Showing posts with label Working Families Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Working Families Party. Show all posts

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Sanitary District 2: Will the Politics of Destruction Trump Honesty?

 [NEWS UPDATE 10:54 pm, 12/12/2012:  Final vote to Dissolve the local district was 1682 yes, 4597 no.  Local residents crushed the out-of-town political nonsese by almost 3:1!  Congratulations to Baldwin, Baldwin Harbor, South Hempstead, and Roosevelt!!!]

I was raised for the first 24 years of my life in Baldwin Harbor, on Long Island’s south shore.  Born into – and living among – other blue-collar, working class families, I was a Republican for most of my life.  

 But, as happens to many of us, time and experience change us, and I have since become an advocate for largely liberal and progressive causes.  As I eye eventually returning to Long Island in my retirement, I have looked at the political party structure in New York, and found myself drawn to the Working Families Party, a recent addition to the NY electoral scene with stridently liberal views.  Sustainable development, energy sanity, environmental stewardship, and election reform all make more sense to me than ever before.

How disheartening, then, to discover that, like the major parties who use the money and muscle of Super PACS to do their dirty work,  the Working Families Party is no different.  Operating under the parallel name of the “Long Island Progressive Coalition,” and, most recently, by the fly-by-night invented group, “RESD” (Residents for Efficient Special Districts), these so-called progressives are anything but progressive, good-government advocates; rather, they have become as nasty, dishonest, and destructive as the  Republican and Democratic SuperPACS.

The current battle – to be settled at the polls in a few days (December 12), is an effort to dismantle a special sanitary district – “Sani 2” – serving 55,000 people in the communities of Baldwin, South Hempstead, and Roosevelt on Long Island.  The stated purpose for the drive to dismantle the district is ‘cost savings,’ though no credible figures have been supplied yet.

Let's cut to the chase: the entire circus is an invention of a failed candidate for Sanitation Commissioner who, in a fit of super sour grapes, has decided that if she can’t rule the district, she will ruin it.

In 2005, Laura Mallay ran for election as a Commissioner against incumbent Gerard Brown. Apparently, at the time, she felt the special district was important enough to ask voters to give her some responsibility in managing it.

But Mallay didn’t quite understand that Long Island voters do not simply ‘award’ politicians with an office simply because that politician wakes up one day with a brilliant idea and expects applause.  Mallay was trounced in the election, losing by a margin of more than 20 points.

So, rather than consider why voters rejected her, she invented a group, “RESD,” annointed herself as its Executive Director, and began a campaign to force a vote to dissolve Sanitary District 2, and to have 55,000 residents' garbage, recycling, and hazardous materials handled by some other as-of-yet unspecified entity.

"The District," claims Mallay, “is not economically sustainable.”

This, of course, flies in the face of the reality of the District’s existence for some 85 years, and the fact that the District’s annual budget increases for the last five years have been less than the annual rate of inflation...meaning that the District actually continues to more with less, and becomes more efficient each year.

Mallay has compared Sani 2's costs with other districts, and found them to be higher.  But Mallay’s calculations conveniently neglect to mention that Sanitary District 2 engages in additional, non-mandated activities that improve life for its residents, increase environmental quality and awareness, and which are not carried out by other ‘cheaper’ services.

Sanitary District 2 purchases bulk oil contracts for other area services, saving the local fire departments, school districts, and, therefore, taxpayers -   thousands of dollars annually.  Unlike other sanitation departments, they sponsor community cleanups, waterways cleanups (the picture above is from the recent Milburn Creek cleanup), graffiti removal efforts, and greening/planting projects. The value added to the community by this community-run district is enormous.

But that means nothing to Mallay, RESD, and the LI Progressive Coalition. Rule or Ruin is the battle cry.

Flyers promoting district dissolution fail to reference any credible  sources for their secret financial information. As an Economist, I see this as a highly troubling - and disingenuous - aspect of their campaign.

Letters delivered door-to-door this weekend failed to even contain a single signature assigning responsibility for their tirades. And in fact, almost 100% of the effort to destroy the district is coming not from within the district, but from paid campaign operatives who live nowhere near Baldwin or Roosevelt.

Meanwhile, the workers at Sani2, while understandably concerned about being tossed to the curb themselves if the vote to dismantle the district passes…have become heroes to those who know them best.
 One month ago, Hurricane Sandy slammed Baldwin Harbor with unprecedented fury. Neighborhoods that never saw water found themselves under several feet. Rugs, furniture, soaked sheetrock, and personal belongings of every kind were heaped in traumatized residents front yards. When destruction like this takes place in an area several square miles large, how do you even begin to deal with the clean-up?

The employees of Sani2 – all of whom are working-class, home-town local community members – worked round the clock for weeks to help homeowners sort through the wreckage of this storm.  While Mallay was safely ensconced in her dry home and political headquarters elsewhere in the state, the working men of Sani2 whose jobs are on the line performed Herculean tasks to clean up their community and share the heartbreak and burden with their own neighbors.

 If sanity prevails, the voters of Baldwin, Roosevelt, and South Hempstead will see this charade for what it is, and soundly defeat the effort to dismantle an 85-year old community institution.

And if the Working Families Party has any sense, they will distance themselves from the loose cannons that have taken control of their Long Island apparatus. 


Friday, March 09, 2012

The Presidential Election 100 Years Ago: The Same Issues

The year is 1912, and the Presidential Election is at a fever pitch. There is a growing income disparity in the country, and wealth is becoming concentrated in the hands of a few mega-corporations and their CEOs. Politics appears to be directed by Wall Street and Corporate boardrooms, and social unrest is growing. Organized Labor is both demonized and celebrated. Debt is crushing farmers. Fear of war is in the air. Entire groups of people are disenfranchised from voting. One of the political parties has adopted the following as their official party platform for the election:

- A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies (YES, this was ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO!)
- Social Security to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
- Freedom to strike against unfair labor practices.
- Minimum wage laws
- A legal eight hour workday
- Creation of a federal Securities Commission to regulate Wall Street
- Debt relief for farmers
- Workers' compensation for work-related injuries
- An inheritance tax
- A Constitutional amendment to permit a graduated federal income tax
- Universal right of Women to vote
- Direct election of Senators instead of appointment by state legislatures
- Primary elections for state and federal nominations
- Reductions in tariffs that raised cosumer prices
- Limits on the production of military armaments
- Public Works Projects to improve waterways & transportation

The central theme of the campaign was expressed in this platform clause:

“To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.”

To accomplish this, the Party Platform supported:

- Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions (Yes, we've been debating this for 100 years...)
- Registration of lobbyists
- Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
- Strong national regulation and permanent active supervision of major corporations.

The Party's candidate for President would infuriate southern racists by dining with blacks on multiple occasions, and the Party would openly admit blacks to the nominating convention. A Woman would deliver one of the nominating speeches.

Now . . . Which Party was this?

If it sounds like the Democratic Party - it wasn't.

It wasn't the Republicans, either...although it was a party formed largely of ex-Republicans.

It was a third Party, the Progressive (or “Bull Moose”) Party, who nominated Theodore Roosevelt that year.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson would go on to win the Presidency that year with a minority (41.8%) of the vote. But the Progressives, running as a “Third Party,” would take 27% of the national vote, outpolling the Republicans and winning 6 states (California, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.)

Rather than being a “wasted vote,” their ideas would impact the platforms of both major parties for generations to come.

Just some Food for Thought.

Green Party USA

Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts

American Progressive Party (not an officially established Party)

Progressive Party of Oregon

Progressive Party of Vermont

Progressive Party of Washington

Working Families Party of New York

Libertarian Party