If you’ve read “How Much Do You Hate Trump?” and “Why Vote for Howie Hawkins?” and you’re still on board, I appreciate your open-mindedness. But even with the last post – all the things voting for Howie can do to help the Green Party at every level of government – you may still be a bit skeptical. I know. As a long-time Green I hear this argument during every campaign I’ve helped with, including my own. I have had people tell me that they will vote for Greens when they show they can win.
Then how are they supposed to win? Elfin Magic?
But let’s stay in the present. How can Howie Hawkins become president? Looking at the first post, there are tens of millions of people who want specific things that neither the Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian have said they will work for. So let’s take a look at some of those things using the best numbers we can find.
There are 45 million people who have student debt. Howie Hawkins is the only candidate who has a plan to reduce student debt. The other three? Crickets. If those 45 million people voted for the one candidate who will reduce student debt. That’s 45 million votes for Howie.
There are different numbers all over the place, but using a conservative number (no pun intended), 69% of the country wants single-payer health care. Hawkins is the only of the four who want single-payer, more-or-less has a plan for it. (Howie has a plan for it, by the way.) That's 69% of the voters who will show up to vote which is around 95 million people voting for Howie.
Neither the Democrat or Republican favor legalizing marijuana, yet around 65% of the country wants it. So split those voters with the Libertarian candidate, and let’s say that’s about 35 million voters each.
It’s difficult to find current numbers on a lot of the issues that Howie Hawkins stands out on, but if you’ve been reading these posts, you’ve seen this graphic.
Of course there is crossover here between those who have student debt, want single payer, and want weed legalized. But think of how many of those voters would normally just go and blindly vote for the two corporate parties. Tens of millions of votes going from the other two to the Green candidate. Their totals go down, Howie’s goes up to an unprecedented amount. Enough to win.
The graphic above shows the issues where Howie stands alone. If all the people who like what Howie stands for voted their values, we would have the first Green President… in a landslide. The question is how to get people to vote their values. The answer is simple, but difficult to pull off.
You have to make it happen.
The corporate media isn’t going to help. Even pseudo-progressives like Democracy Now have shut the Howie Hawkins out. Pollsters constantly refuse to put Green candidates in their questions, then people note that the Greens don’t poll well. You can’t get poll numbers if you’re not included in the poll. The debate commission is run by Democrats and Republicans, so you know 3rd party candidates aren’t getting into the debate. Yep. It’s up to you to make it happen. How?
- Post stuff from the Howie Hawkins campaign on you social media. You can start by liking the campaign Facebook page and following the Twitter feed. Heck, throw in Instagram. Share, re-tweet, and like daily.
- Write a letter-to-the-editor.
- Tell people in conversation that you’re voting for Howie. Normalize voting Green.
- Volunteer to phone or text bank.
- Of course, donate.
An increased number of people voting for the Green Party will not only put a Green in the White House, but help future candidates running for US Senate, state legislature, city council, village trustee, and more.
It’s your choice. More of the same or the future you actually want. It’s a big lift, but we can do it if we work together.
Please share this on your social media.
In this post we’re going to address that worn out excuse for not voting Green: it’s a waste of your vote. But before you go on, if you haven’t read the first part of this called How Much Do You Hate Trump? you should check that out first. Because if you read that first then my first point will make much more sense.
Voting for what you believe in is NEVER a waste of your vote. It is what voting and elections are supposed to be about. In fact, I argue that this concept of voting for what you actually want instead of against what you don’t want is the only thing that makes voting worthwhile.
I don’t care what you learned in Social Studies class, voting will not solve all of our problems. It is one tool to use to create systemic change. But those who say that voting doesn’t matter are wrong as well. It can make a difference, but only if you actually vote for the person you most agree with and not against the person you least agree with; no matter what party they are in, period.
This is the key thing. Voting for what you believe in is keeping in line with all of your activism, your ideals, and your values. If you feel bad after voting, you’re not doing it right.
If Howie Hawkins doesn’t have a chance of winning, doesn’t that mean I’m throwing away my vote?
In the next post, I’m going to explain how Howie Hawkins can actually win the election. I know, you don’t believe it. So let’s say that I agree with the premise that the Green candidate has absolutely no chance to win. So what does your vote for Howie Hawkins do?
Not many people know how political parties come into existence. It’s actually a state-by-state thing. Where I live, in New York, it used to be that you get a candidate on the ballot for Governor as an independent (which is very difficult) and your candidate gets 50,000 votes and that “party” has ballot status for the next 4 years until the next gubernatorial election. Then the party’s candidate has to get 50,000 votes and they get another 4 years and so on. (As an aside, Howie has been the Green’s candidate the last 3 times and has gotten us ballot status each time.)
And what’s the big deal about having ballot status? For a local Green candidate (such as myself), It’s the difference between needing 50 petition signatures and 2000 signatures to run for local office. If you have never run for office, you don't know how huge this is. I don’t know the exact number of states where votes for a Presidential candidate determines ballot status, but I know it’s over half. And just this year, New York State joined that list.
Yep. In another instance of Democrats attacking the Green Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo more than doubled the number of votes needed to maintain ballot status AND included votes for President in the mix. So now a party’s ballot status in New York is up every 2 years instead of 4. How’s that for democracy?
SO… in New York, as well as in dozens of other states, your vote for Howie Hawkins for President means Greens can run for City Council, Town Board, Highway Supervisor, etc. That’s significant. Here’s an explanation of Ballot Access (status) with a list of some states’ requirements. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballot_access_in_the_United_States
But wait, that’s not all!
There’s a Federal law that any party that gets 5% of the vote qualifies for Federal money [https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/understanding-public-funding-presidential-elections/] for that party. The Green Party does not take corporate donations. That additional money will help future Green candidates for Federal office: Congress, Senate, etc. That is a giant boost in getting over the already enormous barriers put in place by the two corporate parties. So your vote for Howie Hawkins helps other candidates who are fighting for the things you care about like Black lives, single-payer health care, stopping climate change and more.
Is there more?
Yes. Many people don’t hear about the Green Party because when we have candidates run for office, at all levels, we are left out of polls, debates, media stories, and the like. A higher vote total will give us more visibility. It will get our candidate included in actual public discussion. We will become “viable” even though viability shouldn’t matter when you decide whom to vote for.
More and more people say we need an alternative to the two corporate parties. We have them – you just won’t vote for them even when you agree with them. They’re not “viable” because you won’t overthrow the system with your vote. The people in power are not going to reform themselves out of power. So as long as you fall for this viability myth you perpetuate this self-fulfilling prophecy.
But won’t my vote for Howie Hawkins keep Trump in office?
You haven’t read my previous post. Go there now.
To sum up, when you vote for Howie Hawkins:
- You vote for what you actually want.
- You maintain your activist integrity.
- You help Greens run for local office.
- You get Federal Green candidates matching funds.
- You get Greens included in debates, forums, & news stories.
- You actually make third parties “viable” as opposed to waiting for D’s & R’s to give up power.
- You get Trump out of office. (Read the next post.)
Share this on your social media, please!
Next up: How Howie Hawkins can win this election. Seriously.
I’m going to frame the upcoming Presidential election in a way that I hope will elicit reflection, then conversation, followed by action.
The 2020 election for people who are not going to vote for Donald Trump comes down to a simple question: How much do you hate Donald Trump?
Do you hate Donald Trump more than you believe that Black Lives Matter?
Do you hate Donald Trump more than you want universal healthcare?
Do you hate Donald Trump more than you want to stop the indiscriminate bombing of black and brown people around the world?
Do you hate Donald Trump more than you fear the effects of climate change?
How about money in politics?
Wanting marijuana legalized?
Defunding the police?
Because a vote for Joe Biden is a vote to actively prevent those things and history has shown that the momentum we have now will not continue if we have to fight Joe Biden on these issues.
You agree that we need to do something about systemic racism, right? Could or should Black people wait another four years for a President who agrees? Because having our next president be a co-author of Bill Clinton’s crime bill will just be another huge roadblock for progress.
What about all of the people over the next four years who are going to die because they didn’t have access to health care? Are you willing to vote for their deaths? Sounds extreme, but Biden is stuck on Obamacare. There are going to be a lot of preventable deaths happening in those four years due to a Biden presidency.
Same question for climate change. Do we have four years to nibble around the edges?
You may have the privilege of being able to hate Donald Trump more than you want these things, but not everyone is that lucky.
That’s why I’m not only voting for, but actively helping Howie Hawkins and his running mate, Angela Walker. They are the ONLY choice if you believe Black Lives Matter, that health care is a human right, and that we need drastic action on climate change. There is no one else running who has plans for all of these things. Check out what Howie and Angela will work on when elected. Donald Trump is disgusting, but I refuse to vote for what I don't want. I'm voting for what I want as part of my activism.
Yes, I know. You have a lot of feelings on this. Right now I just want to focus on one thing: How much do you hate Donald Trump? So let’s ruminate on that, make comments and ask questions and we will go further in future posts. Among the things we'll talk about: the "spoiler" effect, the real world effect of voting Green, and more.
The following are my answers to the 2019 Disability Issues Survey.
1. People with disabilities and seniors are often stuck in nursing facilities due to a lack of accessible housing. Particularly in the City of Rochester, there are limited options for someone who wants to transition out of a facility and into housing in the community. If elected, what will you do to ensure that disabled people and seniors are not forced to live in a nursing facility instead of independently in their community?
As we know, most government resources for people with disabilities come through the County or the State. But one thing the City of Rochester can do is to drastically increase the amount of accessible housing in the City limits. I am committed to a drastic overhaul of zoning codes in which all development is mandated to use universal design. Developers will scream about this, but I think it is a valid use of the City’s lawyers to take this to court citing Olmstead and other precedents.
2. The City of Rochester has already shown interest in Visitability and has worked with Center for Disability Rights on an ordinance that would require new homes built in Rochester that are from City-sponsored programs to have at least one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom and a 36-inch clearance passage for all main floor internal doorways. What would you do to make apartment complexes more affordable to the Disability Community?
The City has to stop using County statistics when concluding what is “affordable”. Currently we use the County’s Average Median Income (AMI). The City’s AMI is less than half that. If we use the City’s, then mandates for developers to integrate affordable housing into their projects would actually create affordable housing instead of the miscarriages of justice they build now.
The City also needs to start lobbying the Federal Government to lift their restrictions on the integration of affordable housing with market rate housing. Currently, they forbid any project to do this when HUD money is used for a project.
The City (and County) needs to treat housing as a human right and not as an economic driver. My platform has other, more efficient, holistic, and effective ways of spurring economic growth.
3. The United States Supreme Court decided in 1999 that all individuals with disabilities have the right to live in the most integrated setting. Regardless of age, type of disability, or level of need, states cannot force people with disabilities to live in institutions. This ruling is most commonly known as the Olmstead decision. All States/local governments are required to comply with Olmstead. What is your plan to promote independent living for seniors and people with disabilities and ensure Olmstead compliance within the City of Rochester?
I want the City of Rochester to earmark 30% of its Community Development Block Grant money it receives from the State and Federal Governments for retrofitting homes and apartments in order for people to stay in their homes.
4. People within the Disability Community need transportation that is accessible, affordable and dependable in order to secure employment, access health care, shop for necessities and engage in their communities. Many of us need access to paratransit to continue to be a part of our community. In fact, without paratransit, many of us would be in danger of being institutionalized. Paratransit services cost much more to operate and are more expensive for the consumer than regular fixed route services and receives federal funding only for capital expenses. If elected, how will you support appropriate funding for paratransit services?
I would like to see all public transportation be free – including paratransit. I honestly believe that would take dissolving the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and replacing it with an entity that does not come with a for-profit business model. I would also like to see the replacing entity be democratically-run by actual members of the community who use public transportation.
5. There are approximately 35,000 people with disabilities living in Rochester and disabled people account for 22% of people living in poverty in Rochester. What will you do to ensure that disabled Rochestarians have full access to the community and the City’s services?
I would like every program, service, and building run by the City of Rochester to adhere a locally-created set of accessibility guidelines that goes far beyond the ADA. To do this would require financial and human resources to make sure the City complies with its own standards that are established ahead of time and not just when someone with a disability wants to come to a meeting. I want to make it protocol for a checklist be used to make sure that every meeting, event, and service provided by the City is accessible BEFORE the public is aware of its taking place. This can easily be paid for by leveraging Federal and State funding, grants, and by revamping how we spend our tax revenue. My ideas on the latter can be read at https://www.daveforchange.org/budget.
6. People with disabilities are limited by their transportation options in our city. This leads to having to plan their lives days in advance or opting to stay at home. For people living in nursing facilities or institutions, getting out into the community may be the only freedom they have. In the City of Rochester, we have nearly 10 taxi companies and none of them have accessible vehicles. This is not only an ADA violation but it’s effecting the disability population who just want access to same day rides. If elected, how will you support the Disability Community in creating more accessible transportation options?
My main economic development idea is to use public money that we usually give away to developers to build downtown housing we do not need and instead give it to actual citizens of Rochester to create cooperative businesses that fill the gaping holes we have in our society. One such possible business is a cooperatively-owned ridesharing service in which the drivers actually own and run the business. These drivers would include people with disabilities. This could be just a paratransit operation, but it is probably a better business decision to make it an integrated company of paratransit and non-paratransit trips. You can read more about my ideas on cooperatives at https://www.daveforchange.org/cooperatives.
The survey is sponsored by AutismUp, Center for Disability Rights, New York Disability Vote Network, Regional Center for Independent Living, Rochester ADAPT
Recently, the NYS Legislature passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Act of 2019 (HSTA). It is a set of updates to a number of tenant protection laws. It was a nice step in New York recognizing that housing is a human right. You can get a summation of the law here.
But there is an opportunity to solidify this right in Rochester.
The Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA) allows municipalities to adopt even stronger rent, eviction, and maintenance tenant protections. The ETPA allows for:
- A Rent Guidelines Board to establish rent control within a municipality.
- Further eviction protections to make sure tenants are not evicted without just cause.
- Allowances for a reduction in rent if a landlord reduces services.
Thanks to HSTA, Rochester can now opt into the ETPA. This would effectively double the number of rent regulated tenants in the City of Rochester as the Rochester City-Wide Tenant Union estimates that ETPA would affect between 9,000 – 12,000 units.
Important Note: This would only apply to buildings that are 6 or more units, built before 1974, AND not already regulated by the State or Federal government.
To adopt ETPA, there must be a rental vacancy survey done by an independent entity. The survey must show a rental vacancy rate of less than 5% in the specific units that would fall under ETPA. Then, Rochester City Council would have to pass a local resolution in favor of ETPA followed by the Mayor signing off.
I have begun working with like-minded activists in Rochester to make ETPA a reality in Rochester and when elected to City Council, I will vote in favor of adopting ETPA. For a further understanding of my philosophy on housing, read my complete platform plank.
Rochester’s rate of poverty is unacceptable. We have done nothing to address this problem other than studies and cosmetic gestures. But we can do something concrete to make sure our children have a future.
The market will not lift people out of poverty. In fact, the success of capitalism relies on people at the bottom being stuck there. People stuck in generational poverty are too concerned about surviving to fight for fairness and equity. Until the demise of our capitalist system comes about (and it will happen), I am focused on the creation of “wealth” for those who do not have it while hastening the replacement of our current financial system.
As a step toward a society in which the basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc.) are seen as a human right, I propose that every child born in poverty in the City of Rochester be given a city-sponsored, interest-bearing savings account at a participating local credit union. These will be called Children's Saving's Accounts (CSA's). Each child will get $50.
The individual, other family members, and specific City employees who will run this program can make deposits into this account, but there cannot be a withdrawal until the child graduates from high school, and then the money can only be used for education, buying a house, or starting a business; three wealth-building activities.
Money to pay for this will be from the general budget (see the post called “How Can We Pay for Everything?”) as well as from grants and private donations.
Other stipulations will have to be set up in order to make this run smoothly and prevent fraud, but this is the framework of the concept. Such things that will be needed to be worked out will include:
- What happens to the money if a child moves out of Rochester?
- Can a person take money out before reaching 18 years old if they graduate from high school early?
- What happens to the money if the child dies?
- Making sure this savings is not included in calculations for other social services.
Both the Mayor and the County Executive have fancy, expensive galas in which people with money dress up and put their cash into campaign coffers. The City and volunteers should hold an annual Gala as well. In this case, people with money will dress up and give their money directly to children in poverty as the proceeds would be put directly into CSA's.
Of course, people with money don’t have to go to a gala. We could just put a poverty tax on every downtown condo with the proceeds going directly to these accounts. Or we could do both.
In theory, the use of Credit Unions would be temporary. At some point we should be using a newly created City-owned bank or a State bank, if Albany can figure out how much of a good idea this is. But even if we stay with Credit Unions, this should help Rochester as Credit Unions tend to loan people money in ways that commercial banks will not.
The interest on such accounts should be higher than a regular savings account; at least back to the 2% or so that they used to be before commercial banks became such a rip-off. Remember, one of the reasons Credit Unions are better than commercial banks is because their motives are not supposed to be profit-driven. They’re supposed to be helping their members and the community in which they live.
This idea of Child Savings Accounts is not my idea. It is being done all over the country. Click here to find out more.
How can we make this concept better? Let's discuss it in the comment section below.
UPDATE: A great idea came from Joe DiFiore during a Facebook Live chat. Incentives can be woven into the program to increase savings. For example, for every $100 saved, a $10 bonus is added to a child's account.
Monday, September 2nd is Labor Day. I hope you get a chance to come downtown to either watch the parade or march in it (more about that below).
Our elected officials and those who work for them can't get a handle on what to do about poverty. For decades they've insisted on this capitalistic philosophy of giving rich people what they want in the hopes that their wealth will flow down to us. It hasn't happened in Rochester, just like it hasn't happened in any other place in the world. Getting out of poverty requires the opportunity to earn a decent living. The problem is workers do not get to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. The profits go to the people who already have money. That is why supporting democracy in the workplace is so key to our financial health - both collectively and individually.
There are a couple of ways we can have a more democratic workplace. One is creating cooperative businesses as well as converting established companies. I've been discussing this in my campaign since the beginning, but in case you missed it, you can see more here. The other way is to establish unions in our workplaces, which is the main (but not only) focus of Labor Day.
Organized labor gets a bad rap. It's been under attack by the rich for decades. And some are pretty top heavy with a very hierarchical structure. Those two things are related. But if it wasn't for labor unions the concept of a weekend wouldn't exist and we would have no child labor laws.
And that is why you should join me this Monday at the Rochester Labor Day Parade. I would love it if you marched with us, but even if you can't, please come and watch. If you want to participate, we are meeting on Alexander Street, just south of East Avenue at 10am. The parade starts there and ends at W. Main & Fitzhugh Streets. If you just want to watch, the parade starts at 11am and you can watch downtown from East & Alexander, to Main Street and down to the County Building.
I submitted the following comments:
Having the main goal of this plan to increase density of population in the City of Rochester is a mistake. Throughout this draft, the creators admit that there is already too much housing. To create more would exacerbate a problem we already have.
The focus for every section of this plan should be on grassroots economic development with the emphasis on locally-owned cooperative businesses. Money that is currently used to go toward grants, loans, bonds, and other creative support to large corporations and developers should be focused on the creation of smaller, locally-owned cooperatives. At minimum, dozens of cooperatives would open every year in every part of the city with the specific emphasis on more distressed parts of the city. The businesses would focus on goods and services that are needed to alleviate poverty in Rochester.
Libraries, Recreation Centers, & Schools: The plan praises libraries yet we cut funding every year. They should be open 7 days a week for most of the day and evening. Buses as mobile day care centers? How about creating cooperatively owned & run day care centers within schools so that we don’t have to bus children across town.
Public Health & Safety: We need to start de-emphasizing the police. We continue to rely on police officers to deal with issues that they are not trained for. Increase mental health counselors that respond to calls and add peer addiction counselors as well. The economic development focus I’ve outlined above will also reduce crime.
Natural Resources: Don’t just identify the city’s tree canopy – plant trees! You mention other cities starting edible forests. Yes! Create greenspace (and more parks) in residential neighborhoods. We can’t just preserve resources to fight climate change; we have to create more of that infrastructure. (see below)
Climate Change: Most of this is just data gathering, planning, encouraging, etc. We have to be more aggressive. Zoning changes to demand that all new buildings are at least carbon neutral are necessary. We can’t wait for other cities to do it. We should be a leader on this and if we tout it correctly, will help with economic development.
Urban Agriculture: Wow. You only talk about community gardens here. Again, think economic development. Change zoning to allow for agricultural businesses. Use vacant land to spur locally-owned cooperative working farms. This can be done all over the city.
Transportation: We’ll have to use money we save on ending corporate welfare to…
- Help pay for more RTS buses on the road. (15 minutes per bus from 7am – 11pm)
- Create county-wide paratransit without limitations
- Electric trolleys that focus on crosstown traffic that links RTS’s hub-and-spoke system.
- Work toward a free public transportation system in Rochester. It will spur economic development, create community, and fight climate change.
Bike Lanes: Keep making dedicated bike lanes, but we’re leaving behind the people who live in Rochester right now. We need a solution to help older people who will not be riding bikes and those working multiple jobs to survive to move about the area. (see above)
Economic Development: Too much focus on innovation and technology is a mistake as by definition, these jobs can function almost anywhere and not even all within a company within one city. Opportunity Zones are just more tax breaks. Savvy business owners do not worry about paying taxes as they need the City’s services (fire, police, plowing, sewers, etc.). It’s all focused on traditional capitalistic ideology which we know leads to peaks and valleys.
“Pop up” businesses are cute, but they are not true economic drivers.
“The Market” only cares about profit, not how our city functions.
(p. 108) Really? Making RPD the arbiter of entertainment permits? Again, let’s de-emphasize the police’s role in society.
Do citizens have a say in the legalization of commercial uses of buildings in residential areas?
We have to insist that our local architects and planners use carbon neutral designs. No exceptions.
Most of us in the city have recognized that our “proactive code enforcement” isn’t really working and many times is used to harass people. City workers who drive around looking for infractions do not create a climate of community. Go to a complaint-based system.
Change zoning and promote front yards as gardens.
Drive up housing costs? Where are our poor people supposed to go?
The plan promotes the use of vacant lands by the community, but only until a developer wants to make money off of that land, then the community is out. This is either an over reliance on trickle-down economics (that we know does not work) or that our government does not really function for its citizens.
It’s not getting better. There are still too many people dying of opioid overdoses in Rochester (as well as the County, State, & Country). The situation brings in a host of other issues such as capitalism, racism, and more. To make things worse for the City, most of the resources used to prevent and deal with opioid and other addiction is County, State, and even Federal-based.
So what can our City government do to help?
First of all, incarceration is not the answer. Yes, there may be the immediate effect of helping someone detox, but many times, people in jails do not detox in a safe manner. But there is not an effective emphasis on the reason for people’s addiction. This means a sober person is more likely to relapse as their underlying cause for addiction has not been addressed. This is actually a waste of money and other resources that could have been used toward a more effective form of treatment.
Second, because many local resources for those dealing with addiction go through the County, as a member of City Council, I would support in any way I can ideas presented by the Green Party of Monroe County.
Third, use money that we save from ending corporate welfare in Rochester, to help fund outreach for those in crisis. Part of that could be for my last part of my plan below.
Lastly, I would incorporate peer drug counselors into a plan to overhaul of the Rochester Police Department. This way, people who have already experienced addiction, are sober and have been trained as counselors, would be dispatched on calls that are drug-related. (See my upcoming platform plank on changing the police department.)
A long-term solution to reduce the number of people in the City addicted to opioids and other substances would be to focus – as I have been doing – on some of the root causes of addiction. Trauma causes people to self-medicate which leads to addiction. That’s one of the reasons I focus on reducing poverty, ending violence, and improving schools.
Resources: (taken from Monroe County's Website)
Fairport Central Schools Presentation:
Mission Recovery and Hope, Inc.
1350 Buffalo Rd. #31
Rochester, NY 14624
835 W. Main St., Rochester, NY 14611
Walk-ins welcome 24/7
(585) 484- 0234
Recovery Support Navigators
Family Navigator: (855) 778-1200
Peer Advocate : (855) 778-1300
Rochester Regional Health: Open Access
Brighton: 2000 S. Winton Rd., Bldg. #2, Rochester, NY 14618
EBHC: 81 Lake Ave., Rochester, NY 14608
Greece: 1565 Long Pond Rd., Rochester, NY 14626
RMHC: 490 E. Ridge Rd., Rochester, NY 14621
Veterans Outreach Center:
Warrior Salute Veterans Services:
At this point in my activist life, I shouldn't be surprised by tonight's sad vote at City Council, but once again, Lucy pulled the football out.
Ten days ago, Mayor Warren put forth legislation for City Council to vote on that would put a referendum for voters on the November 5th ballot. If voters approve it, then City Council will ask the New York State legislature to consider state legislation allowing the State Department of Education to take over the City School District. Councilmember Malik Evans, didn't seem to think that people in the audience understood this. We did, but more on that later.
There wasn't a lot of notice about this bill. It wasn't able to be discussed much - I am assuming that this was on purpose. It was put up for a vote tonight. Even with such short notice, there were a number of people and organizations that showed up to speak against this. Here is what I had to say:
It was a long night. City Council had to vote on the budget tonight - part by part. The vote on creating the referendum was the very last thing.
Before it was voted on the Mayor spoke. It was nonsense. She, then later followed by Councilmember Evans, tried to float this ridiculous idea that this referendum was actually democracy in action. Evans, after insulting us by "explaining" the bill to us, kept calling the referendum a "poll". So before I get to the actual vote, let me address this ridiculousness.
No one thinks the Rochester City School District is where it needs to be. But dissolving the elected City School Board is taking away people's right to vote. It's voter suppression. So while Evans kept insisting that this "poll" was to see if people wanted to change the way the school district is governed, I see this as a referendum on do we want to voluntarily have our right to vote taken away. And I have a problem with any elected official who needs a "poll" to know if the people want less of a vote.
So, after the Mayor, Councilmember Ortiz spoke against the bill, followed by Councilmember Clifford. Then Evans' sad remarks. Councilmember Patterson then had a less coherent version of Evans' words. Then Councilmember Spaull spoke against the bill. All 3 members of City Council who spoke against the bill only talked about how this all came about too quickly, nothing about the merit of the bill itself.
So then they voted: Evans, Gruber, Scott, Lightfoot, & Patterson for; Clifford, Ortiz, & Spaull against, & Harris abstained.
We will be voting on this foolishness this November. So like the Police Accountability Board referendum, I will be commenting on this throughout my run for City Council. But to sum up quickly: PAB yea, State takeover of schools nea.