EVACUATION DAY – LET’S CELEBRATE IT IN 2016

January 11th, 2016 by

I think we should start planning now to once again annually celebrate Evacuation Day in NYC on November 25th, for it is the day the last of the British troops departed from NYC in 1783 after occupying NYC for seven years during the Revolutionary War.  How many New Yorkers know NYC was once occupied, so here’s the scoop.

Though not celebrated officially in recent years,  Evacuation Day is an important Day in NYC history, and one I did not know about until recently.  The British evacuated NY Harbor on November 25, 1783, after occupying it for seven years, starting on November 16,1776 when George Washington retreated with his Continental Army.  Evacuation Day was celebrated annually until 1844, and then intermittently afterwards , as Thanksgiving Day became the priority celebration starting with Abraham Lincoln.

I call for an annual celebration of Evacuation Day in The Battery or Governor’s Island starting in 2016, where people stood, watched and cheered as the British ships left the Harbor back in 1783.  This would be 240 years after the British first occupied New York City, and 233 years to the day when they high-tailed out.

POLICE OFFICER FATALLY SHOT, LET’S ACT

January 11th, 2016 by

Last Fall, I walked past the NYCHA Houses at 103rd & Second Avenue where  Police Officer Randolph Holder was fatally shot, literally the  week before, looking for the way to Randall’s Island, and was told by the Police Officer stationed there on the street with his van that he could not send me through the NYCHA Houses as I would risk being shot, as he said that’s how many guns and how dangerous it is, so he sent me a few blocks out of the way, to cross at 102nd and head back up to the bridge crossing.

So, I was horrified when I heard that Officer Holder was fatally shot.  He did not have the choice I had, and gave his life in carrying out his responsibility to chase down, and apprehend a man who  was in the process of suspected criminal activity.

To know that an area is such a danger, and that lives are at risk every day, I find unacceptable.  We must find a way to put an end to it.  I call for zero tolerance, and that in the name of Officer Holder, we bring together community leaders, and mandate a way to take those guns, and create a safe zone in those NYCHA Houses.

NYS MUST ACT TO RETURN INTEGRITY TO ALBANY

January 11th, 2016 by

To say this past year has been disconcerting, would be a grand understatement, as we watch leaders in the NYS legislature in Albany being indicted, and convicted.  Yes, integrity, honesty and holding an elected office should go hand-in-hand, and we can expect it, and demand it. Time to demand the highest of ethical behavior from our elected representatives.

Many ideas are being kicked around already, as it is expected that there will be new legislation again this year to try to deal with this condition.  Yes, it appears that it had almost become an accepted manner of behavior among some, so one can only assume that to some extent it is the culture of Albany that must be dealt with.

Let’s look to the real possibility of term limits, or a full-time legislature with no outside income, or a part-time legislature, or no fundraising during the legislative session, and zero tolerance.  And let’s put a much lower cap on giving, both for the individual, and most particularly for the corporate and LLC crowd, the special interests, including, yes, unions , with consequences if those guidelines are ignored.

Time for action, and we all do expect it now, in the 2016 legislative session.   The shame is that most of the legislators, many of whom I know well, are hard-working, dedicated public servants, who are living a difficult life being in Albany half the year involved in legislation, and yet expected to handle their district constituent responsibilities in the days they are home and throughout the  year, truly 24/7.  They are being seen in this broad-brush of Albany, and I would expect them to act, both for us, and for themselves.

August, September 2015

September 2nd, 2015 by

1. Mayoral Control of NYC Education

This is about children, and the public process.  Not  neo-progressive,not neo-liberal, not conservative.  Increases in scores that leave children at 33% passing grade levels is failure in my thinking, and the test of Mayoral control over the past decade has not succeeded.  As we continue to have top-notch Borough Presidents, as well as a Public Advocate and Comptroller of quality, let’s add them to the Mayor’s leadership in the schools, and I recommend we now move to the future by restoring a Central Board of Education, or a close version of it, with elected Community School Councils that parents and other community activists can actively participate in, and a new  openness of information for public awareness. My recommendation for the NYS Legislature 2016 to enact, with the intention of having an effective date for the incoming new Administration in 2018.

2. Societal Costs of Shootings

During one Summer weekend, there were twelve shootings in Brooklyn, and aside from the outrageous human cost of pain, suffering, and  loss, society is forced to pick up the tab for medical care and hospitalization, criminal justice proceedings from cops and investigators to courtroom proceedings to incarceration costs, and on and on.  Millions of dollars to cover these uncivilized acts. Don’t know about you, I would rather see this money go in to after-school programs  for children, and other positive programs  for uplifting this City.  I clearly see that it is not just about the victims of the shootings, it’s about all of us.  Time to hold families of these violent offenders, communities and community leaders responsible for this lawlessness.  And we all need to do better, to create a safer and gentler society.

3. Change We Can Believe In

I am a Hillary person.  Yet, I thank Donald Trump, for he has awakened us, that speaking out Truth to Power, saying what’s on your mind, making clear that political correctness is an impediment to open discussions, may well be creating a renewed path to a better society, and a better America.  For there is a possibility of a much better America, an excellent   America, not a dumbing down America, as Senator Moynihan once  called it, not a second-class America.  The Obama years have put money into the pockets of the top 1%, increased the   dependency of 50%, and demoralized the remaining 49%.  And he has divided America in a way I have not seen it for decades.  Overseas, he has created a new world in his image, denigrating the excellence of America , increasing opportunities for societies not in America’s traditional image, and putting our leadership in jeopardy, and the security of our traditional friends in doubt.  As the end of the Obama Administration approaches, we all recognize the importance of the 2016 elections to take us in a new direction. I remain a Hillary person for I know her potential to lead America to a better future, and to create a fresh, new, more enlightened Democratic Party that will be important for America’s future nationally and locally.  There is a new challenge for America ahead, and we all have a most important role in meeting that challenge.

June, July 2015

June 23rd, 2015 by

1. 9-11 First Responders Keep Dying of Cancer

Bottom line, the ongoing treatment regimen being used on First-Responders at the 9-11 ground zero site needs to be looked at, and alternative and complementary medical approaches considered for inclusion in the Zareiga Bill. The compounds created by the collapse of the Twin Towers collapse were deadly and new in many cases, and regular medical treatment will, and does not work. The First Responders deserve a chance of recovering.

2. Take A Spin In Space

Well, notwithstanding the recent accident, finally we astronaut wannabes will be able to have our tour in space for anywhere from $95,000 to $50 million. Yes, space tourism is on the way. Fortunately for many of us, we can have a land-based mini-space experience at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, with simulators, and a taste of weightlessness. There are available programs in Spring, 2016, and I think I may sign up.

3. Religious Liberty, Not Public Discrimination

Religious liberty, a basic foundational principle of our country is under attack in America, as intolerance towards religion has become chic in some communities here. Yet, in taking a stand, there is no place for crossing the line intoan excuse for discrimination against others. We continue to face this difficult issue where balance based on opportunity, not limitation, is necessary.

April-May 2015

June 22nd, 2015 by

1. As a Country, We Can Do Better

I am not particularly different than so many other Americans, I have no doubt that we can do better as a country, and I turn to our elected officials to meet the challenge in this next two years.  They are there to govern and legislate, not just raise money and win for themselves and their party, and serve special interests.  I did my fair share of supporting Democratic national candidates in the 2014 Election Cycle, and I am disappointed and angry.

2. Time to Have Term Limits in Congress

Too many in Washington DC now just go with the flow.  It’s more of a monotone in the Democratic Party, one voice led by consultant’s opinion polls rather than a newly energized team making a difference for America.  Term limits would help, and I call for them now, and I would recommend twelve years for both the House and the Senate.  In 2016, I would like to see this implemented voluntarily if not passed, or by challenge of all those having served more than twelve years.

3. Great Nations Keep Their Word

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Has an important exhibit in Washington, DC, Nation to Nation:
Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.  History written from the Native perspective, clarifying ongoing tribal land issues that need be resolved by the United States government   Real treaties, with lasting implications, and an overlying message:  Great Nations Keep Their Word.

4. Selfishness and Greed  – the 1%

The 99% want to place sole ownership of selfishness and greed with the 1%.  Well, maybe so, and yet, time that the 99% look into the mirror.  Too many are self-satisfied, and doing little for America, not carrying their weight, while the 1% may be making more than their fair share contribution. President Kennedy’s words, listen to them all (paraphrased), “Ask what you can do for our country, not what your country can do for you.”

November-December, 2014

December 30th, 2014 by

This recent election was so significant, I am devoting all this month’s items to my reaction to it, as we move towards the most important 2016 Election Cycle.

  1. As a Country, We Can Do Better

I am not particularly different than so many other Americans, I have no doubt that we can do better as a country, and I turn to our elected officials to meet the challenge in this next two years.  They are there to govern and legislate, not just raise money and win for themselves and their party, and serve special interests.  I did my fair share of supporting Democratic national candidates in the 2014 Election Cycle, and I am disappointed and angry.

  1. Time to Have Term Limits in Congress

Too many in Washington DC now just go with the flow.  It’s more of a monotone in the Democratic Party, one voice led by consultant’s opinion polls rather than a newly energized team making a difference for America.  Term limits would help, and I call for them now, and I would recommend twelve years for both the House and the Senate. In 2016, I would like to see this implemented voluntarily if not passed, or by challenge of all those having served more than twelve years.

  1. The Democratic Party Must Be New Again

To the largest degree, President Obama’s policies have been rejected by America, and that’s clear from this election.  The Democrats looking to 2016 must develop a new optimism for America, not just based on equity and helping the poor, but also a grand message of lifting everyone to be a participant in this amazing experiment called America.  The economy has made quite an amazing recovery, and yet has left too many hard-working people behind.

  1. I’ve Been a Clinton Person, But….

For the good of the Democratic Party and the country, we need to have fresh, new visions for America.  I have been a Clinton person since 1991, and supporting the President in his ’92 and ’96 runs, as well as supporting Hillary in ’08.  I still fully admire Hillary, and do not think it best for the Party nor America that our new policies be just her new policies.  I would suggest we launch National Party Debates/Forums of new Democratic leaders for 2016 and beyond, whether candidates for President or not.  We need to hear those new voices for a New America.

July, August 2014

November 11th, 2014 by

1. Liberty Enlightening the World

With children coming over our Southern border, we need be reminded of Emma Lazarus’ words on the Statue of Liberty, “Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp besides the golden door.” Though there are no such words welcoming these youngsters from Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, we must have an open mind, and remember the original name of Lady Liberty, “Liberty Enlightnening the World”, for America must continue to live true to this message to the world.

2. Children in Central America

While we are on the subject of those children, why are we not spending more time caring about the conditions in those Central American countries that are forcing these people out. Not a word is spoken in media, and not a cent is spent! It is time for the United States to devote time and attention in our Americas’ hemisphere to make every child safe in his/her home country, and to create a better future for them. That’s also an American responsibility.

3. A Message of America’s Founders

All men (people) are created equal, with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Along with these rights come responsibilities. Liberty is not license, it has built-in expectations of a way of being that makes it work, not a free-for-all. Even the pursuit of happiness had service to others as an underlying expectation. Too many in America are self-interested today, and America was founded on public good. If America is to continue on the path of being a grand experiment, a model to the world, we citizens need to heed the Founders’ messages.

4. On Making Demands for America

Yes, we have to uplift people who have fallen, and yet we must have the intention in America that everyone must give something back to our country (and I am not talking of taxes). Why should not everyone in America have to give some time of service, whether by reinstituting a National Draft perhaps for American Service, or mandating an annual community take-on during one’s life?

May, June 2014

May 13th, 2014 by

1. America’s Foreign Policy Ineptness

As I have watched America’s foreign policy ineptness, it has reinforced in me the importance of America’s leadership in world-affairs, and I have placed it on the front-burner for consideration of my Presidential choice for 2016.  For me, “singles and doubles” just aren’t sufficient for America.

2. Reinvigorating America’s Space Program

And looking to 2016, I am placing the challenge of reinvigorating Our American space program, that has faced drastic cutbacks.  As China, Russia, India and others expand their programs, particularly humans in space, I want to know who will bring America’s ascendancy in space to unparalleled levels by 2025. Let’s dream again!

3. Let’s Negotiate Education with Children

One group never gets to the negotiating table, and we rarely even hear from them.  That’s the children, the students of our City.  Rarely even mentioned in articles of schools, often one wonders if they are a product, an excuse, for keeping all the educational dollars flowing to special interests. Let’s sign a Contract with Our Children, with terms and promises that need to be kept.  It’s time, that’s progressive!

4. Get Over America’s Selfishness

Time to get over America’s selfishness, where the mantra is that government has to take care of “me”.  It is our challenge as Americans to, in the words of JFK, “Ask what we can do for our country>”  Yes, perhaps old patriotism would be more meaningful now than ever.

5. Proud of My Neighborhood

Carl Schurz Park on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is a Favorite place of mine, and as I walked over on 86th Street Between York and East End Avenues, every building had American flags flying on their entrance’s awning.  As I learned, one superintendent started it a month ago and it spread. Would be great all over the City.  Flags for Everyone.

6. LBJ’s Great Society Speech

May 23rd, 2014 marks the fiftieth Anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s famed Great Society speech, laying ou a spectacular vision for America.   Often belittled, it provides a lesson for all ages of the best of the American possibility, of liberating the human spirit, exploring the universe, tending to our environmental needs, with the responsibility on all citizens for creating this American Great Society.  And so much more.

 

March, April 2014

March 12th, 2014 by

My theme for these six viewpoints is Imagine the Possible:  Education NYC, and I find the band-aids nearly impossible to live with as our NYC children fail to dramatically improve in our schools, and where we realistically have no basis for expecting a dynamic shift in educational opportunities for our NYC children.  So, I believe leaps are necessary and possible, and I want you all to Imagine the Possible as you read these six Viewpoints.

1.  The Discussion is Charter Schools

Today’s NYC discussion is Charter Schools.  They work and benefit children’s learning experience in most cases.  Originally meant as experimental for public school modeling, they are now a business, and a political football.  Although media exploits the current debates, the Mayor’s position is not anti-Charters, he has made choices.  Success Schools have been successful.  I say, for the children, you must work it out now.

2.  Our Hidden Private Schools

The untold story of New York’s educational opportunities is not public schools v. charter schools, as charter schools are public schools, it’s public schools v. private schools.  If you can afford them, you can assure the best education for your children.  And that may run $50,000 per child per year for the top private schools.  To me, that’s separate and unequal.  And no vouchers allowed in this town, so no way out.

3.  Imagine Excellence in Our Schools

Imagine excellence rather than equity as excelling in school would give our City’s children the best opportunity to succeed in their lives.  That means a goal of 90% Graduation in ten years, and 100%, the decade after.  Making a minimum wage in our Society, with rent and living, ensures you are on food stamps and Medicaid. That’s the result of equity, as Moynihan called it, “dumbing down our Society.”  That’s not building the foundation for a “life of happiness.”

4.  Expand Educational Governance

I believe in our Mayor, and yet the Bloomberg years convinced me that Mayoral control of education has not served NYC, our children and our parents.  I would call for a move back towards a Board of Education, where the Borough Presidents have a say in the educational opportunities and choices for NYC’s children, and parents again have a say at Community School Boards.  More representative, and transparent.

5. Children With Self-Esteem

Imagine if every NYC child believed in himself/herself from early childhood on, what a difference that would make.  Self esteem trainings could be mandatory in early childhood education, providing the positive tools for their life.  As the All-Stars Project says, performance is not just on stage, it’s about living your daily life, and this is happening in after-school voluntary programs.  Let’s make it happen in school.

6.  It’s a Human Rights Violation

It’s not good enough that there are excuses for the quality of education for children in NYC.  Children must be given basic educational tools to compete in our society, and have the full possibility of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  That is not happening in NYC public schools, and candidly I cannot even imagine why not.  We must envision the possible, for we are limiting the lives of our children, and I consider that a human rights violation.