politically ostracized: no matter how talented you are; no matter how qualified or experienced you are. Incumbents view their positions from a prism of entitlement. They seem to think that they own the seat once they get elected to it. And how dare some silly insurgent rise up to challenge them? How dare some insurgent be so audacious as to give the people a choice during elections? This is one of the reasons why I am so set on having term-limits at all levels of government.