Rock Hackshaw's blog
I haven't published a column on Room Eight New York Politics for about six weeks now. Truth be told, I am politically depressed: that's all. Hopefully I'll be back in swing soon enough; since I am still intent on regularly contributing to this political-writers colony. At least that's where my head is in general, but my heart's in a different place right now, so I am reading poetry and literature to cover up the disappointment that is today's political landscape (local, national and international).
ON BLOOMBERG AND BLACK: EDUCATING BROWNS, REDS, YELLOWS, BLACKS AND OTHER COLORS OF THE RAINBOW (Part Two).
So last week, the state court held that the unqualified Cathie Black can become our next school's chancellor in New York City. Happy New Year!!
This should be a letter to the present mayor (and to all wanabee future mayors of New York City). Instead of just some political column, I could title it:“Start treating the outer-boroughs right; enough is enough”.
THIS WAS SENT TO ME BY E-MAIL RECENTLY AND I HAD TO SHARE IT WITH YOU ROOM EIGHT READERS: Take this test and pass it on to your more literate friends.
This is what it took to accomplish an eight grade eduction back then.
Remember when grandparents and great - grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?
Well, some people aren't going to like this column, but what's new? I think I have found a good female candidate for the next election for the office of Brooklyn borough president. If she runs and wins, then history will be made, since she will be the first female borough president of Brooklyn.
In 2006 we finally got a female NYC council speaker in Christine Quinn; and I know that for the forces of empowerment, inclusion and diversity, she fits two bills: she is also a lesbian. Fine.
It was written by a young Otto Rene Castillo: a Guatemalan born writer -now deceased.
ON BLOOMBERG AND BLACK: EDUCATING BROWNS, REDS, YELLOWS, BLACKS AND OTHER COLORS OF THE RAINBOW (Part One).
I have been told that presently the NYC public school system has close to 1.25 million students. I am also told that only around ten per cent of these students are white; and that the vast majority are Negro and Hispanic; with significant East Indians and other Asians: in other words black and brown, and yellow, and red all over.
Before I go further with my political writings, I need to clear up a few things. After more than five years on these here blogs (mainly Politicker, Daily Gotham and Room Eight New York Politics); after numerous local radio and television appearances; after some of my political columns have been published in a few newspapers, and after some others have appeared in various other media outlets (particularly of the fifth estate variety); I need to openly reflect and/or retrospect.
Some wise-ass political thinker once said that “we get the government we deserve”. Another went even further when he said that “we get the exact government we voted for”. And on most elections nights you would hear commentators saying things like: “the people have spoken”; or that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”; or that “these results are the people's will”. But are these cliches correct in terms of their deeper messages?
It's 5:00am. It's the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November: so even a grade school student should know that it's all about elections today. All over the country we are going to witness what is called the early “mid-term” elections. This is when a new president is in the middle of his first term, and voters get a chance to express their views in terms of the direction the new president is taking the country. History shows that for the new president's party the congressional results are generally disappointing in mid-term elections.
I did a post-primary election column last month that drew many inane comments from some of the anonymous jackasses who love to peregrinate these NYC blogs, essentially to torment those who are strong enough to put their thoughts in writing; and brave enough to have their views/opinions published. The thread was somewhat disconcerting, given what I think is the overall objective of this site: to educate the public politically. After viewing the official results released by the Board of Elections recently, I have decided to revisit two of the races on which I commented.
Next week Tuesday (Election Day) there will be a special election held for the 28th council-manic district in Queens. The need for which came about after Council-member Tom White died recently. Originally there were fourteen candidates registered with the NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB); namely (in alphabetical order and with latest CFB financial-filing numbers): Victor Babb -$15,500; *Albert Baldeo -$54,994; *Charles Bilal -$5,298; *Martha Butler -$0; Leroy Gadsden -$0; *Allan Jennings -$15,417; Vishnu Mahadeo -$0; Joseph Marthune -$0; Elaine Nunes -$0; Lyn Nunes -$0; *Nicole Paultre-Bell -$12,033; Hattie Powell -$0; *Harpreet Toor -$18,895; and *Ruben Wills-$25,800. The seven with an asterisk (*) in front their names, have survived the petition and court-challenge phases and are now on the ballot. Only one (Willis) has received matching funds so far. Do note that former council-member Jennings has withdrawn from the matching funds program of CFB.
Now, I am not going to get into all the political gossip and mud-slinging that has plagued this race up to this point, since it has really been distracting as far as I am concerned. Some mainstream (and even local) newspapers have had a field-day with all the gossip, attacks, lies, innuendo and aspersions cast by various candidates against other candidates. On the streets of this district all sorts of sordid things have been said, and all sorts of nasty literature have been lit-dropped: so I am excusing myself from all that. However, I will endorse RUBEN WILLS and I will tell you why.
Initially, I felt that there were four candidates in this race with decent chances of winning. In that list I included Baldeo, Jennings, Paultre-Bell and Wills. I didn't think the other three survivors (Bilal, Butler and Toor) had much chance of attaining victory. Look, I am not saying I am right or wrong; I am just giving my opinion that's all. For full disclosure let me say that I thought Lyn Nunes would have won had he made the ballot: but neither he nor his sister made it; so that's yesterday's news.
I want to believe that Ms. Nicole Paultre-Bell has now emerged as the favorite to win this race, since she picked up the endorsements of two formidable unions recently (1199 and 32BJ). On Election Day their GOTV (get-out-the-vote) operations will be quite helpful to her cause. She has also secured endorsements from Congressman Gregory Meeks, activist Al Sharptongue, Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio, Council-members Jumanee Williams, Ydannis Rodriguez, James Sanders and many others. I am told that she has been on a roll since Congressman Meeks pushed her into this race; deliberately stepping in to block Wills and his endorsement from the Queens County Democratic Party machine.
It is said that Meeks has never forgiven Wills for attempting to challenge him in a primary a few years aback. If this is true then Meeks has put revenge ahead of common sense. Let me tell you why I say so.
I have nothing personal against Ms. Paultre-Bell. I know little about this ostensibly beautiful young woman beyond what I have read in the newspapers, after her fiancee was tragically killed by over-zealous policemen, in an infamous shooting a few years aback. This was both sad and unfortunate. But as far as I have been able to ascertain, neither Ms. Bell nor her deceased fiancée (Sean) were ever involved in the politics of this district. I am told she still lives in Long Island. A news report claims that even yesterday she said that she still hasn't moved into the district as yet; but expects to be living there by Election Day: which is exactly six days away. She is surely cutting it close despite still being within the letter of the law.
Of the seven candidates running, she is most likely the least politically-active here. Whatever she has done in regard to politics and community-activism, seems to have come about after the tragic shooting. This endorsement from Meeks and company is a slap in the face of many others in this race who have been involved in politics and community development for eons. There were others in this race more deserving of these high-profile backers. I wish these endorsers would explain their justification to some of these candidates: I am sure that many of them are now very anxious to know the reasoning behind this groundswell of support for Ms. Bell. Is she up to date on community issues? How well does she understand the history of this community and its development? Can she articulate the needs of the city and of the district in particular? Where does she stand on contemporary political issues in general? Does she understand policy-formation or the inner-workings of the city council? Has she ever studied the city charter? And so on and so on!
In communities of color we need more people to become active in the local politics. We need more people involved in their churches, schools and civic organizations. We need more activity on community boards and their attendant committees. We need more involvement in block associations and tenant groups. We need more crime-watchers and civilian patrols. We need more input by ordinary citizens into issues facing us on a daily basis. When elected officials bypass those who have paid dues in various communities of color, in order to support neophytes for public office, simply because of personal vendettas (or because other higher-ups control them and push candidates on them), what they actually do is further discourage others from contributing and becoming more involved in the community. Many potential candidates, their relatives, friends and supporters look at these things and feel unappreciated and undervalued. They often spread a bitter disgruntlement across the hood, contaminating others and discouraging many. It may sound trite, but it is true.
Look; from where I come in politics, “paying dues” counts. Ruben Wills has paid a lot of dues. He has been active in community-service since he was a youngster. He is about forty years old and has been involved in youth-development, economic-development, Christian-church outreach, sports, education, business, community-development, political activism, et al. When hospitals were closing all over the city Ruben Wills could be seen (and heard from) openly protesting against these closings in various communities (not just in communities of color). He was an early Obama supporter, who has worked with unions for worker's rights and for better working-conditions for all. He has marched for human and civil rights, and also for issues and causes that were local, state, national and international in scope. He is a bona- fide political activist.
It is notable that Wills has the support of various electeds in the area, including state senators Shirley Huntley and Malcolm Smith; assembly members Vivian Cook and William Scarborough; councilman Leroy Comrie; and an assorted number of male and female district leaders all over south-east Queens. He also has union-backing, including police officers from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) and the formidable DC 37 city workers. He should do well next Tuesday, but his chances of winning have surely diminished since Ms. Bell's ascendancy. Still, I wish him all the luck in the world: he is probably going to need some.
Stay tuned-in folks.
When the subject of Carl Paladino came up on the Brian Vines television program (BCAT) a couple months ago, I distinctly remember -as a guest panelist- getting a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach: after all (as a voter) I would eventually have to make a choice and vote for someone in the lackluster gubernatorial field. I left the studio pledging to myself that in the general election, I would keep an open mind on every single candidate running. The reason for my angst was the difficult time I was having in closing the deal for Andrew Cuomo, given my registration as a democrat all my voting life. You see, I hate candidates who for years stay quiet on certain significant contemporary issues, and then suddenly find their 'voice' just around election time. I don't “feel” that kind of political temerity. I really don't. And I don't think it should be rewarded either: but Andrew Cuomo will win this race -and it won't even be close. You can bet the too damn high rent on this.
A NOTE TO NEW YORK DEMOCRATS: WE HAVE TO GO OUT AND VOTE NEXT MONTH LIKE BOTH SENATES DEPENDED ON IT.
I am sure you have heard all the recent predictions from so-called political experts: of gloom and doom for democrats in next month's nationwide elections. They have been saying that polling results are showing a large enthusiasm gap between democrats and republicans in near every state, which would translate into gains for republicans in both federal and state legislatures. They say more republicans will turn out to vote than democrats, and that this has been fueled by the Tea Party movement. I caution people to consider this: polls are just snapshots in time, and as such they are subject to overnight change. I also caution people that the same movement (Tea Party) ostensibly driving republican turnout, could likewise motivate Dem turnout. Perceptions that President Obama is being disrespected by certain elements within the Republican party, will surely spur turnout in this midterm election, and as such I expect that there will be a slightly higher nationwide voter-turnout than what historically occurs in mid-term elections. I predict that election-night results will show democrats in surprisingly good shape compared to the predictions: there will be some hemorrhaging as expected, but it wouldn't be a bloodbath as the pundits predict. I expect Democrats to retain both houses of Congress.
As a political-commentator, it is never advisable to make predictions that can be seen as “out on a limb”, but many of us do it anyway. The fact is that even a supposedly safe prediction can backfire and undermine one's credibility in just a single special-election, far more a whole national election-cycle. It's probably always better to couch your predictions a bit: a lesson I learned again recently.
You see, a few months ago I appeared on a BCAT cable-television program in Brooklyn, with Tom Robbins (staff writer/ The New York Village Voice) and Tom Tracey (The Brooklyn Paper). We were discussing the then upcoming primary elections. I am sure one can “Google” and find the show on the Internet. In that discussion I told the viewing audience that Carl Paladino was going nowhere fast. I essentially felt back then -and still do now- that he is totally unfit to be the governor of New York State. I thought Rick Lazio was going to clean his clock in the Republican primary: boy, was I wrong!