42 Days to Go — Taking Down Members of Bronx-Born IDC (Independent Democratic Conference)

2 Aug

8.2.18 – I wrote about Bronx politics and critical local issues for almost 20 years, when I was reporter and editor of the Norwood News (in Community Board 7) and the Bronx News Network. One thing I rarely witnessed were Democratic incumbents (all were Dems except for Guy Velella during my tenure) facing primary challengers with a good shot of winning. During my time on the job, except when corrupt incumbents were defeated or stepped down (State Senator Pedro Espada, Councilman Pedro G. Espada, State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Councilman Larry Seabrook, Nelso Castro, Eric Stevenson, Israel Ruiz, etc., etc.) few if any vets of the City Council, state Assembly, or state Senate, faced significant challengers.

But times have changed. If there’s one thing to be grateful to Trump and his seemingly corrupt victory for, it is this: excellent and energized freshmen progressive candidates are taking it to the streets along with big teams of dedicated volunteers. They are acting on the fact that state and local elections are as – and even more in many cases – critical to democracy and local issues as presidential elections. What happens – or doesn’t happen – locally has a dramatic impact on national politics as well. Even big-shot former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.”

And it is not just local in terms of issues affecting Bronx residents and neighborhoods, but residents and towns of the entire Empire State.

And that’s because of the IDC, a team of eight “Democrats” who sided with Republicans in the State Senate, handed over all of the real power of Democrats to the GOP. That’s blocked every essential bill on critical issues like voting rights, school funding, a Health Care Act, and the DREAM Act from passing in the State Senate and joining forces with the Assembly, vastly controlled by Democrats.

State Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, formed the IDC in 2011. It wouldn’t have existed without him. (Technically, it no longer exists since Cuomo made them shut it down earlier this year, but Klein and his team are being told to pay $1.4  million they received from the Independence Party. Like almost all other IDC incumbents, Klein faces a strong challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, who already has 400 volunteers on her team taking it to the streets, knocking on doors, phone banking, writing post cards, contributing whatever they can. Here’s her recent video.

Bronx Democrats (including me) have moaned and groaned for years that our votes don’t  count for much, particularly in presidential elections. But this is a Democratic primary with epic issues (local, state and national) at stake. Your vote – and participation – matters. Big time.

So learn more and volunteer for Biaggi (or any of the other challengers to IDC incumbents ) right now! There are only six weeks to go! The primary is on Thursday (yes, Thursday!) September 13.

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the IDC, check out this excellent, brief video Zephyr Teachout did last year.

 

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Pix Speak for Themselves: From #marchforourlives in Manhattan on Saturday

26 Mar

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Photos by Jordan Moss from March for Our Lives in Manhattan on Sunday. 

Care About the Bronx and Beyond? Watch This Brief Video on How a Group of Fake ‘Democrats’ Has Handed the State Senate Over to Republicans and Learn What You Can Do.

19 Mar

311 Worked — Bronx Step Street Light Replaced

14 Feb

Yes, only a little improvement to a lousy step street (which needs to be replaced!), connecting Heath and Bailey avenues in Kingsbridge Heights, but an important fix nonetheless. The bottom step street light on Bailey Avenue has been out for a good bit, so it’s dangerously dark before you start heading up the steps. I called 311, they contacted the Department of Transportation (DOT) and gave me a code, and a few days later I checked in on it via 311’s website. It indicated that the light had been replaced and the case was closed. Wasn’t closed for me until I saw the light on tonight. Lesson? If you see a broken bench in a park; a dangerous, deteriorated sidewalk ; a street light out, etc., hear too much noise, etc., etc., call 311! They give you a code so you can keep track of the status. It also helps to let your community board know about the problem and give them the code you received. They’re usually in regular contact with city agencies and can echo your complaint. Here’s a photo of the step street (which, again, needs to be replaced! — more on this later) with the repaired light at the bottom of the stairs …

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Bronx step street entrance on Bailey Avenue headed up to Heath Avenue and Summit Place. DOT replaced light after complaint via 311. Photo by Jordan Moss

 

A Look Back at Jeff Klein from Grade School to Now

6 Feb

City & State profiles Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein, technically a Democrat, but more of a powerful partner with Senate Republicans. Definitely worth a read. 

How So-Called Bronx Democrat Jeff Klein and Colleagues Have Handed Over the State Senate to Republicans

30 Jan

The IDC (Independent Democratic Conference) is a group of 8 “Democratic” state senators who have fled their former party colleagues in Albany to work with Republicans and give them full power of the legislative body, thereby blocking critical progressive legislation. It especially gives Bronxite State Senator Jeff Klein, the IDC’s founder and leader, the power to join his pal, Senate Republican and “majority leader” John Flanagan, in disabling Democrats from passing critical bills. (Simcha Felder of Brooklyn isn’t part of IDC, but is essentially a Democrat who works closely with Republicans nonetheless, so he, too, is a GOP pal.)

This critical political reality has been in city and state newspapers and websites a little bit lately, but hasn’t yet sufficiently spread among New Yorkers statewide, like say, how Trump’s attacks on Obamacare or DACA have done all over the planet. Time to change that. A couple of months ago, Zephyr Teachout, a law professor and Democratic activist who ran for governor against Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary (snatching a significant 36% of the vote) posted this excellent brief video explaining just what’s going on and what we need to do to change it. Check it out below. (And check out the sites of two Democratic candidates challenging Klein in the 34th Senate District: https://www.biaggi4ny.com and https://www.lewiskny.com.)

Criminal Justice Focus at Bronx Documentary Center Screening and Panel Discussion

9 Jan

The Bronx Documentary Center in Melrose will host “Visualizing Criminal Justice,” a screening and panel discussion, with the Marshall Project. on Thurs., Jan. 11 at 7  p.m. “Jenny Carchman’s We Are Witnesses takes a deeper look at the faces behind the complex and highly-flawed criminal justice system.” More info here.

Traffic Lights are Up and Running On at Kingsbridge Heights Intersection!

5 Sep
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Traffic lights installed at corner of Kingsbridge Terrace and Heath Avenue. Photo by Jordan Moss

9.5.17 – After more than a year and a half of attending Community Board 8 committee meetings, gathering petition signatures, meeting with neighbors, and ultimately collaborating with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the dangerous Y-shaped intersection of Fort Independence Street and Heath Avenue in Kingsbridge Heights now has traffic lights and walk/don’t walk signs.

And guess what? It’s much, much safer.

It was a complicated busy intersection with zero crosswalks. I found it dangerous. I stressed about my daughter and her pals crossing it. Heck, I worried about anyone crossing it.

Ultimately, after Ann DiLucca, Nova Calise and I gathered petition signatures, as members of the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association (with the help of the wonderful staff of the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center), Assemblyman Dinowitz organized a press conference right at the intersection with other elected officials (Councilman Andrew Cohen, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, and State Senator Gustavo Rivera), KHCC executive director Margaret Della and 50th Precinct’s deputy inspector Terence O’Toole. Not long after that the DOT (Department of Transportation) reviewed the intersection and made a relatively quick decision. Dinowitz and his staff played a key role in encouraging the agency to do the right thing.

In our petition, we expressed particular concern about the intersection of Fort Independence Street, Giles Place and Kingsbridge Terrace. That’s particularly where kids, families and staff have to cross to get to PS 360 or KHCC. As I reported in September 2015, parents were very concerned about the lack of a crosswalk there. That still doesn’t exist, but Dinowitz said DOT is open to revisiting this related issue. The good news is that the traffic lights have slowed down vehicles heading in both directions. So it seems like crossing there will be a tad safer. But we should know more after school begins. (Please share any thoughts or concerns you might have by commenting on this post or emailing me at bronxmatters@gmail.com.) On another important, though less critical, note, the crosswalks where the traffic lights are still need to be painted and Dinowitz’s office said they’re staying on top of the DOT to make sure it happens ASAP.

That said, we are excited and relieved and hope to have as much success in many other community-improvement pursuits.

-Jordan Moss