Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bill Rudin Protest Viral Video

St. Vincent's Hospital activist bird-dogs billionaire Bill Rudin over controversial luxury condo conversion plan.

Artist and political commentator Suzannah B. Troy confronts Bill Rudin on West 12th Street. Community anger towards Mr. Rudin has inspired many protests, including a sustained protest and vigil outside the sales office of the new luxury condos. Mr. Rudin has ruthlessly ignored the community’s need for a full-service hospital. Mr. Rudin paid pennies on the dollar to buy St. Vincent’s real estate, and Mr. Rudin now stands to sell luxury condos and townhouses that, once constructed, are expected to have a combined fair-market value of over $1 billion.

Michael Bloomberg,Bill Rudin,St. Vincent's Hospital,Pepper Spray,Occupy Wall Street,Lower West Side,Hospital Closings

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quinn NYPD Eagle Raid

Show Us You Care ! Will Christine Quinn hold NYPD accountable for raiding the Eagle ? Probably not, as usual.

Is Christine Quinn going to hold the NYPD accountable for raiding the Eagle on the very night when marriage equality became law ? What kind of an LGBT leader is she, if she does not fight for our LGBT civil rights ? Join our Facebook page : Gays Against Christine Quinn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Christine Quinn Mini Me

Christine Quinn aka ''Mini-Me'' Uses City Council Funds (aka Taxpayer Money) to Reward Political Bosses

After City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got fluffed by NYTimes reporter David W. Chen, now comes Michael Powell, a columnist for the Gray Lady, who pulls back the curtain on Speaker Quinn's slush fund-tinged campaign for mayor.

Mr. Powell reports that Ms. Quinn was appointed Speaker of the City Council after she "charmed" political bosses from Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. At her coronation ceremony, she put Vito Lopez, the notorious Brooklyn political boss (who is the target of several ethical and corruption investigations) in the front row. Speaker Quinn has also scratched Mr. Vito's back in exchange for his political support. "The fates have smiled on Mr. Lopez’s social-service empire, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council ; this year the Council sent more than $4 million its way," reported the NYTimes.

In a statement posted Facebook, a government integrity watchdog activist questioned why the latest NYTimes article stops short of probing the status of the federal investigation into Speaker Quinn's slush fund scandal.

"Instead of reporting on Quinn's criminal activity, the NY Times merely raises questions about her ethics and leadership: "But there are questions to be asked about her leadership, and not all cheery." Is it a fear of Bloomberg that prevents the Times from reporting on the well-documented budget and campaign corruption ?" Donny Moss posted on the social network.

This is how the NYTimes article ends :

Last year, a Council majority favored mandatory sick days for New Yorkers with less than a week of vacation. The mayor opposed it. Ms. Quinn killed it.

Some suggest that she has gotten lost in the game, that she can no longer recall the questions she once asked as an advocate. That sounds too definitive. Her arc is not done.

She affects nonchalance when described as a mayoral puppet: “You can call me Mini-Me. I don’t really care.”

The rub is that voters might care a lot.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peninsula Hospital Closing Protest

Peninsula Hospital Center - Protesters Take Over Lobby - Hospital Closings in NYC

Approximately 200 union employees, residents of Far Rockaway, in Queens, and local officials, gathered in the rain outside Peninsula Hospital Center, across the bay from JFK Airport. Peninsula Hospital Center has filed a plan to shut its doors. The hospital’s owner is embroiled in a political and financial scandal, but employees and residents are worried about the threat to public health, should the hospital’s closure plan be approved.

Attendees of the rally braved the rain, then, once the rally had ended, stormed into one of the lobbies of the hospital, until hospital officials called the police, to clear the lobby of its own employees.

In the time that Christine Quinn had been speaker of the City Council, eight hospitals (not counting Peninsula) have closed. If Peninsula closes, it would mark the ninth hospital to close under Speaker Quinn's watch.

This week, President Obama agreed to severe budget cuts to social safety net programs, that underpin the social contract we make with our government and amongst ourselves. More budget cuts to Medicaid and Medicare will lead to a further collapse of our healthcare system. Is Christine Quinn in Bermuda with Mayor Michael Bloomberg each time a hospital closes in New York City ? Is President Obama surfing in Hawaii each time a hospital closes in America ?

If we obediently listen to people, who are in power (the same people who work for us, the very same people who are closing our hospitals), telling us to leave the lobby of a closing hospital, then it just makes it that much easier for the New York State Department of Health/Christine Quinn to keep closing hospitals.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Peninsula Hospital Closing ?

Peninsula Hospital Center

Is the Rudin Family eyeing their next real estate harvesting operation on the dead carcass of the Peninsula Hospital Center in Queens ?

William Rudin

After he's done with St. Vincent's Hospital, it has been heard on the street that William Rudin is considering another real estate harvesting operation, this time at the Peninsula Hospital Center in Queens.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

SAIC RICO Triple Damages

SAIC RICO Bloomberg Protest - Suzannah B. Troy Speech

Artist, blogger, and political commentator Suzannah B. Troy gave a speech today outside the New York City offices of SAIC to demand a RICO refund of triple damages against SAIC for their role in the organised crime that took place to rob taxpayers of over almost $1 billion in CityTime project costs.

Union representatives from Local 375 and DC 37, community activists, New York City taxpayers, and others gathered at 1250 Broadway in a demonstration against the technology company known as SAIC.

For years, newspaper and television reporters, bloggers, and whistle blowers have been reporting details of a massive taxpayer fraud perpetrated by New York City officials, by employees of SAIC and of another company known as Technodyne, and possibly by lobbyists in connection with the scandalous CityTime project.

The CityTime project began with an original budget of approximately $60 million, but has since ballooned to over $700 million.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has begun an investigation, but nobody yet knows how high this scandal, and other technology consultancy contract scandals, may go up the Bloomberg administration.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

St. Vincent's Document Shredding

Bankruptcy Judge Cecelia Morris has let the management of St. Vincent's avoid Freedom of Information requests and has let the Rudin Family to gut St. Vincent's and is about to let the Family take a wrecking ball to it. Now, Judge Morris is going to let the Management and the Family destroy evidence.

Management of St. Vincent's Asks Bankruptcy Court to Approve Document Destruction, So That No Investigation Can Ever Determine Why the Hospital Closed Abruptly And Without Any Legally-Mandated Closure Plan.

No politician -- not CB2 Chair Brad Hoylman, not City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or Senator Tom Duane -- is willing to do anything to prevent the luxury condo conversion of St. Vincent's. With the shredding trucks about to pull into the ambulance bays of St. Vincent's, the obstruction of justice will be complete : there may be no more hope to ever investigate the shady decisions that lead the hospital to close on April 30, 2010. It's exactly as Sarah Jessica Parker said : ''The community needs a hospital — and I think there’s been some clever obfuscation.''

1782-Motion Re Info Mgmt Services and Trust Ageement and Document Retention Plan

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sarah Jessica Parker Supports a Full-Service Hospital to Replace St. Vincent's

Sarah Jessica Parker endorses a Full-Service Hospital to replace St. Vincent's.

In an interview with The Villager newspaper, Sarah Jessica Parker expressed her support for a full-service hospital to replace St. Vincent's.

''Asked what she thought of the latest post-St. Vincent’s proposal, for an emergency-care facility at the site of the former hospital’s O’Toole building, the Sex and the City star looked skeptical. 'I’m concerned, let’s put it that way,' she said. 'The community needs a hospital — and I think there’s been some clever obfuscation.' As a parent of three young children, she noted, she’s especially concerned about local healthcare. 'I would like to see a proper, functioning [hospital] — not a walk-in,' she stressed. She said she had spoken to Council Speaker Christine Quinn about the issue.''

The interview given by Ms. Parker took place before information came to light about a deceptive political campaign brochure, which was mailed to residents of the Lower West Side by a front group calling itself the ''Westside Healthcare Coalition.'' A WhoIs search on Network Solutions today showed that the website for the front group is registered to Mehigan, Bellone & Associates, Inc. Whereas Ms. Parker was not directly speaking to the example of the campaign brochure as political subterfuge, you can see how she has already been concerned with the pattern of clever obfuscation.

North Shore-LIJ have a vested interest in installing a first aid clinic in the O'Toole Building in the West Village, so that the Rudin Family can build luxury condominiums on the former site of St. Vincent's Hospital. Meanwhile, watch this video about what having a full-service hospital in the Lower West Side means to one parent, whose child was treated by the live-saving emergency room at St. Vincent's Hospital :

Rudin Family PR Campaign ?

The community of the Lower West Side of Manhattan are outraged over a deceptive political campaign brochure that was mailed to residents in connection with a proposed first aid clinic that may replace St. Vincent's Hospital.

Community anger has reached a new high, such that one member has launched a new blog, Every Minute Matters, to counter the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent by North Shore-LIJ and the Rudin family, to make sure that their greedy hundred million dollar condo conversion deal goes through.

The slick mass mailer is an act of political subterfuge, community residents say, because it is being mailed by a front group calling itself the ''Westside Healthcare Coalition.'' (A WhoIs search on Network Solutions today showed that the website for the front group is registered to Mehigan, Bellone & Associates, Inc.) The intention of this fake political brochure can only be to intentionally confuse the public between the front group and the real group called the Coälition For A New Village Hospital. The real group has been fighting for over one year to, at first, save St. Vincent's Hospital from closing. Then, once the hospital closed under shady conditions, the real Coälition has been fighting in court to save the hospital buildings and zoning, so that a new hospital can open on the location of the former St. Vincent's site.

Here is an anonymous line item review of what some community members describe as deceptive advertising that is printed on the controversial political brochure, which was mailed through the U.S. Postal Service :

West Side Healthcare Coalition is a Lie

The community isn't surprised that the axis of evil (aka North Shore-LIJ-Rudin Family) would resort to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sick and twisted public relations stunt ; the Rudin family stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars from the luxury condo conversion of St. Vincent's Hospital. Even in the face of these deceptive political advertisements that are being mailed to city residents, the community continues to be likewise outraged by the veil of silence around City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who have taken no concrete actions to save St. Vincent's.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Connecting Rainbows Easter Route Map For LGBT Civil Rights Walk

Join us for an LGBT civil rights walk
that is being organised by Connecting Rainbows. The walk will take place on April 24 during the 2011 Easter Parade in New York City. We need your help to create a mass movement to legally recognise LGBT civil rights.

Suggested Connecting Rainbows Route During NYC Easter Parade 2011

Create profiles, form and join groups, and plan LGBT civil rights actions at our social media site at : Connecting Rainbows.

During Easter Parade, A Planned LGBT Demonstration For Civil Rights

You are invited to register to participate in the LGBT civil rights demonstration that is being planned by Connecting Rainbows to take place on April 24 during the 2011 Easter Parade in New York City. We need your help to create a mass movement to legally recognise LGBT civil rights.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Christine Quinn Attacks Reporter

Christine Quinn Explodes In Anger At Daily News Reporter Who Wrote That The City Council Speaker Couldn't Afford To Pay Her Rent

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had a sudden outburst of anger on Wednesday by bursting into a verbal attack at Erin Einhorn, a reporter for The Daily News, who did not refer to Ms. Quinn by the courtesy title, ''Speaker.'' Instead, Ms. Einhorn had referred to Speaker Quinn as, ''Ma’am.''

“You can call me Speaker,” Ms. Quinn said in a testy tone, reported The New York Times. “It’s my press conference. I actually decide what words are necessary.”

Updated with video link !NY1 has exclusive video of Speaker Quinn's hissy fit.

After her little temper tantrum, Speaker Quinn knew she had crossed the line, and Speaker Quinn said she was sorry. “I was nasty to you,” Ms. Quinn said to Ms. Einborn. “I apologize.”

A few weeks ago, Ms. Einhorn had reported that Speaker Quinn had had trouble paying her rent on time.

Meanwhile, Ms. Einhorn could just as easily have said, ''Deputy Mayor'' instead of, ''Ma’am.'' For all the times that Christine Quinn has gone along with all of Mayor Bloomberg's horrible plans for New York : all of the school closings and Cathie Black's controversial schools chancellor waiver ; the unequivocal insistence that more and more luxury condos and university dorms get built out of hospitals, churches, and landmark buildings ; denying us paid sick leave ; the shady way that the City Council changed term limits ; the way that Quinn will most likely deny us a living wage -- she goes along with Mayor Bloomberg rather than stand up to him.

It's almost like Christine Quinn is Mayor Bloomberg's puppet.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In 3-way North Shore-LIJ, Rudin Family, and Christine Quinn Plan for St. Vincent's, a Fear of Union-Busting

OP-ED : Update on Community Effort to Create a Hospital to Replace St. Vincent's in the Lower West Side of Manhattan

When a deal was announced for the transfer of bankruptcy assets from the 501(c)(3) charity that was St. Vincent's Hospital to the private real estate developer tycoon William Rudin at values that may not fairly represent the full market value, the bankruptcy assets transfer was hailed as a health care miracle, because it would replace the Level 1 Trauma Center that was St. Vincent's with a first aid clinic.

But just a mere examination, at first blush, of the beneficial transfer of assets to insider creditors, the jobs that it would create, and the services it would provide, show that this deal is fraught with potential legal challenges.

The transfer of St. Vincent's principal assets -- its real estate -- to the Rudin family, who has always had an ''inside track'' on condo-conversion plans -- may be fraudulent, if the transfer does not happen at full market value prices. There is also community concern that the North Shore-LIJ landlord taking over the first aid clinic is going to hire only non-union employees for the 400 jobs that are expected to be created at the first aid clinic, and that the new clinic will forbid any efforts at collective-bargaining ; presently, only approximately 36 per cent of North Shore-LIJ employees receive union benefits. The services to be provided by the first aid clinic will not be able to treat ''women in labor, patients with severe trauma such as gunshot wounds or open fractures, or those requiring immediate surgery or cardiac interventions.'' In the face of the lack of life-saving services to be provided by the first aid clinic, and even the dishonest comparison of ambulance response times between 2008 and 2009 (even though St. Vincent's closed in 2010), predictably Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn can still be ''encouraged'' by the flimsy outpatient center.

Meanwhile, here is a video of a press conference outside Friday's appellate court hearing in connection with a freedom of information lawsuit.

Why Are They Closing St. Vincent's Hospital? (Pt. 23) - Freedom of Information from g. sosa on Vimeo.

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn try to destroy the social safety net by trying to close firehouses, shut down senior citizen centers, cut childcare, layoff teachers, pretend like votes don't go missing, build luxury condos on the hallowed ground of St. Vincent's Hospital, make money from government information, and end Progressive Era reforms, we are left to wonder. When will the focus of irresponsible real estate development at the expense of the middle class spark a voter backlash, that will lead to mass protests at the city's legislature, or a revolution of the likes that have been happening elsewhere ? What will be the spark that will trigger mass protests in New York ?

(Christine Quinn is Speaker of the New York City Council, but she has made her bed alongside Mayor Bloomberg on many controversial issues that often times she acts more and more like his Deputy Mayor than an independent voice for Democratic Party ideals.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rally at St. Vincent's on April 30 to Demand a New Hospital for the Lower West Side

Rally to Demand a Hospital to Replace St. Vincent's

Saturday, April 30, 2011, at 2:00 p.m.

2011-04-30 St Vincents Hospital One Year Rally Poster

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Was Heckled At The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Ceremony

27 March 2011 Updated! No major New York City newspaper has reported that Mayor Bloomberg was booed at the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 100th anniversary ceremony.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg was booed at the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire ceremonies today.

NEW YORK - At a ceremony commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was loudly booed by labor activists and union supporters, the wire service Agence France-Presse reported.

Mayor Bloomberg had been delivering a speech about fire safety and the importance of labor protections when activists began to boo the unpopular mayor. The ceremony took place in Greenwich Village, outside the building where the fire broke out on March 25, 1911. The building is now owned by New York University.

Since he changed the term limits laws to run for a previously impossible third term as mayor, Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire, has been on a scorched-earth campaign to shut down firehouses all across New York City. Critics allege that the closing down of firehouses and the layoffs of firefighters would put the city at risk should a large fire take place.

Today's ceremony was marking the deaths of 146 people at the Triangle Waist Company ; the outrage following the fire and deaths resulted in reforms in labor laws in New York and around the nation. For weeks before the memorial ceremony, many newspapers and even some cable news channels, such as NY1, had been paying tribute to the ''far-reaching impact on workplace safety, the labor movement and the New York political scene'' that came about as a result of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. To not report how community activists booed the New York mayor over his scorched-earth campaign to close down firehouses, attack city unions, and do nothing to prevent hospital closings reveals that the media tributes were not only superficial, but, at the end of the day, the total media coverage has been an insult on the sacrifice made by the 146 people, who died in 1911.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

As His Popularity Sags In This Tough Economy, Mayor Bloomberg Spends $1 Million On An Expensive TV Ad Campaign

Mayor Michael Bloomberg launches a major TV advertising blitz to fluff his ''reputation,'' even as his goodwill amongst voters shrivels up.

Mayor Bloomberg has reportedly made a media buy of almost $1 million worth of TV commercials that tell the story that he has been ''fighting for New York,'' instead of trying to close firehouses, shut down senior citizen centers, cut childcare, layoff teachers, avoid missing votes, build luxury condos on the hallowed ground of St. Vincent's Hospital, make money from government information, and end Progressive Era reforms. It should come as no surprise that, consequently, Mayor Bloomberg is falling in popularity amongst voters. It's almost as if Mayor Bloomberg's legacy has been flushed down the toilet.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

True News From Change Blog Has Been Restored

Breaking News ! Update on True News From Change NYC Blog

Gary Tilzer's blog, True News From Change NYC, about New York government corruption, political reporting, and other commentary about government transparency, has been restored. Earlier today, it had been discovered that the True News blog had been suspended by Google for inexplicable reasons overnight. The suspension of the blog had become a focal point of support today by many New York bloggers and activists. No reason for the suspension is yet known, but New York bloggers suspect political censorship might have been one motive behind the removal of the blog.

CENSORED : True News From Change NYC Blog

Update : True News From Change NYC Blog Has Been Restored

Google Blogspot Blog Has Been Removed For No Reason ; Blogger Community Suspects Political Censorship ; Call To Action

True News From Change,Blogspot,Google,Censorship,Gary Tilzer

Please send an e-mail to press@google.com and copy Gary Tilzer, the owner of the censored blog, at Gtprinter@aol.com -- demanding that the True News blog be restored.

True News is a blog dedicated to reporting about government scandals, politics, and transparency. (Here is the cached version of the True News blog.)

This is not the first act of censorship against Mr. Tilzer. Before the 2010 election, a YouTube video that Mr. Tilzer produced was banned by NBC/YouTube and had to be replaced with an edited version. In the last couple of years, others have faced incidences of cyber censorship or retaliatory activity. One and a half months before the 2009 election, the YouTube channel owned by the artist and political commentator Suzannah B. Troy was likewise censored, until bloggers and a lawyer intervened on her behalf. In 2010, this blogger was attacked by computer viruses 3 or 4 times, including on the day this blogger reported to the New York Department of State Committee on Open Government an act of censorship committed by Brad Hoylman.

Flashback : Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed Internet freedom as tool to ‘spread truth and expose injustice’

We need your help to keep courageous bloggers, like Mr. Tilzer, doing what they do. If you are reading this, it is because you are turning to the Internet for reliable information. For it to be here, bloggers, like Mr. Tilzer, have to be able to do their work without fear of retribution or censorship.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Christine Quinn Puppet Show - YouTube Video

Third Anniversary Protest of Term Limits Scam : Christine Quinn's Puppet Show and Political Farce

Join us on Sunday, October 23, 2011, at 2 pm, outside City Hall, for a protest to mark the third anniversary of the City Council vote that overturned term limits.

Back on this day in 2008, the New York City Council voted to change the term limits law, thereby allowing Mayor Michael Bloomberg to seek re-election. The action by the City Council, lead by Speaker Christine Quinn, undid the term limits approved by New York City voters, who had previously passed two referendums that had restricted the service of elected politicians to a limit of two four-year terms.

Vote Quinn out of office !

Monday, March 7, 2011

Without A Proxy, The Rudin Family Is Harvesting St. Vincent's Remains

Rudin Interview on New York Real Estate Harvesting From Bankrupt Hospitals.

William Rudin, chief executive officer at Rudin Management Co., talks about New York City's real estate and the outlook for commercial property, including the millions the family stands to make from the carcass picking of the real estate property of St. Vincent's Hospital. Watch at 5:40.

To add insult to injury, naturally this interview was broadcast on Bloomberg Opinion, in keeping with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's worldview of starving the beast until it dies in the back of an ambulance, stuck in crosstown traffic.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In New York City, Do We Have Any Leadership Among Elected LGBT Politicians ?

Members of the LGBT equality advocacy group called Queer Rising blocked traffic near Bryant Park on March 1, 2011, in an act of civil disobedience, demanding marriage equality in New York.

Eight activists from the were arrested after the group had unfurled a 75-foot banner and blocked traffic on 42nd Street and Avenue of the Americas in New York City. The activists were later released by police, according to a statement issued by GetEQUAL.

The marriage equality demonstration was reported about by a network-affiliate news program on WPIX 11.

Following is the full statement from GetEQUAL, followed by additional links to other Internet coverage of the protest and the arrests.

Earlier this morning, eight activists were released from a NYC jail after they took action to stand up to our politicians' unceasing cowardice to do what's right for the LGBTQIA community. After years of waiting for marriage equality in New York and countless broken promises, members of the direct action group Queer Rising, allies of GetEQUAL in New York, demonstrated their growing frustration by sending a clear message to our elected officials.

At 8:30 this morning Kevin Beauchamp, Nora Camp, Natasha Dillon, Frostie Flakes (Adam Siciliano), Jake Goodman, Honey LaBronx (Ben Strothmann), Eugene Lovendusky, and Kitten Withuwip (Caldwell) blocked traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan, where they unfurled a 75-foot banner that read "NY DEMANDS MARRIAGE EQUALITY NOW!" and chanted "I Am...Somebody! I Deserve...Full Equality! Right Here, Right Now! I Deserve...Full Equality!"

We know the courage these eight activists showed today is the same courage that lives inside many who are reading this email right now -- that the hunger for full equality that drives these activists is the same hunger that drove the suffragists to keep fighting for their right to vote; it's the same hunger that drove our civil rights fighters to keep fighting for their constitutional guarantee of equal protection, equal opportunity, equal access and equal justice; it's the same hunger that drives our fellow LGBTQIA brothers and sisters to keep fighting for the day when our dignity will be recognized, our love will be revered and our humanity will be respected.

Today's action is just the beginning of a sustained campaign that Queer Rising will be organizing in the months to come, in partnership with GetEQUAL and other civil rights activists in New York. If you're hunger for equality is pushing you toward taking up the fight, whether occasional grumblings or unrelenting pangs, today we invite you to take action for what is rightfully ours -- full equality!

If you want to get more involved with equality organizing in New York, email GetEQUAL.NY@gmail.com and we'll get you connected with opportunities in your area!

Every moment is one more opportunity to change your world...

Read More :

Monday, February 28, 2011

Christine Quinn's Big Wager

Christine Quinn Is Playing With A Stacked Deck.

Christine Quinn, Poker, Stacked Deck, Gamble, Politics, 2013 Mayor NYC, New York City, NYC, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Eileen Dunn, RN, Dony Moss

When you ask New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn a question, she likes to give you a non-answer.

She likes to be evasive, but she is definitive about giving you the run-around. She doesn’t have to give you either a proverbial bait-and-switch or back-pedal, provided she never has to first give you any policy position with which to lure you.

When City Hall bureau reporter Erin Einhorm from The New York Daily News asked Speaker Quinn what she thought about a bill that « would require mayors to disclose when they leave town and to designate a proxy, » Speaker Quinn said, « I haven’t seen the bill, yet. »

Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., planned to introduce the whereabouts bill, The Daily News reported. Here is how Speaker Quinn expaneded on her non-answer :

« The councilmember has put in a request for the legislation to be drafted. I know that the staff is working on it. I’ve spoken with the staff. I've asked them to send me an initial read they can get me on whether it’s within the powers that we have as a council. I've not gotten that back and of course haven't seen the draft and as soon as I get that information and [have] seen the draft, I’ll be able to take a position. »

Mind you, under Speaker Quinn, the City Council found it within its powers to over-turn in 2008 two voter referenda approving term limits, thus allowing Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for a previously forbidden third term, but as to whether the City Council could require the mayor to leave a forwarding address, she would have to, proverbially, get back to us on that.

What is more, before Speaker Quinn was for extending term limits, she didn’t want you to ask her about it. « The mayor knows my phone number, » Speaker Quinn said in early September 2008, after she was pressed about Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to extend term limits. « He knows where my office is, » Speaker Quinn added. « He knows where I live. If he has a piece of legislation he's interested in, he'll call me and we'll talk about it. Up until then, there's really nothing for me to say about term limits. »

If democracies are supposed to work efficiently only if voters know well each of tge issues and the politicians who run for and hold office, then our experience with this pattern of deliberately evasive non-answers isn’t going to lead us to the path where voters know where we stand vis-à-vis Speaker Quinn. But that’s her real intention. She doesn’t want us to know where we stand. If we are like a « deaf speactator in the back row, » as Walter Lippmann has described disenfranchised voters, then that makes it easier for politicians like Speaker Quinn to avoid the messy work of having to live up to an ethic.

But to Speaker Quinn, who is climbing up the political ladder with her wagon hitched to Mayor Bloomberg’s coattails, taking on the powers that be is not likely going to happen. Taking a public policy position means you have to have something to fight for, and you have to be somebody, who fights for that in which you believe.

Using the spree of hospital closings in New York City, including that of St. Vincent’s Hospital, as a litmus test for Christine Quinn’s ethics.

At an emergency community meeting in the West Village on January 28, 2010, just weeks before St. Vincent’s Hospital was to close, Speaker Quinn gave what should have been, by all accounts, a touching and inspiring speech. She endorsed the idea that fighting for the hospital’s survival was critical to New York City.

« I fail to accept that in all of New York, » she began, « there is no other healthcare institution that wants to merge with the great St. Vincent’s. I simply do not believe it. The State Department of Health wants us to believe it, because they have created an equation where that is the only answer that we would get. We are not going to fall for that bait-and-switch. We’re not going to fall for this trick that Continuum is the only entity out there. We’re going to say tonight, and we’re going to say it over and over again : the only plan that should be considered or ever approved by the state is one that keeps our hospital and our emergency room. »

There are times, like in the preceeding Save St. Vincent’s video, when Speaker Quinn can tap into the truth that the common New Yorker senses : that our economy and our social safety nets are a giant rug that is being pulled out from under us, and that, inspite of the horror, she sells herself as courageous enough and willing enough to fight for a progressive agenda. But in the year since Speaker Quinn spoke with such leadership at the emergency community meeting at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village, we need to make an assessment of where we now find her in the fight to restore a hospital to the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

How we got from « We are not going to fall for that bait-and-switch, » to « As the sale of St. Vincent’s properties makes its way through bankruptcy court » and « We are currenlty engaged in a healthcare needs assessment, » is that time-honoured tradition : the people’s advocate has sold out, where even a
cornerstone institution such as a hospital can be deemed acceptable collateral damage if it means that a politician can collect large campaign donations to finance an expensive run for mayor of the most important city in the nation. (Flackback : Rewind : Mayor Bloomberg spent over $108 million dollars in reported/disclosed spending the last mayoral campaign only to win by a puny margin of about 5 per cent.)

Should St. Vincent’s properties be sold and a new hospital never to be opened at its former site, lots of real estate companies stand to make a lot of money. A quick glance through the Councilpedia records published by the Citizens Union Foundation shows that many real estate companies have made substantial campaign donations to Speaker Quinn’s presumed 2013 mayoral campaign. Here is a quick sample :

Christine Quinn,St Vincents Hospital,Real Estate Industry,Campaign Donations,2013 Mayoral Campaign,NYC,New York,Councilpedia

Indeed, as at February 26, 2011, according to Councilpedia statistics, Speaker Quinn had received over $569,000 in 2013 election cycle donations from the real estate industry. You don’t need me to tell you that that is a lot of money.

What Speaker Quinn is gambling, the deal that she is making with the Devil, is that nobody is going to call her on her inability to make good on simple policy decisions, like « We are not going to fall for that bait-and-switch. » She is also counting on nobody getting outraged enough to say that the influence of real estate developers, as indicated by their large campaign contributions to Speaker Quinn's campaign treasury, is over-riding the needs the voting public. But with social media tools, such as Councilpedia, the old political boss ways of days gone by are numbered. What is more, in the political vacuum of Speaker Quinn’s definitive non-answers, she is creating opportunities for other politicians, to swoop in and offer voters a new sense of hope.

When he was a councilmember, John Liu found the courage to give press conferences about the performance of, dissatisfaction with, and budget crisis overseen by Speaker Quinn.

Now that he is City Controller, Mr. Liu has found the courage to challenge Mayor Bloomberg to immediately review suspicious technology contract scandals, such as with the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP). In a letter written to Mayor Bloomberg by Comptroller Liu, the Comptroller's office rejected a $286 million contract request that would have nearly doubled the initial ECTP contract cost of $380 million. The new contract request would have raised the ECTP budget to $666 million. (Click on the link to read the news release issued today by the Comptroller's office about the latest New York City technology contract scandal.)

In the face of Speaker Quinn’s passivity, other leaders are stepping forward to demonstrate dynamism, charisma, and decisive leadership.

The Definitive Answer to End the Cycle of Cynicism is Alive and Well In a Surprising Group of Activists and Leaders, among them Mr. Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and the civil rights lawyer, Yetta Kurland.

If Mr. Liu continues to investigate questionable technology contracts, he is sure to win the praise of voters, who are tired of seeing tax money disappearing into blackholes of politically-awarded governemnt contracts, while, at the same time, the mayor runs his scorched earth campaign of school and firehouse closings with the tortured logic of the need to make budget cuts.

Shockingly, in the time that Speaker Quinn has presided over the New York City Council, at least eight city hospitals have closed. In 2010, North General Hospital in Harlem declared bankruptcy and St. Vincent's Hospital in the West Village shut down after shady backroom meetings. In 2009, two hospitals in Queens – St. John's Queens Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica – went bankrupt. In 2008, Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan, Parkway Hospital in Queens, and Victory Memorial Hospital in Bay Ridge closed. And in 2007, St. Vincent's Midtown in Manhattan was closed. Separately, one other hospital in Brooklyn, Long Island College Hospital, was recently saved : it had been on the brink of closing, and the only way the hospital was saved was by merging it with SUNY Downstate.

To some degree or another, each of the communities impacted by these hospital closings have objected, protested, or tried to litigate the decisions that lead to a hospital being closed in their community. But in no instance has a grass-roots community organisation powerfully come together as has happened following the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village. There, a group called the Coälition For A New Village Hospital has been agitating, protesting, holding emergency community meetings, packing into Manhattan Community Board meetings, and litigating their cause to, first save St. Vincent’s Hospital, then, after the hospital closed, to restore a new hospital to the former site of St. Vincent’s. The group has shocked the normal course of cynical city politics, because, as we approach the one year anniversary of the closing of St. Vincent’s, this community group refuses to go away quietly. When the community heard « We are not going to fall for that bait-and-switch, » they believed it. Now, they’ve organised to make good on restoring a hospital to the Lower West Side of Manhattan. Recently, four community activists were even arrested after orchestrating a restro sit-in at the former main building of St. Vincent’s in a courageous act of civil disobedience ; the four activists spent one night in jail before they got processed out of the court system. The closing of St. Vincent's has even inspired the creation of a non-violent civil disobedience movement. The sense in the community is one of dire seriousness.

St. Vincent’s was more than a hospital, it was also a Level 1 trauma center, which, for Lower Manhattan, had served as a critical underpinning for New York City’s emergency preparedness in this post-9/11 world. Some see a parallel between the need to be ready for another terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan and the fight to keep essential municipal services and basic infrastructure. And given that Speaker Quinn takes so many campaign contributions from the real estate industry, some community activists are sensing that the fight for a new hospital transcends a mere fight to preserve basic infrastructure, but it also taps into the historical tradition in Greenwich Village to fight urban renewal imposed by political figures, who force through neighborhood-destroying mega-development projects.

In the face of over-development, there is a chance that New York City communities will link up in a city-wide grass-root effort to block urban renewal projects that would destroy the character of our neighborhoods.

In August 2010, Speaker Quinn advocated and won approval from the City Council for a 67-floor skyscraper just two blocks away from the Empire State Building. The new building is to be built in Speaker Quinn’s district. When The Gotham Gazette reported about the skyscraper’s approval, the newspaper quoted the City Council Speaker thusly : « We want new Rockefeller Centers. … New York City is about growth -- about growing bigger and higher all the time. » Whereas, all New Yorkers take pride in living in a vibrant city, we think that all the zone-busting development projects are just a revival of Robert Moses’ twisted idea that New York City should be one giant crosstown expressway, only this time the city planning idea being pushed is more skyscrapers and more and more glass and steel luxury condominiums.

And as in that time then, when Mr. Moses’s overdevelopment plans shocked the conscious of New Yorkers, unintentionally launching the careers of a whole wave of civic activists lead by Jane Jacobs, now in this time here, we have the creation of similar conditions under which Speaker Quinn’s development plans are triggering a new wave of civic activists, who are pushing back, who are saying, « Enough is enough ! » Whereas the popular perception then was that Mr. Moses was motivated by a power trip that made him feel like he needed to be in control over all major development projects in such a mania that bordered on demolishing as much of old New York as he could, we don’t know if Speaker Quinn is motivated by the same ambition. But we do know that she is in a race to raise substantial amounts of money to mount an expensive political campaign to become mayor of New York City in the elections of 2013.

The Coälition For A New Village Hospital is based squarely within Speaker Quinn’s City Council district. The Coälition has been networking with various city and state politicians, to find a champion on the inside, who could launch an investigation into the finances and the mysterious closed-door meetings that lead to the closing of St. Vincent’s. The Coälition has also been working to feverishly prevent any change in zoning for the main buildings that served as home to St. Vincent’s, to preserve the existing infrastructure for any new hospital that would be interested in replacing St. Vincent’s. Remember that in about the course of one year, we heard Speaker Quinn change her tune from : « We are not going to fall for that bait-and-switch, » to : « As the sale of St. Vincent’s properties makes its way through bankruptcy court. » The community sees the writing on the wall. And right now, there is no full-service hospital in the entire West Side of Manhattan from Columbus Circle all the way down to Battery Park. And with the loss of St. Vincent’s Level 1 trauma center, all of Lower Manhattan is at risk should another terrorist attack again happen below 14th Street. Even if Speaker Quinn really, deep-down, believed that the Lower West Side needed a hospital, nobody but her and her political campaign know for sure if she is really fighting for one, or if she is just going through the motions, a political bluff known as astroturfing.

In numerous conversations with the residents of the Lower West Side of Manhattan, many people are beginning to hedge their bets. Others are saying that we need all hands on deck. They are looking to City Controller John Liu to launch an investigation into St. Vincent’s finances, in any jurisdictional capacity at his disposal. Residents are also looking to several Manhattan Community Boards, to help preserve the zoning on the former campus of St. Vincent’s. And in the last few weeks, one new ally has showed up on their radar, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. In his authority, President Stringer has broad zoning powers. According to the city’s website :

« The Borough President reviews all public and private land-use projects in Manhattan and can recommend approval or rejection of those projects. With an appointment to the City Planning Commission, the Borough President can also play a proactive role in shaping the future of development in Manhattan. Also, the Borough President appoints most members of Manhattan's Community Boards and then provides support and oversight to those boards as they make crucial decisions affecting zoning and permits. »

Do the liberal and progressive politics of Manhattan Borough President Stringer include a real sensibility for the spirit of Jane Jacobs' ethics about responsible urban planning to prevent community decay ?

At a February 16, 2011, meeting sponsored by the Coälition, Presdient Stringer spoke about the need for a full-service hospital in the area. By publicly throwing his hat into the ring of the fight for a new hospital, Mr. Stringer may have found a way to transform his political career. None of the often-touted, presumed 2013 mayoral candidates have yet to inspire a groundswell of grass-roots organisers to identify a clear early leader among the crowded field of Democratic candidates. As President Stringer prepares to launch his own mayoral bid, he could count on the support of a few hundred thousand New Yorkers, who live in the former St. Vincent's catchment area. He could also reasonably expect to count on the support of the teams of community organisers that are being developed by their participation in the Coälition. If President Stringer did find a way to enforceably preserve the zoning of the former St. Vincent’ campus, he would zone-block the biggest fear running through the community and the Coälition : the sale of St. Vincent’s properties currently making its way through bankruptcy court. The area that would most benefit from an enforceable zone-block would be a critical area of voters in Manhattan, which also happens to coïncide with what would be considered Speaker Quinn's strongest base of support, as she organises herself to run for mayor of New York in 2013. Not only would President Stringer win over a valuable new grass-roots organisation in Manhattan, but he would be undercutting Speaker Quinn’s base of support right in her very own City Council District. (One way for President Stringer to measure the likelihood that hospital closings will become a major mayoral campaign issue is if new threats arise that would affect hospital finances, or if neighborhoods outside of Manhattan begin to organise around this issue.)

President Stringer is an accomplished politician. His entry into politics was initially shaped by having served as a legislative assistant to Congressman Jerrold Nadler, back when the Congressman was an Assemblyman. Before he was elected to preside over the Borough of Manhattan, President Stringer served as an Assemblyman himself, representing the very seat once occupied by Congressman Nadler. A true Democrat, President Stringer has the support of progressive Democratic political clubs in New York City, among them the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, named for the legendary gay activist Jim Owles. Like any elected politician, President Stinger has not been able to please all of his critics. But residents of the Lower West Side -- and beyond -- are turning to him for the opportunity that both see in each other : a way to legally preserve the zoning of the former St. Vincent’s buildings, as well as a way to elect a mayor, who could hear the calls from the community to reverse the spree of hospital closings and to put a stop to the irresponsible and systematic demolition of old New York. Already, the movement for a new Lower West Side hospital has attracted members or former members of major LGBT organizations such as ACT-UP and Queer Rising, among others, plus the conribution of activists outside of Manhattan. And the movement has also guaranteed the ascendancy of civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland as a respected community leader. Therefore, President Stringer is looking at the formation of an almost instant coälition of support for his mayoral candidacy, provided he delivered quickly on an enforceable zone-block to preserve the integrity of the St. Vincent’s properties, before the buildings are sold in bankruptcy court.

If President Stringer played by the normal cynical rules of New York City politics, he would be all talk and no action. But if he was ready for a game-changer, one that would transform him into an instant populist hero, he would call Speaker Quinn on what everybody sees as one of her two Achilles’ Heels : her St. Vincent’s astroturfing bluff. (Speaker Quinn's other Achilles' Heels are term limits and the slush fund scandal.) She says that she supports a new hospital, while, at the same time, she is taking tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the very real estate industry that stand to make tens of millions, and possibly hundreds of millions in profits, from the demolition of the St. Vincent’s properties and the development of more glass and steel high-rise luxury condominiums in the heart of community where Jane Jacobs used to call home. And Speaker Quinn’s gamble is that she can get away with giving definitive non-answers when everybody in her very City Council District is longing for decisive leadership to restore a hospital at the former site of St. Vincent's.

Christine Quinn,St Vincents Hospital,Real Estate Industry,Campaign Donations,2013 Mayoral Campaign,NYC,New York,Councilpedia,Bait-and-Switch,Urgent Care Centers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bloomberg-Quinn Budget Cuts

Stringer Snipes at Quinn Over Budget Cuts

In the wake of the announcements that Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to layoff 6,000 teachers, cut daycare and senior citizen centers, and cut the budgets of independently elected officials, like the offices of the public advocate and the borough presidents, politicians and community leaders are decrying the mayor's cuts as politically-motivated.

For example, The New York Post questions why Mayor Bloomberg is blaming Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the loss of $600 million in state funding. In an NY1 broadcast, the mayor even called Gov. Cuomo ignorant about the city's budget.

Meanwhile, in respect of the proposed budget cuts to the offices of the public advocate and borough presidents has outraged Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president.

“It is outrageous that we are part of this political budget dance that impacts our ability to do our job effectively,” Stringer said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “And both the mayor and the council leadership have been complicit in this attempt to silence independent elected officeholders by going after our budget.”

Mr. Stringer told The Journal that under the twin administrations of Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the annual process for setting the budgets for the borough presidents and the public advocate has become the “most politicized” in a generation.

Moreover, that the mayor seems obsessed with laying off public school teachers has worried others whether the mayor is, indeed, making biased budget cuts.

"His complete insistence on teacher layoffs seems bizarre to us at this point. We think it's more of a political game and scaring people," Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, told NY1 television, according to Yahoo! News.

Separately, proposed budget cuts to public libraries have triggered a backlash : is Mayor Bloomberg attacking freedom of expression, education, and access to information ?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rudin Real Estate Donations

Christine Quinn,Rudin Family,Rudin Management,Mayor 2013 NYC,Campaign Donations,Real Estate Deals,Hospital Closings,St. Vincent's Hospital

In an apparent conflict of interest, Beth R. DeWoody, Madeleine R. Johnson, Eric C. Rudin, Jack Rudin, Katherine Rudin, and William C. Rudin each donated $4,950 to Christine Quinn's presumed 2013 mayoral campaign. During this time, the Rudin family has been trying to salvage a multi-million dollar real estate purchase of the buildings that belong to the bankruptcy estate of St. Vincent's Hospital. Since the Rudin family wants to build luxury high-rise condos on the site of St. Vincent's, do these large campaign donations explain why Speaker Quinn has done nothing to restore a hospital to the former St. Vincent's site ?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2009 Campaign Payments Fraud - Update

The New York Times reported :
''Suit Suggests Political Party Knew of Fraud''

In contradictory new developments in the trial against GOP operative John Haggerty, prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney's office allege that ''Mr. Haggerty lied to the Bloomberg campaign to get it to pay $1.2 million to the Independence Party,'' according to court documents released on February 17 and reported about by The Times.

How did Mr. Haggerty lie to the Bloomberg campaign to get it to pay $1.2 million to the Independence Party, if the campaign to reëlect the mayor (CREEM) knowingly used Mayor Bloomberg's private banking accounts to ''wash in'' money in order to deliberately funnel the Independence Party donations to Mr. Haggerty ?

What is more, the reporter Aram Roston from PolitickerNY has raised questions about Mayor Bloomberg's pattern in using private donations for campaign-related activities. Indeed, in court filings made on December 15, 2010, in the criminal trial against Mr. Haggerty, defense attorneys made assertions that CREEM "intentionally chose the least transparent way possible to conduct ballot security....It was Mr. Bloomberg who chose to hide payments, not Mr. Haggerty," reported The Wall Street Journal. The Journal's article added :

Mr. Haggerty's attorneys suggested the district attorney's office should "commence an investigation immediately" into the possibility that the mayor violated laws by transferring personal funds to the Independence Party for the direct purpose of helping his campaign with a ballot-security operation. If Mr. Bloomberg "made the contribution directing how it should be spent, he would be in violation of both the New York State Election Law and the New York City Campaign finance Law," Mr. Haggerty's attorneys allege.

According to New York State law, contributions in excess of $94,200 to a state political party are prohibited from being used to promote a candidate, The Journal reported. Furthermore, New York City law requires politicians' electoral campaigns to report and disclose campaign-related expenditures, and The Journal added that Mayor Bloomberg's ballot-security operations expenditures were not reported or disclosed by CREEM.

Adding to the lack of transparency about Mayor Bloomberg's intent in structuring the expeditures by transferring personal funds to the Independence Party is the fact that the Mayor's Office refuses to release all related e-mails about campaign-related activities. After The New York Post filed a Freedom of Information request, demanding more information about Mr. Haggerty's involvement with the Mayor's Office, the Mayor's Office release only "nine e-mail exchanges" between Mr. Haggerty and "mayoral aides" during 2008 and 2009. "There were other e-mails that the mayor's refuses to release on the grounds of 'personal privacy,' " The Post reported.

Meanwhile, back to The Times's own report about the February 17 court documents : this is the first time that prosecutors have said the Independence Party may have known about the alleged fraud. But The Times seems to be continuing with the storyline that the ''fraud'' committed was that the act that Mr. Haggerty used the CREEM payments for personal use, not that CREEM failed to disclose Mr. Haggerty's work as campaign-related activities.

''An extensive review of records and campaign documents by The Observer, as well as interviews with witnesses, indicate that Mr. Bloomberg funneled money to Mr. Haggerty, who claimed to be a 'volunteer,' sidestepping the political committee the mayor had promised to use to finance his election campaign. By deploying Mr. Haggerty and an unrelated political party, the mayor's team avoided drawing attention to a controversial election day tactic. But even more serious, experts say Bloomberg may have broken campaign finance laws,'' reported Mr. Roston.

The way that CREEM structured the payments to Mr. Haggerty allowed CREEM to avoid having to legally disclose the payments (and controversial activities), and the structure troubles some legal experts. "This is clearly an attempt to evade the purpose of the law," John Moscow, a former white-collar prosecutor in Manhattan, told Mr. Roston.

Meanwhile, the artist and blogger Suzannah B. Troy offers a slightly different political analysis. Mr. Haggerty is a "fall guy," she wrote. ''I have been saying all along Haggerty is innocent ! John Haggerty is as innocent as Mike Bloomberg,'' wrote Ms. Troy. ''Technically there is no doubt Haggerty broke the law but so did Mike Bloomberg by wiring money from his personal account, 1.1 million dollars the day before the election !''

The controversial campaign reëlection-related services that Mr. Haggerty was hired to provide have been described as a ''ballot security operation.'' In Mr. Roston's article, the impression of the ballot security operation was to presumably discourage or fend off the voters of Mr. Bloomberg's opponent, Controller Bill Thompson (D), an African-American. Although alluded to, left unsaid was whether the ballot security operation was intended to deliberately turn away Mr. Thompson's African-American voters from the polls.