Historic AKNA

The Montagues & The Chobans

I was a director of a community service department at Pratt Institute when I first came to Albemarle Terrace in the early and late 1970s. My students and I were conducting land use and building condition surveys for the Flatbush Development Corporation. At that time, there wasn’t a block in Flatbush that did not carry the burden of a vacant or abandoned building. The survey helped to prioritize the energy of a community-based nonprofit development corporation in its preservation efforts.

I also knew the area in our work for Irving Choban to produce an architectural details record of Flatbush Town Hall (Synder). As a lawyer and historian, he was tenacious in saving this High Victorian structure (more here), getting it on the National Register to prevent demolition in the late 60s. It became New York City Landmark in 1966. He was a tenacious man. He lived on Kenmore Terrace. He is why we live in a historic district.

In 1998, I brought my wife to see Albemarle Terrace and meet with Richard and Dorothy Montague. They raised their two boys and decided to move to upstate New York and sell their home on Albemarle Terrace. I knew Richard as a writer for the New York Post. The day Rupert Murdoch took it over, he and Roberta Gratz, author of “The Living City,” left the Post to its dust and grime. Along with Roberta, Richard’s greatest joy in writing is to chronicle moments directly in front of all of us. He wrote the following article about our little part of New York as an editorial for Newsday. I hope you enjoy it, and it is a beautiful bit of writing.  It describes what it was like in 1978 when they learned they had succeeded in sustaining a part of Brooklyn’s history through its architecture. 


Two Short Blocks of a Great City’s Past

Richard Montague Newsday Sunday, July 23, 1978

Like any place else, New York’s essential characteristics are rooted in times past.”

Nathan Silver, Lost New York

A little after 8 o’clock on a recent Wednesday evening, a Brooklyn lawyer named Irving Choban and his wife, Rosalind had an open house for their neighbors.

The house is an attractive two-story brick structure on a dead-end street in northern Flatbush.  It is older than either of the Chobans; it is 59.  Along with 30 other similar buildings close by, it has been designated the day before by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission as a part of a new “Albemarle-Kenmore Terraces Historic District.”

So, for the next couple of hours, in the Chobans’ comfortable living room at 2118 Kenmore Terrace as full of cheerful people, all members of the terraces’ block association, celebrating their official recognition.

That was a landmark for everybody too.  Represented by Choban who is the official historian of Flatbush, and Donna Sanft of Albemarle Terrace, the association began asking its first hopeful questions about how to go about obtaining “landmark status” five years ago this fall.

The new Albemarle-Kenmore historic district is one of the smallest in New York.  There were 31 others Brooklyn Heights, for instance), plus 526 individual landmarks, 13 interior landmarks, including Radio City Music Hall, and five scenic ones, of which Central Park is the best known.  The commission has sought out, examined, and designated them all in only 13 years.

Sometimes the choices are easy, undisputed, and without commercial implications.  Other times, as demonstrated by years of litigation in the Grand Central Terminal case just decided – in favor of preservation –by the U.S. Supreme court, there could be intense, expensive contention.  In either case, the values involved are always appreciably more than financial.

The new Brooklyn landmark is “historic” because, as a commission survey puts it, the terraces built between 1916 and 1920 are “part of the general history of Flatbush.” They exhibit well cared for examples of the “neo-Federal” style;  include designs that developed from the English Garden City movement (adapted to Forest Hills Gardens in Queens in 1903); and were among the earliest row houses to have garages, setting a style that is now standard in many parts of New York.

But there are other features to be appraised; the languorous sway of the tree branches in the vagrant winds of idle summer afternoons; the cascades of red and yellow leaves and bouncing acorns from the oaks under the blazing blue sky of fall; the door wreaths, lights and family carolers at Christmastime, and the small back yards in spring, with their moist flowerbeds, budding shrubs and secret corners hiding moss and violets.

In his book of photographs and thoughts on “Lost New York,” the vanished buildings torn down over the years, architect Nathan Silver quotes Lewis Mumford: “in the city time becomes visible.”  Silver thinks, “Architecture provides the only measurable way to discover the past in the urban environment.”

Discovering the past doesn’t interest everybody. Landmark designation is not automatic preservation of either monuments or neighborhoods. Some have subsided into decay.  Others have been daubed with graffiti, chipped, and hacked at, even hauled to scrap metal dealers.  Those that have escaped that kind of abuse are not always decently cared for.  There has not been a surplus of money for maintenance in recent years.

Nevertheless, the landmarks everywhere in the city serve honorable, dignified, and particularly today, invaluable purposes.  They are as different as possible from the fast-food architectural style common in much of New York construction.  They were created and built with care, imagination, and civilized intelligence.  They are sentinels of a kind, guarding tasteful traditions that are sometimes neglected as the landmarks themselves.  They have the artistic durability to reward admiration and care, no matter how long it has been deferred. 

Consequently, they are essential to New York’s recovery and restoration as belated fiscal reforms, a revival of industry, accessible jobs, and schools worth of the name.  It is inevitable that other monuments and buildings will join “Lost New York”.  The vitality of the living city depends a great deal, on how many more are found, appreciated, and saved.

My Neighborhood

Introduction

Everyone’s neighborhood is the representation of national issues. The issues reported here describe how it affects me personally, my family, and my neighbors. Those issues can be explored using the “categories” listed below.

I live in a tiny place on a closed street with just twenty-two, three-story, brick buildings completed in1916 on one part in 1918. The New York City Landmarks Commission accepted the residents’ application for designation as a historic district in 1978 (more here).

The database benefits of content management systems used for websites and weblogs such as this one are “tags and categories” In this case, the content is organized under the parent heading “My Neighborhood.” Sub-categories can then be assigned, such as Internet, politics and plans, and several others that examine issues that reflect my experience, that of my family, friends, and neighbors.

Categories

Local to Global Politics

The political structure of dense urban areas reveals the sense of movement and position to what a person knows as proprioception. The political body can, similar to a person be seemingly unknowing and still have the capacity to produce decisions and consensus. In effect, the acceptance of democratic leadership allows large populations to take steps up a metaphorical ladder without examining each rung. It can call people to heroic efforts built on little more than intuitive knowingness of a good purpose.

Today, the problems of urban life require a deeper understanding of the ways political science links to the physical sciences involved in running a city. The evidence that human beings can change their physiology by thought and intention is growing (here) and not dissimilar from the building of cities. Medical research calls it an interoceptive focus. I see it as a term useful for encouraging greater environmental intent in deciding how and where humans re-build the earth from the material of its crust. Below you will find a carousel of recent additions and my interest in exchanging law politics for a politics of science.

Carousel (new to old and old to new)

Environment
Extinctions "The purpose of the organizations listed in this section is unified by one-word extinction. It is an event that occurs daily all over the earth. It is a difficult …
Reasons
The Charter Revision of 1977 created community planning boards in NYC when the decentralization of authority was a popular idea. It aligned with social change forces seeking civil rights and social justice, …
The Fairness Doctrine
What are additional efforts needed to curb the American Super Power to make fools of ourselves? I came across Tech Against Terrorism that might be useful. It is an international …
Three Rules
In all of our worlds (social, political, economic, biometric) we search for things considered necessary. We see closed doors, glass ceilings, and tables with no invitations. The good news is …

Representatives
Invite representatives to be aware of your IT issues and concerns. A letter for comment on how to get their help (a …
Furious Yet, Effective
The growth of corporations in energy production, manufacturing and finance will continue to produce great wealth and pain, cover-ups and obfuscations. …
Privacy Politics
So what, if a few people get stopped and if they refuse to respond to a lawful order to give …
Revolution
Clip of the Chicago Seven. Raised fists had value at the 1968 Democratic National Convention Tom Hayden died in October …


Neighborhood Internet

The first issue was recognizing that getting access to high-speed internet was going to be difficult. It was vital for my kid, and important for me for work that became extremely important in 2020.

Carousel (new to old and old to new)

Caduceus Erroneous?
Caduceus Erroneous? Geopolitical challenges such as a pandemic or the multiple impacts of climate change instruct humanity's genius to bring about systemic change and resist and reverse “them not us” …
Privacy
So what, if a few people get stopped and if they refuse to respond to a lawful order to give up the data on their phones (little computers really). If …
Survey Visit
Chris of By Byers Engineering Company 285 Davidson Ave., 203 Somerset, NJ 08873-4153 Chris of By Byers Survey visit “for right of way” occured again on August 20, 2015 with a …
What to Expect
I'll believe it when I see it. Expectations are difficult to manage and different for everyone as everyone needs will vary. I found this presentation to be one the few …

Broadband Map
A click on the map above (or HERE) will take you to a website that illustrates all of the broadband …
AKNA Tech
Platforms like Mindmixer, ShareAbouts, ChangeByUs, ioby, and others offer new ways to define and solve problems shared by a neighborhood. Ideas …
Throttled?
Will The V-Shoe Drop? An excellent Wikipedia summary of Bandwidth throttling describes the intentional slowing of Internet service by an ISP (Internet …
Verizon
Corporate Verizon June 18, 2014, DoITT Report Slams Verizon DoITT is the agency responsible for a level of review.  Please …

Reasons

The Charter Revision of 1977 created community planning boards in NYC when the decentralization of authority was a popular idea. It aligned with social change forces seeking civil rights and social justice, equality, and human rights in the United States. Concurrently, the mainly white upper-income population since the late 1950s found a small government easy to talk to in their newly built suburban enclaves. The population in New York City remained diverse and sought to build the resource of self-determination into the city’s neighborhoods. The best it became was a gesture for expanding participation but not to the power sought. Now is the time for improved strategies. Watch the slides.

RLC – OCCUPY

In

November 2018

Voters Determined

Community Board Members will serve no more than four consecutive two-year terms.

The Community Board (CB) staff is a skeleton.

It is barely able to support members and manage schedules.

Community Boards see themselves as part of the problem, and they like it.

“If all they will let is do is protest, then we will protest.’

Why is a hammer the only tool?

Why is the CB a shed for hammers? Many other skills are on offer.

The squeaky wheel powers of CBs can strongly influence some city agencies’ project development practices, but not in a good way.

Unhelpful, unhealthy “blame-the-victim” methods prevail.

Community Boards

(usually upper-income)

can successfully impede

a public or private project.

Community Boards

(usually lower-income)

sense new projects as an attack.

Efforts to gain consensus fail.

What be done?

Community boards were originally called community planning boards.

Today a Community Board is

treated as a multi-purpose

government entity.

Judgments are sought on everything, from cargo bikes to billions in private housing development.

The structure makes Community Boards appear dysfunctional.

Members can be “vision people” and have fun with that foresight to define and solve problems.

For everything else, an up or down vote is the only expression of power.

An opinion vote will not reduce the sense of political manipulation and administrative misinformation.

Doing nothing is not an option.

Put strategic planning back into local efforts in a proactive partnership that solves problems.

Critical Politics

The analysis of public response to the Great Recession of 2008 reveals those errors compounded in the Pandemic of 2020.  The failure to produce a system change from the private and public realm regarding these two instances is evident and a little frightening—the time has arrived for writers to demand improvements in critical thinking from every mountain top.  

Financial service companies, insurance agencies, and families went underwater on bad loans and poor judgment. Thousands of people have become sick and face financial disaster. A high percentage of the most vulnerable to infections have died. Fire, flood, drought, and a rising sea is encircling cities all over the world. Ending what is beginning to look like tragic cycles of change requires a summary of the public response to correcting the “money” problem. Money, faith in trade, and its use for the oblivious accumulation of goods is the root cause of this trouble. The use of it dominates the argument and the conversation. It is real but a distraction to the purpose of consequence. More plainly, my super wealthy grandparents just said, you cannot take it with you, and we (all of us) should only get a leg-up on confidence with a dose of tenacity.

In 2008, the American business community won the case – use federal funds and reestablish aggregate demand, sustain liquidity for global trade, keep employment up, but income marginal in a high percentage of households. Attack tax rates, government interference, and expose public incompetence. Continue to reduce and weaken mechanisms for public oversight into private financial practices. These are highly persuasive claims and strategic practices from the business community. They draw values such as individual freedom and independence that took over two centuries to establish a Republic built on a foundation of slavery.

The struggle for freedom of all people remains unexamined. Civil rights, social justice, equity, and a basic “leg-up” is falsely claimed as a strain and a distraction. Despite the depth of the 2008 and 2020 global economic tragedies, several questions go unaddressed under the heading of disproportionality.  Why wasn’t it disproportionate when eight percent of the households in a Georgia county were slaves? You will hear that isn’t the issue today, but I have comparable questions. Why does the world function as if the acquisition of equity is the only means of power? Where are their attempts to succeed with alternatives? Where are the dividing lines that tell us what separates the ability to meet human needs in the private marketplace from those essential to the validity of a public realm?

The difficulty of challenging and changing the last two hundred years of the American communication experience requires new leadership.  Only one modern American hero has a national day of remembrance for the courage it took to lead that kind of challenge. His agony became ours, and his name was Martin Luther King. He was murdered in 1968 by something much bigger and more heinous than the racism of his era.

King’s anguish for justice held the U.S. Constitution to account first, but this did not extinguish his view on economics. He believed the solution was not in a “thesis of communism or an antithesis of capitalism.”  His demand was for synthesis based on two facts. An economic system built on slavery and imprisonment will not change the rules. Change must, therefore, come from changing the system.

“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income…” MLK

Where do We Go from Here? 1967

The economic crisis of 2008 and the health and financial crisis of 2020 has one word that tends to stop any discussion of system change dead in its tracks.  That word is “debt.”  Less understood is the concept of equity in our minds.  An accountant will tell you that “equity” is a combination of your assets and liabilities. One of the first pre-eminent sources of it in the United States is homeownership. With the help of government mortgage guarantees, it is the prime asset held by most Americans. Still, confidence and trust in each household is the one thing that makes the liability expressed by a mortgage possible. 

Recently the idea of retaining that trust and confidence was expressed by none other than the American Enterprise Institute in a map of the United States they tweeted to the world. The map illustrated the relative GDP of individual American States with other countries globally so that people would be more confident – to trust the system.  I would call your attention to Wisconsin before you read the next paragraph.

In response to the pandemic, Europe understands the “system change” relationship between public and private equity.  I have one example of why Wisconsin should have no difficulty changing the system if they were like Denmark.  The Denmark government stepped forward to continue paying wages even when they are not working.  People kept their jobs with their employers.  Denmark retained some business and most family income and stopped the virus from spreading efficiently. The policy maintained the cultural status quo of the nation steady t anticipation of ending the crisis. The system allows business activity and production to restart with as little cost and disruption as possible.    

System Change

I have a request in closing this bit of critical thinking about the need to produce a system change first with the idea that this would allow the rules to change. The first is to ask you to conduct a brief exercise, followed by taking the concept outlined above further in some way and sharing it with this blog – a link would do.

The habits of the mind that contribute to critical thinking involve the following types of thought.  The first one should be on the word critical. In health, the word describes a “short term” condition. Here is a quick exercise.  Run through the following ten words in ten seconds, asking.  

What is?

  1. contextual perspective
  2. confidence
  3. imagination
  4. elasticity
  5. inquisitiveness
  1. intellectual integrity
  2. intuition
  3. open-mindedness
  4. perseverance
  5. reflection

If you had a rapid response to each one of them, know three things 1) you have some or all the skills listed below and 2) if it took even a bit longer than ten seconds, you need more work on them when “critical” thinking is essential and 3) they are just words — you can pick your own ten if you choose.

  1. analyzing
    1. break the whole into parts to discover practical relationships
    2. list the parts piece by piece
    3. sort the things into things
  2. applying criteria
    1. judge using well-known rules
    2. apply personal, professional, and social standards
    3. compare and assess the means
  3. discriminating
    1. recognize differences and similarities
    2. rank things together or separate in groups
    3. differentiate categories or decern status
  4. information seeking
    1. evidence
    2. facts
    3. sources
  5. logical reasoning
    1. inference stated
    2. conclusions made
    3. basis of evidence
  6. predicting if that then this
    1. envision events
    2. plan futures
    3. determine possible consequences
  7. transforming knowledge
    1. changing conditions
    2. converting function
    3. alter concepts

Pick Your Own

Critical thinking can be brief, momentary, temporary, short-lived, impermanent, cursory, fleeting, passing, fugitive, flying, and like lightning.  It can also be transitory, transient, temporary, brief, fading, quick, and meteoric. Not being curious enough is a problem — inquisitiveness exercises human intuition. It helps a person run inference, seek integrity, and demand contextual change.  Therefore, differentiating the language to become more demanding, improves hearing. To solve problems adequately, or ask more satisfying questions.  I use the following chart to create a system change.

Just after the election of POTUS45, one message kept getting repeated about the need to produce change at the level of the local law that moved to the city, county, and state governments.  Only then would a system change have a chance for federal legislation or be recognized as a new cultural norm. The example given most often was the demand to make laws governing marriage far more inclusive.  The changes began locally but rapidly across the United States.  The rules change issues regarding women’s rights and a voting rights act. All noted here because none of them go unchallenged, and all of them require leadership demanding a civil discourse and faith in the law. The following table or chart is one of the easiest to read summaries of the process.

Contact

Supreme Dark Money

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) gets into the impact of “dark money” on the Supreme Court. His introduction on 13 October is here or below, and important to see before you watch his 14 October follow-up here or below. Attention to the facts is why I am a Democrat.

13 October 2020

14 October 2020

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham scheduled a committee vote for 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, the morning of the last day of hearings.

Barrett’s nomination is expected to be brought up for a vote at that meeting and then delayed for a week, per committee rules to 22 October 2020.

Three Rules

In all of our worlds (social, political, economic, biometric) we search for things considered necessary. We see closed doors, glass ceilings, and tables with no invitations. The good news is we have a set of new rules that could make change more positive.

Nikola Tesla

A way to develop answers to change rests with the combination of several very new organizations such as the World Wide Web Foundation and some old scientists such as Nikola Tesla pictured (left). Both are excellent examples of learning and unlearning everything to begin every day differently than the day before. Pioneering access to information has always been available at the speed of light thanks to your hippocampus, but now it is a many-brain experience. We need new skills.

The first rule of knowledge is that it expands through the experience of frequency. The second is you control what you make recur. The third rule is books do not hold truth or meaning. Meaning is in people, and the truth is just outside your front door. Take a long-looking walk every day.

These three rules draw a vital connection to the immensity of comparative change. Here is an example. It is a comparison of Nikola Tesla and Tim Berners-Lee. Here we find two people who looked just outside their door but managed to see the whole world. Just under a century ago, Nikola Tesla explored every aspect of energy he could imagine. Just a few decades ago (1989-1991) Tim Berners-Lee and others created the URL and HTML as a fast method for sharing and editing documents on a worldwide basis. There is a connection.

Tesla

I came across an examination of Tesla’s writings and interviews on the subject of the future at The Smithsonian. In Tesla’s vision, leaning to control the energy of everything will establish the recurrence of all things good. A movement to elect scientists instead of lawyers to leadership positions in the legislative branches of government has begun. In a 1935 Liberty Magazine article, Tesla was among those who saw science as the parent of law and writes,

Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. The discovery of new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats. Even the newspapers of our own day are beginning to treat scientific discoveries and the creation of fresh philosophical concepts as news. The newspapers of the twenty-first century will give a mere ” stick ” in the back pages to accounts of crime or political controversies but will headline on the front pages the proclamation of a new scientific hypothesis.

Something Is Wrong

A century later, for every $100 paid in U.S. federal income tax, well over half of it still goes to the military in the 21st century. Something is wrong.

Tesla saw the ability of science to improve people in the same way law sought to protect. Called eugenics at the time, these discredited and immoral practices present a view of the world based on the distorted views of privileged white males, and this has yet to change in a meaningful way. Nevertheless, the debate continues in a broad spectrum by manipulating DNA in thousands of lifeforms. CRISPR will continue to press for the inclusion of the human genome. The practioners must be watched. Something isn’t right, if they are not.

Tesla recognized the lack of control over the waste machines create as he was a builder of them. He envisioned a national agency with the mission to prevent pollution (waste nothing) and regulate the discarded materials of production for the specific purpose of protecting the land, air, and water. Unfortunately, the EPA did not form until 1970. President Nixon was in office. Something isn’t right, waste continues beyond reason, and it includes human beings.

Tesla’s outlook on the energy requirements of the human diet eschewed all stimulants except alcohol. Perhaps he was like Mark Twain, who said that “too much of anything is bad, but too much Scotch is rarely enough.” Still, he knew it was possible to provide “…enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world.” He criticized the industrialization of animals for protein. He was a contemporary of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

Tesla recognized energy drawn from the burning of fossil fuels as wasteful and dangerous. The identification of global warming gases began in the Nineteenth Century. He saw clean energy from sources such as water-power and the scientific preservation of natural resources would end the agonies of drought, forest fires, floods, and viral infestation. Instead, Federal Disaster Declarations have doubled and tripled since 1955. Something isn’t right.

Science proves Right

Tesla’s favorite work is in the invention of remotely controlled machines designed to automate production. He understood communication as wireless. In 1935, he said, “At this very moment, scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a thinking machine. In all of our worlds, for right or wrong, the only proof of communication is persuasion. Can a “thinking machine” isolate the wrong of a lie?

Image result for tim berners-lee
Tim Berners-Lee

In 1994, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) formed an international community devoted to developing open web standards. Tim Berners-Lee is the Director of W3C (2017). The question is direct. How well can this resource advance the frequencies of useful change that Tesla envisioned? In 2009, Berners-Lee formed The World Wide Web Foundation and began operations as an independent, international organization fighting for digital equality. It envisions the continuing implementation of an open web as a public good and a basic right. Its mission is to help build a world where everyone can access the web and use it to improve their lives. The internet community produced the following revolutionary ideas.

The Rules are Under Attack

In August 2020, the United States, under the Trump Administration, began to attack the idea of internet sovereignty in favor of an authoritarian view that would redefine the idea of free expression. The following principles of an open and free internet are therefore under attack.

  • Decentralization: No permission from a central authority to post anything on the web, there is no central controlling node, so no single point of failure … and no “kill switch”! The implication: freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance.
  • Non-discrimination: If I pay to connect to the internet with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can both communicate at the same level. This principle of equity is Net Neutrality.
  • Bubble-up design: Code is in full view of everyone (Ctrl/Shift/I) to encourage maximum participation and experimentation. All you have to do is right-click and select inspect.
  • Universality: For anyone to publish anything on the web, all the computers involved have to speak the same languages to each other, no matter what different hardware people are using, where they live, or what cultural and political beliefs they have. In this way, the web breaks down silos while allowing diversity to flourish.
  • Consensus: For universal standards to work, everyone had to agree to use them. The achievement of consensus occurs by giving everyone a say in creating the standards through a transparent, participatory process at W3C. The consensus to agree with everything, at least “somewhat” and a known degree.

Hypothesis

Two immediate suppositions are evident when comparing Tesla’s ideas (turn of the 20th) about the world’s future with what the World Wide Web now offers (turn of the 21st). The first insight reveals a public education policy at risk, and the second is one big assumption. The risk is that a probable series of severe social, economic, and environmental events will increase and continue to occur as “chaos costs.” The assumption is the threat of these costs will lead to repression as if the cause/effect in this situation is a certainty. It is not.

A third observation is less reactionary—the documentation and implementation of two resilience strategies can serve as benchmarks. For example, putting a global price on GHGs and focusing on investments in new energy solutions are arguments for action in less than a decade. The reasonable deadline appears to be 2050 by most observers to achieve net-zero. It could be sooner.

If initial benchmarks establish firm roots, a path will become apparent on improving our global selves with the aid of super useful “thinking machines” focused on facts and knowledge instead of death and war. Envision a world where trust is about truth and not about machine ownership. Something is wrong. The internet is not a machine.

A responsive market approach can succeed. The value system accepts disruption in parts of the physical and emotional community, but not the spirit of people in the wake of that change. The infusion of world wide web values now offers decentralization, non-discrimination, a bottom-up design, super universality, and consensus. This is a compelling alternative to authoritarian rule. The rules are clear for building pathways to new physical realities. Implementing one hellish set of trusted, tried, and true algorithms remain along with the desire to go outside. Have a good, long look at the world. (Knowledge share link here).

CD Choice

Examine Choices

It has never been more important.

On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test leadership in Congress on criteria established by voters. Clarke won by a slim margin. Challenged again in 2020 she won again big time. Adem Bunkedekko was the closest rival, capturing 17% of the vote among four other bird-dogging candidates – all democrats.

Political leadership has gone to hell. New York leaders are useful when they respond to an urgent condition on a single issue. There is no outright fear for democracy, because better than most, they know it is practically gone. None of that is occurring. The only live-die-repeat is incumbency and the dead ones are the challengers.

Step One

Have a good long look at the candidates and their “watchers.” (See examples: Inside Elections, Sabato’s Crystal Ball.) Ballotpedia’s fine details are here. Money equals victory. A national watch group, Open Secrets has the data to prove it, including the outliers that illustrate exceptions. The deep end of the data pool is with reports at the New York State Board of Elections.

Leaders with skills in critical thinking, creativity, responsiveness, and obedience will do well. Proof of unselfish giving is through service that includes a record of judgments publicly specified with grace and dignity. After reviewing the public expressions of our federal leaders, are challenges within the party positive and optimistic? Does the officeholder or the challenger have a bias toward getting results? Finally, good leaders know how the practice of listening to be heard gets their constituents to help themselves do the hard stuff.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5124f-9th-cd-2018.png
Adem and Yvette

Adem Bunkeddeko Lost in the first race by a slim margin, and he machine tanked him in the second


He got more votes the second time, yet adding votes from the three additional not really serious, probably “bird-dog” candidates, he would have still lost. The third time is the charm, I said. Off years are best. I hope he will write a review of the loss. Meantime, he now works as an Executive Director for CORO. He has been cultivating young leaders who seek to make a difference in our city and tackles the complex issues affecting New Yorkers. Please drop him a line at info@ademforcongress.com and if you want to know more before you do that, visit Adem’s Website and Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also has Instagram and Snapchat if you must.  If snail mail is your thing, you can write them to this mailing address: Friends of Adem, P.O. Box 130-427, Brooklyn, NY 11213.

Yvette Clarke
Drop the candidate a line on the federal website. She has Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. To write via snail mail the local address, 222 Lenox Road, Suites 1 & 2 Brooklyn, NY 11226, and a D.C. address, 2351 Rayburn HOB, Washington D.C. 20515. I would be amazed if you get an answer beyond stat and pat. She is a guaranteed tow-the-line Democrat, so there is that, I suppose.

Step Two

The national Campaign Finance Institute confirms the long-term success of this legislation in its testimony to the NYC Campaign Finance Board in 2017. (The Act). After thirty years, the NYC CFB has protected voters. Perhaps the best example is NYC representatives sustain the “F” rating from the NRA in their demand for stringent legislation regarding the use and purchase of weapons for war. That is where the feds (your representatives in Congres) come into the picture to confront and confirm national policy.

In NYC, the Campaign Finance Act has kept the local government on the side of working New Yorkers for the last three decades. A $6-to-$1 match of small donations turns a $100 donation into $700. The law has strict contribution limits and an outright ban on all corporate money, and an excellent enforcement record.

Political Action Committees

The Political Action Committees (PAC) come into the picture today as a permanent part of federal election campaigns. They represent almost 40 percent of an elected candidate’s campaign funding. A challenger is far less likely to be supported by a PAC.  The PAC phenomenon began in the 1950s, but since then, their corrosive influences over Congressional Representatives reflect the concentration of wealth in the U.S. and the rule that corporations have a right to political speech as people and that money is speech.

Unlike people, wealthy corporations can live forever. Corporate outfits such as the NRA and the Koch brothers have a large bag of political tricks designed by well-paid political operatives to protect specific interests, not including the bot/troll issues that confuse voters further. It was a sign of real trouble when New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer asked his constituents to help fight against Koch Brother attack ads against a fellow Senator, Joe Donnelly (D) from Indiana with a help him Keep His Seat! Email blast.

Representative Government, Election Waves, and Money
Three Republican Congressmembers (Faso, Tenney, Katco) in NYS may have “toss-up” elections in 2018. To keep things in perspective Faso’s 2016 spending was: $2,904,089, Tenney’s was $885,895, and Katco’s was $2,384,152. These races could contribute to a wave-election referendum on the chaos in the Executive Branch and the House of Representatives and shift as many as 25 seats to Democrats. (See NY Mag summary here). The 2018 mid-term election might have a single issue.

Peter King, a member of the Republican Party, is completing his 14th term in Congress, having served since 1993, and he quit. Clarke has been there twelve years and barely serves and runs on “good attendance” and perks from PACs.

Federal Committees of NY Senators

By way of Ballotpedia

Chuck Schumer is a Member of:
Joint Committee on the Library
Joint Committee on Printing
Committee on Intelligence (Select)
Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

Kirsten Gillibrand is a Member of:
Committee on Aging (Special)
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
Committee on Armed Services
Committee on Environment & Public Works

THANKS FOR PICKING ONE AND FOLLOWING THE $$

Participants were able to produce a slim margin in 2020,

Club Democrats

Take a look at all of the “political clubs” in Brooklyn.  Rarely are these outfits exposed as viable components of local leadership, merely those who have a detailed understanding of the inner workings, tips, and tricks of a Board of Elections system that needs to be Repealed and Replaced.

Congress Member for Life

Why did the founders make representatives every two years if we get them for life. I have a “legacy” representative in Congress with a “D” rating. So I supported an alternative candidate (Adem). I liked his candidacy for two congressional election cycles. He almost won the first time, got the “club” attention, and he got crushed the second time by an odd general consensus. An incumbent representative is the best option, or “hey, I might have a shot at this office”, leading to a primary election that is chock full of candidates. Either way, it is the ambiguity that assures the status quo.

There are nineteen political clubs in Brooklyn that attempt to decide what issues candidates can speak to with credibility. For the candidate, they will examine records of accomplishment of their opponent and coach on the hot buttons of the day (i.e., health care costs, immigration, DACA). The political clubs and their candidates are the up-from-the-grassroots owners of a process that makes the top-down discussion of congress members, senators, and judges come alive as constitutional actors. It is in these settings where ordinary people determine who runs and how. The analysis continues by district and office from local to federal that allows participants to compare incumbents to a challenger. But why are incumbents 98% successful in defeating possible challengers. Why is AOC the outlier? The answer is made obvious below. Review with the knowledge that there are over 300,000 registered voters in this CD9!

Why Does the Democratic Party Sustain Incumbency as a Priority? Is the System Broken?
JUNE 23 Primary 2020 – In Brooklyn, a Primary Win is a Win in November.

Four Candidates Assures IncumbencyVOTESPERCENT
Yvette Clarke (Incumbent)37,10662.3%
Adem Bunkeddeko10,64717.9%
Chaim Deutsch5,6229.4%
Isiah James5,5769.4%
100.00% of precincts reporting (532?/?532) (source)

Once the choice of candidates for a political office or a judicial appointment is complete and aimed at the next election cycle, the value of local issues in the form of votes is exposed. An incumbency win is therefore easily recognized as a big money win on the issues and far less so on the issues affecting people’s lives. What do you think about 50% of every dollar you pay in federal taxes is paid to the military people, but the medical and science people have to fight for scraps in the battle for the other half? Are the big-money interests dangerous? Are they looking out for you?

A candidate does not have to be rich to be a leader, but improving the grassroots knowledge of the problems of wealth, power and government is a starting point of high value on every question related to the quality of public life. The cash from a PAC and other significant funding sources compare directly with vote capture and the percentage of contribution from ordinary citizens and public matching remains a token.

The capacity of civic engagement to get results is being pushed toward, well-known as well as unexpected breaking points. The big paying interests only have one interest in mind — to keep the government as a predictable entity, not an honest one, or fair or even one that cares. With this level of power, it is not possible to see a difference between the availability of cake and day-old bread. That is the terror of it.

Two-Party? It is more like Six.

Republican Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Conservative Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Constantine Jean-Pierre Uncontested

Libertarian Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Gary Popkin Uncontested

Serve America Movement Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Joel Anabilah-Azumah Uncontested

Working Families Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Judith Goldiner Uncontested

The World of Ideas

A conservative friend of mine argues that everyone’s property is no one’s property, and wealth left is valued by none. Why? I said with a few examples brewing, but then she says, “Who would be fool enough to wait to use it when the next moment, it could be used by another?” I interrupted with “could be used.” Unphased, she said, “Would a tree for timber be left in the ground for another, would fish found in the morning sea be left if they would be netted in the afternoon?” Then she pulled out her economics degree and said, “Every factor of production without assurance leaves all things for all people as things without value.”

Natural resources and common property are free goods for individuals but recognized as scarce goods by the rule of “use or lose.” Value is obtained when the rules of property for value becomes subject to a unified directing power. To the conservative, this power is held as private. It is associated with the “free-rider problem,” freedom and the capacity to be free. It is tied to individual and corporate rights as the fuel of competitive innovation, new technology, and wealth, without which new problems cannot be solved.

“…there is no such thing as society; only individuals and families.”
“The ten most dangerous words in the English language are “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help .”

Margaret Thatcher 1987 & Ronald Reagan 1988

The progressive’s argument (that would be me) is if the property becomes public (government), it does so for specific purposes. Regulating development that reduces abuse or corruption can produce value not only by preventing damage or by litigating cause but through the encouragement of a global culture that recognizes solutions to problems before they exist. Assign a value to that and we leap into a future that capital alone refuses to provide. My brief crisis management analysis (here) sees self-interest as a useful compulsion but if unregulated or tested, the practice drains shared resources.

When modified through price mechanism alone, addiction can be repackaged as vapor and the resource drained is the lungs of children. The charge of negative impact continues in the population (endemic) in unregulated markets, followed by claiming the need to add wealth to fix or mitigate the cause of problems. The progressive’s complaint continues because doubling down on methods (risks) that are counter to a long-term interest such as a child’s health (changing/eliminating flavors) are digressions that further discourages the mobilization of resistance.

The arguments of a conservative vs. progressive approach also have a long, tedious set of false premise conditions that also deter effective challenges to the status quo. Whether corporate or within the public realm, several types of economic behaviors clearly threaten the stability of individual nations and global health in general. The theft of a treasury, election fixing, killing in all places, and many geographies reveal known horrors.

Geopolitical oil, rare earth minerals, even access to space force technology are considered sustainable practices due to irrational thinking and false arguments. Corporate identity-interests also build on a variety of absurd claims. We know the tag lines: We are the best, the safest, most loved, recommended, and philanthropic business in the world.  All of this is protected by free-speech and self-regulation norms until a stated fact is proven false. All of this is useless until a “False Premise Agency” becomes an agency with power, there are a few reasonable straight forward steps to logical thinking in a society. Examples are:

  • Change the mode of problem-solving with a new process.
  • Redefine problems in a categorically different fashion.
  • Eliminate the damage at the source or the cause, include failed prevention.
  • Substitute damages with relocation, replacements, and technical upgrades.
  • Legislation and litigation practices that pay for failure as an ongoing process.

The last three activities are classic fire brigade solutions, and while reasonable, essential, and undoubtedly continuous, it is the first two actions that require renewed focus if ending the cycle can be expected. Improving the modes of problem-solving processes is inherently demanded by the catastrophic resolution perspective in the position taken by operatives of the last three.

Thomas Hale of University-Oxford describes a similar but more hopeful choice he calls “catalytic cooperation” (here). Hale accepts the “resilience is all that is left” from the Club of Rome folks and rolls up his sleeves as a member of a very large group of academic economists. He sees three features of climate mitigation that depart from the accepted model: joint goods, preference heterogeneity, and increasing returns. The presence of these characteristics reveals the chief barrier to global cooperation is not the threat of free riding but the lack of incentive to act in the first place.

Humans have been redefining problems in new ways, from deciding that a cave with a guarded entrance is a good idea to the billions of “falsifiability” exercises ongoing today.  They are theoretical, mathematical in the laboratory and the field.  All of it is refreshing, but much of it is like a solid slap in the face with someone screaming, wake up, wake up.  In many ways, we are still in that Neolithic cave, redefining problems in categorically new ways.

More recently, the injection of scientists into the partisan “what can vs. should be done?” debate has begun to dance around the global commons’ problem. A list of over fifty non-United Nations multilateral, mega-regional agencies (a list here) represents a doubling of “brigades” in 25 years and a trend toward continuing expansion on an even longer list of issues. Pushing a top priority for greater capacity in the global “what should we do” debate became the jingoistic nightmare that turned government into the problem.

“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.”

Barack Obama (2006)

As the world’s economic growth slows due to realignments caused by climate change, combinations of regional populism, and global security interests, we are gripped by widening inequality as if it was only an issue of the unequal. The global human health condition is part of the climate change question that proves humanity is far more alike than unalike, with greater similarities with beautiful variations of great benefit to all.

A dip in growth caused by ongoing investment reductions in carbon-intensive industries also opens new processes that will break into a vast network of capital chains searching for alternatives. Short of an energy solution as dramatic as fusion, new forms of growth will from new stock symbol combinations associated with government-backed initiatives that reduce risk. The central question will be whether decision-makers will become sufficiently undistracted to plan effectively to implement a proposed change.

Public investment works with noted success in the traditional practices of the scientific method. Concerning theory, predictability, and peer reviews of specific concerns such as a common cancer problem, AIDS or SARS are successful. If Science is needed to solve macro human system problems, on the one hand, the public investment appears helpless on the other. The failure to end the rise of life degrading processes is all the more frightening because of how easily they are identified. Commercial food production, bacterial and viral contagion, energy use, poor transportation systems, and biome systems worldwide, to name a few.

If it is for the lack of “trust” that all may be lost, then public investment in the sciences of planning and engineering, art and architecture are all practices that can produce the immediate feedback essential to discovering how to live in a categorically new way, especially if the way now is killing us slowly or with deadly precision. It may only be a few at a time, in sadly separated multiple room huts, scattered across the American landscape of false independence or in the towers of despair we so eagerly and carelessly build, the task of getting on track is right now.

Getting on Track

Three global factors have brought about the demand for global, multilateral change in national societies that have experienced varying degrees of tragic impact. First, climate change is an umbrella disaster held over nasty little wars, floods, and firestorms followed by infectious diseases.  Second, most of these effects are recognized as inevitable for a century or more, and third, the world’s leadership is beginning to understand that for the lack of a global agreement, much of all of this was and remains preventable in each new cycle.

Ironically, a fourth global factor is a conservative viewpoint expressed as the tragedy of the commons. The negative impact on a common pasture and the relationship among households raising grazing animals is a real thing. The rules should change if the entire earth becomes that metaphorical pasture. Losing entire portions of massive coastal cities all over the world to surging ocean tides and entire biomes (forest to coral reef) will become the lived experience of millions of people. It will be as if billions of tons of waste that floats and sinks in the shared resource of the global oceans and the “dead zone” of the Gulf of Mexico could be seen by all. Societies pay for these disruptions with the starvation of children, the screams of helpless parents, and the stunned dismay of families who falsely believe they are saved with compensatory access to wealth.

The global climate has been stable for only the last 2,000 to 3,000 years. There should be no expectation that it would remain constant, the global climate is in many ways barely stable as a system and a single push of added gases, heat, human and natural would make change inevitable, yet still feel inconsequential as a threat. The demand for alternative ways of living is unimaginable as the swell of cheap energy continues to make everything, including faith in a quick tech-fix easy to expect. In this psychological climate, finding replacements is difficult, and forcing amelioration by changing the price with substitutes violates the status quo. When assessed in the “commons” framework, two new categorical patterns of thinking emerge as environmental and emotional intelligence.

Ostrom’s Answer is Occam’s Razor

A problem that exists in the future has two elements, one to design a defense, the other is to alter the future to make that unnecessary. The leaders involved may have had the skills of the legislative lawyer and personality for political leadership, but to produce solutions essential to create trust, the science part of our minds and the science professions will form a new community. To do that, the change in the mode of problem-solving begins with a process that Elinor Ostrom has already figured out in a Nobel prize winning way.

Our ancient brains in various shelters for the night knew of beasts, enemies, and trouble. That sense of big trouble is real, but the community may never experience the pain of it because of that sense alone. What we have done, from the cave to the laboratory, is to define problems we believe might be unlikely to occur, but we solve them anyway. The quality of thinking in this instance is an old tactic still in use by scientists today called Occam’s Razor. – a theory of a threat with the fewest variables, as Albert Einstein notes, requires problem-solving work where, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

The first of Elinor Ostrom’s core design principles began in Governing the Commons (1990) and as continuously optimistic as an economist can be in her research for the World Bank in 2009 (here). The paper, A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change, considers the possibility of a non-tragic global commons. It is here that she gives her life-long partner Vincent Ostrom an attribution to a central observation. She quotes his definition of polycentric as, “one where many elements are capable of making mutual adjustments for ordering their relationships with one another within a general system of rules where each element acts with the independence of other elements.” It was written with Charles Tiebout, and Robert Warren, (Economic Base and Local Expenditure Theory).

Ostrom examined the power of working with problems using a thing already reasonably possessed and understood in the world – clearly defined boundaries. In strictly economic terms, such boundaries would be needed everywhere for everything and difficult to implement. On the other hand, this first rule is essential to working with big global problems such as thermonuclear war or climate change and the threat of a pandemic. Defining a boundary in a categorically new way offers promise as the concept is simple and easily understood.

Because purely economic solutions are easy to argue and difficult to implement, start with a simple physical entity such as a city as that category. Cities are places with a fixed boundary and a legal process for expansion or contraction. The city is an excellent place to begin the implementation of the remaining seven of Ostrom’s solution. It is a “back to the future” type of problem.

A city is an outstanding place to begin the implementation. The city with a boundary offers proportional equivalence and a clear, constantly improving data stream to monitor processes beginning with the measurement of benefits and costs in every imaginable or possible center capable of giving itself a boundary. It is ongoing but without mutual benefit consent. Proportionality within multiple geographies of a dense polycentric city of neighborhoods, cultural groups, ideologies, genders, and so on, can become a transparent way to fully understand variables. In this way, it is possible to put the equality sign (or not) between two or more in the social and economic expressions.

The city also offers multiple platforms for “collective choice agreements.” The center of Ostrom’s argument recognizes the practical use of carefully implemented sanctions. The boundary of the city offers a set of measures from price restrictions to penalties, incentives, and subsidies designed to meet goals such as a good balance of affordable housing or lower per capita energy use. In New York City, neighborhood-level participation in governance is voluntary and advisory, but it expands central government capacity to understand issues as they are experienced locally. As these practices contribute to local autonomy, they are also capable of interpreting them globally. Coming to the resolution of problems begins with the kind of efficiency and quality of data feedback.  that empowers local autonomy through participatory governance.

The last piece of Ostrom’s change-the-world puzzle looks to resolve existential threats with the ability to grow a polycentric rulemaking authority in a manner that global rules are instantly recognized because they are already well-organized and in use locally. The only element missing is the lack of political recognition of this as an urban fact. Ostrom’s groundbreaking approach is not built on how people think, but how they will eventually need to organize their thinking. Hopefully, this work will escape its decade of discussion where it floats in the partial oblivion and trappings of its academic Nobel Prize (2009). It needs to find a city to live in as a permanent place of proof. I recommend New York City, and you know why.  If you can make it here, you can make it everywhere. Again, the city with a strong existing boundary has these systems in place.  The only element is the lack of political recognition of this fact.

Getting On Track

Connect the Council

City Council

The New York City Council has 51 members with two-term limits of four years. The relationship between the city, the state and national government is complicated. A close examination of issues that confront the City Council Members should include those the state and federal government share. The focus here is on the eight members of the City Council’s Brooklyn Membership with interest in those with a relationship to the Ninth Congressional District.

Have a look at the financial data links and council links below.

District Member and Term Ends

39     Brad Lander  2021.
35     Laurie A. Cumbo 2021
40     Mathieu Eugene  2021
41     Alicka-Ampry-Samuel  2117
44     David G. Greenfield 2025
45     Farah N. Lewis  2025
46     Alan N. Maisel 2021
48     Chaim M. Deutsch 2021

Do they share issues and problem-solving?  It is challenging to tell.  Please help.

The City Council’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget provides a “show me the money” view.  It shows how and where discretionary funds are spent in City Council Districts which averages about $1 million per councilperson and the site below lists another $280 million in disbursements under the discretionary line that Councilmembers can take credit for on a Borough basis

 Have a look here: 
http://council.nyc.gov/budget/fy2017/ https://council.nyc.gov/budget/fy2018/ https://council.nyc.gov/budget/fy2019/

You get the picture.

On June 14, 2016, the Council authorized NYC’s FY2017 Budget, including record investments in youth, support for immigrant communities, and the strengthening of our City’s reserves.  At the bottom of the page above two other links can give citizen’s a way to explore the entire $80 Billion used to operate this great city.  Have a look.  Contribute you analysis or leads to the work of others as it affects your City Councilmember.

An excellent source of information and analysis is the Independent Budget Office.

Expense: 
https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Expense-Budget/mwzb-yiwb
Revenue: 
https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Revenue-Budget-Financial-Plan-Exec-Adpt-Prel/ugzk-a6x4

Connect Senate


Connect Senate Members & CD9

NYS-63 Senators

The relationship of constituents to the State Government’s 63 members of the NY Senate can last a long time. They have two-year terms but there are no limits. This section seeks information that contributes to a better understanding of issues that confront our state representatives that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 016eb-e_senate.png
Senate Districts in CD9
  • In 2016 Senate District 17 voted for Trump.  Details are here.

Do they share issues and solve problems?  It is difficult to tell.

For example, an analysis by participants in an effort to reform the Brooklyn political machine came up with this analysis by the New Kings Democrats. Is your Senator working for you or not?

SDSenatorPartyOpen States
17Simcha FelderDemocraticBills Positions
18Martin Malave DilanDemocraticBills Positions
19Roxanne J. PersaudDemocraticBills Positions
20Jesse HamiltonDemocraticBills Positions
21Kevin S ParkerDemocraticBills Positions
22Martin J GoldenRepublicanBills Positions
25Velmanette MontgomeryDemocraticBills Positions

Connect Assembly

Assembly Members

NYS-151 Assembly Members
You know where you live.  Use the map and report your Assemblymember in the comment section below.  Before selecting your Assemblymember within the Ninth Congressional District take a moment to review: Session Four “How to Sustain the Resistance Long Term” presented by New York Assemblyman and DNC Vice Chair, Michael Blake. Look for his talk at the Resistance School April 27, 2017 (HERE). Tweet @resist_school #resistanceschool #resist

41Helene WeinsteinDemocraticBills Positions
42Rodneyse BichotteDemocraticBills Positions
43Diana RichardsonWorking FamiliesBills Positions
44Robert CarrollDemocraticBills Positions
45Steven CymbrowitzDemocraticBills Positions
46Pamela HarrisDemocraticBills Positions
47William ColtonDemocraticBills Positions
48Dov HikindDemocraticBills Positions
49Peter Abbate Jr.DemocraticBills Positions
50Joseph LentolDemocraticBills Positions
51Felix OrtizDemocraticBills Positions
52Jo Anne SimonDemocraticBills Positions
53Maritza DavilaDemocraticBills Positions
54Erik DilanDemocraticBills Positions
55Latrice WalkerDemocraticBills Positions
56Tremaine WrightDemocraticBills Positions
57Walter MosleyDemocraticBills Positions
58N. Nick PerryDemocraticBills Positions
59Jaime WilliamsDemocraticBills Positions

Connect Community Districts

Seven Community Districts share the geography, interests, needs, and concerns of the Ninth Congressional District.  The map and links below seek participants.

Engaging residents the relationship local to federal money in community development dates to the 1950s with the formation of Community Planning Councils. The most recent change in this practice occurred in 1989 when the Charter Revision Commission changed the structure of City government and increased the role of Community Boards in the environmental and land-use review process that affects their communities. There are 59 Community Boards in NYC, and eighteen are in Brooklyn and a third of them are in Congressional District Nine.

Connect School Districts

There are three school districts that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District. How will changes in Federal and therefore state and city policy affect schools in these districts? The objective would be to identify parents, the primary self-interest group.  There are not links (yet) to these constituents. The start of developing this idea is here: Office of Family and Community Engagement remembering one key element. The parent constituency is brief and overlaps rapidly in roughtly two groups of parents – those with kids in PreK-8 or High Schools. Just finding those taking the time to lead is difficult.

District 17, 18 and 22
Parent Leadership Schools: Parent Associations/Parent Teacher Association and School Leadership Team
Districtwide
Presidents’ Council, District Leadership Team or Community Education Council.
Citywide: Leadership in Citywide Education Councils, The Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council and the Panel for Education Policy
Parent Leader Times
The Chancellor’s quarterly newsletter for Parent Leaders

Need Facts?

When confronted with an obvious untruth you need facts, that is of course if you haven’t been talking with one of Paul Krugman’s zombies, an excellent book by the way.



Every voter has elevated emotional triggers because voting has changed from a handshake into an algorithm of who you are and what you think. The science used to manipulate self-interest emotions used to be “smallish” – found in neighborhood meetings, the coffee klatch, and rallies, cold-calls, canvasing with mail and leaflets, in hand. The activities led by these organizations of data feel reasonable and responsible.

We are entering worlds built of “new systems” that are without this kind of personal dispatch. Concrete personal data drawn from media draws down the metadata of human behavior. This data range is vast from liking and disliking candidates on a scale that brings the likelihood of staying home. All of the old simple “spoils” go to the big guys now, and we knew who they were for a while, not so much anymore.

If parsed, the kicker will show your zip code, county, or state or whether there is a likelihood that you changed your hair color. The former is legal, and the latter, not so much without a warrant that has your name on it. Even though I recently sent $10.48 to Hillary Clinton’s PAC “Stronger Together” just before 23 November 2017, I suspect that the PAC was not the only agency made aware of this action. The transfer from me to AmEx to Hillary entered easily, but I left with a long list of portals with any number of windows attached that you or I am unaware of.

Efforts to achieve data results from the things we do build on formulas no ordinary person fully understands. The first warnings regarding the entrance of these activities into American life are evident. Beware of triggering an American version of Article 50 (Brexit). I have no idea of what that might look like in the USA. Still, I suggest starting research on your Internet Service Provider (ISP) activities regarding all of the metadata associated with you and everyone you know. Here is the next kick. If you “half-agree” with my premise, are you more likely or less likely to use one of the following resources and attempt to get answers?

Fact CheckersDescription of the fact checking service
Snopes.comA proven and reliable debunker of false statements.
FactcheckAnnenberg Public Policy Center’s focus on political statements.
PolitiFactThis site started in the early part of the 2008 presidential cycle
VerbatimExamines claims y elected officials, political appointees, and political candidates.
BallotPediaA professional encyclopedia of American politics and elections.
OpenSecretsTracks money in U.S. politics – nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit.
TruthorFictionA mishmash and hodgepodge of all the bull on the internet.  Lacks focus.
C-SPANHow to use the C-SPAN Video Library and different ways to search for content.

Election Districts

I am interested in working for Adem, so I’ve moved the d-base driven map to a “view only” link. That means it will become more strategic than the digital toy it has been up to now. If any of you have skills in this area, let me know and read more below.

Doing more in connection to the political people that have power over billions of dollars for NYC and NYS means getting more people to pick their number ED polling place and get back to me. (Contact)

Request a link to enlarge this map, locate where you live, identify the name and location of the polling sites near your home. Vote in the 2020 Democratic Primary June 23, because at this point we need a real housing person (Adem), more lawyers and incumbents in Congress, less so.

Again: In locate where you live, identify the name and location of all the polling sites near your home just in case you feel like organizing more people especially if you are interested in a little canvassing party near where you live or work.

Use this Poll Site finder for a quick look for where you would vote based on your address and if there is an early voting location in the future. Ranked Choice is also in our future.

Brooklyn voters are electing new representatives to the United States Congress – they will be fighters, free of corporate domination and responsive to our needs in housing, health, and community economic development. Vote in the 2020 primary, and we will have a chance and all of our networks will fold into the other. There will be strength and resilience.

I recommend ADEM as the best candidate for the United States Congress. He is a quiet and thoughtful man not a political shill. Adem knows what it will take to get the national government to respond to the needs of cities. The national primary will occur on April 28, 2020. Vote, damn it! The Democratic Party Primary is June 23, 2020. (State Board of Elections Deadines)

Comment below and I’ll ask you to help by sharing your thoughts, stake out some election districts and put a person in The United States Congress that can do more than ride high percentages of incumbency into office based on our complacency.

Volunteer Here for the Ninth Congressional District

  1. Find Election Districts you can work and get your data.
  2. Go to the City Data Map HERE if the one above is difficult to use.
  3. Share that information using the form below and work the district for voters.
  4. Build a canvassing plan with us. Your polling place, and key nearby locations
  5. Find and motivate more people. The average in EDs is around 800 Dems.
  6. Get voters out on Primary Day. That is the election.
  7. Get voters to vote Tuesday, November 3, 2020 for the win back the Presidency!
  8. Develop a schedule to convince voters to vote —
  9. You can examine data from your census tract(s) (HERE)

Please drop us a line. Thanks to all who have already. I plan on working the Election Districts around the Erasmus H.S. and the transit stations (B & Q) from Church Avenue south through to the Cortelyou Station. Just waiting for someone to lead.

If you would like to see some AOC type energy for our part of New York – volunteer!!

Social Policy Politics

Two rules embedded in the culture of politics as sport say people get nothing without a “win,” and second people must protect themselves and others from what they want. The inherent contradictions of these two rules in the context of this summary comes from tweets by the Social Policy People (SPP), the Tax Accountability People (TAP) and the Fact Checking People (FCP).

The Sport of Social Policy Politics

The strategic nature of sport includes “the fake,” or “jukes,” and other team behaviors that overwhelm or confuse opponents. The remaining components of leadership needed to achieve a political end require a series of projects, guided by priorities and measured by the policy. Each project (or play) requires a full understanding of the resource implications of each effort and an evaluation scheme useful for producing adjustments, new strategies, projects, priorities, and policies.

June began with the Urban Institute’s (UI) promotion of the Fiscal Summit. One of the preliminary papers was on a fiscal policy entitled what if “Congress does nothing” (here) that describes the exponential growth in the debt neatly packaged for a takeover by the “other party.” At the end of June, UI Tweets took a look at the cities that make homelessness a crime and the increase in the demand for affordable housing.  The Urban Institute’s remaining concerns in June were many, such as the difficulty of lowering the cost of higher education.

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) focuses on policies that hurt the most vulnerable. This month’s argument looks at changes in the Official Poverty Measure proposed U.S. Office of Management and Budget that would increase the number of children and families in poverty enact a new poverty calculation that would underestimate the number of children living in poverty. They have a laser on the needs of the nation’s children. So why is it such a difficult argument to win?

The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) focused on how the tax policies (2017) are not benefiting distressed neighborhoods as promoted using the tools offered in the Opportunity Zone program. Finally, June closed with the launch of a video (here) on a program in Detroit known as “The Promise Path from the What Works Media Project.

The Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) provides excellent summaries of research on structural inequality. It gives means for disrupting systems that produce disadvantages for low-income people of color. Central to this point is their focus on solving the concentration of poverty problem with instruments such as housing choice vouchers. The NYC-based Furman Center’s research on combining mobility with housing opportunities (2016) recognizes how making multiple choices within a whole community is a far more enriching set of means to escape disadvantage. June’s tweets point to a robust set of American blind spots for which answers are held easily with political will.

To get to the political will, the tweets of the Tax Accountability People may have the insight required to examine the “all for one and one for all” question that confronts America and the fact that the country’s public affairs no longer appear public. For this reason, the Citizens for Tax Justice and theInstitute on Taxation and Economic Policy do not support “free file programs” as it stands to entrench a corrupt system further. A second tweet points to an example. The manipulation of the tax code by just one company produced a $4.3 Billion tax “dodge.” They also join in the criticism of Opportunity Zones as corporate welfare without the means to prove even a hint of benefits for working people.

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) pointed its tweet readers to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the problem of #AnonymousCompanies that hinder inquiries into political corruption and a long list of criminal enterprises (read testimony May 2019).

The solution to the offshore economy problem is “beneficial ownership” legislation by those who recognize the snake has started to eat its tail using the fangs of anonymous shell companies with poisons affecting national security by promoting tax evasion and evading compliance. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) defines the problem (here). It presents the details via an Atlantic Council in an excellent (first hour) webcast on how the offshore corrupts the onshore (here). In addition, the link with the Offshore Economy is available (here). Added discussion on the subject is (here) among all Think Tank People (here).

The Taxpayers for Common Sense like to point to the ongoing absurdities as appropriations go final. Examples are summer increase in ethanol fuel mixes, disaster aid drama, and ideas like only farmers who actually farm should get ag bucks, and a long string of gives in taking resources (gold, silver, copper) from federal land royalty-free. An observation attributed to Winston Churchill is popular among American politicians that we as a government will do the right thing, but only after examining all possible alternatives.

Journalism’s Heart Needs a Blue Check-mark

Throughout its history, the heart of journalism has been to double-check the facts. Therefore, the new services of the information age offer a detection system for the “fake facts.” Journalists and the ordinarily curious now have over one hundred outlets worldwide exposing misstatements, inaccuracies, and lies. It may only be a matter of time before one of them is compromised. Still, these entities are screwing it up.  Here is how.

The cash flow is built on ad dollars, demanding our attention drawn to base instincts. It is what I and others call a path to the end of history. But, there is another way, it leads directly to leaders, and we need them to stop lying by ignoring those they lead yet pretending not to do so.

Aside from getting overextended at Snopes, the acquisition of the “On The Issues” website will yield the instrumental analysis that agents from afar can bring to local affairs. Until the end of Snopes’ legal troubles, ads will be oppressive if you can send them a couple of bucks.  In contrast, Ballotpedia for candidate data and Open Secrets on the money trail yield ordinary decision-making help. An example is how corporate #pride support runs counter to the PACs they fund. Moreover, Ballotpedia’s API is a vast storehouse of political information. Organizations of voters are free to explore its usefulness (here) and decide if a purchase of API keys adds insight.

The observation of media bias is the niche set by Fact Check, focusing on misleading and false claims. The best feature is the left side panel.  An example is a viral Facebook post claiming Congress gave itself exorbitant pay raises while cutting Social Security. The 2018 Players Guide reviews sources of TV ad cash, annotates transcripts of statements made by POTUS45, and searches Facebook to debunk false stories, among several other opportunities to get to specifics.

PolitiFact is famous for the “Pants on Fire” truth-o-meter, and Politifact NY pulls their banner to focus on the gaffs of local leaders such as the mayor and its senators to provide items of local interest.  It is essential to check both, one of the more interesting is how what looked like an AOC screengrab was, in fact, a parody account AOC Press Release (parody). Her real account has a “blue checkmark” that Twitter uses to indicate account authenticity.

Truth or Fiction also attempts to be instructive of the new media world. One element is to be wary of “text against a colorful background” without citation can spread toward viral. Examples are SCOTUS rulings, the killing of Christians by Muslims, or that HR1 provides for noncitizens voting.

“To remain an active, political actor with a moral compass and a backbone for change believe me when I say pick true leaders by becoming one yourself. Do it the best way you know-how and be intelligent about leading and following. We do live in exciting times, and be prepared to be so, knowing it to be the oath of 2016 to 2020.”

Rex L. Curry

That is June

The March 2019 summary (here) introduced all the organizations selected for the Tweet-O-Rama and the Random Tweet-O-Rama. The idea is to learn something from the wits from this vast new area of the blah blah world.  The April summary (here) examined the Think-Tank People. In May (here), I looked at the organizations working to produce a good economy combined with voter rights organizations. With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to look at politics as a sport and as a practice that is now very different from the role of leadership that it implies. Please enjoy June, everyone should, and then July (here) for a look at the one thing of great importance – housing (here)

Note “Hacking Corruption: Tech Tools to Fight Graft in the Americas” is also interesting from the Atlantic Council (May 30, 2019, Read the Publication as a PDF)

Political Waters

Jeff Goodell at Long Now Foundation

Goodell is a journalist focused on energy systems and climate change. At the end of his talk, Jeff Goodell was asked what he would do with $200 billion. His answer was surprising. He said he would spend it all on finding ways to improve the quality of political change and its ability to adapt to solving big long-term problems. He said we have the intelligence and capacity to deal with the problem of a constantly rising sea. Still, first, it must be recognized as daily and inevitable by our leadership. He adds this is a problem that will last for several centuries, so we might as well get started.  His full discussion of “The Water Will Come” is available at the Long Now Foundation.  His five main points are below. Buy “The Water Will Come.”

1. Gravity

Sea rise is like the existence of gravity. It is all around us; it is happening now every day. Like gravity, the increase in seawater is subtle, and it is a fixed part of the world because you cannot make water go away. All you can do is watch it get redistributed. In every locality, the hydrology of the rise will be unique. The conservation of matter remains the physical driving principal – added moisture in the atmosphere; the higher intensity in storm surges is part of a global system with a deep billion-year-old history.  The need for action to deal with sea-level rise and adapting to it is not physical. It is the hyper-political “not on my watch” principal. They are incompatible. What we can do today is the value to instill in leadership.

2. Rate of Change

The geological record covering billions of years shows 25 to 60 feet of sea-level rise is part of the system, leaving the central question’s time and rate. Jeff refers to Richard Alley as the world’s top ice analyst (climate scientist) who finds the rise of 15 feet by 2100 “is not out of the question.” The geological record also suggests the sea rise occurs in pulses, but the historical average is 13 feet per century. Huge unknowns remain. How will trillions of tons of water change the sea due to the catastrophic collapse of Antarctica? How big and fast questions will last for a century and vary in probable impact in places worldwide. Definitive answers to these questions drive political policy toward resilience. For example, the effect of climate change in the form of “storm surge” on the value of the coastal property is top on the list. The political response, on the other hand, is little more than a finger in the dike.

3. Value

Long before any individual city or region comes up with mitigation resources, the “troubles” will have spoken and measured in dollars. A part of the American culture is that it tends to leave the important things unsaid. For example, the coastal states are losing property value. People are selling (caveat emptor) and moving to get ahead of their sea rise fears following one experience: a sunny day flooding or a crushing surge in the ocean’s new normal. Others take advantage of generous publicly funded encouragements to sustain tax revenues with “move to the shore,” campaigns deemed essential to borrow long term financing for local “fixes” (higher roads, bigger dunes, pumps, and so on) and. In political words, what we have here is a capital mess with a Catch 22 attached.

4. Resilience is Now

There is no way to know what plan will work best or who will call for spending and take the win/lose leadership responsibility to protect against the impact of sea rise. Goodell has traveled the world and has seen brilliance and stupidity. Some jurisdictions pump the water from one place to another. Others raise buildings, but protecting a city is a very different problem. The who is in and outside a mitigation area screams substantial social justice issues on why protections planned for one locality are not in another. Resilience policies are in response to ongoing “chaos costs” because it is too late to achieve sustainable development for five main reasons outlined by Dennis Meadows over a decade ago.

  1. Public discourse has difficulty with subtle, conditional messages.
  2. Growth advocates change the justification for their paradigm rather than changing the paradigm itself.
  3. The global system is now far above its carrying capacity.
  4. We act as if technological change can substitute for social change.
  5. The time horizon of our current system is too short.

5. Why “Catastrophic” Resolution?

The business models used to treat climate change as an economic opportunity is often disguised by waiting for catastrophe. Nevertheless, there are places far less driven by profit-making than the quality of life that may be getting it right and doing so in a timely way.  Lagos is a floating place to live, others in the Netherlands and similar geographies find ways for the sea to take what it will. The re-building design for a flooding world is easily envisioned across the economic spectrum of engineering. Geo-engineering work will attempt to physically alter the atmosphere by buying time or opening Pandora’s box but will not stop the sea-level rise. The question “what now” will help regions know what to do, the skills exist, and get them. To get creativity from skill, it will be necessary to make climate change risks transparent to get the markets and governments to function.

What?

North America’s coastlines are urban, dense, and represent 80% of the nation’s GDP. From the islands of New York City to Virginia’s shipyards to the North and South Carolina beaches’ soft links and from Savannah to Miami, the sea is rising. From hot and sunny New Orleans, Louisiana to San Diego, California, and way up north to the cold and wet of Seattle, Washington, the sea is rising. It took three centuries to build this coastline, and this investment continues.

To sustain these economic giants as viable will require a new force capable of combining political will, economic genius, design, and engineering brilliance and bringing it to the forefront of our thinking. They are all unique urban environments requiring solutions specific to each place’s geology and hydrology, but they are all equally threatened. There are no “need to know” problems, only the need to make an effort. The alternative to a successful push for democratic transparency on these problems will be an authoritarian process that will choose winners and losers the way despots have always chosen.

9th Congressional Data

The Ninth Congressional data is very revealing and worthy of spending the time to understand it by size, shape, and its many places as defined by our representative to Congress.

CD9 & Stress

Exploring the following group of analysts will produce one of the more fascinating introductions to key indicators of economic stress. Have a good long look at the work of the EIG. It will give you an RTC. Put your zip code in the search box and for the Ninth Congressional District, insert NY-9 in the map below.
In NYC, opportunities to become involved in innovation for economic recovery could be the Ninth Congressional District. Find people who have read Section Subchapter Z— Opportunity Zones in the Tax Reform Act.  (pdf is HERE)  Only 25% of CTs (defined as low-income can be nominated by the State.  NYC has several of these ‘zones’ from previous designations.  (EIG explanation).   If anyone has any insight into this EIG outfit, please share.

The Ninth CD is the only one that is all in Brooklyn

go ahead drop me a line or comment below:

Corruption

A look at the last few years in NYS to go forward.

“The examination of people that get swept up in offering or receiving a corrupt benefit reminds me of the punchline in a joke describing a negotiating process.  ‘You and I have already decided what you are; now we’re just haggling about the price.” The ‘what you are’ list that society would see eliminated with the threat of punishment and mitigation resources is compelling and long.” It has not helped.

Rex L. Curry

Embezzling, conspiracy, extortion, mail and wire fraud, bribe solicitation, tax evasion, intentionally soliciting illegal campaign contributions, and judicial extortion payments have all been committed by New York political leaders, include theft of honest services, bribes and kickbacks, felony, and a variety of misdemeanor charges. The results involve expelling leaders from office, hefty fines, and terms of imprisonment.

Most of those in the photo collage (above) did not commit a major crime. It is everyone since 2000. Of the forty-eight state political leaders arrested from 2000 to 2018, fourteen went to prison, less than one per year.  It is statistically embarrassing.  It is alarming due to the expected “high-bar” of public service but not out of line with bad human behavior in general. Over 18 years, troubles with the law affected fourteen Republicans and thirty-four Democrats, representing a third of NYS lawmakers (source listing the crimes).

Seriously, How Bad Is It?

I pulled arrest data by state from Table 69 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program (UCR) to make a comparison. I culled it down somewhat roughly to executive/professional collar crimes.  Annually all arrests in New York State average in the area of 260,000, of which fraud and embezzlement make up about 7,000 arrests per year.

The idea that this is a “few bad apples” issue is wrong. Legislators (including staff) are hagglers in every aspect of their political lives. Those who get out of control and get caught end their careers in political life and much of their personal lives. None of us are saints, nor do we expect our political representatives to be candidates for divine recognition.  What I (we, people) want is an aggressive public effort to discover wrongdoing whenever there is a hint of it.

The concerns of an ordinary, reasonably thoughtful citizen are focused on the growing number of new ways our leaders are corruptible in today’s political climate. The front of the line has people (corporations) who want a part of the state’s $10-14 billion in capital budget spending or a few more campaign bucks, but today that line extends around the block and back ten years to Citizen’s United vs. FEC (SCOTUS pdf).

The New York State annual operating budget is approaching $180 billion, and it will make yearly capital investments between $11 to $14 billion (2020 Report pdf). New York City’s budget is approaching $100 billion. While it is a “creature of the state,” a discussion of corruption and money requires a separate review that connects the nation’s metropolitan regions to the political process embedded in public benefit corporations that cross state boundaries. NYC’s creation of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) has proven to be a highly effective provider of facts in this regard. The New York state legislature is considering a similar option.

Well-funded investigation divisions in the Attorney General’s local and state offices, the Election Commission, the Controller, and the FBI are institutions that citizens need to believe are doing their job well and with integrity. Unfortunately, they cannot confirm the political honesty of all the people who seek to lead. Still, they can “follow the money,” which is where a network of community-based and national advocacy groups plays an essential function if unbreaking our democracy is to get some local traction.

Essential Institutions

The Office of the Attorney General led by Letitia James (D) went from New York City’s Office of Public Advocate with a budget less than $4M budget to the AG’s $230M+ statewide operating budget. Drilling down into the role this office plays in preventing political corruption is on the public’s radar. A detailed look at AG’s responsibilities and resources is ongoing.

The New York State Comptroller is the State’s chief fiscal officer ensures that New York State and local governments use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently. It is the sole trustee of the $207.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. An audit released March 31, 2018, revealed the fund as one of the world’s largest institutional investors. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit to find out if Empire State Development had met its statutory reporting requirements and revealed that between April 2012 and September 2016, 17 programs didn’t undergo mandatory, independent evaluations, and public reports weren’t issued on 12 programs that received more than $500 million in total funding. 

The New York State Board of Elections is responsible for administering all laws relating to elections in New York State and operates with a budget of about $12M.  Another $41M is from legislation reauthorizing the BoE obligates expired budget authority through )reapportionment. The role of BoE will also be the subject of a detailed look at NYS through the lens offered by proposed legislative changes in voting practices and campaign financing at the city and state level.

The strategy of changing local laws to bring about national change begins at the local level. For example, in New York, the citizens have the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.  The question is, how well do the Laws of New York State legislature and the home rule work of NYC hold up against the demands for change by RepresentUs and the work of its NY Chapter. This link will lead to a report on JCOPE’s reports (here).

An argument for one other institutional analysis of political behavior (both APAs) or private, professional psychology or psychiatric team. As this review of NYS implies, it is not just the money. It is the power for the imbalance that money represents. See the post Control vs. Balance for a look at the control balance theory.

Examples Worthy of a Close Look                       

During policy and budget negotiations, the give-and-take practices of a healthy democracy are like fencing. Participants will thrust, and reprise, even produce the third intention.  Another often-used metaphor is, if not achieved after three attempts, punt.  Give the other side a try if you can get them in the game.

The most severe forms of corruption occur in the reverse of the authorized/allocated condition where funds are authorized in the sense that they will meet a need or support a project on which there is consensus. Still, the actors who seek the funds use a strategic means to secure the allocation. Understanding this fact is the best way to find the line in the sand that matters. It helps separate political banter and partisanship from what is factually determined by standing authorizations and measured allocations to which the actors can be held accountable.

Since 2010 concerns regarding the economic recovery of Western New York were agreed to politically and based in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and the surrounding counties.   With “we have to do something” well established, a good analysis offered by the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBC) finds the current NYS Budget in the areas of growth and reductions by program reasonable. It points out that steps to improve transparency and accountability continue to make outcomes obscure — see (10 Billion Reasons).

The following examples illustrate corruption as an agent of change at the state level. The dangers of attacking public institutional efforts to implement reforms are critical and should not be part of political dialogue unless it is an independent evaluation of excesses and errors. The Senate has offered solutions that would prevent the condition in which New Yorkers find themselves. Unfortunately, it is your busted, “post-trauma” and catastrophic resolution policy ending in the prosecution of criminal intent.  That is not good enough.

When a Corporation Controls a Market

The Cor Construction Company is a mid-sized, upstate development corporation that got greedy for a guarantee. Despite the bid-fixing controversy, Cor still boasts of 50 employees and many large development projects. Like a business remains interested in drawing on the NYS investment in their economic sector and sections of the state requiring more jobs and economic development. Just outside of Syracuse, Cor built an attractive building for $15 million in state funding. Unfortunately, the project also resulted in discovering significant crimes, bid fixing, and bribery by company executives involving a top aide in the governor’s office and many others.

As the dust of litigants continues to settle, the state gave the building to a nonprofit corporation created by Onondaga County for one dollar. With about $2M in additional seed funds, the project became the Greater Syracuse Soundstage (GSS).  Not exactly Kaufman Studios, but it remains a capital investment that is not forgotten, it is in local hands, and the pressure to return on that investment continues.  With more local control, it is likely to be successful but slow.  Will the forgetful citizen of the state follow up on this public investment?  Will the GSS succeed, create jobs, become an important new institution.  Who wants to follow that one, if it is you leave a reply?

When a Corporation Walks Away

The $90 million used to build the factory for the Soraa LED lighting company resulted in them leaving the deal with no penalty even though its developer was implicated in the bid fixing, bribery, and wire fraud by the agent in charge of the project. Meanwhile, NYS added up to $15 million more, so NexGen Power Systems, a semiconductor company, would retrofit and lease the plant outside Syracuse. Lesson learned: in the new deal, NexGen will repay $2.5 million if the company failed to create ten jobs in 2018 – it did.  Another $2.5 million will be due if it fails to employ 30 people by the end of 2019.  Another $2 million will be due if it failed to have 58 employees in 2020. Known as “clawbacks,” the company agrees to 290 jobs by 2024 measured in annual increments increases requiring $2M payments each of the next four years.  As in the case of criminal prosecution, the practice of assuring accountability or the lack of it stands with those who hold the clocks and triggers of fact. Will these targets are met, or penalties assigned? Who will follow that one if it is you leave a reply?

In these two examples, and the slow appeals process only leaves names to follow to learn if punishment is a real deterrent – these are Alain Kaloyeros, Stephen Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, (Cor) and Louis Ciminelli, (LPCiminielli) and Joseph Percoco. All of whom are appealing prison terms. Also, watch for Fort Schuyler Management Corp., a corporation created by SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which oversaw the corruption-tainted projects regarding all the above.  It may be the reforms proposed will not occur unless the law provides its proof as a deterrent. at

When a Corporation Gets it Right

The Western part of NYS is economically depressed. Increased public spending demand falls on the shoulders of its local development agencies and the state. New York is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) and its ten regional economic development councils. The state’s human capital investment arm is the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) system.  It also works with several community-based nonprofits partners who are asked to play a role or develop initiatives.   The two examples above were obvious screw-ups that need follow-up. To sustain trust, the CEO of Empire State Development will point to the positives Howard Zemsky — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, (3,000 jobs) for $31 million in grants and tax incentives. He will also tell you private-sector jobs continue to grow in NYS, and he’ll give EDC credit.  Should we? If you want to follow that one, leave a reply.

The ESD is a business. Of its $77M in annual operating budget (pdf) for 2020, just $9M is from NYS program-specific budget appropriations and some federal funding. The ESD runs on commercial receipts, its assets, fees, and bond financing. As the NYS Controller recently observed, it may be a small agency, but its reach and economic power are considerable. Corruption can occur honestly through stupid eagerness aimed at capturing fast-moving capital. If the Great Recession of 2008 or the ridiculous excess of Wells Fargo and others is not a signal to this, then the world is going blind.

What Will NYS Legislators Do?

Three bills (S6613B, S3354, S3984A) to address this question are supported (see descriptions below plus a snowball).  They have passed the Senate, still await the Assembly, and are not codified (Article VII) as law.  Briefly, they:  1) create a “database of deals” on economic development, 2) establishes a unified economic development budget, and 3) reforms procurement by restoring the State Comptroller’s oversight of contracts made by SUNY and CUNY, and the state’s Office of General Services to heighten the quality of monitoring.

A unified economic development budget on the costs of all economic development programs is essential; the use of metrics for comparability across all programs would confirm benefits from private sector participation. All these steps can lead to program design improvements and the efficiency of public tax and capital expenditures.

The Senate is calling its passage of ethical reforms historic.  The thing to pay attention to is that they do not carry the force of law yet, and there is a lot more left—voting reforms, an independent redistricting agency ready to go following the 2020 census, etc.

The number of those who have a strong interest in ethical reforms in the NYS legislature needs to grow. Their numbers are few. A strategy toward “exponential” participation is needed. The question is direct. When will you know if and how any of the following reasonable ideas become law and have access to the final content?  Take one step, leave a reply to subscribe.

Developing a Searchable Subsidy Database S6613B

Sponsored by Senator Croci, it requires creating a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would benefit New Yorkers and policymakers by helping monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state’s economy create jobs. The database would include the participant’s name and location, the period of received economic development benefits, the type of benefit received, and the total number of employees at all project sites.   The number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project is in the contract.  The number of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, canceled, or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant. 

New York State Procurement Integrity Act S3984A

Sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), it prevents self-dealing in the government procurement process by enhancing the integrity, transparency, and accountability of the state’s procurement process. Historically, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has performed this essential oversight function. Still, in recent years OSC’s ability to do so has been eroded by executive and legislative action. The bill, called the New York State Procurement Integrity Act, would:

  • restore the state Comptroller’s independent oversight (eliminated in 2011 and 2012) of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts; 
  • expand the Comptroller’s oversight of the procurement process to include contracts over $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation; and 
  • prohibit state contracting through state-affiliated not-for-profit (NFP) entities unless explicitly authorized in law;

Making Economic Data Available to Help Measure Effectiveness S3354

Sponsored Senator Liz Krueger (D, Manhattan), directs the state Division of the Budget (DOB) to prepare an annual Unified Economic Development budget that outlines the aggregate amounts of state investments in economic development projects statewide, the benefactors of these investments, and the number of jobs created or retained by businesses as a result of this development assistance. The legislation also standardizes the types of information that state entities and recipients of development assistance must report to the DOB.

Lastly, there is this little snowball:

Creating an Independent Budget OfficeS2325

Sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), it creates the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. At least 23 other states, including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, and Vermont, have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.

Oddly interesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office is not mentioned in the Senate’s description. It is a precious independent tool concerning the city’s massive OMB.

Help to find out what it will take to get these measures passed and signed by the Governor.  One more time — leave a reply.

Ranking Leaders

“Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) improves democratic participation for three reasons. First, it feels ethical and principled; second; it reduces conflict through majority rule by supporting more choice. Third, RCV supports a politics of joy and civil argument.  Finally, in a society that tends to leave the critical things unsaid, RCV is cheaper. It avoids the cost of close race run-offs and recounts. The second and third picks of voters remain choices and get used if none of the candidates get to the 50+% threshold. Democracies require consensus to function, and that means we can make choices on issues and for people to which we can agree to some extent. Ranking your options is a step in that direction.”

Rex L. Curry

Two party systems should become more sophisticated than a thumbs up or down decision with obvious limits in our ability to choose leaders. The ranking alternative not only expands the values inherent to voting; it encourages and builds new practices in leadership and encourages people who want to lead to find their way in politics. We should also never forget an idea in the United States Constitution that says we have to work for a perfect union. To this end, the popularity of RCV is significant. Given Maine’s experience presents one difficulty. The possibility of litigation and its cost. If there is pivot point to watch, that will be it.

Watching and reviewing the Maine experience will be useful in this regard as the practice is now settled law. With this precedent, it is the first state to use RCV, and the lessons here have been rewarding.  I would refer you to three articles presented in chronological order to illustrate the path taken, the questions asked and the lawsuits filed to get it done. The first article examines the prospect and examines its impact, the second article reviews the litigation on this legislation over the next year or two, and third, the actual practice of voting in Maine today as described by the League of Women Voters.  Praise the victories of suffrage. 

  1. Ranked Choice Voting: What’s in it for you? August 2016 (here)
  2. Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Experiment Continues November 2018 (here)
  3. How Does Ranked Voting Work (Main LWV website) (here) also see (cool video)

Watching the New York Experience begins by testimony on May 2nd or by write to the Charter Revision Commission to tell them to put RCV before voters on the November ballot. Ranked choice voting will advance voting practices as if it was the 21st Century.

Imagining a similar process for the voters of New York City as a creature of New York State is a daunting one, but this is one of those “fix-it-even-if-it-isn’t broke” ideas worthy of your efforts, sweat and I don’t think I’m nuts, blood for the bank, if necessary. Lowering the cost is the sane approach that calls for “instant run-offs” that takes into account a voters second and third choices. A bill in the New York City Council does that is (here),

Common Cause took up the mantle on RCV (here) and defined the issues as follows: voting as “the lesser of two evils” is part of the political value system and needs to change. Accepting the value of the majority vote win on the other hand is vital, today that is no longer true and that needs to change. The NYC Public Advocate’s win with 33% of the vote is a still win, but politically it can be used as a criticism. Ranked choice solves that problem by confirming the existence of voter confidence. Lastly, the overall downward pressure on the validity of the vote with algorithms allows political power brokers to ignore whole sections of he population and reduces elections to battleground states or neighborhoods.

The opportunity to make this happen is this year because the 2019 Charter Revision Commission is considering the placement of Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot by voters in November. The opportunity to show support will be in Borough hearings- locations and dates are TBA . The Commission’s website was launched 3 April. It is a bit difficult to navigate, but covers the bases well with links from “lists” to sections with more content.

They have two in-depth articles on the subject. The Tipping Point — The Impact of Candidate Field Size on Multi-Candidate Primaries in New York City 4/2019 and A Case for Ranked Choice Voting in New York City, 11/2018

The articles make sense, much of the critical thinking is complete, and it is top on the list of the commission’s voting reform proposals. The Charter Commission offers a look at what this revision of NYC’s voting system would be like:

Note

Let NY Vote that continues to enjoy many successful election reform campaigns At one time they included ranked-choice voting on its list of reforms and then the calendar item went 404 – files not found. (URL here). The priority of getting the vote in the hands of people from whom it has been taken is the current priority. Several political districts in upstate NY get to count the population of their prisons to determine the apportion public office, but this population is not allowed to vote.  If advocating for a ranked choice system of voting in NYC is less of a priority than work that increases voter participation in the process, I recommend attending their events.

Represent Us is putting this idea on there national list of victories and the New York Chapter is calling out all of their recent success and making sure the city’s representatives understand a the power of a very strong movement in the grassroots of every election district. The message is simple if you are in politics — pay really attention.

My Represent Us Story

The folks at Represent Us in local and state elections all over the United States present three major issues in Unbreaking America (above). Every once in a while people get their act so together that you know exactly why you have to do what you have to do. Watch it.

In 2018 When Indivisible established a network I did some homework on my political back yard. I conducted research and built some tools. I live in Brooklyn. I use the Ninth CD as a lens capture a view of local and state representatives. Take a look at it below. I am looking for some help for 2020, 2022, 2024.

What I Found

Represent Us is correct. Yvette D Clarke received 82% her of campaign contributions ($537,295) from outside her district. (Rank: 206 out of 421.) and she received 32% of campaign contributions ($211,772) from outside NYS. Source: the Center for Responsive Politics.

Who or what Clarke represents becomes a logical, honest question. RepresentUs asks this question of every single member of our city, state and federal legislature. Corruption can be removed only one way by the people.

Finding a new member of Congress. Clarke ranks 381st among the 435 in the House. She had estimated net worth of $115,502 in 2014. This is super important because the average net worth of a U.S. House of Representative is over $6 million (2014) despite the annual salary in the House is less than $200,000.

I took a look at every election district in the Ninth Congressional District (see NYC Election District Map here). I want you to use the location tool and share your ED with me if you live in the Ninth or know some one who does. In the 2018 primary I gave some friends and myself some instructions and tried to elect Adem as a replacement for only one reason. Change works. Clarke is still in office, but it was fun trying.

The proof came with AOC. New people with voter backing make a real difference because most incumbents have stopped paying attention to their districts and they tend toward complacency with a 98% re-election rate.

NYC’s Network of Election Districts

The table below describes registered voters by party in the Brooklyn’s Ninth Congressional District by status. The shock is in the number of voters it took to re-elect Clarke for yet another term in the tables that follow.


All Voters in the Ninth CD

Ninth CDDEMREPCONINDOtherTOTAL
Active275,79925,427 9557,35255,498365,031
Inactive 28,635 2,519 109 983 7,039 39,285
Total304,43427,9461,0648,33562,537404,316

New York City is a city of Democrats and Independents. It is the cities that make New York State blue. The Democratic Primary is the most important vote if a change is needed. When 10% of the people of the Ninth make that decision the Represent Us video above is frighteningly accurate.

All Who Voted in 2018 Primary

CandidatesVotes%
Yvette Clarke (incumbent)16,20253.0%
Adem Bunkeddeko14,35047.0%
Margin 1,8526.1%
750,000 People and 276,000 Registered Democrats

One More Thing

If you are interested in “working the Ninth for 2020” let me know with the reply option below. All the rest of the effort can be seen (here) in various, largely unedited narratives about the Ninth. A more detailed volunteer form is here. The tool I use takes the Ninth CD and links that to local and state representatives using the two menus below. This is far as I’ve gotten. It is a big job. Thanks for reading.