Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupying Andrew Cuomo: NYC Office Election Day Protest

A short 7 minute video I made to try to capture the spirit of the demo - I would have had even more stuff if I had remembered to press the "record" button.

Watch directly on you tube:

Read the full excellent Sunday NY Times Nov. 13 piece by Gina Bellafonte exceprts of which I used in the video.

Also read Children March on Governor Cuomo’s Office

below the fold

By Max Seddon 11/08 8:21pm
Grade schoolers protest in favor of the millionaire's tax. (Photo: Max Seddon)
They may not be able to count up to 99, but the children who picketed outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office today were chanting “We are the 99 percent!” Approximately 300 protesters–-a good hundred of whom were between 5 and 10 years old–delivered the governor pro-”Millionaire’s Tax” petitions with several thousand signatures from New Yorkers attending Occupy Wall Street.
Governor Cuomo has remained steadfastly opposed to extending the tax, which affects New Yorkers who make over $200,000 a year, despite its popularity with voters. He has faced several adult protests in support of the tax over the past few months. The “Millionaire’s Tax” is currently set to expire December 31.
“We wanted a new set of voices to add to the chorus,” Adam Grumbach, a high school social studies teacher from Park Slope who organized the demonstration, said.
His daughter Isabel, 6, who attends P.S. 10, held a cardboard tray of Hostess cupcakes she was selling for a dollar each, as part of a symbolic drive to raise $1.4bn that would compensate for cuts to the education budget. A picture of Gov. Cuomo–whom Mr. Grumbach referred to as “Governor Cupcake” was attached to the tray, with the caption, “Gov. Cuomo says, ‘Let them sell cupcakes!’”
“As we saw her class size growing every year, we said, ‘We’ve got to do something,” Mr. Grumbach, said. His children handed out copies of an essay he wrote in which he claimed Governor Cuomo’s supposed ambitions blinded him to the needs of ordinary New Yorkers.
With the day off from school thanks to Election Day, the found a way to engage in the political process despite being too young to vote. They drew dollar bills in colored chalk on the sidewalk and made signs with slogans like “Don’t Take Away Our Music Class,” “P.S. 29 Thinks Millionaire Rhymes With Fair And Share,” and “We Need Education More Than You Need Fancy Stuff.” Though unaware of the finer points of New York’s tax code, several of them were quick to voice their concerns about budget cuts to their schools.
“Some rooms are getting very, very big,” Stella Lapidus, 7, said of her second-grade class at P.S. 10. “The teacher has to yell a lot and say, ‘1,2,3, I want all eyes on me’ to get everyone’s attention. It’s nice and annoying at the same time.”
“I think kids are actually pretty smart,” said Democratic City Council member Brad Lander. “They know it doesn’t make any sense to give a nearly $5 billion tax break to millionaires and billionaires while defunding our schools. This is simple enough for elementary kids to understand – that everyone’s got to pay their fair share.”
Mr. Grumbach had succeeded in bringing families from all boroughs except Staten Island, though residents of Brooklyn’s gentrified areas heavily predominated.
The protesters marched around the block twice before parents delivered a series of speeches about the impact of cuts to their children’s schools. They bemoaned class sizes in the high 20s, cuts to gym classes and extracurricular programs, and a shortfall in school supplies.
“Our school is horribly overcrowded – we are about 200 students over the DOE number that’s written on the building,” Vicky Sell, was there with her six-year-old daughter Katherine, who attends P.S. 107 in Brooklyn and made a sign imploring Governor Cuomo not to “take any more money from my school.” “And we’re one of the lucky public schools. This is the 99 percent – the people trying to get an education through the public system – and the governor is not on their side. And I think people are going to remember that next time,” Ms. Sell said.
Supervised by a dozen policemen or so, the protesters made their way around the block once more before dropping yes/no ballots on renewing the millionaire’s tax into orange cardboard boxes. To loud cheers, Mr. Grumbach declared an overwhelming victory for the tax, at which point the protesters quickly dispersed.
“Look at these parents,” Noah Gotbaum, a father of three from the Upper West Side and member of Manhattan District 3’s Community Education Council, said. “Do you see any anarchists? Freaks? Anti-Semites? Ninety-five percent of them are from the brownstones and they’ve never been out to protest school cuts before. This is the start of something big.”

  • Adam Grumbach
    I'm pleased by the mostly straight up reporting here -- best coverage I've seen of the event.

    One not so minor complaint, however -- the millionaires tax in its current form is dead.  No one is proposing to continue it as is, with a surcharge on those making $200k (or $300 if filing jointly).  The tax that has been proposed by Sheldon Silver, and thus the only one anyone is urging on Cuomo, is a true "millionaires" tax in that it would levy the surcharge only on those making more than $1 million.  It seems like an important distinction.  In other words, it would only affect the top .2%.

    In other words to report that "Governor Cuomo has remained steadfastly opposed to extending the tax, which affects New Yorkers who make over $200,000 a year," is misleading, since it implies that the extension affects the same group of New Yorkers, which it does not.

As great as it is to support independent films like this one, given the current circumstance in the state and city — and the number of mothers hauling rolls of Bounty to school from Costco — it seems a particular lunacy that we keep enriching a glamour industry without at the very least conducting the most rigorous and thoughtful kinds of cost-benefit analyses.
This weekend I’m going to make a protest sign: “Play-Doh first, ‘Gossip Girl’ later.”

November 11, 2011

As Schools Sacrifice, TV Shows Flourish

On Tuesday afternoon, a hundred or so parents of New York City public-school children, most of them mothers from the leafier precincts of Brooklyn, gathered outside the Manhattan office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to rally against the potential extinguishing of the so-called millionaires’ tax. With $1.4 billion for schools cut from the state budget last year, these parents wondered why the governor was so committed to helping the well-off become even better positioned. “Millionaire rhymes with fair and share,” one placard announced.
At no point during this vigorous protest season has the presence of white-shirted police lieutenants seemed more absurd than at a gathering where a young child carried a sign reading: “Don’t take away my music class.”
Parents in New York City, including those at Arts and Letters, a school in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, are now routinely depended upon to supply classrooms with paper towels, tissues, crayons, cleaning products and so on. Increasingly and inconceivably in the city’s public schools, volunteerism is expected to keep the system upright. As one father proclaimed to the crowd, boiling the issue down to its essence: “You can’t sell $1.4 billion worth of cupcakes.”
From August of last year through the end of 2014, as it happens, the state will have given away considerably more than that — $2.1 billion — in the form of another dubious tax advantage: the $420 million a year in subsidies it provides the film and television industry to keep production from going elsewhere. Film tax credits came into vogue in the early aughts to compete with financial incentives offered by Canada. Forty states deployed them last year; New York accounted for about a quarter of the money spent across the country. More recently, several states have ended their programs or suspended financing.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

1 comment:

  1. I actually did the same thing, forgot to press the 'record' button at the May 12 rally.

    Also, I think Long Island parents from LI districts as well as their children should start getting involved in Occupying Cuomo. The children are being affected on the LI districts as well, especially since the property tax cap has been passed.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.