Wednesday, June 25, 2014

VOCAL-NY amongst CPR community groups receiving over $7 million in FY15 City Council slush funds

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) Logo photo CommunitiesUnitedforPoliceReformCPRLogo_zpsf0892575.png

Despite cheap "progressive" talk from mayor and new Council speaker, New York City Council is still disbursing speaker slush funds, even as one sitting Councilmember's funding had to be supervised due to pending corruption charges.

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New York City Council Divvies Up $50 Million in Speaker Slush Funds (The Wall Street Journal)

Queens Councilman Ruben Wills arrested by Attorney General’s office in corruption probe (UPDATE) (Metro New York)

MMV Slush Funds Report For Fiscal Year 2015 Adopted Expense : Budget Adjustment Summary / Schedule C (New York City.gov)

Slush funds allocated to VOCAL-NY include $25,000 for anti-Stop-and-Frisk workshops, even though Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned to end the "Stop-and-Frisk" era in NYPD policing.

Following the Veal Pen Workshop for police reform at the Left Forum 2014, some of the member groups belonging to a coalition known as Communities United for Police Reform, or CPR, were shown to have influence over the stalled social movement to press the New York City government to deliver police reforms. When one of the stalling member groups in the CPR coalition, VOCAL-NY, was pressed about their role in deliberately deescalating public pressure for police reforms, a VOCAL-NY director, Jennifer Flynn Walker, had a meltdown on Twitter after activists pressed whether City Council slush funds played a role in CPR easing off pressure on the de Blasio-Mark-Viverito administration.

"Professional" activists like Ms. Walker get a "seat at the table" next to powerholders, precisely because these "professional" activists accept government funding from the very politicians, who grassroots activists are targeting for legal reforms. Those government funding allocations come with implicit strings attached to not embarrass the politicians publicly, to not create any "scandals," and to settle for the low-bar "politics of the possible" that politicians, like Mayor Bill de Blasio, can deliver without upsetting his big money campaign donors.

Some police reform activists believe that the mayor announced his controversial pick for NYPD commissioner to placate nervous billionaire real estate developers, who want to keep seeing escalating New York City real estate prices. The only way real estate prices can keep spiraling up out of control is by keeping all the youths and people of color either locked up in school or locked up in jail.

Making do by accepting Mayor de Blasio's appointment of William Bratton as the new commissioner of the New York Police Department means that the City Council has to keep funding community programs to deal with police brutality and the violation of innocent people's rights.

Indeed, the slush funds allocated to VOCAL-NY include $25,000 that are intended to "provide Know Your Rights workshops to inform people of their legal rights during police encounters (including stop, question and frisk) and role play de-escalation strategies in order to stay safe and calm." (Emphasis Added)

VOCAL-NY FY15 MMV City Council Slush Funds - Including for anti-Stop-and-Frisk Work photo VOCAL-NYFY15MMVCityCouncilSlushFunds-Includingforanti-Stop-and-FriskWork_zpsb820b109.png

CPR member groups receiving FY15 slush funds are :

  -  Bronx Defenders : $1,636,000

  -  Legal Aid Society : $5,865,750

  -  New York City Anti-Violence Project : $186,755

  -  Streetwise & Safe : $10,000

  -  VOCAL-NY : $62,000

  -  Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice : $24,000

The controversial City Council practise of doling out slush funds was a hallmark issue in last year's mayoral campaign, and the slush fund allocations were used as an accusation of corruption against former Council Speaker Christine Quinn. According to her campaign promises, the new Council speaker, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, promised to bring reforms to the City Council never made possible under former Speaker Quinn's leadership. Alas, Speaker Mark-Viverito is using the shady distribution of slush funds to control strategic community groups for political reasons, which is no different from the motivations of her her predecessor.

It's not known why VOCAL-NY still needs $25,000 for workshops that will train people how to deal with police use of "Stop-and-Frisk," if Mayor de Blasio campaigned to end the "Stop-and-Frisk" era at the NYPD. The right thing for VOCAL-NY to do is to come forward to press the mayor to deliver the full range of reforms at the NYPD that he supposedly gave lip service to in last year's mayoral election.

Unless, of course, some of the CPR community groups are afraid to pressure the de Blasio-Mark-Viverito administration for the full range of legal reforms needed to end police brutality, violations of the Handschu Agreement, and other infringements of civil liberties and civil rights of innocent New Yorkers. For years, activist have wondered how could the City Council fund, on the one hand, police procedures that violate the Civil Rights Act protections of it citizens, at the same time when, on the other hand, the City Council is funding community groups for protection from police brutality ? What kind of duplicitous City Council budget are elected officials adopting ?

2014-05-31 Veal Pen (Left Forum) Contact Sheet (Twitter Handles) (FINAL)(2014-06-25 FY15 Schedule C Slush F... by Connaissable

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