Monday, August 31, 2009

Nervous, Quinn spending thousands on polling

Christine Quinn, the incumbent City Council speaker, is reacting to a highly competitive race for the District 3 seat.

City Hall News is reporting that candidate Yetta Kurland may be making inroads against incumbent Christine Quinn. Although it is not yet established whether Ms. Kurland has truly over-taken Speaker Quinn among likely voters, an amazing fact was revealed in the campaign disclosure statements of both campaigns.

"According to Campaign Finance Board filings, both Kurland and Quinn’s campaign have spent sizeable sums on internal polling. Quinn’s campaign made two separate payments of $5,250 each to Global Strategy Group for “polling costs,” while Kurland’s campaign made three payments to consulting firm Prime New York for polling and phone data, for a total of $971."

Seems that Speaker Quinn's expenditure of over $10,000 on polling suggests that she is worried about something: possibly on the success of her ill-fated, third-term re-election campaign ?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quinn resistance now on radio

Crotch Shot Radio Show interviews Suzannah B. Troy.

Listen as Ms. Troy discusses the slush fund scandal, pension fund scandal, over-development, the third term power over-reach, and the collapse of our infrastructure.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No third term for Christine Quinn

In 2008, Christine Quinn backed Mayor Michael Bloomberg on a controversial bill that overturned voter-approved term limits and allowed for the Mayor, City Councilmembers (including Quinn herself), and Borough Presidents to run for third terms, reversing the results of two successive public referenda.

Please vote for Yetta Kurland, candidate for NYC Council in the 3rd District. She is campaigning to restore trust and integrity to the City Council. A believer in civil liberties and civil rights, she is an attorney who is representing an individual wrongfully arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

YouTube documentary examines Quinn's record

Christine Quinn: Behind the Smile

"See how openly gay City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has betrayed NYC voters, the gay community, and the democratic process while masquerading as a reformer. " -- from Donny Moss's YouTube documentary, "Christine Quinn: Behind the Smile."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quinn, NYC Council extend Term Limits

Flashback to October 2008: Amid High Emotions, Council Clears Bloomberg's Third Term Bid by WNYC reporter Kathleen Horan.

"Speaker Christine Quinn, who brought the mayor's bill to the floor, defended the extension of term limits by saying it was increasing voter choice."

""Make no mistake," said Speaker Quinn. "I believe that our great city will get through these challenges and emerge stronger than ever before. I also believe that in challenging times like these, the voters should have the choice — the choice to continue their current leadership. They should have the right to vote for the current mayor, or a new one, for their current City Council member, or a new one. That is exactly what is at stake today."

To listen to the entire WNYC radio report, please click on the mp3 player above.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quinn Pads Campaign Staff with City Staff

Breaking News! According to documents the Village Voice has obtained, thirty-one of the "more than 90" volunteers who are working on Christine Quinn's re-election campaign are current staff members on the City Council payroll. Yet, the Board of Elections strictly prohibits City Council employees from working on political campaigns during business hours.

Now I understand how all of Speaker Quinn's staff staked claim so early to the line of people trying to get into the City Council debate of last week. Everybody's been trying to figure out how did her supporters get their hands on the limited number of tickets and manage to show up at NYU hours before people typically get out of work.

I just don't see how Speaker Quinn can keep playing dumb, while all these questionable acts (slush fund scandal, now using city time for political activities) keep happening around her -- and coincidentally, all in her favor.

Either Speaker Quinn really is ignorant of what is going on, or she is not. Either way, this doesn't portray the kind city council member I'd want to have return for a third term.

Quinn won't commit to Demoractic Mayoral Candidate

Christine Quinn ends her loyalty to the Democratic Party

Both Yetta Kurland and Maria Passannante-Derr said they would support the Democratic nominee for Mayor, but Christine Quinn said, "I'm not going to make that commitment tonight."

The audience responded with jeers and shouts of, "You're no Democrat."

Shame on the Working Family Party's endorsement of Speaker Quinn. In 2008, Speaker Quinn spearheaded Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bill to extend term limits without a public referendum.

All information in this post was quoted or paraphrased from the YouTube video excerpt of the debate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On third night, debate video appears

Extracts of debate statements by Yetta Kurland, candidate in the District 3 race against incumbent Speaker Christine Quinn

I was beginning to believe that no debate took place, since I hadn't seen any video of the debate on the internet, yet.

But here, on the evening three days after it was reported that a debate took place, a YouTube video has surfaced with extracts of statements made by Ms. Kurland. I am glad that Ms. Kurland held Speaker Quinn's feet to the fire regarding the scandals over term limits extensions and the City Haul slush funds.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shameful press and ticket policy at City Council Debate comes under fire

Christine Quinn, NYU use private security to possibly trample on the media's and on voters' First Amendment rights.

Whenever it is alleged that police officers of the NYPD participate in corruption or other forms of serious misconduct, the police department has an Internal Affairs Bureau that investigates these allegations against members of the police force. But who has oversight or power to investigate private security firms operating in New York City ? On the global level, there has been plenty of controversy involving private security firms in respect of allegations of abuse of "detainees." According to Amnesty International, "Over three years ago, the Justice Department (DOJ) required that all cases of detainee abuse by private military and security contractors be handled by one US Attorney's Office." Meanwhile, at the local level, such as in New York City, there is new evidence that the use of private security firms by local politicians and public institutions is leading to possible violations of voters' First Amendment rights.

At the first City Council debate on Thursday night, August 13, 2009, for the District 3 seat among the candidates Yetta Kurland and Maria Passannante-Derr, and the incumbent Christine Quinn, the private security force of New York University prevented at least two political candidates, two journalists with media credentials certified by NYPD, one freelance reporter, a few dozen undecided voters, and demonstrators from attending the political debate. The setting for the debate was 19 West 4th Street, a facility operated by NYU. According to its website, NYU is the "largest private university in the United States," and "also one of the largest employers in New York City, with over 16,000 employees."

Norman Siegel, a respected attorney and candidate for New York City Public Advocate, was denied entry to the debate, as were two reporters: one from each of City Hall and NY1. In a race that may determine who may may be the next City Council Speaker (or may not be, should Speaker Quinn lose the election), organizers of the debate issued only 5 press passes. General attendance by spectators was limited to ticket holders, and there emerged a controversy over the distribution of tickets. Criticisms were made by demonstrators, including the author of this post and by Suzannah B. Troy, that the distribution of tickets favored one candidate, who whose supporters could get in line several hours before the beginning of the debate. (A basis for criticism is the press release issued by Mary Anna Mancuso, press secretary for Ms. Passannante-Derr, which stated that Speaker Quinn became aware of the ticket procedures ealier than did her opponents.) Rumors also circulated among voters opposing Speaker Quinn that the incumbent allowed her staff to leave work early that day, so that she could fill the crown in her favor. Enforcing the restrictive access rules was the private security force of NYU. After the debate, Ms. Troy said, "It appears as if Christine Quinn was given inside information about the structuring and set up of the debate, allowing her to fill the audience with as many supporters as possible, and then NYU, a mega real estate developer and backer of the Bloomberg administration, endeavored to exclude as many people as possible, including the press."

Outside the debate, Mr. Siegel, demonstrators, and undecided voters tried to reason with representatives and security officers for NYU. Because of the importance of the political race for this singular New York City Council seat, when it became apparent that NYU security was going to steadfastly deny the 3 reporters access to the debate, passions became enflamed. Mr. Siegel, the reporters, and protesters immediately charged that the Freedom of the Press was being trampled on by the organizers of the debate, including NYU. Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and everyone left outside were dumbstruck. Why was a reputable institution such as NYU willingly being complicit in the willful rejection of media with certified press credentials from a debate that will determine who may be our next democratically-elected City Council Speaker ?

A concern of the protesters and of Mr. Siegel was that police and security can sometimes deny voters and the media their First Amendment rights. Here was an instance where citizens and voters were exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest; yet the very actions by the private security force of NYU was arguably denying us our rights. That night, in the conversations that took place between Mr. Siegel, demonstrators, and undecided voters outside the debate, it was revealed that Speaker Quinn has, in the past, used private security to bully protesters into moving off of public property.

In an ominous warning, Mr. Siegel warned us that once politicians learn that there is little or no consequence of denying citizens their Freedom of Assembly, we face the prospect of losing those rights – because the government, politicians, other public institutions, and now private security firms have learned that they can infringe on our rights and get away with it.

Update! After its initial posting, this entry was corrected and supplemented with additional information, including a link to the text of Ms. Passannante-Derr's press release.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

NYU and The Villager Close the Door on Democracy

First City Council Debate among Candidates for Democratic Primary in the 3rd District Race. Debate facility owned and operated by: New York University (19 West 4th Street).

An over-flow crowd formed outside one of NYU's buildings. Because the venue was so small, and only 5 press passes were issued to cover the re-election of the Speaker of the City Council (this, in a city of over 8 million people), there were more interested people who wanted to get in -- but who were turned away by NYU. At least 2 journalists with media credentials, at least one other freelance reporter, and a long line of undecided voters of Hells Kitchen, Chelsea, and the West Village looked on in complete helplessness as NYU officials turned them away.

This is NOT what democracy looks like !

After several conversations, candidate for NYC Public Advocate Norman Siegel was able to persuade and influence NYU officials to allow a handicapped man in a wheelchair access to attend the debate. But the 3 other reporters, and the rest of the voters, were turned away.

It took the persuasive skills of Mr. Siegel and the video recording by several citizen reporters before NYU chose to make room for the handicapped man. In essence, you need on your side a mob with at least one brilliant legal mind to change the minds of closed minded public institutions.

Houston Mayor Wants to End Term Limits, Too

Look at what Bloomberg-Quinn have started

"Mayor Bill White on Wednesday raised the specter of changing the term limits on Houston elected officials, urging City Council members to consider appointing a special commission to examine whether the restriction to three, two-year terms imposed by voters in 1991 has been too stringent." The Houston Chronicle has reported.

"...Term limits passed in cities and state legislatures all over the country in the early 1990s in a wave of reform that also brought the idea to Capitol Hill as part of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, where it failed. In recent years, however, challenges to term limits have been growing.

"Last year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought and won a battle to allow him a one-time extension so he could serve a third four-year term. Former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger also led a successful 2008 ballot initiative to extend that city's two two-year term limit to two four-year terms," the article reported.

Friday, August 7, 2009

City Council Gives Its Staff Raises

August 6, 2009, 6:56 pm

By Ray Rivera

From the City Room blog of the NYTimes :

At a time when many American workers are taking pay cuts, the New York City Council is giving its employees raises. Following the lead of the mayor’s office, which bumped its staff’s salaries last month, the Council on Thursday gave its employees back to back raises: 4 percent retroactive to March 2008 and another 4 percent retroactive to last March. The raises, which did not require a vote by the Council, mirror those announced last month by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for nearly 6,700 managers and nonunion workers.

The mayor’s raises will cost the city $45 million this year and come in the middle of the worst recession in decades. The council’s raises, affecting 550 council aides and central staffers, is expected to cost about $3.9 million for this year’s salaries and last year’s retroactive increases.

“We have taken every step towards achieving a responsible budget at the Council, and have in fact lowered our spending by more than $4 million over the past two fiscal years,” Maria Alvarado, a spokeswoman for the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said in a statement. “We made a decision to provide the cost of living increases after they were enacted by mayoral personnel orders in July.”

The raises, first reported on The Daily News’s Web site on Thursday, will bump the Council’s highest paid employee, Charles Meara, the chief of staff, to $209,973 from $194,132, a gain of $15,841. The Council’s next highest paid employee, Ramon Martinez III, whose title is first deputy chief of staff, will rise to $207,303 from $191,664.

City officials say the raises, which do not apply to council members, are based on salary increases negotiated last year with District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal union. The offices of the district attorneys and borough presidents have or are expected to enact similar raises. New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., a Democratic candidate for mayor who last month blasted the mayor’s decision to give his staff raises, has frozen the salaries of all his employees who make over $90,000 a year.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A little bit crummy and a little bit chummy

Christine Quinn has shown that Gay Politicians can be just like Straight Politicians

The writer-editor of the Dump Christine Quinn blog wrote a terrific piece about Why the Gay Community Must Outgrow Identity Politics.

We can't just settle for electing a "compromised" LGBT politician, who is going to go along with the questionable tactics of crooked politicians while she is in office. For example, by using slush funds to funnel money to the LGBT community, Ms. Quinn is only doing some of the same shady political wheeling and dealing that gets politicians indicted.

I wonder if we shouldn't be choosing LGBT leaders for public office, so that they could show the other office-holders that gay people are different -- for example, better -- when it comes to working with integrity when handling the public's business.

For now, Ms. Quinn prefers to maintain her close working relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, who, with the help of Ms. Quinn herself, has side-stepped the will of the voters and is running for a third term as New York City mayor.