Tag: New York

Apr 19

2016 Primaries: New York Has Its Day

The polls opened in most of southeastern New York at 6 AM and at Noon in the rest of the state due to some antiquated law that no one can rationally explain. NY is a closed primary, so you must be registered as a Democrat or Republican to vote. New voters had until March 25 …

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Jul 25

Guidelines issued to New York schools

Last month I wrote a couple of diaries about New York’s struggles with its own Dignity for All Students Act:

Indignity in New York, one of my least successful diaries ever, concerned an NYCLU report on the status of transgender students in the state

Outraged focused on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Angry Letter to Acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin demanding action to ameliorate the situation.

Funny thing about that letter:  As well-publicized as it was, Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins says that Berlin never received it.

Be that as it may, this past Tuesday the New York Board of Regents issued guidelines to schools about how to treat transgender students.  The Regents called for schools to respect the self-identity of youngster whenever the subject of gender arises.

Sep 10

The Primaries Aftermath

The primaries are over and the campaigning for November will now commence. There were no real surprises last night except perhaps for nine term Democratic Representative John Tierney who lost to political newcomer Seth Moulton in the state’s 6th Congressional District.

Tierney is the fourth House incumbent and first Democrat to lose a primary this year.

He joins Republican Reps. Kerry Bentivolio of Michican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the former majority leader, and Ralph Hall of Texas on the House casualty list.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, won but not as big as the Cuomo camp would have liked

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) won his primary and will very likely go on to win re-election as governor, but it was an ugly victory. With 98.3 percent of precincts reporting Cuomo took 62.1 percent of the primary vote compared to 34.2 percent for his main opponent Zephyr Teachout, who ran to his left. That may seem like a decent margin but it is actually a very weak performance by historical standards for an incumbent governor.

In Rhode Island, the voters chose a woman and an Asian man to run for the governorship, the time in RI history that there isn’t a white male running.

Democrats chose General Treasurer Gina Raimondo over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former Obama administration official Clay Pell. On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung beat businessman Ken Block.

If elected, Raimondo would be the Ocean State’s first woman governor, while Fung would be its first Asian-American governor.

The Democratic race was especially contentious, as Raimondo was sometimes characterized as too sympathetic to Wall Street, due in part to a controversial pension reform plan she helped usher through the state legislature.

Fung, for his part, has had to explain his involvement in a car crash 25 years ago, when he was 18, that resulted in a man’s death. All charges against Fung, who claims he lost consciousness while driving, were eventually dropped.

In New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown secured his spot on the ballot to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan easily won her primary and will vie to keep her seat out of the hands of Republican businessman Walt Havenstein.

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakely will face the Republican Charlies Baker in his second try to become governor. He lost to current Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010

The best summation of last night’s results come from Charlie Pierce who wants to talk about the Democrats we don’t like and why:

In Rhode Island, the Democratic nominee for governor is Gina Raimondo, and the national press loves her already because, as state treasurer, she knuckled the public employee unions, and there’s nothing the national press loves more than Democratic politicians who give their most faithful constituents a damn good public rogering.

  Analysts were already predicting that if she won in November, Ms. Raimondo could go on to become a national star in the party, showing fellow Democrats that responsible policy is not necessarily bad politics, although organized labor may choose to differ.

Lovely sentence, that. “Responsible policy” set up as the direct opposite of “organized labor.” In praise of a Democratic candidate. And a hint as to who these “analysts” were would be helpful.

Raimondo’s raid on public employee pensions began just about as soon as she was elected state treasurer. And, as Matt Taibbi pointed out in a lengthy Rolling Stone piece, Raimondo was not acting on her own. The “tough choices” she was making, she was making on behalf of people who haven’t made tough choices since they were in diapers. [..]

And then there’s Andrew Cuomo, who is as beholden to the thieves as Raimondo is, but he’s far more of an obvious dick about it. Cuomo won re-nomination last night, albeit not as overwhelmingly as he needed to in order to start booking rooms in Ottumwa for December of 2015. So, as is customary, defeated candidate Zephyr Teachout tried to call Cuomo to congratulate him on his victory.

   Apparently, Cuomo kept up the act straight through primary night. He did not hold a victory party (which would have suggested he participated in a primary), and Teachout was reportedly unable to concede to the governor with a phone call, as he wouldn’t give her his number.

What kind of an arrogant jackeen doesn’t give his opponent his phone number? As far as I know, that’s unprecedented in a major political campaign. But the success of Cuomo and Raimondo, and who their friends are, and who they’re beholden to, makes me exceedingly nervous over what may happen on the Wednesday after election day in November. If the Democrats lose disastrously, losing their Senate majority, a bloodbath in the House, I guarantee you that the conventional wisdom of how the party was “dragged too far left” by that liberal lion, Barack Obama, and how it must purge the remnants of the “Occupy” movement in order to court the votes of “independents” and “centrists,” will spring up all over the elite political media like mushrooms after a hard rain; “Analysts” will tell you that Elizabeth Warren’s time is done, and that Gina Raimondo is the future of the Democratic party. And the rich will get richer, which is how it’s supposed to be.

There aren’t any really good choices for New Yorkers or Rhode Islanders.

Sep 09

The Last of the 2014 Primaries Today

Today is Primary Day in five states, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. As with all primaries voter turn out is expected to be low, if not, abysmal. But these elections are even more important than the general election since it gives the members of the individual parties to voice their opinions to the party heads who, for the most part, are out of touch with the general electorate or just willfully ignoring them. This is the vote that makes the bigger difference in the direction the country takes. So, if you are eligible to vote in any of today’s primaries, get your butt to the polls and make your opinion known.

Here is the who’s who for today:

New York: The race for the Democratic nomination for governor and lieutenant governor, a separate line on the ballot in NY, has attracted nationwide attention. It pits incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and his choice for lieutenant governor, former Representative Kathy Hochul against Fordham law professor, Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, Columbia law professor Tim Wu.

Gov. Cuomo’s refusal to debate Prof. Teachout and his obvious public snubbing her at Saturday’s NYC Labor Day parade then denying he even saw her despite evidence to the contrary, has made this race a news media delight.

What’s one way for a powerful incumbent to deal with an unwelcome primary challenger?

Act like she doesn’t exist.

That’s the model Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has deployed in fending off Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, who has been running to the Democratic governor’s left.

The strategy was on its most vivid display Saturday when Teachout attempted to greet Cuomo at a New York City parade but was repeatedly boxed out by one of the governor’s aides as Cuomo appeared determined to ignore his opponent.

Teachout’s candidacy is built on the premise that the incumbent is too close to Wall Street and Republican lawmakers — a perhaps difficult tack given Cuomo’s progressive bona fides highlighted by the same-sex marriage law and tough new gun control legislation he pushed through in Albany.

Cuomo is expected to cruise to victory on Tuesday, but Teachout’s candidacy has been a nuisance to the first-term governor.

Cuomo began only this past weekend to campaign actively for re-election, and he suggested to the Washington Post that he could simultaneously be a “liberal Democrat” and a “moderate Democrat.”

Gov, Cuomo’s biggest problems are the federal investigation of his dissolution of his Moreland Commission that was investigating NY state election finance corruption and the fact that he isn’t a Democrat at all. He will likely win.

His running mate, Kathy Hochul, however, may not, which could have some interesting results for November if the governor doesn’t dump Hochul.

Such an action could be needed because a Wu victory would result in a Cuomo/Wu ticket on the Democratic line in the November election but potentially disastrous Cuomo/Hochul tickets on the Working Families, Independence, and Women’s Equality lines, where no primaries are slated.

Under the state Election Law, votes for a Cuomo/Hochul ticket in November would not be added to the tally for the Cuomo/Wu ticket, potentially costing Cuomo hundreds of thousands of votes.

Cuomo would have until Sept. 16 under the election law to swap Wu for Hochul, using a technique that would allow the former Buffalo-area congresswoman and lawyer to be nominated instead for a judgeship, according to an expert on legislative election law.

I love New York.

Massachusetts: Incumbent Governor Deval Patrick (D) decided not the run for a third term. Vying for the Democratic nod are:

Martha Coakley, current MA Attorney General who lost her bid in the 2010 special election for the senate seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy to Republican Scott Brown;

Donald Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official;

Steve Grossman, the MA state treasurer, who was endorsed by the state party, as well as the Boston Globe.

On the Republican side:

Charlie Baker, who won the Republican nomination in 2010, is the former state Secretary of Finance and Administration and the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care;

Mark Fisher, a businessman aligned with the tea party.

The winners will face three independent candidates in November.

New Hampshire: The Republicans who hope to unseat Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen are:

Scott Brown, former MA senator who lost his bid for a full term to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and moved across the border to NH to try again;

Bob Smith, former US senator;

Jim Rubens, a former state senator.

Hoping to challenge Democratic incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan are:

Andrew Hemingway, a 32-year-old entrepreneur and presidential campaign veteran;

Walt Havenstein, businessman and the frontrunner on the GOP side.

May 24

Feces meets fan in Rochester

Effective January 1, 2015 the city of Rochester, NY will cover medical services related to gender reassignment, including medical and psychological counseling, hormone therapy, and cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries, as announced by Mayor Lovely Warren at Empire State Pride Agenda’s Spring Dinner on May 17.

The initiative is part of a plan steered by City Councilmember Matt Haag to raise the city’s Municipal Equality Index.

Eliminating barriers to health care is simply the right thing to do.  The city was the first to support domestic partnerships, and I am happy that we lead the effort to equalize benefits for all once again.

–Mayor Warren

The inclusion of transition-related care in municipal benefits will improve the health and well-being of transgender employees and also send a message to the rest of our state that we need to provide medically necessary care to all transgender New Yorkers.  Rochester has long been a leader on LGBT civil rights and this is just one more example of how this great city sets a strong example for the rest of New York state.

–Nathan M. Schaefer, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda

Additionally, beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, the University of Rochester will offer transition-related health care coverage as part of the student health care plan.  

It’s a medical necessity.  It will also help promote a more inclusive environment and a more healthy and productive student body.

–John Cullen, coordinator of outreach for the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at UR

UR thus becomes the 52nd university in the nation to adopt a progressive health care policy for its transgender students.

Apr 26

No prom for this girl because her boyfriend is transgender

 photo enhanced-11636-1397599337-13_zpscebc2993.jpgAnais Celini, 18, attends Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, NY.  She is a senior and was planning to go to the prom with her boyfriend, Nathaniel Baez.  Not so fast says the private Christian high school.  Nathaniel is transgender.  The school says that this is “unconventional,”  so Nathaniel attending would not be “beneficial” to the proceedings.

Celini says the school views them as a same-sex couple.

Rather than engage the school in a knock-down/drag-out, the couple has decided to create their own prom.

I’m not going to fight them, that wasn’t the point. It’s a big night for everybody and I don’t want to cause a scene.

–Celini

Nov 24

New York Pizza v Chicago Pizza

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Jon Stewart: Tower Record

Let me explain something, deep-dish pizza is not only not better than New York pizza. It’s not pizza. It’s a f***ing casserole!

Let me add this, if you can’t pick it up in one hand and have to eat it with a fork, it isn’t pizza.

Rahm Emanuel Sends Jon Stewart And ‘Daily Show’ ‘Deep Dish With Dead Fish’ After Pizza Fight

Apparently dead fish are Rahm Emanuel’s version of an olive branch. [..]

In a nod to one of his most infamous political shenanigans, Chicago’s mayor made sure the deep-dish pies were topped with dead fish (y’ know, anchovies). [..]

Yet as much as the feisty mayor wanted the last word, Stewart and company were having none of it. Their response to Emanuel’s “peace” offering? A Vine video showing a pooch turning his nose up at the delicious pie.

Aug 31

Vigil for Islan Nettles

The vigil for Islan Nettles, who died last week after being beaten into a coma and being declared brain dead, drew a crowd of hundreds to Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem.  Nettles was a 21-year-old transwoman who was pursuing a career in fashion.

On August 17 Islan was walking with a transwoman friend when they encountered a group of men outside a Harlem police precinct station.  One of the men, Paris Wilson, 20, had recently friended Islan on Facebook.  Wilson reportedly began flirting with Nettles, until one of his friends yelled that she had been born a man.  The friends began teasing Wilson until he attacked her.  As he was beating her, the “friends” shouted anti-trans and anti-gay epithets.  He continued to pound on her face after her head had been driven into the sidewalk.  Wilson was arrested after police finally arrived.  He was charged with misdemeanor assault and released on $2,000 bail.

Aug 05

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade by JayRaye

The Great Philadelphia Textile Strike of 1903

The Central Textile Workers Union of Philadelphia held a meeting the evening of May 27, 1903. A vote was taken and a general strike call was issued. That general strike eventually caused 100,000 textile workers to go out on strike in the Philadelphia area. 16,000 of those were children under the age of 16, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age. The textile industry of the day employed children at a higher rate than any other industry. The number given from the 1900 census was 80,000. In cotton textiles, they made up 13.1% of the work force, and that rate reached 30% in the South.

The Central Textile Workers’ Union issued this statement:

Thirty-six trades, representing 90,000 people, ask the employers to reduce working hours from sixty to fifty-five hours a week. They are willing that wages be reduced accordingly. They strike for lower wages in an effort to get shorter hours.

Three trades, representing 10,000 people, ask for the same reduction in working hours, but, in addition, they ask for the same weekly wages or a slight increase, averaging ten per cent.

The request for shorter hours is made primarily for the sake of the children and women. For six years the organized textile workers of Philadelphia have been trying in vain to persuade the politician-controlled Legislature of Pennsylvania to pass a law which would reduce the working hours of children and women and stop them from doing night work.

Average  wages for adults for 60 hours of work were $13. Children working 60 hours(!) got $2.

On Monday June 1st, at least 90,000 textile workers went out on strike in the Philadelphia area. Of the 600 mills in the city, about 550 were idle. Philadelphia now had more workers out on strike than at any other time in her history. Several thousand workers had already been on strike before the textile strike began, including: the carriage and wagon builders, and the carpenters along with others working in the building trades. It appeared that the city would be in for a long hot summer.

By the next day, Tuesday, the strike spread to the hosiery mills, increasing the army of idle workers by  8,000  Most of these were women and children employed in the Kensington district. This class of workers was unorganized, but they decided to join the ranks of the unionist in other branches of the textile trade as they witnessed the magnitude of the fight for a shorter work week. The Manufacturers vowed they would not submit to the union demands even if they had to shut down their factories indefinitely.

Jun 15

Surprise, surprise, surprise! NY Times endorses transgender equality

There are surprises in life.  One happened wednesday.  At least I never expected to see the Editorial Board of the New York Times endorse Civil Rights for Transgender People.

Note:  The original title of the opinion used transgender as a noun (Civil Rights for Transgenders).  The paper has acceded to complaints by changing it.

New York stood for equality by approving same-sex marriage two years ago.  It is time now for state lawmakers to extend basic civil rights protections to transgender people.  The 2002 state statute that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations does not explicitly cover transgender people.

There’s more about the effort to bring that equality to transgender people on the inside.

Sep 22

This Vigil Needs Your Support

   

Photobucket

Martin Baumgold

In the wake of 9/11, on Saturday, September 22, 2001, eleven years ago today, my friend Martin Baumgold decided to stand at the Seventh Street Park in Hudson, New York to demonstrate for peace.  The world needed to find peace, and he saw that. He’s been at it since. Every week. Every Saturday. People have come to stand with him, and they have gone away. New ones have come and they too have gone away.  Usually, there are 3 or 4 or even 5 people standing at the South side of the Seventh Park on Warren Street. Martin is undeterred, he stands anyway.  He’s not the leader of a movement; he just hopes that others will stand with him. But even if they don’t, obviously he’s in it for the long haul.

May 05

Mixed Bag o’ News

GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-discrimination Act, a bill to add gender variance to the list of protected statuses in the New York State Human Rights Law, was approved by the Assembly for the fifth time on Monday, gaining bipartisan support.

This is an important and overdue protection of human rights.  The experience of transgender individuals, and the discrimination they face, are unique, and should be specifically identified and unambiguously rejected in our State’s civil rights laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or ethnicity.

This bill has been in the Senate for 11 years; it is time for New York to stand up.

–Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, sponsor of bill, A5039

Yes, five times the State Senate in New York has let the bill die.  I’m not sure why we expect better this time, but we do.

In case some of the Senators don’t know what is going on, the New York Civil Liberties Union has produced a report which documents harassment of and discrimination towards transpeople in the state.  The report, entitled, Advancing Transgender Civil Rights in New York: The Need for GENDA (2012), is available here.

A 2009 national survey that included 531 transgender people in New York found that 74 percent reported harassment or mistreatment on the job and 20 percent lost a job or were denied a promotion. In addition, 53 percent were verbally harassed or denied service at hotels and restaurants and 49 percent reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance. Also, 18 percent had become homeless because of their transgender status and 27 percent were either denied an apartment or were evicted. And 17 percent were refused medical care due to their gender expression, the survey said.

There have been good developments on the federal level, but we still need GENDA to make the law crystal-clear, uniform and consistent in New York.

–Melissa Goodman, the NYCLU’s senior litigation and policy counsel

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