Sunday, July 13, 2008


An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.
-- Simon Cameron (1799 - 1889)

Talk to any good lawyer and it’s likely that you will soon learn the difference between rational logic and legal logic.
While it makes perfect sense, for example, that someone who defrauded you out of a substantial amount of money should be instructed by the courts to refund you your loss – rules of evidence and legal precedent have a way of interfering. Even a crystal clear matter that no one, even the perpetrator, doubts as truth – can be shoved aside by the vagaries of that arcane legal logic. Political logic is far beyond even that abstruse common sense.
This also applies to the common sense with which the public devours information. It’s one of the reasons why Page Six has an avid audience. The fourth estate finds its raison d’etre at the feet of politicians’ lies.
But, more important, there are some realities that so fly so in the face of common sense, that one can simply smell the truth despite what the words say.

As the political landscape is evolving Downtown, it is clear that politics is now the domain of BIG money a/k/a Developers. And, in an attempt to insist that what we are seeing, in fact, is not what we are really seeing – we have an elitist PR logic that is being foisted upon us through the media. As this plays out, we are as W.C. Fields notes, one of the suckers that are born every minute. And, the politicians ARE there to take us every 59 seconds.

Numerous issues have erupted in this Democratic Town of ours in which the elected officials are making decisions based upon THEIR political realities and aspirations and are contrary to the wishes and desires of the community they are supposed to serve. It should not be lost upon us that big money is now needed to run a political campaign – especially, when you are term-limited and need to find that next big job.
Bloomberg, for example, with a smooth PR machine and a media company to boot, has managed to force us to believe that he’s a great Mayor. The Tell really came at the beginning when he took a vacation and refused to let anyone know where he was going -- it was none of our business. That should have tipped everyone off about where he was coming from, not where he was going.
Meanwhile, we've had major thrusts. We have had the West Side Stadium, Trump SoHo, Related’s Pier 40 plan, the Gansevoort Recycling and Garbage Depot, the DSNY garage and the raping and pillaging about to occur in the Village, Hudson Square and SoHo. We have lots of new hotels to invite even more hoards of visitors. Not ALL of the cash from the engine for New York City should be on the backs of Manhattan residents. That argument is lame and self-serving -- responsible zoning produces better income. Illegal signs produce income for the City too, but it severely reduces everyone's quality of life.
All of these issues come under the planning tutelage of the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the Community Boards.
There are public pronouncements, hearings, closed-door sessions and dialog between and among the elected officials. Not for the community, however.
But, lest we not be taken in by this – the fix is in. The money has been spread around – or promised – and the plan is in place.

Quinn wants money and support for her Mayoral run next year, Stringer has aspirations for higher office and wants the fealty of the Community Boards to keep that fundraising machine in place, Silver wants to hold on to his Speakership, Menin wants to arrive at City Council, and Mayor Mike wants to figure out what to buy with his next billion dollars – he’s currently negotiating to buy the remaining 20% of the media company back for $5 billion dollars. But, oh, that’s part of a blind trust – he has no control over a major media conglomerate and the money he doles out – now, does he?
nt, for example. Why do we now learn that part of one of our parks will be Melinda Katz, a candidate for Comptroller, in fact, makes no bones about taking as much money as she can get from developers.
But, while this process unfolds, one thing is clear – none of this has anything to do with what the voters want. It is the most insulting form of elitism.
It’s the “we know what’s best for you” form of governing.

Quinn needs to hold hearings, as to what happened with the Trump SoHo project, with the doors open. And, let all of the dirt out.
She should clearly indicate that she is not Mayor Mike’s subordinate.
The Trump SoHo travesty, for example, cries out for an investigation into how that little project got slipped through. Who were the real players?
Why have the City agencies been playing along with the Trump SoHo management to delay responses from the B.S.A. and Department of Buildings that permit the lawsuit filed by SoHo Alliance to linger? Stu Klein, the lawyer, may have a view on what that deal is about. Why should a city agency be in bed with a developer?
Yes, that’s the point – about the developers. The money is now trying to buy Manhattan – and hi-rise Mike is letting them.

Take the Parks Department, for example. Why do we now learn that part of one of our parks will be sold off to a developer for a restaurant?
Why is there a constant push to place advertising in our parks, usurp them for commercial uses, and make them testing grounds for commercial products?
Why do we find, belatedly, that the artificial turf that our children play on, can burn them if they play on it? Was the deal too good for Commissioner Benepe to resist, or was he instructed by Bloomberg to sign on the dotted line. How much development pressure is Mayor Mike placing on Benepe and why do the rumors tell us that Benepe is afraid to talk to anyone?
At 165 degrees, allowing a child to walk on the “grass” and burn their feet is criminal. Even if you’re afraid you’ll be fired and lose those golden shackles, allowing children to be burned is really not cool.

We also have to face the fact that the Community Boards are now under attack by the Mayor, who wants to strip what little power they have – by eliminating their input on matters that would interfere with development.
Stinger utilizes the Boards to further his political agenda by exerting his influence directly and indirectly – so as to make Board members aware that they serve at his pleasure. This is not conducive to community democracy. When you have people who, ostensibly, represent the wishes of the community in which they serve – and who are afraid to lose their membership or position in the community if they contradict or disagree with the power structure – you have nothing but palavering.
There is a real question, of course, as to whether the Community Boards represent the community at all. Elitism runs deep.

We need to move away from politicians and elected leaders who believe they know what is best for us and will do anything to achieve that result. Or, even direr, we need to expose the elitism which seeks to use money to
buy political office and then give us what they want us to have.

Fortunately, the economy will slow development pressure, lose Wall Street jobs and drop real estate values in Manhattan will have an effect upon these forces. We must do the rest.
Structural reform of the Community Boards is necessary, for example.
They no longer represent the people in our communities and are fast becoming political parties, which are mechanisms that propel people into political office.

A grassroots re-organization of the democratic process is now needed. A parallel universe is needed. Otherwise, like Alice we will continue to view democracy through the lookinglass.

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