Friday, June 28, 2019

A Deeper Dive into The Queens DA Race - A Battle for the Democratic Party

While progressives celebrate the narrow victory of Tiffany Cabán in the Queens DA race, it was a shock and awe moment for the Queens Dem Party machine and allies (yes, to the UFT). But hope springs eternal and they are holding out hope that the absentee ballots will give Katz the victory.
Katz and her supporters remain optimistic that the approximately 3,400 absentee ballots, which remained uncounted as of earlier this week, could still tip the polls in her favor. .... The WAVE, June 28, 2019,
The WAVE took no formal position in the race other than "anyone but Tiffany." Yes, I write for a publication that doesn't quite align with me politically but they do give me space.

I'm sure people are sick of my reports on this election:
The implications locally and nationally are so deep and complicated. The AOC/DSA/Justice Democrats showed they could pull out more votes for their candidate than the Democratic Party machine plus the UFT (they donated $36,000 to Katz), the real estate interests, etc couldn't  muster the turnout for Katz.

This election mimics the Bernie/Hillary split in the Democratic Party. One candidate,
Deputy Attorney General Mina Malik, told a crowd in Southeast Queens on the Thursday evening before election day that “Bernie Sanders is the reason we have Trump in the White House.”
The articles I quote below have all the elements of this split, including black leaders' support for the regular Democrats and slams at the left.
 Katz, who was running for her sixth elected office in New York in 25 years, had support from former congressman and former Queens County Democratic Party Chair Crowley, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with New York Congressional Reps. Gregory Meeks, Tom Suozzi, Carolyn Maloney, and Adriano Espaillat, and a host of local and state unions. Meeks, despite a key vote on Capitol Hill Tuesday, was at Katz’s election night party. Earlier, he slammed Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for endorsing Cabán without consulting leaders of the machine. The move, he said, was “arrogant” and “patronizing.”
Our own UFT lines up firmly against the left and will do so every time. The number of UFT failures in its endorsement policy continues the trend. In other words, whoever they endorse for president should view it as a kiss of death.
A year ago, the party establishment could claim — whether it was true or not — to have been caught off guard by Ocasio-Cortez. That rationale is absent in Tuesday’s race. The eyes of the country were on Queens, and the machine was as prepared as it could be. It simply couldn’t muscle out the vote... The Intercept
There's a lot packed into this comment -- DSA vs Dem Machine. But also ignores that the number of candidates who were not progressive splintered the vote. If it was Katz against Cabán head to head this would be a different story.

The progressive Intercept has a different take

Tiffany Cabán Stuns Queens Machine, Holds Solid Lead in Race for Queens District Attorney...  progressive groups coalesced around Cabán

Cabán’s apparent victory is a show of force in New York for the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which worked hard for Cabán early, as well as for the Working Families Party and Real Justice PAC. Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney elected with the help of Real Justice on a similarly radical platform, was in attendance at Cabán’s election night party. The most significant endorsement, however, likely came from Bronx and Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. ....The Intercept

The Intercept called this victory more significant in some sense than AOC's defeat of Joe Crowley - who by the way still runs the Queens regular Democratic Party despite the fact that my own Congressman, Greg Meeks is the chair. Meeks is black and all the black elected officials came out for Katz with slams at the left.

I love how publications interpret events from their own point of view. The WAVE, which I write for, took a basic Anyone But Tiffany position and was critical of outsiders coming in to support her. Look at the map of the voting below -- my neighborhood went all blue for Greg Lasak, a retired Supreme Court Justice, who is associated mostly with the old regime. He had

There's still the election...
Given that Queens leans heavily Democratic, Cabán is all but assured a general election victory, provided she survives whatever challenges Katz files. That election will take place on November 5, 2019.
But there is still a chance for a conservative/right wing/Reg Democrat alliance. Melinda Katz's ex, right winger Curtis Sliwa who fathered two children with Katz was on Bernie and Sid this morning pointing out that Katz had no chance to win and would probably be given a judgeship, the usual way the graft works, saying all non-progressives, Republican and Democrats, should all gather together and back Lasik against Tiffany in the November election.

Sometimes politics is better than sports.

Both articles below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Queens DA - Bad News for Katz, Democratic Machine, the UFT (so often wrong), Cuomo, Real Estate Interests, etc.

Hi Norm:
I read what you wrote about Caban beating Katz. You might be interested in these articles:

The UFT gave Katz $36,000.

UPDATE1: Let me add this FB comment from Schoolgal about the UFT, which expresses the attitude of many teachers - at least the ones that follow things closely:
Hey UFT! Why did I get so many calls for a DA race? Do you really think I’m gonna buy a plane ticket to NY? And for a woman who folded to give Bloomberg an illegal 3rd term! Glad to see Cuomo, Randi and Mulgrew with egg on their face! Remember when Bloomberg won by a slight margin the year you didn’t back a Democrat! In fact you didn’t back a Democrat against Pataki. Teachers don’t forget! 
And a big win for the AOC wing of the party and the Democratic Socialists (DSA) who I've been writing about and pointing out their ability to put together a grass roots movement that seems to be able to outflank the regular Democrats when they chose to contest. (See the upcoming primary next year between Elliot Engel and Jamal Bowman -Bronx principal Jamaal Bowman running for Congress -
That adds up to bad news for Katz — and worse news for the Queens Democratic Organization. It would mean that Ocasio-Cortez was not just a blip localized to one congressional district, but rather, that the organizers on the ground have built a movement that may be capable of consistently challenging the establishment. The 2020 primaries are shaping up to be a wild ride! ((Gothamist)
In yesterday's post for The WAVE on the morning of the primary (School Scope: Queens DA, I predicted that Katz would win, especially since the Dem machine, probably seeing the dismal pre-election polling, convinced (or threatened) Rory Lancman to drop out days before the primary (I heard he was offered borough president but imagine if the progressive wing of the party makes a big push for that - and it probably will). It's still neck and neck with Tiffany Cabán leading by a hair. If Katz hadn't picked up the Lancman votes Tiffany's would be even further ahead.

Who supported Katz? She raised lots of money from real estate interests and the UFT was one of the major contributors.

Now what does this mean? I think that the insurgents from the left have shown they can go neck and neck with the regular Democrats aligned with our own lovely UFT which so often picks the wrong side and will continue to pick wrong sides (it's in their DNA.) They will do so again in the 2020 presidential race. The UFT has always fought off the left both internally and externally. They are lucky that the left in the UFT, unlike in other teacher unions, is so inept.

This is Queens, though a much changed borough of Archie Bunker fame. Ooooh, politics as sport -- I turned off the Yankee game to write this - there's a machine that manages to win.

Shocker in Queens DA Race

By Brigid Bergin

Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán receives her ballot at her polling place in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Scott Wenig)
Cabán Holds Lead Over Katz
On the one-year anniversary of political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's defeat of Congressman Joseph Crowley, voters woke up to the news that another first-time candidate may have upended the political world of Queens Democrats — again.

My colleague Beth Fertig was at Tiffany Cabán’s election night party where the 31-year-old appeared to win the Democratic nomination for Queens District Attorney in a tight race against five other candidates, including the Queens County Democratic organization's candidate, Borough President Melinda Katz.

Based on the unofficial returns, Cabán ended election night ahead by less than 1,100 votes — with 39.57 percent of the tally compared to Katz’s 38.3 percent.

The official count of machine votes and emergency ballots begins today and could drag on throughout the weekend. Staff from the city Board of Elections along with representatives from the campaigns will watch as ballots that could not be scanned at polling sites are run through voting machines at the Queens borough office. This process is unlikely to dramatically shift the current tally unless officials find a large stack of unscanned ballots.

That leaves more than 3,000 absentee ballots that the City Board of Elections will begin counting on July 3rd. With seven candidates on the ballot, it’s a stretch to imagine that the overwhelming majority would go to one candidate.

That adds up to bad news for Katz — and worse news for the Queens Democratic Organization. It would mean that Ocasio-Cortez was not just a blip localized to one congressional district, but rather, that the organizers on the ground have built a movement that may be capable of consistently challenging the establishment. The 2020 primaries are shaping up to be a wild ride! (Gothamist)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

School Scope: Queens DA, School Discipline Needs Class Size Reduction

Submitted for June 28, 2019 publication in The WAVE.

School Scope:  Queens DA, School Discipline Needs Class Size Reduction
By Norm Scott

You may have been reading about changes to the NYC school discipline and integration policies spearheaded by Chancellor Carranza and the Mayor and tabloid press has been going wild by emphasizing the excess in these policies. The use of restorative justice (RJ) has many supporters but also many detractors in schools where the administration has allowed discipline to get out of control and is not capable of creating an adequate RJ environment. Often these admins absolve themselves of responsibility and play the “blame the teacher game.” These schools often have very high turnovers of staff. If you want to see a key to admin incompetence check the turnover rates. In the Bloomberg days, principals who had high turnover were praised as bringing in new blood while dumping senior teachers (and their salaries).

The most controversial have been attempts to revise the conditions for entry to the big 3 specialty schools: Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, the only schools based on one test, the SSHAT. Traditionalists are going wild. As is the Asian community, which dominates all three schools. What is sort of funny is that the equally great school, Townshend Harris in Queens, does not rely on the test but on an amalgam of grades. I don’t believe in the one test policy but am also always suspicious of the De Blasio administration of the schools. I also believe all students benefit from a diversity of schoolmates. That Brooklyn Tech at one time had a high proportion of black students and now has barely none means something. The number of white kids at these schools has also declined but they are viewed as having other options.

Teachers are very familiar with the constant refrain to “differentiate instruction” which means reaching every child at his/her own level, even if class sizes are in the thirties. I’ve been sitting in on a 3020a hearing where they are trying to fire a 17-year tenured teacher on what seems a very flimsy case. A key argument is that she has not differentiated instruction effectively enough – in middle school math classes of 30 students (LOL). And then there are her ratings on Danielson rubrics, which calls for a double LOL. As someone who spent 20 years teaching 4-6 grades, I had to stifle an instinct to LOL at what has been done to the ability to teach.

Restorative justice and differentiation of instruction are ideals I agree with but without addressing a serious reduction in class size, chances for success are minimal. It is expensive to reduce class size, but it is time to bite the bullet and begin the process, at the very least in the earliest grades k-4.

The DA race has national implications
·       Race For Queens DA Tightens As Lancman Quits, Backing Katz
·       Cuomo: AOC-backed candidate could win in Queens if voters don’t show up
·       A looming district attorney election may not bode well for New York City’s second-largest borough.

Just a few headlines about what would usually be an obscure election.  I’m about to head out to vote for Tiffany Cabán for Queens DA because I believe in reforming the criminal justice system. Melinda Katz has also promised reforms but I’m concerned about the sources of the money she raises. Rory Lancman dropped out at the last moment (rumors are he is being offered a chance to take Katz’ place as Queens borough president), Katz should win. But the numbers will tell an interesting tale of the power of the Queens Democratic machine and its allies vs. the newly activated people by the Democratic Socialists (DSA).

NY Times headline: A Race for Queens D.A., but Ocasio-Cortez, Warren and Sanders Loom
A few excerpts: “The Democratic primary may show whether a progressive vision for criminal justice resonates in a borough with a law-and-order past. One persistent, if timeworn, image of Queens, popularized in television shows like “All in the Family” and “King of Queens,” centers on white working-class families in New York City’s second most populous borough. “Another is that of an ethnically diverse and gentrified place, a force that helped propel Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a shocking primary victory last year over a powerful Democratic congressman, Joseph Crowley. The upcoming six-way Democratic primary for Queens district attorney may go a long way in determining which portrait is more accurate. It is a local race that is unexpectedly drawing national attention, with presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren weighing in. In cities like Boston and Philadelphia, progressive candidates have captured district attorney seats by promising criminal justice reforms in the hopes of ending an era of mass incarceration brought on by policies enacted during the 1990s, when crime was at record highs.”

The WAVE didn’t make an endorsement  but the editorial made it clear that Tiffany was taboo.

Norm blogs at and wishes all school workers a happy end of school year.

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Hitler’s a damned remarkable man,” Tollever says - Wouk, Winds of War

That an American, a person of some authority, could be so cavalier about the Nazis in a story set after the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of equal rights, not to mention after Hitler had imprisoned his political opposition and eliminated the free press — was both mind-boggling and infuriating. Of course, this was the point. A canny novelist, Wouk — who died on Friday, just shy of his 104th birthday — had the good sense to let his characters hang themselves with their own words..... It seemed silly to protest … she insisted that anti-Semitism was a blot on an otherwise exciting, lovely land.” As such, her resistance primarily took the form of playfully chastising high-ranking Nazis at booze-filled dinner parties.
...... Adelle Waldman, NYT book review
The NY Times June 23 book review print edition this past Sunday had this very interesting piece on the late Herman Wouk who died recently.
I never read Wouk and found author Adelle Waldman's extracts fascinating. As Waldman says, Wouk was considered a middle-brow writer and that prejudiced me. So this piece might get me to read some of his works.

Herman Wouk Wrote Historical Novels. But His True Subject Was Moral Weakness.

Principal Barred From LaGuardia's Graduation! - Mars has been promoted and is gone from LaGuardia!!!!!

We just got a comment saying Mars is gone - promoted of course. [nyceducationnews]

Mon, Jun 24, 8:03 PM (12 hours ago)


‘Fame’ High School Principal Leaving Post After Student Protests

Students and faculty say Lisa Mars hasn’t prioritized the arts enough in her push for strong academics at the Manhattan public school
Students from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts celebrated before their graduation ceremony at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, in Manhattan on Monday. Photo: Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal
Leslie Brody
Updated June 24, 2019 7:18 pm ET
The principal of Manhattan’s famous high school for the arts, known as LaGuardia, is leaving after protests by students and teachers saying she didn’t prioritize the arts enough in her push for strong academics.
Principal Lisa Mars will join the city Department of Education this summer in a senior post in academic instruction, according to the head of the city principals union.
A Department of Education spokesman didn’t confirm the change. Dr. Mars didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Before the announcement, questions mounted about her future when she didn’t attend graduation Monday, held at Lincoln Center.
The Upper West Side school hit the spotlight in the 1980 film “Fame.” In recent days, some seniors had threatened to turn their backs on Dr. Mars during the graduation ceremony and avoid shaking her hand.
Last month many held a sit-in to call for more focus on arts education, and heavier weighting of artistic talent in admissions at the public school, formally called Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
Alumni include a host of actors, artists and entertainers, including Al Pacino, Eartha Kitt, Jennifer Aniston and Wesley Snipes.
Tension about how to balance arts and academics had simmered for years, even before Dr. Mars arrived in 2013, and grew more intense in recent months, said students and faculty. Some said there was more pressure to take Advanced Placement classes, some arts classes were cut, and rehearsal time was reduced, among other changes.
The faculty union held a poll this spring in which 88% of participants said they had no confidence in Dr. Mars, said Richard Titone, a music teacher. The faculty, he said, has had less say in admissions, and some brilliant young musicians were rejected due to their middle-school grades.
“There was less input from teaching artists,” Mr. Titone said. “There was no ability to compromise.”
Admission is highly competitive. Students must audition and supply academic records.
This high-achieving specialized high school, with a 99%-graduation rate last year, is more diverse than eight elite public high schools where admission is determined by a single exam. That test, which has fierce critics and staunch defenders, has been at the center of debate about fair access to opportunity.
Among LaGuardia’s 2,800 students last year, 46% were white, 20% Asian, 18% Hispanic and 10% black by city data. It said 31% faced economic hardship, compared with 71% of students in the system.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, said Dr. Mars had been considering a department offer of a new position long before the spring protests.
When she arrived at LaGuardia, senior department officials were concerned there wasn’t enough emphasis on academics, he said, and she valued the arts while pursuing curricular rigor.
“I’ve been to outstanding performances there, like nothing I’ve ever seen before by high-school students,” Mr. Cannizzaro said. “I don’t think anyone could fairly say it wasn’t focused on the arts.”
Write to Leslie Brody at
I've seen no news reports but this petition has been signed by almost 15,000 people. I don't see how a principal would be barred unless students planned to protest her being there and the DOE caves. Now if there's a back story and alumni with pull have gotten to the DOE then this could be possible.
Petition update

Principal Barred From LaGuardia's Graduation!

LaGuardia High
New York, NY, United States
Jun 24, 2019 — 
Dear friend of LaGuardia High,
In response to years of overwhelming evidence of incompetence, as well as the public outcry from concerned people like you, the Department of Education has finally taken action: Principal Lisa Mars has been barred from attending graduation of the 2019 class!
This is only the beginning of LaGuardia's renaissance. We are committed to restoring the beleaguered arts programs of our school, with leadership who understands the importance of talent over tests.
Stay tuned for more news this coming week!

Here are some articles.

May 24, 2019 - Published May 24, 2019 at 11:08 AM | Updated at 5:46 PM EDT on May .... Some auditions that were given perfect scores were rejected because of a C average in one class, ... LaGuardia school is led by its principal — Dr. Lisa Mars. ... in New York City has been raging amid admission questions of race, ...
Missing: barred ‎| ‎Must include: ‎barred
By Alice Gainer June 3, 2019 at 6:50 pm ... According to some students, alumni and parents, the current principal, Dr. Lisa Mars, has placed a bigger focus on middle school academic records and attendance when it comes to accepting ... But the Department of Education says the current policy has been in place for over a ...
Jan 11, 2017 - Update: LaGuardia's Failing Principal Gets Tenure! ... grades over artistic talent in a school with an historical graduation rate of 98%. ... June 2, 2019 ... But students say Dr. Mars has gone too far by enforcing a decade-old .... continues to attend LaG events, I'm sad and infuriated that Lisa Mars has been ...

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy - How they differ - NY Times

...if you ask five self-described democratic socialists what the term means, you’re likely to get five different answers... no federal official or Democratic candidate advocates communism.

At the other end is social democracy, which is common in Europe. It preserves capitalism, but with stricter regulations and government programs to distribute resources more evenly.
Ultimately, though, Sweden isn’t what democratic socialists like Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin magazine, a quarterly socialist journal, are looking for. “We come from the same tradition,” he said of democratic socialists and social democrats. But generally, he added, social democrats see a role for private capital in their ideal system, and democratic socialists do not.
These exceprts are from a June 12, 2019 NY Times article on socialism that tried to sort out the various aspects - I thought it was one of the better pieces and included talking to the leader of Jacobin and the leader of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), people who do not get quoted in the mainstream press. I've tried to write about the same subject but often get it muddled -- even my wife, who occasionally reads my columns in The Wave commented how much clearer this NYT piece was than mine.

I heard last week on NPR attempts to define differences between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren - she supports capitalism and the market based system but wants it tightly controlled - she would say that our current system is a distortion of capitalism. Bernie is an an avowed socialist - but what brand?

The NY Times has done some hits on his history trying to pin him to support for socialist regimes in the past that were not democratic socialists.

Mayor and 'Foreign Minister': How Bernie Sanders Brought the Cold ...
Jun 12, 2019 - 1:49Sanders Presents Vision of Democratic Socialism in Speech.
What the article below does is try to articulate the differences between social democrats (regulated capitalism and markets and democratic socialists (capitalism nyet.) I joined DSA without understanding this --- DSA is a broad-based open tent for socialists of every brand but after a few meetings it seems clear to me that social democrats who believe in regulated capitalism don't really fit in. There are no debates over this in DSA -- the assumption is that you are there because you believe in socialism where the means of production are not in private hands. They call themselves "democratic" socialists because they think this can be brought about by democratic means and governance under socialism will be democratic. I have my doubts.

My experience in MORE has taught me a lot about the left and socialism. MORE has fundamentally become an arm of the DSA NYC labor branch. As for bringing about change through democratic means, the DSA people in MORE, many of whom are aligned with the ISO faction, gave us a very bad example -- they couldn't bring about change in a tiny irrelevant caucus with less than 20 active people without tossing out democracy. DSA as a whole is really trying to do things democratically, but that is as long as people are on the same page - roughly -- just wait until the spitting and splitting begins. I'm still a member but not active.

What Is Democratic Socialism? Whose Version Are We Talking About?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

School Scope: The Queens DA Race - The Battle of the Political Machines in the Democratic Party -

 Does the Queens District Attorney race come down to Katz vs. Caban?

Published in The WAVE print and e-editions, June 21, 2019

School Scope:  The Battle of the Political Machines in the Democratic Party
By Norm Scott

Does the Queens District Attorney race come down to Katz vs. Caban?

The Queens DA race has national implications as it pits candidates with a range of political and philosophical positions on the criminal justice system. Seven – count ‘em – seven – candidates are running, some professional politicians, others new to the political scene.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) shocked the world when she beat the Democratic machine and Joe Crowley for Congress in a Queens/Bronx district in 2018. She was backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) which put troops on the ground for AOC, in essence building its own more fluid machine for races they focus on, which makes them more nimble (and much younger) than the traditional party machinery. We will see local and national races  pitting the two forces against each other, a fascinating development.

A similar battle is taking place in the Queens DA race which has some relevance to the national internal battle among Democrats between the progressive/reform and the machine wings. Many progressive District Attorneys have been elected around the nation, promising major reforms, so DA has become a sort of glamor job for change.

The favorite is machine-backed Melinda Katz. The Democratic party machine has the ground troops. I knew that when I saw Lew Simon getting signatures for Katz. She is a permanent politician  with six years in the Assembly, eight on the City Council and the last six as Queens Borough President. There’s good, bad and ugly in that, as I generally do not trust the machine. Katz has a lot of experience as a politician and The WAVE gave her an A for her policies, along with three others. I wrote last week that experience does count in every endeavor  and politician is no different. Katz knows how to work the political ropes. What will be telling is how well, if she wins, she works the line between law and community, a necessary function of the job of a DA today. Katz has received over a $1 million in contributions, a quarter of a million from real estate developers and related interests, a red flag for me.

But not a red flag for my union, the UFT, which took out a full page ad for her in the WAVE last week. The UFT, which also endorsed Crowley, mostly takes the center position, when possible. And in the presidential race it will do what it can to tack away from the left and into the center. So don’t look for any love for Bernie or Warren. The UFT will try to sell the idea that the left can’t win, but the fundamentals are that the UFT, since its founding, has been centrist in the Democratic Party.  (The UFT and its own machine, Unity Caucus, took over the AFT in 1974 and created a state affiliate, NYSUT in 1975 and all three organizations have played a major part in centrist Democratic Party politics since then at the city, state and national levels.)

AOC proved that political newcomers can have a major impact and Katz’ major competitor, Tiffany Caban (excuse the lack of hyphen over the second a – I can’t figure how to do that),  represents the alternative inside the Democratic Party. The WAVE rated her a C for not focusing enough on law and order but on reforming the criminal justice system – I think we need to dig deeper on these issues.

Caban is backed by DSA and progressive all over Queens and is the only candidate AOC has endorsed. When I attended the Bernie Sanders rally at Brooklyn College there were loads of DSAers getting Tiffany’s petitions signed. And as a member of DSA I regularly get notices about supporting her, not just with money but with active canvassing. It takes troops to get on the ballot and loads more to run a serious race. The progressive monthly, The Indypendent, which I have been dropping off at Rockaway libraries, has devoted a lot of space to Caban with her story being featured on the front page. Caban has raised a quarter of Katz’ total from at last count 2,545 people with an average of $84 per donation, but for a newbie, significant.

Caban’s positions have forced Katz to tack left on certain positions like cash bail and on the opening of borough jails (which she initially supported). The threat to Katz is if the other candidates take votes away from her and Caban captures the bulk of progressives. It probably won’t surprise readers of this column that I’m urging people to vote for Caban.

Vote for Norm by visiting his blog

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Bronx principal Jamaal Bowman running for Congress

Justice Democrats take direct aim at certain Dem incumbents in an attempt to shift the Democratic Party leftward.

Jamaal Bowman was on the front lines of opt-outers here in the city, one of the few principals who had the guts to tell Farina to go stuff it.

He is running for 30 year incumbent Eliot Engel's Bronx congressional seat. He was endorsed by the Justice Democrats who backed AOC and have had their eye on Engel, who chairs the foreign relations committee. There is another challenger, a teacher. Engel is a hawk - what does that mean? He would spend trillions on war shit which explains why education is short changed.

NEW YORK REP. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is facing two primary challengers whose newly launched campaigns feature a number of progressive policy priorities. Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal and educator, and Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a special education teacher, have both narrowed in on Engel’s foreign policy, which is to the right of most Democrats, in their challenges to the 16-term representative.
The race in New York’s 16th District is a top priority for Justice Democrats, the grassroots group that helped bring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress; it is the second 2020 primary challenge the group has waded into so far. The group had several conversations with Ghebreghiorgis, a 33-year-old educator from Mount Vernon, New York, before deciding to endorse Bowman, who announced his campaign on Tuesday. Engel, who was first elected to represent New York’s 19th District in 1988, is out of touch with an increasingly diverse electorate, his critics say, pointing to the fact that the 16th District has a majority nonwhite, working-class population.
Two challengers is a serious problem and makes defeating Engel almost impossible. If the Democratic Socialists support Jamaal, he will have a serious number of troops at his disposal to counter the regular Bronx Democratic machine that will support Engel.

I also bet that the Democratic National Committee is real pissed off  - oh, and the sure bet is the UFT will endorse Engel no matter how much money he takes from education for defense.
More News articles here:

Monday, June 17, 2019

Memo from the RTC: Newsies News, Franky and Johnny The Nothing Podcast

For publication Friday, June 21, 2019

Memo from the RTC:  Newsies News, Franky and Johnny The Nothing Podcast
By Norm Scott

With the set 90% complete, the Newsies (incredibly youthful) cast and crew finally got to rehearse at the theater. As a newly added incredibly non-youthful member to the cast, I attended my first rehearsal on Saturday, joining a few more old fogies. I was offered a small roll apparently because they were running out of old men to cast.

RTC is over two decades old and is continuously renewing itself with many of the productions being directed by former teenage performers now grown up, taking on increasingly major roles. Frank Caiati who is now in his mid-thirties and began at the RTC when in high school, was the first to break out into directing years ago and has been a major force at the RTC for many years and will be directing The Great Gatsby in September (auditions are July 7 and 9). Catherine Leib, another star actor, dancer and singer at RTC will be directing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for the final show of the year.

What is so impressive about this Newsies production is another key RTC 2nd generation member,  Director/choreographer Gabrielle Mangano, who has wowed us with her choreography and dancing for over 15 years, is firmly in charge. James Dalid, another 2nd or even 3rd generation, is assisting. Some of the kids in the production look to be 10 years old – in 20 years they will be 4th and 5th generation directors.

I knew nothing about the play until Saturday and was pleasantly surprised, as a progressive activist, to see how relevant it is to today’s times despite being set in 1899. Exploited newsboys go on strike and many social issues are raised. So this should be fun.

Performances: July 19, 20, 26, 27/Aug 2, 3 at 8PM. Matinees July 21, 28, Aug. 4 t 2 PM. Tickets – Adults $25, Seniors/children $20.

Franky and Johnny at the Clair de Bensonhurst
Speaking of key RTC people, John Panepinto, who has had leading and support roles in many productions over the past 8 years and will be joining Frank Caiati as the assistant director of Gatsby, has begun a partnership with Frank in a new podcast along with other RTC vets. They are funny and astute. I will be attending one of their podcasts soon and will be back with some photos. Here are the fundamentals from John.

The Nothing Podcast
Hosts: John Panepinto and Frank Caiati
With: Danielle Rose Fisher, Matt Hunt, Joseph Hagopian and Tom Zaccheo

What makes somebody "Important"? Each week, two self-proclaimed “nobodies”,  John Panepinto and Frank Caiati and their equally lost production team will interview a regular every day person to learn what it is about them and their career that makes them a “somebody.” The conceit lies in the idea that anybody and everybody is interesting. From the highest paid doctor to the lowest paid street cleaner, everybody has a story to tell and we want to hear it. Do you know what it takes to be a garbage man? Or a priest? Or a politician? Neither do we. But we’re going to find out.

Hear us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and GooglePlay
Or right on our homepage at
Social: Instagram and Twitter: @TheNothingPod
Facebook: The Nothing Podcast With Nobody Important

About us: We are a group of Brooklyn natives (and one Queens) who
decided they wanted to learn more about the people around them. The show is recorded and produced in the heart of Bensonhurst, a staple of "Old Brooklyn." The guests range from local everyday workers like a doctor, a soldier or a lawyer just to name a few, to celebrities who came from Brooklyn to locals who hit it big like host of the Travel Channels "Hotel Impossible", Anthony Melchiorri. And though the show does not, by nature, feature the neighborhood, with one listen it's obvious that the hosts are taking the old Brooklyn sensibilities and trying to branch them out to the rest of the world. We're always looking for more guests and while we hope to build a solid following we also hope to be able to learn even more about average every day people doing average (important) things.
Norm’s other WAVE column is School Scope and he blogs daily at ednotesonline. com