Tag Archive: Michael Bloomberg

Aug 13 2013

Federal Judge Orders Outside Oversight of NYPD

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin handed down her ruling on the New York City Police Department’s Stop and Frisk Policy. In her official summary, Judge Sheindlin found the policy unconstitutional calling it a “form of racial profiling’ and a violation of the Fourth and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendments rights of minorities in New York City. From the official transcript:

In conclusion, I find that the City is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The City acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks. Even if the City had not been deliberately indifferent, the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices were sufficiently widespread as to have the force of law. In addition, the City adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data. This has resulted in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Both statistical and anecdotal evidence showed that minorities are indeed treated differently than whites. For example, once a stop is made, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be subjected to the use of force than whites, despite the fact that whites are more likely to be found with weapons or contraband. I also conclude that the City’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting “the right people” is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.

The ruling does not end the program. In a separate opinion, the judge ordered federal monitoring and, among other remedies, a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear cameras on their bodies to record street encounters.

Naturally, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelley reacted angrily claiming that the city did not get a fair trail:

“The judge conveyed a disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our officers, who form the most diverse police department in the US,” he said during a press conference Monday. It was a “dangerous” decision by the judge, Bloomberg added, while claiming that the policy had helped bring down crime in New York.

Kelly was likewise forthright in his condemnation of the judge’s ruling, describing it as “disturbing” and “highly offensive”. He rejected the claim that his officers had engaged in racial profiling. “This is simply, recklessly untrue,” he said, though he added that he had not yet read the ruling because he had spent the morning having dental work done.

It’s unknown of this ruling will effect President Barack Obama’s high opinion of Comm. Kelley and take e him out of contention for the head of Homeland Security.

The mayor vowed to appeal but he will be out of office at midnight on December 31 of this year. Hopefully the new mayor will have drop the appeal and work harder to protect the rights of NYC’s minority residents and their safety.

The best line of Judge Scheindlin’s ruling is her last one:

” I conclude with a particularly apt quote: “The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies – like stop-and-frisk, and . . . neighborhood watch regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice.”

Jun 27 2013

NYC Council Reins in Bloomberg & NYPD

Late last night the New York City Council passed two bills that will reign in an out of control NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Passed with veto-proof majorities, the pair of bills aim at increasing oversight of the Police Department and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.

One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the city’s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.

The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.

The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court – not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to veto both bills. The council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override vote.

Queens councilman Pete Vallone (D), who voted against the bill, gave a preview of the over the top rhetoric that will be used to convince New Yorkers to tell their council members to not override the mayor’s veto:

“New Yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds,” Vallone said after the vote. “But they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city.”

The Mayor and Police Commissioner Raymaond Kelley have already played the Al Qaeda and “be afraid” cards

“Every tort lawyer is gonna buy a new house and a new car right away,” Bloomberg said. “They’re not even gonna have to wait for the cases to come in.” Kelly added, “City council might as well have named the legislation, the ‘Full Employment for Plaintiffs Attorneys Act’…Take heart Al Qaeda wannabes.” [..]

“This is not a game, this is a life-threatening thing…This is life and death, this isn’t playing some game…It’s very nice to have a lawyer and everybody after say you should have done this and you should have done that, but when the other guy maybe has a gun in his pocket, that’s a different story.”

The most laughable moment in that press conference came from Mayor Bloomberg when asked if there is an independent body who oversees NYPD policy like an Inspector General would:

Yes there is. It’s called the Mayor…The police commissioner in our city works for the mayor serves at the pleasure of the mayor, and I can just tell you I’m not a professional in this but I have every single policy that this police department has the police commissioner has explained to me, kept me posted on it and when I talk to other experts, I’m convinced that they are the exactly the right thing.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) urged people to listen carefully:

“There have been a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,” [..]

“We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time,” he said. “If you don’t live there, if you haven’t been going through it … please side with us.”

Michael Bloomberg has turned the NYC Police Department into his own private army, which was witnessed in the crack down on Occupy Wall St.’s peaceful demonstrations and occupation of Zuccotti Park. It’s long past time that City Council acted taking back the NYPD for the people.

Jan 21 2013

Seriously, Bloomie, Dancing?

Back in July, 2012 while returning from  Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing, Caroline Stern, 55, and her boyfriend George Hess, 54, were arrested, handcuffed and held by the New york City Police for dancing  the “Charleston” on the subway platform.

“We were doing the Charleston,” Stern said. That’s when two police officers approached and pulled a “Footloose.”

“They said, ‘What are you doing?’ and we said, ‘We’re dancing,’ ” she recalled. “And they said, ‘You can’t do that on the platform.’ ”

The cops asked for ID, but when Stern could only produce a credit card, the officers ordered the couple to go with them – even though the credit card had the dentist’s picture and signature.

When Hess began trying to film the encounter, things got ugly, Stern said.

“We brought out the camera, and that’s when they called backup,” she said. “That’s when eight ninja cops came from out of nowhere.”

Hess was allegedly tackled to the platform floor, and cuffs were slapped on both of them. The initial charge, according to Stern, was disorderly conduct for “impeding the flow of traffic.”

They sued. They won. While NYC Councilman Peter Valone complains that “At $75,000 a dance, the city’s going to go bankrupt sooner than we thought,” he said. “Here, it looks like it was the taxpayers who got served.”

But whose fault is that, Mr. Valone? It’s not illegal to dance in the subway. Maybe the problem is an out of control police department:

For fiscal year 2011, New York City gave out $185.6 million to settle suits against the NYPD. That number rounds out to about $70 per resident, according to the New York Post. Though the New York City Law Department insists there is no blanket policy on settlements, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who also heads the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said such settlements have only increased since he took office in 2002. [..]

New York Civil Liberties Union head Donna Lieberman insists the city should start learning from suits, rather than just paying to get rid of them.

The city is still facing million in lawsuits by groups and individuals, including two city council members, resulting from brutal, unlawful tactics and false arrests from the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are to blame for this. Perhaps Mr. Vallone needs to stop blaming the lawyers for settling these suits, which would cost even more to litigate, and look at the real cause, an out of control mayor and police department.

Dec 03 2012

Rescuing the Volunteers of Hurricane Sandy

Aimen Youseff's Community Aid, Midland BeachOver a month, New York City is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many people are still without power, heat and far too many without a place to live. Volunteers are still needed in the hardest hit areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The last thing that the residents of these neighborhoods need is the heavy handed control tactics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg who likes to maintain the illusion that everything is going well and no more help is needed. Now all he needs is $32 billion in federal aid to repair Manhattan’s damaged infrastructure and expand the subway system, not protect it.

After reading the reports that the mayor was threatening to stop volunteers from distributing supplies and serving hot meals that were posted here, Docudharma and Daily Kos by ek hornbeck, I went to Midland Beach to spend a couple of hours talking to the people and walking around the area. Despite the destruction, the dwindling interest of the city to help clean up and frusrations, the attitude is perseverance and determination to rebuild and stay in their home community.

The one person I really wanted to meet was Aiman Youssef, whose home was destroyed, but instead of seeking refuge elsewhere he remained to set up a distribution hub on his property on Midland Ave. With the help of friends, neighbors and community volunteers they are offering cleaning supplies and equipment (mobs, buckets, crowbars, bleach), clothing, medical supplies and non-perishable food. I spoke with Mr. Youseff and his merry band of volunteers who call themselves the “Yellow Team” and say they are here for the duration. This is their home. They have set up a facebook page and aligned with Occupy Sandy, the offshoot of Occupy Wall St that is coordinating Sandy relief efforts through out the city.

There is an outdoor kitchen under a canopy that serves free hot food and coffee that’s located in a driveway. All of the tables are neatly stacked with the free for the taking supplies, extending along the curb side from in front of Mr. Youseff’s home for half a block in front of LaRocca’s Family Restaurant. The street and the side walk are cleaned up by the volunteers. One of the volunteers told me that they are being very careful since the city’s threat to shut the Hub, as it’s called, down for safety reasons. There is still a large police presence in the neighborhood and most likely will be for sometime to come.

The local NBC News interviewed Mr. Youseff about the lack of information and growing frustration with the city

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

It’s amazing that the city would be so concerned about the safety of the Hub when the streets in the area are still littered with piles of debris in front of homes that not only block the sidewalk but spill into the street. Driving and walking down narrow one way streets is hard enough with the vehicles of volunteer workers and pick up trucks but add broken glass, boards with rusting nails sticking out, household appliances, and moldy, rotting furnishing and there is the real safety hazard.

This house is next to another food kitchen across from the Yellow Team Hub.

Uncollected Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This building under renovation is on the corner opposite the food kitchen.

Debris next to Food Kitchen, Midland Beach

This house has been condemned and is just around the corner for the Hub.

Debris in front of condemned home, Midland Beach

This is the other side of that street.

Side Street & uncollected debris, Midland Beach

Residents were telling me that this has been like this for weeks and the piles grow daily. Where is the city? I was there nearly 2 hours talking to some very frustrated people who had no kind words for the mayor. During all that time, I didn’t see one sanitation truck. Yes, it’s Sunday but this is a disaster area and clean up here should be a 24/7 job. There is no excuse. The dime is on FEMA.

These are not wealthy people. They are blue collar workers. Some own and operate businesses out of their homes; some work for the city. They own; they rent. Many have lived here all their lives, while others moved here because Staten Island is unique. We have deer and zebras.

All is not gloom, there is laughter and smiles and dreams of a better future for Midland Beach. The Yellow Team is even looking forward to the holidays and put up a Christmas Tree. My picture didn’t come out, so here;s one from the team’s facebook page.

Dreaming of Yellow Christmas

Those wishing to volunteer or donate non-perishable food, diapers, personal care items (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap), cleaning supplies (especially bleach) or even (ahem) money, you can contact Mr Youseff or Hannah, the Yellow team coordinator here

Demand the Mayor’s office end community hub eviction and instead support hubs with space and equipment  by writing, calling, faxing or e-mailing:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)

E-MAIL:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Or contact the Public Advocate’s office:

   (212) 669-7250, 9am-5pm

   GetHelp@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

Nov 13 2012

Bloomberg Holds Public Housing Residents Hostage

Mayor Bloomberg, NYCHA and HUD: Restore power to all NYCHA residents

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG: THE CITY’S RESPONSE TO OUR NYCHA NEIGHBORS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Twelve days and counting after Sandy hit on October 29, children, parents, families, the elderly and disabled remain without lights, heat, hot water or power in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

This is true for houses in Gowanus, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere.

John Rhea, the chairman of NYCHA, told The Huffington Post that he and the organization have been doing the best they could. Unfortunately, he said, these buildings happened to be located in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. Yet, power in those hard hit areas has been restored – just not in NYCHA housing.

Mayor Bloomberg has not addressed or remedied the failure of his city’s response. Nor has the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which funds NYCHA in part, sent federal contractors or generators to help coordinate this unacceptable human emergency.

Instead, thousands of individual volunteers, and community-organizing and health organizations like Occupy Sandy, Children’s Health Fund, Masbia Soup Kitchen, Red Hook Initiative, Make the Road NY, CAAAV, Doctor’s Without Borders (launching it’s first effort ever within the United States), and numerous religious institutions have tried to fill in where Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA have failed NYC residents in desperate need.

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG TODAY: 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675). Tell him the response has been unacceptable.

CALL HUD’s NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS TODAY: (202) 708-1112. Tell Secretary Shaun Donovan that their response has been unacceptable.

Sign this petition

Oct 11 2012

Billionaire Thinks Raising His Taxes Is a Dumb Policy

Last week, Bill De Blasio, New York City’s Public Advocate and possible mayoral candidate, proposed raising taxes on NYC residents making over $500,000 to provide funds for “more pre-kindergarten classes and after-school activities for students in grades six through eight”:

Mr. de Blasio argued that improvements in early childhood education were critical to improving the city’s long-term economy and its middle class. He estimated that the new programs would cost about $500 million, which could be generated through a small tax surcharge on New Yorkers who earn $500,000 or more. [..]

A person earning $1 million in annual income would pay an additional $2,120 under Mr. de Blasio’s plan, which was modeled after a similar surcharge used to hire new police officers under a 1990s anticrime initiative of Mayor David N. Dinkins, Mr. de Blasio’s former employer. Any new surcharge would require approval by the State Legislature.

New York’s three term billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg was horrified stating that Mr. De Blasio’s proposal was “about as dumb a policy as I can think of.”

Capital New York reports that Bloomberg– whose net worth as the country’s 10th richest person increased from $22 billion to $25 billion over the course of six months this year— responded to a question Monday about de Blasio’s tax, saying, “Well if you want to drive out the 1 percent of the people that pay roughly 50 percent of the taxes, or the 10 percent of the people that pay 70-odd percent of the taxes, that’s as good a strategy as I know. That’s exactly the ways to do it, and then our revenue would go away, and we wouldn’t be able to have cops to keep us safe, firefighters to rescue us, teachers to educate our kids.”

Mayor Bloomberg has flip-flopped from his position in 2008 backing NY State Governor David Paterson’s tax on millionaires:

I can only tell you, among my friends, I’ve never heard one person say I’m going to move out of the city because of the taxes. Not one. Not in all the years I’ve lived here. You know, they can complain, ‘Ugh, I got my tax bill, it’s heavy.’ But my friends all want to live here.

The “good” Mayor has been in England, where he maintains a home and a business, addressing Britain’s governing Conservative Party on Wednesday. He compared his governing style to the right wing austerity government of Prime Minister David Cameron:

Mr. Bloomberg noted that both he and Mr. Cameron had taken office amid crises – the mayor in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the prime minister during the world economic crash.

Mr. Bloomberg said he and Mr. Cameron had each made difficult decisions on the economy, a reference to the sweeping austerity measures Mr. Cameron has introduced. Balancing his own city budget, Mr. Bloomberg said, involved “raising taxes and cutting spending, and let me tell you, that didn’t make me the most popular man in New York.” [..]

Conservative officials, who have felt hampered by their coalition government with a liberal party here, also expressed admiration for the New York police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, who visited London before the Olympic Games this summer. “They run things a bit like we’d like to,” one official said, “if we didn’t have to worry about inconveniences like compromise.

The British conservatives would love to be able to crack down o civil liberties as Bloomberg and his private army, the New York Police Department, has. What our world traveling mayor failed to point out to his austerian buddies was that NYC’s rich make 40 times more that the average poor person living in the city. Nor would he have mentioned that NYC’s poverty rate reached its highest point in a decade rivaling some Sub-Saharan countries:

Median household income in the city last year was $49,461, just below the national median and down $821 from the year before (compared with a national decline of $642). Median earnings for workers fell sharply to $32,210 from $33,287 – much more than the national decline.)

New Yorkers at the bottom end of the income spectrum lost ground, while those at the top gained.

Median income for the lowest fifth was $8,844, down $463 from 2010. For the highest, it was $223,285, up $1,919.

In Manhattan, the disparity was even starker. The lowest fifth made $9,681, while the highest took home $391,022. The wealthiest fifth of Manhattanites made more than 40 times what the lowest fifth reported, a widening gap (it was 38 times, the year before) surpassed by only a few developing countries, including Namibia and Sierra Leone.

It is well past time that taxes on the wealthiest were raised, and not in just New York City. Richard (RJ) Eskow thinks the tax rates for the highest earners should be doubled:

Forget the “Buffett rule.” It’s not enough. What’s more, “letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich” isn’t enough either — although it might get us halfway there.

As for that “Simpson Bowles” so-called “deficit reduction” plan: It’s a hoax, another ploy to give the ultra-rich yet another huge tax cut — unless you believe that the lobbying fairy will magically grant a wish that’s never been granted before: an end to billionaires’ loopholes.

If you buy that — which I don’t — then the plan’s just grossly unfair.

The real moment of truth Washington won’t face is this one: It’s time to admit that we can’t rebuild our economy — or balance the Federal budget — without raising taxes on the very wealthy. That’s what Simpson, Bowles, and all their highly-funded friends won’t tell you: We need to raise their taxes a lot.

And by “a lot,” I mean doubling them.

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about imposing sharp increases on incomes over $250,000 or even $500,000, at least not until the economy’s healthier. At those levels an expiration of the Bush tax cuts would probably be enough. But once you hit income of a million dollars a year and over, we should go back to the higher tax rates that were in place for millionaires during the Nixon years.

Not a bad idea, at least until the economy has stabilized and there is a handle on regulating Wall St.

Oh and Mr. Bloomberg, do NYC a favor, resign and stay in England.

Feb 23 2012

Guilty For Being Muslim

It has been known since last Summer that the New York City Police Department has has an intelligence unit coached by, and in conjunction with, the CIA which focuses on the Muslim community. This is being done even tough the CIA is prohibited from spying domestically on Americans. It was revealed in an Associated Press report that besides targeting Muslim communities, mosques and businesses inside the five boroughs, the surveillance has extended to Newark, New Jersey] (pdf) and Long Island (pdf).

The NYPD has been dispatching undercover officers called “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods to monitor daily life in bookstores, bars and other local common places, reported The Associated Press, citing a “months-long” investigation. Informants called “mosque crawlers,” monitored sermons and imams. Intelligence officers reportedly also gathered information on cab drivers and food cart vendors. [..]

The AP also reported that the NYPD operates far outside its borders in New Jersey and surrounding regions and targets ethnic communities, mainly Muslims, in specific ways that no federal agency could without violating civil liberty laws.

In October the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a motion challenging the partnership in court to determine whether the spying operations violates an existing court order from 1971, revised in 2003, that restricted the NYPD’s ability to conduct surveillance targeting political and religious activity.

“The NYPD’s reported surveillance of local Muslim communities raises serious questions concerning whether the Police Department has violated court-ordered restrictions on its ability to spy on and keep dossiers on individuals,” said NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg. “In order to know whether the NYPD is violating the court order, we need a more complete explanation of the NYPD’s surveillance practices.”

The NYPD has an ugly history of racial profiling in black and Hispanic communities:

In 2010 alone, the NYPD engaged in more than 600,000 stop-and-frisks searches; 84% of those stopped were of black or Latino. Time and again, police officers have used force when stopping blacks or Latinos. Half of these stops have been cited as “furtive movements”, a label that portrays black and brown people as clandestine. The stop-and-frisk widespread problem that is racially discriminatory under the ostensible excuse that the practice is necessary in fighting crime. Sadly, this procedure has not proved to reduce crime or make the city any safer.

The department has gone as far as monitoring Muslims who change their names

The NYPD monitors everyone in the city who changes his or her name, according to internal police documents and interviews. For those whose names sound Arabic or might be from Muslim countries, police run comprehensive background checks that include reviewing travel records, criminal histories, business licenses and immigration documents. All this is recorded in police databases for supervisors, who review the names and select a handful of people for police to visit.

The program was conceived as a tripwire for police in the difficult hunt for homegrown terrorists, where there are no widely agreed upon warning signs. Like other NYPD intelligence programs created in the past decade, this one involved monitoring behavior protected by the First Amendment.

Earlier this week, AP reported that the NYPD had monitored Muslim students all over the Northeast:

One autumn morning in Buffalo, N.Y., a college student named Adeela Khan logged into her email and found a message announcing an upcoming Islamic conference in Toronto.

Khan clicked “forward,” sent it to a group of fellow Muslims at the University at Buffalo, and promptly forgot about it.

But that simple act on Nov. 9, 2006, was enough to arouse the suspicion of an intelligence analyst at the New York Police Department, 300 miles away, who combed through her post and put her name in an official report. Marked “SECRET” in large red letters, the document went all the way to Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s office. [..]

Police trawled daily through student websites run by Muslim student groups at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers and 13 other colleges in the Northeast. They talked with local authorities about professors in Buffalo and even sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed. [..]

Though the NYPD says it follows the same rules as the FBI, some of the NYPD’s activities go beyond what the FBI is allowed to do.

Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly have said that the police only follow legitimate leads about suspected criminal activity.

But the latest documents mention no wrongdoing by any students.

Glen Greenwald rightfully notes the “hallmark of a Surveillance State is that police agencies secretly monitor and keep dossiers on not only those individuals suspected of lawbreaking, but on the society generally, including those individuals about whom there is no suspicion of wrongdoing.” and he calls out the blatant lies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long claimed – preposterously – that the NYPD does not target communities for survillence based on their religion, but as AP notes:  “In one section of the  report, police wrote that the largest immigrant groups in Newark were from Portugal and Brazil. But they did not photograph businesses or churches for those groups.” That’s because “‘No Muslim component within these communities was identified,‘ police wrote.” In the wake of this latest evidence, Bloomberg seemed to abandon that denial, shifting instead to justification: “The police department goes where there are allegations. And they look to see whether those allegations are true,” said the Mayor. “That’s what you’d expect them to do. That’s what you’d want them to do. Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight.”

No, Mr. Bloomberg, you do not make us safer by violating our rights and the laws of this country. This is not the sign of a healthy society, as Glenn concludes:

the essential expression of the American Surveillance State: we can and will know everything about what you do, and you will know virtually nothing about what we do. In a healthy society, that formula would be reversed: the citizenry (with rare exceptions) would know most everything about what their government does, while the government would know nothing about what citizens do in the absence of well-grounded suspicion that they have done something wrong. Yet here we have the NYPD wandering outside of its jurisdiction in order to spy on the innocuous activities of a community of a religious minority (not even the Newark Mayor was informed about this), and the most disturbing part of it all is how common it now is.

Somebody needs to rein in Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD.

Dec 13 2011

Obama’s War On Women Goes To Court

The latest shot in the war on women by the Obama administration goes to court. A federal court judge in Brooklyn, NY will hear challenge by the Center for Reproductive Rights to the constitutionality of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of the Federal Food and Drug Administrations decision to make the “morning after” pill. Plan B, available without a prescription thus making it accessible to teen age girls under the age of seventeen.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and other groups have argued that contraceptives are being held to a different and non-scientific standard than other drugs and that politics has played a role in decision making. Social conservatives have said the pill is tantamount to abortion.

Judge Edward Korman was highly critical of the government’s handling of the issue when he ordered the FDA two years ago to let 17-year-olds obtain the medication. At the time, he accused the government of letting “political considerations, delays and implausible justifications for decision-making” cloud the approval process.

In court papers prior to Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Landau said the government had complied with Korman’s orders by lowering the cutoff for over-the-counter sales of the drug from 18 to 17.

He said the plaintiffs “unfairly accuse FDA of bad faith and delay.”

And will wonders never cease. Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised his voice in support of making Plan B morning-after contraceptive available over the counter to young teenage girls. And just where did NYC’s speak-his-mind mayor do this? At a press conference in Queens, NY during an event promoting the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness with none other than Kathleen Sebelius in attendance:

“It would be much better if these young girls didn’t get pregnant, but once that happens I think this should be available,” Hizzoner told reporters.

Speaking minutes later at the same event, Sebelius said: “I felt that the data presented, and justification for [making Plan B available to] all ages, did not match.” [..]

He called FDA director Peggy Hamburg, who served as the city’s Health Department commissioner during the Dinkins administration, a “first rate scientist.”

“I think her advice should be followed,” he said prior to the jobs event at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.

Nov 17 2010

Help the 9/11 First Responders and Heroes

Cross-posted several places including Progressive Blue and  DailyKos.

It was looking grim for H.R. 847: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 that had already passed in the House. Now there is some hope for a bill named after James Zadroga, an NYPD detective who died at age 34, the first police officer to die of a respiratory disease attributed to participation in rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center.

The legislation that provides $3.2 billion for long-term health care for rescue and construction workers at Ground Zero, plus another $4.2 billion in compensation for others who were exposed to the toxic dust that resulted from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in 2001 will probably have no chance in the new Congress.

So there is a big push with Ground Zero Workers lobbying in D.C. Sen, Harry Reid working to get the bill out of a committee and bring it directly to the floor. New York Senators are drumming up support. Mayor Bloomberg met with three Republican Senators today. Even Republican House members from the area are working to pass this bill.

Sep 15 2010

Primary Thoughts

First of all, the reasons the Beltway pundits and bloggers are concentrating on O’Donnell’s defeat of Castle is that it’s in their backyard, the margin was huge, and those idiots really didn’t expect it because they have no fucking clue how much we hate their elite corporatist butt-kissing asses.

But if you really want to do a little celebrating I’d like to draw your attention to two less covered and more positive victories last night.

The first is Ann Kuster’s 42% margin over Katrina Swett in New Hampshire’s 2nd District-

Kuster  handily defeated self-styled Blue Dog Katrina Swett, who co-chaired Joe Lieberman’s 2004 presidential campaign. Kuster, a lawyer, community activist and women’s health expert, had the support of progressive groups like MoveOn, Democracy for America, Progressive Campaign Change Committee and EMILY’s List. Swett ran hard to Kuster’s right and tried to paint Kuster’s progressive supporters as an electoral liability.

The second is the abject FAILURE of Mike Bloomberg’s hand picked Wall Street Representative Reshma Saujani in her race against Carolyn Maloney in New York’s 14th District.

There is some really twisted logic behind the notion that Obama would be vulnerable in 2012 if the economy’s bad, and yet the country would look to a creature of Wall Street like Mike Bloomberg for salvation.  Of course, it’s equally twisted that the tea parties exploded in response to the bank bailouts, and yet Bain Capital billionaire Mitt Romney is their favorite for 2012. Maybe that gave them hope.

But it didn’t work out so well yesterday.  The millions that Wall Street pumped into Saujani’s campaign at the behest of Team Bloomberg cast her irrevocably as a tool of Wall Street in the eyes of voters who have had quite enough from the financial oligarchy.  She wound up with only a pathetic 19% of the vote.

Michael Bloomberg and his proxies couldn’t even orchestrate a serious challenge to a congressional seat in a year of unprecedented dissatisfaction with incumbents.   If 19% doesn’t qualify as a public rebuke of their organizing abilities, I don’t know what does.