Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 New York City Council Human Rights Report Card

I found this buried in an email Rock Hackshaw sent around. This score card is from the Human Rights Project. The score card (in PDF form) can be found here.

The scorecard is VERY detailed and I can't do it justice in a short post. They cover homeless issues, race issues, gender issues including LGBT issues, poverty, etc.

Among the WORST rated council members is Chirstine Quinn. She gets a miserable 12% rating. Keep in mind this is the person who wants to be, I mean MAYOR of NYC. She gets zero ratings for workers' rights, criminal/juvenile justice, disabled rights and voting rights and a very low score for housing rights. Is THIS what we want for mayor? Someone who is bad for workers, justice, disabled people, housing and voting rights?

In fairness, I want to look into the past records of former city council members who are competing with Quinn for mayor. Both Bill de Blasio and John Liu moved on from the City Council in 2009, both having refused to participate in Bloomberg's Third Term Power Grab the way Lap Dog Quinn did. So de Blasio and Liu BOTH are already better than Quinn on that issue alone to me. But let's compare Quinn, de Blasio and Liu in the 2008 and 2009 score card: (ranking system presented a bit differently each year it seems)

Christine Quinn: a mediocre 45% average score in 2008 and got a "C" for 2009.

Bill de Blasio: a mediocre 58% average score in 2008 (ranked 11th highest scoring council member) and a 2009 rating of "B" (8th highest scoring council member so made the top 10 list that year).

John Liu: an 61% score in 2008 (8th highest scoring council member so on the top ten list) and a 2009 rating of "A" (4th highest scoring council member, so also on the top ten list).

So Quinn is clearly the WRONG candidate for Human Rights. John Liu does BEST with Bill de Blasio coming in second. Note that Borough Presidents would not be rated on these score cards so I can't compare them.

The top scoring City Council members in 2011 are:

Melissa Mark-Viverito. Manhattan Council District # 8 – Democrat (Score: 90%)

Helen D. Foster. Bronx Council District # 16 – Democrat (Score: 88%)

Letitia James. Brooklyn Council District # 35 – Democrat (Score: 88%)

Jumaane D. Williams. Brooklyn Council District # 45 – Democrat (Score: 86%)

Charles Barron. Brooklyn Council District # 42 – Democrat (Score: 80%)

Brad Lander. Brooklyn Council District # 39 – Democrat (Score: 74%)

Gale Brewer. Manhattan Council District # 6 – Democrat (Score: 73%)

G. Oliver Koppell. Manhattan Council District #11- Democrat (Score 65%)

Jimmy Van Bramer. Queens Council District #26- Democrat (Score 65%)

I want to note that included on this list are council members I have agreed with and ones that I have disagreed with in the past. I will say that I am happy that Tish James is among the top, and congrats to Brad Lander, who I have had many a run in with, for making the top.

Let me emphasize a few things. First, one of the best parts of the score card is its analysis of the City Council process itself. It shows that basically a bill has little shot of even having a hearing let alone being voted on if it doesn't have either the support of the mayor or the speaker. This emphasizes something I have said MANY times: NYC has one of the weakest City Councils I have seen, almost 100% dominated by the mayor and his lap dog speaker, Quinn (hat tip to the attendees of my Eating Liberally group last night who used "Bloomberg's lap dog" to discuss Quinn). NYC is possibly the least democratic of cities. Now I have only seen it under Republicans like Giuliani and Bloomberg, so a don't know if it was different under a Democratic administration, but I somehow doubt it. Certainly it is clear Quinn, a Democrat, would be just as dictatorial as Tsar Bloomberg.

Second I want to emphasize that this scorecard doesn't cover ALL important issues, so I would not use this as my only way to judge a council member, but it does cover some extremely important issues, particularly ones taken up by Occupy Wall Street, so politicians who got a low score should look to their record a bit.

In particular I found myself checking up on politicians I endorsed or who are running for other offices soon. I also checked some of the folks I generally have not liked to see how my choices fare.

Margaret Chin, who I endorsed, got a 54% rating...not as high as I would have liked to see! Daniel Dromm is another one I endorsed (and recently saw at a fundraiser for John Liu) and he also got a not bad but not great 56%. I also endorsed Diana Reyna, and she gets a mediocre 30%. Debra Rose, who I endorsed but admit I came late to that race and was only weakly involved in her race, gets a 53%. Jimmy van Bramer I believe I at least initially endorsed gets a good 65% rating. Al Vann who I have criticized gets 59%.

Mathieu Eugene, who was a mediocre, hand picked successor to Yvette Clarke best known for finding it very difficult to prove his claims to having an MD degree, gets a low 24%. Sadly, Lew Fidler, who I have gotten to know and like, got a low 26%, mainly doing poorly on Voting Rights and Workers' Rights. My own city council member Steve Levin got a mediocre 28%. Again Voting Rights was one of his weakest points but so was criminal/juvenile justice. Peter Vallone, jr. gets a miserable 12%, competing with Quinn for worst city council members on human rights.

The horribly corrupt and nasty Dominic Recchia gets a mediocre 25% rating. Particularly bad on criminal/juvenile justice, voting rights and disabled rights.

Peter Koo, a Republican who took over a previously Democratic seat in Queens, got a miserable 16% rating. He was particularly bad on disabled rights, voting rights, workers' rights and criminal/juvenile justice. In general the handful of Republicans on the City Council scored very poorly. The highest was only 22% (Halloran) and most were in the 10-15% range. To be fair, though there are no highly rated Republicans on the council, there are plenty of Democrats who score as poorly, Quinn herself being a prime example.

These ratings aren't the only way we should judge candidates, but when someone gets consistently bad ratings (like Quinn, Recchia, etc) there is no way they deserve our support. Consistently good ratings (like John Liu and Tish James) should be taken into account when choosing candidates to support.


The Human Rights Project's mission is:

The Human Rights Project (HRP) works to improve the lives of New Yorkers living in poverty with a particular focus on women and people of color. We do this by monitoring and advocating for government compliance with universal human rights standards, especially the human rights to employment, housing, health, food, education and other economic and social rights.

HRP has been at the forefront of the U.S. human rights “movement” for the past several years, demonstrating new models of applying human rights in the U.S., and in particular in New York City, to effectively advocate for the City’s most vulnerable across a range of issues. The U.S. constitution falls short in guaranteeing the right to health, housing, education, standard of living and other rights necessary to live in dignity. In combination with a legacy of structural discrimination, particularly through race and gender, and limits on rights that are protected, those most vulnerable in society have little recourse. The human rights framework and tools bring new possibilities in the face of limited remedies, and hope where there is despair.

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