Friday, February 28, 2014

Screw the Voters, Indignant Mayor Bill de Blasio Upset That He Should Be Held Accountable to Other Politicians, Even to the Press

Mayor Bill de Blasio does not believe in checks-and-balances, neither from other elected officials, nor from the fourth estate.

As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rolls out an agenda that includes the seemingly contradictory appointment of a police commissioner who was the architect of stop-and-frisk and task him to "end the stop-and-frisk era" ; the closing down of charter schools at the same time he tries to expand public school services, like universal pre-kinder and after school programs, which he plans to pay for by slightly increasing the income taxes of the most wealthy New Yorkers ; the close incorporation of political operatives and lobbyists in his administration ; and the combative relationship he's now developing with the City Hall press corps, he has begun to upset many folks, whose support he should not take for granted : people of color, working families, the affluent, government reform activists, and the media. Complicating matters is that the mayor has yet to completely fill in his new administration.

Instead of focusing on completing his own administration, the mayor began his term as mayor by focusing his attention on lobbying the City Council on behalf of his favorite to become the Council speaker. Typically, the race for speaker is a complex, post-election endeavor that largely takes place behind closed doors. For the mayor's favorite, Melissa Mark-Viverito to be selected as Council speaker, the mayor and the teams of lobbyists working on the campaign had to undermine the political influence of U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley, who chairs the Queens County Democratic Party. Rep. Crowley had supported the mayor's arch rival, former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in last year's mayoral race. Because the mayor has been expending great efforts to extend his power and influence over every corner of city government, the mayor was interested in weakening any competing power-centers in New York City that might challenge the mayor on controversial aspects of his agenda. Because of his stature and importance, Rep. Crowley was seen as a threat not just to Speaker Mark-Viverito's leadership race, but also as a possible check on the mayor's agenda. Three months after Rep. Crowley's favorite in the Council speaker race lost, Mayor de Blasio recruited one of Rep. Crowley's district leaders, Rebecca Lynch, into his administration. Rep. Crowley is perhaps one of the only Democratic politicians left in New York City, who can serve as a check on Mayor de Blasio, and that is why the de Blasio administration continues to focus on raiding and weakening Rep. Crowley's authority and influence.

Last week, it was announced that Council Speaker Mark-Viverito would endorse and campaign for a primary challenger to Rep. Charles Rangel. Rep. Rangel had endorsed another one of the mayor's rivals in last year's election, former Comptroller Bill Thompson. In his last re-election, Rep. Rangel barely won. Now that the mayor and his large new team of operatives occupy City Hall and City Council will be backing Rep. Rangel's opponent, if Rep. Rangel is defeated, then that would leave the Rev. Al Sharpton, a chief mayoral supporter, as the sole African American leader with the greatest influence up in Harlem. Anybody, who would potentially be in a position to criticise the mayor's agenda, is being systematically challenged.

After the mayor was sworn into office, he announced that his family would move into Gracie Mansion. Thus far, he has hesitated to make the move, and it could be that if the mayor remains in Brooklyn, his power and influence would keep former Assemblyman Vito Lopez and Brooklyn County Democratic Party chair Frank Seddio from eclipsing the mayor's influence over Brooklyn. Trying to eliminate or diminish the threat of criticism is important to the mayor, and it has taken up a lot of time and energy during his young administration. Because so much of the mayor's agenda may trigger criticism or resistance, the mayor is trying to neutralize that criticism not just to protect his agenda, but also as a way to clear the field of any possible primary challenger in 2017, when the mayor is expected to run for re-election. Mayor de Blasio doesn't want to end up as a one-term Democratic mayor, like former Mayor David Dinkins was.

When Mayor de Blasio was only a candidate, former Mayor Dinkins criticised the de Blasio plan to increase income taxes on the very wealthy in order to find the expansion of pre-kinder. As the de Blasio administration seeks to neutralise his critics, either real or imagined, it remains to be seen how the mayor and his political operatives plan to neuter former Mayor Dinkins.

As one political insider said on deep background, the cumulative effect of the mayor's heavy-handed machinations to neutralise critics and possible challengers will be the creation of a new political landscape in New York City that will yield a 20-30 year plan where the political insiders and lobbyists of the Working Families Party become the sole political power center of New York City.

"Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a "checking function" by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them." (University of San Francisco - California)

Because so much efforting is being expended on this background campaign, the mayor is actually running two different governments : the actual functionality of governing New York City, and a permanent backroom campaign to solidify his power and influence over every other office holder in New York City, regardless of whether the office holder was elected to represent city, state, or federal office.

To keep these machinations hidden, the mayor has the monumental task of keeping as much of these machinations hidden from perhaps his harshest critics : the City Hall press corps.

Besides trying to lay the groundwork for a new political landscape across New York City, the mayor has pushed back any time the press has tried to hold the mayor accountable. The mayor has hidden controversial appointments from his public calendar, and he attends controversial meetings that are closed to the press. He ignores reporters questions on thorny issues of his young administration, and he and his reports do not shy away from telling the media what to report and when. Mayor de Blasio doesn't want the City Hall press corps to think that they can shake the mayor down for specifics about how his administration's governance.

To continue the mayor's plan to extend his influence across New York City, his administration has installed the lobbying and consulting firm of Berlin Rosen, political operatives who worked on the mayor's campaign, in the media relations role of the mayor's universal pre-kinder initiative. Berlin Rosen will be able to "control" the universal pre-kinder messaging for the mayor this way. Berlin Rosen also serves as consultants to a coalition of major police reform groups, Communities United for Police Reform. The latter allows Berlin Rosen to control the messaging coming from one of the mayor's most politically sensitive quarters : police reform activists. Tampering down police reform activists is all the more important to the mayor, even as the NYPD continues to become embroiled in more racial profiled controversies. It was reported that another political insider and lobbying firm, Pitta Bishop, helped Council Speaker Mark-Viverito with City Council staffing.

Left out in the lurch as a consequence of the mayor's machinations are voters, who will have no say in what the messaging will be that comes out of the universal pre-kinder or the police reform movements that are now controlled by the mayor's political operatives.

Already, it appears that some members of the City Hall press corps can already sense that the mayor's energies and efforts are not adding up. In an article that purported to show that the mayor has been inducing many of the city's activists into drinking the Kool-Aid of his administration, The New York Times still pointed out the nagging concern that the de Blasio administration may be becoming an "echo chamber, since almost no one in the city’s new political hierarchy seems poised to challenge Mr. de Blasio’s policies publicly." Indeed, reform activists had been pinning their hopes that some true advances were going to made after the Legal Aid Society sued the City of New York in Brooklyn federal court for the full resources to provide shelter to homeless youths, but then it was announced that to perhaps undercut the Legal Aid Society's efforts, the de Blasio administration had hired their top attorney, Steven Banks, to become commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration. The timing of the Legal Aid Society's lawsuit had raised hopes that some cornerstone community groups were going to stop playing the annual budget dance between the mayor and the City Council, but with Mr. Banks' departure only weeks after having filed the lawsuit against the de Blasio administration, homeless youths may have lost their only opportunity to demand and get the full resources to provide them with shelter.

Perhaps it won't be too long before the press corps catches up to the fact that the mayor's unprogressive power play machinations are deliberately creating a new political landscape whereby nobody can challenge the mayor's policies publicly ?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Paid Gay Inc. Political Operatives Counsel White House To Remain Silent As Supremacist Laws Spread Across United States

Despite Spree of De Jure Discrimination, No Gay Inc. Group Calls on President Obama to Publicly Condemn Them

All these people who espouse that the president should remain silent while supremacist laws get passed across America remind me of when folks went around silencing critics when Germany was passing supremacist laws in its own country during the last century. There are some, who say we should not enfeeble President Barack Obama by making him take sides in the spread of anti-LGBT laws, that we need the president to remain a "man of iron," figuratively speaking, to guide the nation on more important issues. On Facebook, somebody posted, in part, on my wall, "The 2 Senators have already stated their views. Do you have doubt as to where the President stands ?"

Actually, I do have doubts about President Obama. He promised to sign the employment non-discrimination executive order referred to as ENDA, but six years into his administration, we are still waiting. But yet here come folks, who appear to be paid Gay Inc. political operatives, counseling us to keep on waiting, wait more, and I ask : wait for what ? Wait for how much longer ? What does President Obama stand for ? What does he believe in ?

Whenever other oppressive regimes in other nations are carrying out violent crackdows against freedoms and liberties, the Obama administration always seems to come to the rescue of the violent dictators, who are running their respective nations into the ground. Here he is, the highest elected leader of our nation, and yet he wants to stay silent as de jure discrimination spreads from one American state to another. The false counsel that some shameful LGBT operatives are giving the White House, to remain silent as Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) considers S.B. 1062, legislation that would legalize LGBT discrimination, is a perfect example of that old adage : the chicken coop is guarded from the inside.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Under campaign finance scrutiny, animal-rights advocates NY-CLASS ditches The Advance Group, moves out, lawyers up

Some fall-out of the poisonous impact of Citizens United on the recent past municipal election cycle

From Crains Insider :

"Crain's has confirmed that the Campaign Finance Board is looking into NYCLASS' outside spending on behalf of animal-friendly City Council candidates in the 2013 elections, while the Advance Group simultaneously ran the campaigns of several of those candidates out of the same office. Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates' campaigns. ... NYCLASS has hired Martin Connor, the former state Senate minority leader, to represent the nonprofit, while the Advance Group has hired well-known attorney Lawrence Mandelker. Messrs. Connor and Mandelker did not return requests for comment Monday. Others involved in the probe, such as individual City Council candidates, are also expected to separately hire attorneys if necessary."

Scott Levenson and Melissa Mark-Viverito photo Scott-Levenson-Melissa-Mark-Viverito_zps79ef0787.jpg

Besides its questionable involvement with NYCLASS, The Advance Group also sparked controversy after it worked for free on Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito's successful Council speaker campaign, the subject of which, along with the allegations referred to in the above Crains Insider article, were referred to federal prosecutors and to select members of the anti-corruption investigation panel, the Moreland Commission.

Maybe if activists would target Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for their reliance on Super PAC's, it would shame the Democrats into actually doing something about ending the poisonous impact of Citizens United on the election process ?

The Advance Group, which provided unpaid consultants to Melissa Mark-Viverito's speakership campaign, worked for the City Action Coalition PAC, which lists 'traditional marriage' as its platform and supported opponents of gay City Council candidates.
(The New York Daily News)
Did Scott Levenson sabotage LGBT civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland's political campaign ?
(Scott Levenson : Biggest Loser Of The Week * NYC : News & Analysis)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Uganda To Sign Anti-Homosexuality Law ; Justifies Discrimination On Obama Silence On Arizona's Discrimination Bill

Ofwono Opondo, the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre and the Spokesperson of the Government of Uganda, authored a series of tweets, confirming the signing of Uganda's anti-homosexuality law today. Among his tweets was an attack on U.S. President Barack Obama for not speaking out to denounce the law allowing "businesses to deny services to gays on religious grounds."

While it seems that Mr. Opondo was trying to justify Uganda's sexual orientation discrimination on the GOP's sexual orientation discrimination in Arizona, Mr. Opondo does make a point : the Obama administration can't really denounce discrimination against the LGBT community in a foreign country if it does nothing to denounce similar discrimination right here at home.

The Obama administration hasn't done much to stand up against anti-LGBT human rights abuses around the world. President Obama hasn't been able to bring to a stop the violent anti-LGBT crackdown taking place in Russia, Uganda, or Nigeria. Here at home, LGBT activists are still waiting for President Obama to sign the employment non-discrimination executive order referred to as ENDA.

Assaulted and Battered by Police Officer, Cecily McMillan Faces Retaliatory Felony Charge

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office is prosecuting a second degree felony assault charge against Cecily McMillan, even though Ms. McMillan was the victim of NYPD brutality. Listen to attorney Martin R. Stolar's exclusive interview with We Are Change CT for details of the police's dubious charges against Ms. McMillan. How can the Manhattan district attorney seriously bring this case to trial ? The DA has discretion and should be able to see that the charge lacks merit. The NYPD wouldn't be able to get away with so much brutality if it wasn't for how much the DA's office basically enables police misconduct.

Ms. McMillan's next trial date is scheduled for March 3 at 100 Centre Street.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Risperdal Causes Abnormal Male Breast Growth

ATTENTION Parents of boys who took Risperdal - A medication for the treatment of ADHD, Autism, and Bipolar Disorder has been linked to Gynecomastia, a medical condition in which boys develop female breasts. If your son has taken Risperdal and developed gynecomastia, has developed female breasts, has had breast removal surgery or has lactated, call 1-800-BAD-DRUG today. Your family may be entitled to significant compensation. Some claims have already settled.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vision Zero Nanny caught running stop signs, speeding, breaking traffic laws

CBS 2 New York Report : Mayor’s Caravan Violated Traffic Safety Laws Days After Safety Event

Just days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his #VisionZero traffic safety improvement plan, CBS 2 New York reporter Marcia Kramer busted the mayor running stop signs and speeding, according to an exposé broadcast by CBS 2 New York Thursday night.

"When the mayor announced his 62-point safe streets initiative, which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph, he said, 'We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard,' " Ms. Kramer reported.

Because the mayor appears to have been caught being hypocritical about the enforcement of his new #VisionZero traffic safety plan, he's going to have to explain why traffic laws seem to apply to regular New Yorkers, but not to the mayoral caravan.

The fact that the mayor believes that the application of his #TaleOfTwoCities traffic safety plan only applies to others, but not to him, will undoubtedly embarrass his administration in tomorrow's tabloids. But this pause would be a great opportunity to really evaluate the "pie in the sky" promise of dropping all traffic accident deaths to zero.

According to The New York Times, police statistics show that 176 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in New York City in 2013. How many of those traffic deaths were attributable to the city's encouragement of more pedestrian use of the city's streets ? We have numerous street fairs during the summer, marathons, cement parks have taken over parts of city streets with some tables and chairs mere feet away from moving traffic. Now, there are bike racks right on the streets ! The city has been encouraging more pedestrian use of the streets, and now the de Blasio administration wants to ticket people for using those same streets, either because they jaywalk, or because they are becoming victims of traffic accidents caused by vehicular traffic.

Bill de Blasio - Caution - Watch For Speeding Mayoral Caravan

If we have situations were the mayor's caravan can run stop signs, speed, and break other traffic laws without a police escort blaring its lights and siren, how can citizens take Mayor de Blasio's new #VisionZero traffic safety plan recommendations ? There are all these mixed signals : use the streets, don't use the streets, the streets are safe, the streets are not safe. What are we to believe ?

Before the NYPD started in on its ticket blitz and brutalized jaywalkers, the mayor and the police department should have looked to what Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe tried to do to make that city safer for pedestrians. After Paris installed its wildly successful bike sharing program, the Paris municipality set out to make the city safer for all its pedestrians, bicyclers, and motorists. They rightly started their program, in part, with a huge public awareness campaign to change people's behavior. Huge signs were posted along some of the busiest streets, like the Boulevard de Sébastapol, to make pedestrians -- and drivers -- more aware of each other.

Motorcycle deaths in Paris : Bertrand Delanoe Traffic Safety Plan - Boulevard de Sébastapol

Mayor Delanoe's traffic safety program aimed to make it safer on Parisian streets after that city had encouraged tens of thousands of more people to take to the streets on bikes. It was after this mass new infusion of people on the streets that the effectiveness of the traffic safety plan was revealed to only be marginal. More than 10,000 pedestrians were injured in 2008 in Paris. By 2012, that number decreased only to about 8,327, and that was after a few year's worth of the Paris mayor's traffic safety plan.

Gains in pedestrian traffic safety will undoubtedly be made, but Vision "Zero" is impossible, because there will always be accidents, especially because the New York City is encouraging more and more people to take to the very same streets occupied by motor vehicles. Mayor de Blasio is overlooking how "Zero" is an impossibility. A much-needed traffic improvement plan should not be sold like that. How are we ever going to get to "zero," when certain drivers think that speed limits, traffic signs, and other traffic laws don't apply to them ?

Making the city "safer" for pedestrians needs to involve more than ticketing people for jaywalking, more than just empty talk, and certainly more than letting the mayor run through stop signs when he thinks nobody else is looking. Some of the safety improvements that Paris made were as a result of a whole host of efforts.

Several years in, the traffic safety effort in Paris has only made marginal improvements in safety. Their valiant efforts show that no matter how much you do, traffic is always going to be risky, if not dangerous, because human behavior will always involve risk, whether you are in a speeding cab, driving in dangerous weather conditions, or riding in the mayoral caravan. Making an effort to improve traffic safety is admirable, but let's be realistic. Vision "zero" is nanny-talk.

Cute goats balancing on a flexible sheet metal

Cute young goats, called kids, jumping on and off of flexible sheet metal.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shih Tzu blood-curdling scream when his name is called

A Shih Tzu dog named Cody screams out loud when his name is called.

Poor puppy. How'd it come for him to react that way ? Unless the puppy thinks that when his name is called, it is a form of howling ? And the puppy must be howling back ?

This is one pet video that certainly is not the same as all the other cute videos on YouTube.

WATCH : Elaine Stritch dropped the F-Bomb on The Today Show

This morning, Broadway legend Elaine Stritch was interviewed on The Today Show when she dropped the F-Bomb. She was talking about how she always says whatever comes to her mind. Kathie Lee and Hoda reacted with restrained shock ! Ms. Stritch then rambled on in the interview, and when Ms. Stritch missed the cues that the interview was coming to an end, she was eventually cut off mid-sentence.

Ms. Stritch had appeared on The Today Show to promote her new documentary, "Shoot Me."

Elaine Stritch Shoot Me Documentary F-Bomb The Today Show Kathie Lee and Hoda photo elaine-stritch-shoot-me_zps32214c0e.jpg

Ms. Stritch dropped the F-Bomb on The Today Show.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Is Washington Post and MSNBC contributor Chris Cillizza expressing Transphobia on Twitter ?

In response to a Tweet showing two photographs that may demonstrate a what many are reporting to possibly be the transition to a more prominent female gender expression from a cismale gender expression by the former Olympian athlete Bruce Jenner.

An LGBT activist on Twitter asked Chris Cillizza if he had a phobia or prejudice against expressions that may reflect femininity.

If we see Mr. Cillizza's reply, we will update this post.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

NSA Spy Programs : French President Got Paid Off, German Chancellor's Worries Continue

Just days after French President François Hollande declared that France had "restored" its trust with the Obama White House after the growing N.S.A. spying scandal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a proposal to create a Europe-only Internet apparatus that would circumvent the N.S.A. backdoor taps, almost universal decryption, and data collection.

During his state visit to the United States, French President François Hollande declared that the U.S. and France had restored mutual respect between the countries, because both nations are committed to respecting the right to privacy. President Hollande's remarks appeared to contradict the N.S.A. relentless spying program on French citizens in apparent violation of Article 9 and 1382 of the French Civil Code and Articles 226-1 and following of the French Penal Code. It's unclear what side deals President Barack Obama might have made with France to induce the French president to announce a reconciliation with the U.S. government. When the data collection of the N.S.A. spy program was first reported to include the private information of millions of French, German, and Spanish citizens, amongst others, popular outrage erupted in Europe to the growing corruption of the Internet by the N.S.A.

Meanwhile, German Chanchellor Angela Merkel made an announcement after the conclusion of President Hollande's state visit to the U.S. that she would propose to France the creation of a new Web network to ensure secure communications in Europe.

No word, yet, on how the Obama administration will respond to Chancellor Merkel's proposal.

Conspicuously absent from President Hollande's agenda during his state visit was any addressing of the latest General Motors TV commercial, which engages in French-bashing.

Lack of checks-and-balances haunts de Blasio's scandalous jail favor for Bishop Findlayter

Who has oversight over a mayor, whom many question may have abused his authority ?

Facing questions from the media on Friday about Mayor Bill de Blasio's questionable interference with a judge's order in the case against Bishop Orland Findlayter, New York City Public Advocate Tisch James essentially told a reporter from The New York Post that it was not her job to question the mayor's judgment.

Several people followed Ms. James from City Hall to her office on Friday, asking her to comment on the growing scandal that has forced the mayor to cancel one press conference, forced Bishop Orlando Findlayter to cancel a public statement, and forced the Rev. Al Sharpton to contort himself into a politically expedient embrace with his arch-nemesis, the former racist mayor, Rudolph Giuliani. Mayor de Blasio has defended his intervention in Bishop Findlayter's detention as "absolute appropriate."

Outside City Hall, Ms. James was asked to comment about the mayor's actions that sprung Bishop Findlayter, a crucial political supporter, out of jail, a move seen by many as a favor granted by the mayor to a member of his inaugural committee. As public advocate, Ms. James is tasked with challenging the city government if she sees wrong-doing.

"You are the public advocate, do you have anything to say ?" a reporter asked.

"No comment, no comment," was her first response -- before a reporter repeatedly asked the public advocate for her opinion, finally prompting the public advocate to say, "I will defer to the mayor of the City of New York."

Tish James from yoav gonen on Vimeo.

Just last summer, Ms. James demonstrated she was able to speak truth to power, when she challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to place a moratorium on hospital closings. She has it in her to stand up to powerful men. Left unexplained is why Ms. Tames is standing beside Mayor de Blasio as his young administration becomes engulfed in serious questions about abuse of authority and, quite possibly, obstruction of justice.

In respect of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, during her campaign for the speakership, many raised serious concerns about her ability, or her willingness, to serve as a check on the mayor's power. Because the mayor lobbied on her behalf during the Council speaker race, Speaker Mark-Viverito owes her political allegiance to the mayor. There's no check on the mayor's power.

In respect of the scandal resulting from the mayor's defense of his call to police to help his political supporter, Speaker Mark-Viverito has predictably sided with defending the mayor.

The importance of checks-and-balances in a government plays an important role in being able to reign in the uncontrolled power if one branch exceeds its authority. But checks-and-balances also comes into play to prevent one branch of government from getting into trouble with the law. If the police had told the mayor that they could not let Bishop Findlayter go before his scheduled appearance before a judge, then the de Blasio administration would not be having all these problems. A courageous cop could have stopped all this from snowballing into an uncontrollable scandal. Checks-and-balances exist to both protect the integrity of our three branch government system, as well as to protect political insiders from abusing their authority or obstructing justice. Because the mayor was obsessed with extending his power and influence into every corner of city government, only wanting "Yes men" -- and "Yes women" -- around him, now he has to deal with a mess of his very own creation. For a mayor with major control issues, this is like a form of karmic justice.

To prove that there is no check on the mayor's power, when serious questions were raised about the electioneering activities of one of the mayor's political supporters, the lobbying and campaign consulting firm known as The Advance Group, the matter was referred for investigation to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, precisely because the mayor appoints officials to the Campaign Finance Board and the Conflicts of Interest Board, two city agencies that would be tasked to investigate allegations of wrong-doing by the mayor's political supporters. The matter was also referred to select members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's public corruption investigation panel, the Moreland Commission.

More concerns were raised by the publication, City & State, in a the publisher's editorial column, questioning the independence of the mayor's nominee, Mark Peters, another close political ally of Mayor de Blasio, to head the city's Department of Investigations.

The possible political damage to Mayor de Blasio's agenda

Because Mayor de Blasio's administration is now in full crisis mode over the police's early release of Bishop Findlayter, this means that Gov. Cuomo will be able to run roughshod over the de Blasio administration's weakened state of governing. The mayor's team is too distracted now with politically protecting the mayor that the mayor is no longer able to fully press for his tax rate hike for the very wealthy. Mayor de Blasio needs the tax rate increase to fulfill on his campaign promise to fund pre-kinder for all New York City toddlers. The mayor's other plans to raise the minimum wage may also be in jeopardy. Until City Hall releases the e-mails that City Hall officials sent to the NYPD leading up to Bishop Findlayter's release and fully answers questions about what appears to be political favors that the mayor may be granting to his campaign supporters, Mayor de Blasio will be be governing from a diminished position.

Friday, February 14, 2014

NYPD Rejects Freedom of Information Request for Freedom of Information Handbook

From Obama to de Blasio, Democratic administrations block freedom of information

No surprise. Citizens can be duped more easily if they are kept ignorant of the true workings of their own government. It's sad to see this, but that's where things are headed. The lazy mainstream media, the one with the resources, need to challenge this, but that would mean that they would have to actually call out what is happening : a deliberate subversion of the truth. You won't see The New York Times do shit, though. Like Goldilocks trying out chairs, it took three articles spread out over three days (first)(second)(third) for them to finally do a decent reporting on the bishop being busted out of jail for free story, and that was only after every major daily (and the AP wire) had out-reported The NYTimes. There was once a time when I used to think of The NYTimes as the "Bible" of journalism. There are some times when they are spot on, but more and more each edition seems like the apocryphal texts of journalism.

As much as I have pushed "progressive" LGBT activists to speak out on other betrayals by the new administration, I'm now resigned to see how many LGBT activists sweep this one under the rug, too. There was once a time in New York when LGBT activists were on the forefront of pushing forth new progressive achievements. That was back then.

In an era when the media refuses to "vet" politicians for the truth, we only have activists to rely upon, and perhaps good government groups. But the way that the New York Civil Liberties Union has retreated from holding the NYPD accountable, who is left to apply pressure politics to government officials, forcing them to adopt a truly progressive reform agenda ?

LGBT activists fought so hard to come out of the closet, but now they feel so right at home locked up in the veal pen.

Although a lawsuit connected to the 2003 anti-war protest was settled, police abuses later continued against Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. What do "settlements" mean, if there is on-going compliance or oversight of the NYPD when it comes to broader constitutional rights and civil liberties reforms ?

  • RELATED : MuckRock Podcast : FOIA By Numbers

In Twitter exchange, NYTimes reporter admits he looks the other way on human rights abuses

LGBT rights activists upset with NYTimes reporter over incomplete article

Sam Borden, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote an article about some American Olympic athletes being upset with LGBT activists, who are calling attention to the violent anti-LGBT crackdown taking place in Russia under President Vladimir Putin ("American Lugers Annoyed by Group’s Gay Rights Video," 11 Feb 2014).

Christian Niccum and Preston Griffall, both American Olympic athletes competing in Sochi, said they were ruffled by some of the social media activism of LGBT supporters and allies. In particular, the pair of athletes objected to a YouTube video by Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion lampooning the savage heterosexism now sweeping Russia.

In the article, the American athletes bemoaned stereotypes that they now felt that they must endure because of the CIDI video, but The New York Times reporter never asked the athletes what they thought about the violence that LGBT Russians must face in the current oppressive crackdown atmosphere in Russia.

Sam Borden The New York Times Sochi Olympics Luge Article violent anti-LGBT crackdown in Russia Twitter - See more at:

Perhaps if Mr. Niccum and Mr. Griffall had been able to have empathy for the plight of LGBT Russians, the Sochi Olympics might garner them some additional fans. But the silence from American Olympic champions and even from reporters from The New York Times seems to suggest that there's an unofficial attitude of appeasement toward President Putin's violent crackdown.

Here is the CIDI video, which ridicule only scratches the surface of the brutal heterosexism in Russia. Even this small amount of humorous criticism triggers painful cognitive dissonance for athletes and media, who'd apparently want to keep the extreme violence locked up in a closet. This video has now been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube :

2014 Cadillac ELR Coupe : "Rogue" French-Bashing Commercial Adds to GM Woes (UPDATED)

PUBLISHED : FRI, 14 FEB 2014, 04:06 PM
UPDATED : FRI, 11 APR 2014, 01:35 PM

The American carmaker General Motors has resorted to bashing French citizens for their unique culture in the new "Work Hard" TV commercial for the 2014 Cadillac ELR Coupe hybrid. Neal McDonough, who stars in the controversial new Cadillac commercial, mocks French cafés, the French family values sensibility that places a special importance on the annual summer vacation, and France's emphasis on quality of life. The commercial implies that the French do not work hard at all, nor are the French capable of accomplishing major scientific breakthroughs, like landing on the moon -- an example of "American exceptionalism." Meanwhile, the truth is that the French invented each of aviation, motion pictures, and antibiotics ; they revolutionized astronomy and statistics ; and a Frenchman created the first digital form of writing, Braille, amongst many other notable breakthroughs. Indeed, René Lorin, a Frenchman, invented the ramjet, a supersonic jet engine that allowed later jets to travel at speeds between Mach 3 and Mach 6. Mr. McDonough does not ever identify France in the commercial as the target of his scorn, but the litany of his generalizations and stereotypes unmistakably points to France, and, as if to remove all doubt, at the end of his rant, he asks with a knowing wink, "N'est-ce pas ?"

Adding to the controversy, this commercial has been being broadcast during the karmically-doommed Sochi Winter Olympics, the latter which has become the target of global protests over the violent anti-LGBT crackdown taking place in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.

(An earlier YouTube video of the Cadillac commercial, which went viral after TV viewers become outraged by the discriminatory commercial's theme, was mysteriously censored removed from YouTube. A replacement video was subsequently also censored removed from YouTube.)

Mr. McDonough, who stars in the Cadillac ELR Coupe hybrid commercial, is a handsome and charismatic actor, who has attracted widespread goodwill in Hollywood for his roles in movies, like Captain America : The First Avenger, in which he played Dum Dum Dugan. How much goodwill will it personally cost Mr. McDonough with his fans for having made this controversial commercial ? What's been the reputational risk ?

Social ills, like de facto discrimination, are usually based on ignorance. It's not known why U.S. networks on broadcast and cable TV would accept money in exchange for airing this commercial, given the controversial use of harmful and stupid generalizations of the French. For GM's part, that ignorance is all the more clear. The luxury automaker brand of Cadillac was named after a French explorer, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. It's unknown whether GM's advertising executives are even educated about how the new French-bashing Cadillac TV commercial actually attacks the company's namesake's own homeland ?

Perhaps in a wink and a nod to their Red State-minded target customers, the controversial Cadillac commercial was produced by a new advertising outfit known as Rogue, an Interpublic Group of Cos. team reporting to the following GM executives : Bob Ferguson, vice president of Global Cadillac ; Craig Bierley, Cadillac's advertising director ; and Steven Majoros, a former Campbell Ewald advertising agency executive now at Cadillac, according to a pre-commercial review of Cadillac's marketing team by Advertising Age. The advertising agency Campbell Ewald had previously done work for GM for its Chevrolet unit. Adweek provides the complete credits for the controversial Cadillac commercial.

That GM is integrating cultural contempt and bullying of the French in its new Cadillac commercial is a new low for the once great carmaker. Once the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, GM has since yielded that title to Toyota. In the wake of this "identity crisis" for GM, it's now developed a dubious track record of making commercials that have been judged to be controversial at best and racist at worst. The commercial for the 2013 Chevrolet Trax subcompact crossover was called racist over its use of a controversial Chinese soundtrack.

GM further sparked controversy when some politicians questioned whether the automaker was deliberately underpaying its new CEO, Mary Barra, because she is a woman. Institutionalised de facto discrimination runs rampant at GM. Whether you are French, Chinese, female, Black, or belong to a union, it seems that the troubled automaker is intent on insulting your equality.

Maybe GM wouldn't have such a hard time selling cars to people, if it first learned to treat people with dignity and respect. Compris ?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Three Brooklyn Hospitals Face Down-sizing, Despite Billions in State and City Resources

No Political Commitment to Save Hospitals

Brookdale Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center, and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center will now have to down-size in order to survive, aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today. No mention was made if Long Island College Hospital, a fourth Brooklyn hospital that has been targeted for closure by Gov. Cuomo, would survive the chopping block.

As part of a controversial Medicaid waiver, New York state must reduce inpatient hospital beds across the board in accordance with the wishes of Stephen Berger, a New York investment banker and member of a working group of Gov. Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team. Since 2006, Mr. Berger has overseen the closure or down-sizing of 11 hospitals in New York City alone.

Gov. Cuomo wants to use some of the money from the Medicaid waiver to down-size hospitals into urgent care centers, emergency units, and specialized treatment facilities. “We will be able to fund the structural and rebuilding needed to transform hospitals so they can be profitable and thrive and remain open,” one aide to Gov. Cuomo said.

Because the Medicaid waiver was negotiated in secret, it is not known if any of the down-sized facilities in Brooklyn will "transform" into spin-offs as for-profit healthcare corporations.

No response, yet, from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who campaigned outside the former St. Vincent's Hospital with a promise to stop hospital closings.

Billion in Surplus State and City Budgets

Gov. Cuomo says that New York state has no money to save our hospitals, yet he is spending "surplus" state tax money that was "made" by closing entire hospitals. From this "pot of gold," the governor is offering tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations, so much so that the Moral Monday movement is now coming to Albany, to fight the irresponsible way in which Gov. Cuomo has politicized state tax dollars. Many observers note that Gov. Cuomo is diverting "surplus" money from healthcare cuts to cozy up to corporate supporters in order to increase his margin of victory in his re-election bid later this year as a way to launch a campaign for the 2016 presidential race.

Mayor de Blasio has also attracted some scrutiny in how he's using tax money. The new mayor enjoys a $3 billion budget surplus, and the city stands to make an additional $1 billion from the sale of new air rights around Grand Central Terminal as part of the mayor's plan to rezone the east side of Midtown Manhattan. But so far, Mayor de Blasio has not proposed to use any of these resources to save two hospitals on the verge of closure, Long Island College Hospital or Interfaith Medical Center, both in Brooklyn.

As each of Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio plan their next budgets, now is the time to hold them to account to save our community hospitals.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina 'Beautiful Day' Delusion As Killer Snow Storm Strikes New York City

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina faced resounding criticism today as she decided to keep New York City public schools open on a day of a massive snow storm that destroyed a ferry ramp in Brooklyn and a snow plow ran over and killed a pregnant woman in Brooklyn. Chancellor Farina said of the weather conditions : "It's absolutely a beautiful day out there."

Carmen Farina Snow Day NYC My Cousin Vinny photo MyCousinVinni_zps1564191c.jpg

School attended was about 45%, according to The New York Daily News. Earlier in the day, Mayor Bill de Blasio added the controversies surrounding the city's response to the snow storm when the mayor insulted NBC Today Show weathercaster Al Roker. Before the snow storm struck New York, it had killed more than a dozen people. After Mr. Roker said that people should take this snow storm seriously, Mayor de Blasio said, "It's a different thing to run a city than to give weather on TV."

On Twitter, Chancellor Farina's "beautiful day" remarks were transformed into hilarious memes with lightning speed.

Despite Dangers, New York City Public Hospitals Set to Outsource Dialysis Care to Private Chain

Four of the city’s public hospitals are expected to turn over dialysis care to a for-profit franchise called Big Apple Dialysis despite government data showing the company’s chains did not perform as well as the hospitals themselves.

The motive to make money from dialysis patients at for-profit chains has resulted in what researchers describe as starkly higher mortality rates than at patient-care centered clinics that are operated as non-profits.

The four New York City hospitals, where dialysis patients may face worse healthcare outcomes, including a risk of higher mortality, are : Kings County Hospital, Lincoln Hospital Center, Metropolitan Hospital, and Harlem Hospital.

The nurses union New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and other healthcare advocates are critical of the effort to outsource dialysis care.

Please contact Councilmember Corey Johnson, the chair of the Council Health Committee, to express your opinions about this controversial outsourcing contract : 1 (212) 564-7757.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rep. Joseph Crowley asks DOJ to release information regarding vindictive prosecution of Lt. Daniel Choi

New York Congressman presses Department of Justice to answer Freedom of Information Act request

U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) wrote a letter to the staff of the U.S. Department of Justice, requesting that the agency answer a Freedom of Information Act request submitted last year.

The FOIA request was submitted on 30 April 2013 to obtain information about the Department of Justice's policy of aggressively prosecuting activists. One activist in particular, Lt. Daniel Choi, who led the charge to over turn the military's discriminatory policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," was the target of a "vindictive prosecution," according to a court finding. A pattern of others being targeted for their activism shows that some federal prosecutors may be overreaching in a deliberate campaign to punish activists.

Lt. Choi's circumstances very visibly highlight questions about why the government chose to press federal charges against one of the nation's most visible LGBT civil rights activists. Lt. Choi's activism, sometimes involving direct action, was undertaken to end the military's discrimination against gays and lesbians in the U.S. Armed Forces. After the U.S. Congress acknowledged the harmful discrimination of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and repealed the policy, and after President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law, the government still prosecuted Lt. Choi as if he were a criminal, even though his activism was undertaken solely to advance social justice. Rep. Crowley's crucial letter to the Department of Justice comes as the FOIA request remains pending over nine months after its initial, formal filing. In December, the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP filed an appeal in support of the FOIA request after it had become apparent that the Department of Justice had constructively denied the FOIA request by refusing to provide any response.

2014-02-10 Rep Joseph Crowley Letter to DOJ - Lt Dan Choi FOIA Request by Connaissable

Here is the appeal filed in December by Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP :

2013-12-06 Lt Daniel Choi FOIA Appeal - Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP - Flores Louis by Connaissable

And here is the original FOIA request, formally filed last April :

2013-04-30 Lt Daniel Choi DOJ FOIA Request Louis Flores by Connaissable

Brooklyn Beep Eric Adams Caught in Web of Medicaid Redesign Team, de Blasio, and Cuomo Machinations

Politicians are playing a deadly game with people's lives over the hospital closings crisis that is gripping New York City. But very few politicians own up to the fact that the hospital closing crisis is being manufactured by both the state government under an Orwellian plan first under the Berger Commission and later under the Medicaid Redesign Team, originally dating back to at least 2006.

Because Mayor Bill de Blasio took advantage of health care unions concerned with hospital closings, his mayoral campaign catapulted over former Council Speaker Christine Quinn's own campaign in last year's mayoral election. But now that the mayor is loath to come up with the city tax dollars to actually bail out Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center, the lesser-ranking city officials are left in a quandry : afraid to hold the mayor accountable to his campaign promises, but still let to have to "go through the motions" to quell union and voter anger over how quickly the mayor and the Public Advocate's office have abandoned any concrete plans to save full-service hospital care at LICH and Interfaith.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

AG Eric Holder takes to HRC gala dinner to announce compliance update with landmark SCOTUS marriage equality ruling

Some Federal Civil Rights to be Extended to Same-Sex Couples, Finally

As has been noted by some LGBT civil rights activists, even though the national recognition of some civil rights being announced this evening by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is just a "clear interpretation" of the landmark marriage equality SCOTUS ruling, it's interesting to see how desperate the jockeying is to "take political credit" for the SCOTUS ruling.

“As all-important as the fight against racial discrimination was then, and remains today, know this : My commitment to confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity runs just as deep,” Attorney General Holder's prepared remarks indicated.

While the Attorney General brags about his civil rights record, he is also the very visible Obama administration official, who is leading the charge to prosecute activists, trash the First Amendment, finish off due process, violate freedom of information, and enable the NSA spying program, among other failures. All his talk is cheap. I don't know who can take the Attorney General seriously, how HRC would even revere the Attorney General, or how The New York Times even still accords the Attorney General any credibility in the realms of constitutional rights, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Federal recognition of some of our civil rights is being given to us not by the Attorney General, but by virtue of the SCOTUS ruling in the United States v. Windsor case. The Attorney General must apply the SCOTUS ruling across the nation. That's his job, that's all this is, and the timing of this was set to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign's dinner tonight. That is all.

I'm happy to see that the Attorney General can carry out his duties, as instructed by the SCOTUS ruling. If any thanks should go to the Attorney General for doing what he was told to do, then he should be accorded due thanks. How reasonable should it be for LGBT civil rights activists to expect that HRC will ask the Attorney General tonight to rise up to the challenge by asking President Barack Obama to sign the employment non-discrimination executive order referred to as ENDA ?

Fire on 78th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens

There was a fire this morning in an apartment building on 78th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens. Several fire trucks and ambulances arrived on the scene. It appeared that two ladies were brought out and given oxygen. One was seen being put into an ambulance. The other must have already been taken away. Standing outside along the sidewalk, some residents appeared as if they had just grabbed a coat to put on over their pajamas.

One of the fire trucks deployed a giant ladder that made loud noises as it was secured to the edge of the building's roof. Apartment dwellers across the way from the building could hear the loud sounds made by the ladder company and by rescue sirens. Once rescue was completed, fire officials arrived in SUV's to assess the damage. Once the building was deemed safe, the building's residents were let back in. One resident speculated that it may have been a space heater that started the fire.

If it turns out that that building isn't providing enough heat to its residents, I hope that complaint gets registered with the FDNY.

Vladimir Putin Violent Anti-LGBT Crackdown Mockumentary Facebook Movie Going Viral

The parody video, styled on the recent spree of data-mining movies that Facebook has been pushing to promote its 10 year anniversary, shows dramatic images of anti-LGBT violence in Russia under its president, Vladimir Putin.

The video says that President Putin joined Facebook in 1975, an impossible feat, but not impossible if the Russian president is advancing propaganda. Interspersed with official-looking photographs, like of the Russian president signing decrees, are depictions of state-sponsored violence of LGBT Russians. Whereas authentic Facebook movies end with the iconic Facebook like button of the "thumbs up" facing upwards, the Putin parody video ends with the "like button" turned upside-down, expressing growing worldwide dissent on Russia's draconian enforcement of its anti-LGBT law.

This latest video adds to the growing digital backlash from LGBT and ally activists playing out on social media now during the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Friday, February 7, 2014

LGBT protest Twitter spree on #CheersToSochi hashtag during opening ceremonies of Sochi Olympics

Spree of tweets from @lgbtprogressny marking the opening day ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics.