Monday, July 17, 2006

The Quinnberg Administration

UP FRONT News July 13, 2006
Published by Tom Weiss Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”

THE QUINNBERG ADMINISTRATION.
HUMAN RIGHTS SUFFERS: THE YANKEE STADIUM GIVEAWAY, THE TIBETAN GIVEAWAY, AND THE
COVER-UP OF ABUSE OF THE HOMELESS. “IT AIN’T OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER!”

Politics, certainly in New York, is loaded with elected officials whose rise to power was accomplished in part by placing the public interest ahead of private gain, but whose engagement with political power has evidently robbed them of whatever progressive principles they may have had. Very few people, except perhaps some very rich folks in Hollywood or in the boss-filled back rooms of, for example, the so-called Working Families Party, still believe that Hillary Clinton is a liberal. (I don’t even consider her a “centrist”; she is more accurately defined as an opportunist, with strongly loyalties toward the corporate rights.
City Councilmember and Speaker Christine Quinn came up in politics with an under-standable reputation as a gay rights and tenants rights activist. There is no question that, when the issue is gay rights, Ms. Quinn can be counted on. When is comes to the very tenants rights-related issue of overdevelopment, however, such as is the case with the Yankee Stadium giveaway to George Steinbrenner, his friends and over-paid athletes, Ms. Quinn forgets where she came from, at least politically. Ms. Quinn no doubt points to her opposition to the Michael Bloomberg/“Woody” Johnson plan to build Jets Stadium in West Chelsea as an example of her standing up to the mega-developers. The reality is that, since about 99.9% of her constituents were uncompromisingly opposed to the Stadium, she had little choice. To do otherwise would have been political suicide for her, and just about every other West Side politician. Indeed, much of the support for the Stadium came from, aside from Bloomberg, a handful of non-Manhattan politicians, from people who live in New Jersey, and from “Woody” Johnson’s friend George W. Bush. Two major and compelling “outer borough” voices opposing the West Side Stadium were U.S. Congressman (and quite apparent 2009 candidate for Mayor) Anthony D. Weiner (D.-Bklyn.-Queens) and City Councilman Charles Barron (D.-Bklyn) an actual candidate for the U.S. Congress. When it came to sacrificing a treasured community park, a legendary ball park that should be landmarked, and gentrification-free community stability in the South Bronx, Ms. Quinn went with Steinbrenner and Bloomberg. But, in an especially appropriate baseball prophesy, all we need to is recall Yogi Berra’s immortal suggestions, “When you get to a fork in the road, take it” and, even more relevant, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Ms. Quinn also falls very short when it comes to other human rights issues. In 2001, my multi-year City Council lobbying with then Councilmember Kathryn Freed for a resolu- tion supporting the Tibetan struggle against their Communist Chinese occupiers, showed some results as Ms. Freed and Ms. Quinn (although Quinn put her name first) introduced Resolution #802. That resolution, which passed unanimously, denounced the Communist Chinese for a host of atrocities inflicted on the Tibetans and called upon the Chinese to meet with the Dalai Lama to resolve matters. As I’ve previously suggested, that resolution (missing the key ingredient by not calling for the removal of the 2008 Summer Olympics from Beijing, and/or a U.S. team boycott) had about as much effect on the Chinese government as requests to Dick Cheney for donations for the Society to Protect Quails and to the War Resisters League might have.
Christine Quinn, several months ago, in an inconsiderately long-delayed response email to my much earlier e-mail said that she was satisfied with what she had done. My January 30, 2006 response e-mail to her, emphasizing the Olympics matter (for the 2008 Olympics 2008 to take place in a the capital city of a regime that practices genocide and torture, is the moral and political equivalent of the decision in the last millennium to have the 1936 Olympics held in Hitler’s Berlin) remains unanswered despite several brief but direct conversations I have had with Ms. Quinn on the matter. Like her political boss, Hillary Clinton, Ms. Quinn is in fact beholden to the corporate lobby, which regards China as the greatest profit-making goldmine in history - and screw the Tibetans (unless, the Dalai Lama is in town and then we make nice).
The next time Christine Quinn decides to pontificate about all her and Bloomberg’s good works for the homeless, all that needs to be recalled is that for over two years she has been fully aware of the staff-perpetrated abuse homeless people in drop-in centers (like Peter’s Place, a.k.a. in UP FRONT News, as “Auschwitz Lite”, right in the middle of her district) and in shelters, about which, despite numerous communications from me, she has dome nothing.
When Christine Quinn, by virtue of classic backroom deal-making involving Demo- cratic Party bosses from the “outer boroughs”, was anointed Speaker, only one Council Member objected to the process. That was Charles Barron, the very same representative of his people who voted “no” on the Yankee Stadium giveaway. And, as far as Yankee Stadium is concerned, the Quinnberg Administration’s support for that project is wrong for the following reasons. First of all, not only is the existing Yankee Stadium more than adequate, it qualifies as a national monument and should be landmarked, a determination that would exempt it from destruction. Secondly, I’d be curious to know how Upper East Siders would feel if someone decided to build a stadium in Carl Schurz Park, right near Gracie Mansion, and a lot of other Upper East Side mansions, and the Council said “okay, we will find you another park.” My impression is that the people in the South Bronx feel as strongly about McCombs Dam Park, slated for destruction, as Madonna and her friends, not to speak of countless other New Yorkers, feel about Central Park. Thirdly, the only reason that a new stadium is desired anyway is because of the luxury boxes it will have. We do not need any more luxury boxes. And forth, a new Stadium will bring a tsunami of gentrification to the South Bronx and, no matter what Bloomberg and Quinn might suggest, gentrification causes homelessness.

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