Events!

* Don’t forget — today, Friday, March 25th! Remember the Triangle Fire events. 11 a.m. music & procession; 12 noon speakers & ceremony. 1 block from Park! (See previous post: Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary Commemoration.)

* Saturday, March 26th – Hands Across Prospect Park – Save New York City’s Geese

Alert from Park Slope Neighbors:

This Saturday, March 26th, at 12:30 p.m., local activists will join advocacy group Friends of Animals, State Senator Eric Adams, City Council Member Letitia James, and concerned Brooklyn residents New Yorkers to link hands around the lake in Prospect Park to demonstrate for the protection of the park’s resident Canada geese.

Last year, the USDA rounded up and euthanized (WSP Blog correction) killed 368 geese that had been living in Prospect Park, setting off a raft of protests.  The culling was ostensibly done to prevent geese from colliding with airplanes, but the park’s geese were outside the protective zone that the FAA had established.

Friends of Animals is urging people to contact Mayor Bloomberg to state opposition to the culling of geese ** WSP Blog: throughout the city; over 1600 resident geese were killed last year mostly in parks throughout the five boroughs.

– Call the Mayor’s office at 311.
– Fax a message: 212-788-8123.
– Send an email to the Mayor.

For more information, please visit the Friends of Animals web site.  If you’re on Facebook, check out the Hands Around the Lake event page.

Location: Vanderbilt Street and Prospect Park Southwest, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Map of location here.

* See previous WSP Blog post, The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese

Oral Arguments heard on Term Limits and the “naked ambition” of Mayor Bloomberg and 29 City Council Members yesterday in downtown Brooklyn

Oral arguments around the Term Limits lawsuit were conducted at the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn yesterday afternoon. Plaintiffs, including NY City Council Members Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, Charles Barron, as well as voters and third party candidates, argue that the City Council’s overturning of two voter referendums violates the First Amendment and due process protocol. Randy Mastro argued the case for the plaintiffs and did a compelling job, at one point referring to Mayor Bloomberg and the 29 City Council members who enacted our CEO Mayor’s bidding as “scoundrels.” Stephen Kitzinger, lead attorney for the city, was a little less compelling but seemed very confident in his arguments. Judge Charles P. Siftin (U.S. District Court) seemed confused as to how he would make the decision of whether the City Council had the right to overturn voted-in term limits, the effect ultimately being that they gave themselves and the Mayor an almost guaranteed third term. The judge stated: “It is difficult to convert [the arguments] into a common denominator.”

For NY1’s clip and story, go here.

Court Hearing Challenging NY City Council Term Limits Vote; Opening Arguments Begin Monday, Jan. 5th in Brooklyn

So, do you remember that lawsuit that NY City Council Members Letitia James, Bill de Blasio, and Charles Barron, as well as Comptroller William Thompson, filed back in November challenging the City Council overturning of voted-in term limits on October 23rd? Well, interestingly enough, opening arguments begin tomorrow, Monday, January 5th at the United States District Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn between lawyers for the plaintiffs and the city.

Mayor Bloomberg, City of New York, the City Council, and Speaker Christine Quinn, among others, are listed as defendants in the suit. You can download a PDF of the suit and read the Times’ original story from November at the paper’s web site.

The suit is being litigated by Randy Mastro, formerly a deputy mayor in the Giuliani Administration, and Norman Siegel, well known as an advocate for free speech who is also running for public advocate.

From the complaint:

Allowing a self-interested mayor and City Council to dismiss the results of two recent referenda undermines the integrity of the voting process, effectively nullifies the constitutionally-protected right to vote, and perniciously chills political speech by sending the unavoidable message that the democratic exercises of initiatives and referenda can be disregarded by public officials.”

From my post about the suit when first filed:

One of Mayor Bloomberg main arguments is, that if people don’t want him as Mayor for a third term, they can just vote him out. However, the lawsuit highlights how unlikely that is. For City Council Members, the complaint states: “in the past decade, only 2 of 107 incumbent council members lost a re-election bid.” Couple that statistic with our billionaire mayor’s intention to spend $80-$100 MILLION of his personal fortune (which, by the way, quadrupled while he has been Mayor) on his campaign and it’s not really a fair fight.

Details if you’d like to attend (it should be interesting):

Monday, January 5th, 4:30 p.m.

Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Downtown Brooklyn

Trains: 2, 3 to Borough Hall and Clark Street; 4, 5, M, R to Court Street/Borough Hall; A,C,F to Jay Street/Borough Hall; in addition, many Brooklyn buses go to Borough Hall (check MTA website).

Game On, Mayor Bloomberg

Much focus on the national election today. And a lot of electricity in the air. All warranted of course. But it’s hard not to think that NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg scheduled his signing of the overturning term limits legislation for Monday, November 3rd when he knew that any news reported, today – Election Day – that wasn’t about, well, the election, would be somewhat obscured. Smart guy, our Mayor.

Except I can’t help thinking that he has overreached. He plotted every last aspect of this elaborate scenario. He maneuvered the system like no one’s seen in a long time. Mr. Bloomberg lined up the media editorial boards, fellow corporate CEOs, reluctant billionaires, compliant charitable groups which receive the benefit of his personal fortune, and 29 New York City Council members to go along with his master plan. And he accomplished his goal: the chance to install himself (with the help of $80 million dollars) for another 4 years of unprecedented power to “finish” what he started and couldn’t quite seem to push through in eight years.

I’m sure our billionaire Mayor is thinking that next year, his last year under this second term, and then the next four, will be like his previous seven.

He’d get away with his deceitful maneuverings to replace the city we know with the affluent, bland city he envisions. His under-functioning agencies would stay under the radar.

The media would continue to only talk about how great he is.

If something went wrong that fell under the domain of city governance, they wouldn’t link him to it by name.

The people who might raise a ruckus about it – mostly community groups – didn’t have the power to really get anyone’s ear. And so it goes.

Except, what if it didn’t?

What if this “game changing moment,” as Letitia James defined it on the day of the City Council term limits vote, is “game changing” for our Mayor?

Yesterday, he sat through four and a half hours at City Hall listening to the people, a large percentage of whom were very angry. They didn’t mince words. They told it like it is. As today’s New York Times article stated: “during the bill signing, a man unaccustomed to direct, public criticism endured a heavy – and very harsh – dose of it from those he governs.” Mr. Bloomberg probably figured he had no choice but to endure it (public comment is part of every bill signing) and this will be over – people have short memories, he memorably said – after this one day.

Except, what if it isn’t?

There was a young man who spoke yesterday at City Hall, David Tieu. His picture is in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and The New York Post. His testimony was show stopping. He said “look at how I’m dressed” which was supposed to signal something about his work but I wasn’t certain what. I read in the paper today that he is a deliveryman. He expressed how he had to drop out of City University when Mayor Bloomberg imposed further cuts onto the CUNY system (City University of New York). He stepped away from the mike and he pointed at Mr. Bloomberg and said: “You’re Public Enemy Number One! That’s all I have to say. To hell with your agenda!” Most of the stories didn’t go into that agenda leaving out mention of the whole having-to-drop-out-of-school thing and what his issue with Mayor Bloomberg is. Mr. Tieu took the day off from work to address the Mayor personally.

Josephine Lee of Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side critiqued Bloomberg’s rezoning plan for those and other neighborhoods, saying “all you’re doing is displacing working class communities and communities of color.”

Under Mayor Bloomberg, there have been more rezonings of neighborhoods than in the previous five administrations combined. Typically, these rezonings lead to displacement of long time residents and businesses. Replaced by shiny glass buildings, high rents, “luxury” housing, big box chain stores, more privatization and corporatization of, well, just about everything, and more shiny people. The kind Mr. Bloomberg likes.

What gave me hope about yesterday, this game changing moment, is, at last — in a public forum — hearing the stories that each individual told … seeing people’s faces, people coming together, people at last having a place to say what is so wrong with this Mayor and, yes, his agenda.

Game on.

Further Update from City Hall On Term Limits Vote

5:30 p.m. — You’ve most likely heard by now that today the NY City Council passed Mayor Bloomberg’s bill to buy himself a third term. Of course, there were many courageous City Council Members who voted against this. The vote was 29 for, 22 against. I think most of us understand the tremendous pressure these Council Members were under from our billionaire Mayor — who has shown his true colors. The afternoon was at times heartening, at times mind numbing. It felt like a historic moment in our city’s history to witness; it was certainly an educational one. You can find good coverage at the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, NY1, among others. Council Member Charles Barron (Brooklyn) said mid-way — before the vote was finalized but recognizing the Mayor would most likely prevail — “Even tho’ the Mayor will win today, he is the big loser. His legacy will be forever tainted.” As Letitia James (Brooklyn), who spoke so eloquently, said, “This is a game changing moment.”

And indeed I believe it is. Stay tuned.

Two City Council Members file court papers to stop Council Term Limit vote Thurs. 10/23. Update: Vote will proceed as scheduled at 10 a.m. at City Hall

NY City Council Members Bill de Blasio and Letitia James (Go Brooklyn!) filed papers in court this morning to stop the scheduled City Council vote tomorrow morning on Mayor Bloomberg’s bill to extend term limits from two terms to three. Voters in NYC have voted for term limits twice over the last 15 years and those votes, via referendum, call for a two term limit. Mayor Bloomberg, who believes he is indispensable to our city during this financial crisis — but had been floating this idea long before it even happened — would like to stay on for another 4 years stating that he has not “finished” everything he wanted to achieve. Frankly, I think he may not realize it but he is finished.

The case – which calls for a restraining order – is being heard now, beginning at 2 p.m., in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Read more here from the New York Times. (As always, check out the reader comments, always insightful and illuminating.)

If their petition for a restraining order fails, the vote will take place Thursday, October 23rd at 10 a.m. at City Hall in Council Chambers, 2nd floor. The public is invited to attend.

Update: No big surprise (although I think it is a wrong decision). State Supreme Court justice Jacqueline Winter Silbermann did not agree to stop the City Council term limit vote scheduled for tomorrow. (Read more at the Times site.) Another new development has City Council member Alan Gerson (Washington Square Park falls within his district) in the mix who (of course…?) is publicly undecided. Council Member Gerson and two other City Council Members, David Yassky (Brooklyn) and Gale Brewer (Manhattan), called for a referendum amendment to be added to the existing bill. According to the Times, unless the amendment gains support, it is “expected” that Alan Gerson will vote for the Mayor’s extension of term limits to three terms.