Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Mayor: Bill Thompson (Democratic Party)

One of the best things I have heard said about Bill Thompson was meant to disparage his chances: Bill Thompson was accused of "being too much of a gentleman" to win against Bloomberg. Honestly, that comment made me like Thompson more. Thompson is a good, solid Democrat and I think it is about time this very Democratic city stop having dictatorial, pro-business, anti-labor mayors. Mayor Bloomberg isn't bad...for a Republican. But he IS a Republican not just in name but in actions. His education policy has been little more than privatizing our educational system. This has made it a money maker for outside contractors who deal with the increasingly arduous and Byzantine testing and admissions processes, but it doesn't really help parents or students. If students don't do well enough, too often they get dropped from the system so the tests won't be affected. Admissions have become insane and yet have done little to equalize the discrepancies between neighborhoods because only the wealthy have the time and money for the admissions process, the interviews, extra tutoring for tests, etc. And the big results that Bloomberg claims vindicates his "reforms?" They can be seen statewide, even in areas where Bloomberg has had no influence. So how can he lay claim to the changes? Bloomberg has also closed firehouses, yet given tax money to developers. Bloomberg pissed on voters when he bullied the City Council into overturning term limits ONE TIME ONLY, specifically so Bloomberg could have a third term. I have never understood the cult of Bloomberg that many follow. Once he called my wife and me "terrorists" because we protested the Republican National Convention and once I learned that Bloomberg was the number one individual donor to Tom DeLay's ant-choice, anti-environment, right wing PAC, I have disliked him.

So Thompson is too much of a gentleman to win against Bloomberg, thus, I suppose, admitting that Bloomberg is an asshole. Well, I for one hope the gentleman who has consistently been a solid Democrat wins. I hope Thompson, who is pro-labor, can win over anti-labor Bloomberg. Bill Thompson has been endorsed by one of my favorite Congresswomen, Nydia M. Velazquez. He has been endorsed by State Senator Eric Adams, Councilmember Letitia James, Councilmember John Liu, Councilmember David Weprin, State Senator Diane Savino, and Congressman Anthony Weiner, all of whom I respect (even if I don't always agree with all of them). Thompson has been endorsed by 504 Democrats, NYC's main disabled rights group, Barack Obama Democratic Club, American Heritage Democratic Club, Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats, Out People of Color Political Action Club, East Harlem/El Barrio Democratic Club, Gramercy-Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, Village Independent Democrats and West Harlem Independent Democrats. Thompson has been endorsed by Communications Workers of America, United Auto Workers, Uniformed Firefighters Association, Transport Workers Union and the Teamsters. And, of course, many others. To me Thompson represents a good, old fashioned Democrat supported by a good, old fashioned pro-union, pro-LGBT, pro-minority coalition. I would support that any day over a spoiled, dictatorial billionaire.

36th City Council District (Brooklyn): Mark Winston Griffith (Working Families Party Candidate)

Many people know that I am disgusted by the fact that WFP has been breaking campaign finance laws and has sided with corrupt party boss Vito Lopez this year. To me, WFP was once a great idea that has been descending into the same kind of corruption that they claim to fight. But, there are still remnants of the old style WFP and among the corrupt and sleazy WFP candidates this year there were some great ones. This includes Debi Rose on Staten Island, John Liu for Comptroller...and Mark Winston Griffith for the 36th City Council seat in Brooklyn. The incumbent for this seat is Al Vann who is among the least popular incumbents I have ever seen. In fact, I suspect had there only been one opponent in the Democratic Primary, Vann would be history now. But the opposition split the vote and Vann squeaked by the primary with barely 30% of the vote. The man who came in second was Mark Winston Griffith and he has decided to continue the fight on the WFP line. Mark has been Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project and has been a community organizer for years. Mark has been endorsed by the United Auto Workers, Educational Justice PAC and Committee for the Future Leadership of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. I firmly believe that the 36th district would be better served by Mark Winston Griffith than by Al Vann. So I urge a vote on the (I hate to say it) Working Families Party line for Mark Winston Griffith in the 36th City Council district.

39th City Council District (Brooklyn): David Pechefsky (Green Party Candidate)

Most people know I have seldom sided with the Greens since 2000. Too often the Greens are counterproductive and obnoxious purists. But sometimes the Green Party really is an alternative. This is, I believe, the second time since 2000 that I have endorsed a Green Party candidate. I first heard about Pechefsky from two of my neighbors. They knew him personally and, though Democrats, were interested in supporting him. At the time I was supporting a Democrat in the running (Josh Skaller) and thought two of the other Democrats (Gary Reilly and Bob Zuckerman) were also good candidates, so I took a dim view of Pechefsky's run given the fact that no fewer than THREE excellent Democrats were vying for the position. Well, none of those three excellent Democrats won. I met Pechefsky and talked with him. He agreed that the candidate I was supporting would be excellent but I gathered he was running in case one of the not so good Democrats won the primary. Which is what happened. The Democrat who won the primary, Brad Lander, is allied with Dov Hikind (a known homophobe and racist), has been publicly anti-Israel, and who has been centrally involved in the WFP campaign funding scandal I mention above. Brad Lander is one of those Democrats I feel I can never trust even if we agree on most things. He is too blinded by his own sense of self-worth and his own ambition to listen to an opposing view. Too often I have seen him face disagreement with disdain or rage. By contrast David Pechefsky is even tempered, thoughtful and willing to listen to opposing views. Pechefsky seeks to be "a catalyst for a truly democratic City Council, eco-friendly living, and the sensible use of our resources." Unlike many Green Party candidates I have met, Pechefsky has a wide range of practical experience to bring to the City Council. According to his website:

David Pechefsky has 12 years of New York City government experience and has worked with Council Members, advocates, city officials, and service providers on a wide range of housing, youth, senior, health, and economic development programs. He has also consulted internationally working on democratic governance issues in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East...

David is a member of the Park Slope Greens and the Park Slope Food Coop and was recently appointed to the Economic Development Committee of Community Board Six.

I think Pechefsky would represent the district excellently while Brad would too often let personal ambition and ego get in the way of effective governing. So I endorse Green Party candidate David Pechefsky for the 39th City Council district.

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