Tuesday’s Headlines: Just Get Out There And Vote Edition

You may have heard that there’s an election coming up. Well, it’s today. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., so get it done, people. At Streetsblog, we’ve certainly given you the tools, what with our relentless election coverage, archived here, plus our seemingly daily coverage of street safety pariah Marty Golden, who is facing a challenge from Democrat Andrew Gounardes (who got help from Ben Stiller and Andrew Cuomo on Monday).

It’s an important election. Please vote.

And now, the news:

  • The Times broke a big story that Amazon appears to be moving part of its massive HQ2 to Long Island City, which would really make Laura Shepard’s story about development of the Sunnyside Yards even more timely than it was when we published it! And, of course, Brian Howald had the perfect tweet.
  • Shepard was also in the news for a great video she posted on Facebook about why she supports Ballot Proposition 3, the community board term limit question. Streetsblog is also urging a YES vote on question 3 because community boards are disproportionately filled with old white men rather than reflective of the diverse communities they are supposed to reflect.
  • Fear of an Uber planet? Legend and rapper Chuck D posted a picture of himself on the subway on social media and called out the car service company as a “dumb way” to move around the city. He’s right. (NY Post)
  • The Brooklyn Bridge will be shut to cars, pedestrians and cyclists briefly on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons so El Chapo won’t get shot, escape or both. (NY Post)
  • The Wall Street Journal, in its apparent glee over the idea of cars that can communicate with each other, still uses the term “accident” to describe when a driver does such a bad job that he or she crashes into a pedestrian or cyclist. Safety, you’ll recall, is no accident. (WSJ)

  • Larry Littlefield

    Just found out Kevin Parker is my State Senator. I had not heard from him, or about him, in years.

    The state assemblymember, who was essentially appointed to replace the prior state assemblymember, the state senator, and the member of the house who allegedly represent me ran basically unopposed.

    Because as long as they play along and represent the people they actually represent, you aren’t really allowed to run against them, so no one does.

    But yeah, show up and vote.

  • Maggie

    Right, 100%. Show. Up. And. Vote.

    Breeding cynicism about the importance of voting on the morning of Election Day is, to choose a strong word, gross. If you wish you had different choices on the ballot today then get involved in the primary system. If you want to connect with your state senator, reach out to their office. If you want to write in a different candidate as a protest vote, there’s a spot right on the ballot for that purpose. It’s not that hard.

    Nobody should sit home today thinking they’re some kind of hero for not voting. Please.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I did show up and vote, for what it is worth, as I do every time.

    But lets face it, absent term limits (which I favor, along with constitutional convention, which I also favored to get them at the state level) there aren’t going to be any elections where I live.

    I’m just glad (and pleasantly surprised) that they didn’t sneak NYC term limit repeal onto the ballot. Probably figured too many people would be voting. Perhaps next year.

  • Maggie

    Well, I cast a write-in vote today because I don’t support any of the candidates on the ballot. Never in a million years would I call that “not having an election.” There are a myriad of voices out there this year trying to suppress voting. You certainly don’t have to be one of them.

    Every vote counts and just because you’re unhappy with the candidates on your ballot, please do not discourage other people from participating. Control of Virginia’s state legislature last year hinged on Republicans in the chamber certifying a spoiled ballot to get themselves to a tie, then literally drawing a name from a bowl to control the legislature, and that was on the very same day that Trump’s “electoral fraud” commission disbanded without finding any fraud. You don’t think people in power hope that huge swaths of the electorate stay home? Dream on.

  • HamTech87

    There needs to be a real discussion about transit to LIC HQ2, and that needs to include the Long Island Rail Road. There are two LIRR stations, and better to get westbound riders using them instead of the #7 stations.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They have elections in Virginia.

    One of the problems we have is that it isn’t a two-party system. It’s a one party system virtually everywhere.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Amazon’s supposed criteria are bunk if they are considering moving here, and NoVa. No housing, more expensive and congested than Seattle. I had predicted Philadelphia, mid-way between the two alleged HQ2s but with housing half as expensive.

    All in all, we’d be better off losing and having someone start an Amazon competitor here. I hope the business community gets together and starts one in every city that Amazon itself identified as a good place to locate a company such as theirs, other than the ones they choose.

    Boston already has Wayfair.

  • Joe R.

    Didn’t they already try that not long after term limits passed? I remember having a conversation with my mother to the effect of “This is the second time they’re asking people to repeal term limits. This reminds of some computer programs that offer you multiple chances to cancel the same action. Are you sure you want to delete that? Are you really sure you want to delete that?”

    The bigger program with NYC politics isn’t term limits or lack of them. It’s the fact in most of the city we essentially have a one-party system. A lot of people will vote for Mickey Mouse if there’s a D next to his name. I blame both parties for this. Neither party fields candidates who don’t pass a litmus test on certain issues. End result is most NYC politicians are tax-and-spend liberals with a propensity for making laws which create a nanny state. The Republicans have failed time and again to get people on the ballot who might have mainstream appeal to NYC voters. For example, get someone who is a social liberal but a fiscal conservative, who might lower taxes on the middle class, raise them on the rich, rebuild infrastructure, get rid of silly laws, and fight the worst excesses of the public labor unions. In Queens and Staten Island especially a person like that could win. Instead, we get half-assed people like DeBlasio who seem to support whatever will get them the most votes and most campaign contributions.

  • Maggie

    I think you may have missed my point, or perhaps you were being obtuse on purpose? Control of the Virginia House last year hinged on a single vote. The party in charge recertified a spoiled ballot just to get themselves to a tie.

    There are knife-edge races today. Every vote matters.

    And look at the New York State senate race today. Many people have worked very hard to flip the chamber blue.

  • Joe R.

    I hate to say this, but I think we’re already long past the point where voting can make much difference. Part of the problem is the system. Those in charge learned very well how to game the system in their favor. When this happens the only hope is to change it completely so the learning curve starts all over again. This is why revolutions every now and then are a healthy thing. It’s been what, 253 years since the American Revolution started? We’re long overdue for another. I would even be happy if the end result of that was splitting the country into a few parts, like the two coasts, and middle America each becoming countries.

    When I look at infrastructure, education, medical care in the US it’s clear to me we’re well on our way to becoming a third-world country, if we haven’t already. All we need is a maniacal dictator. Guess what? We practically have one of those. Change a few laws, get rid of Presidential term limits, and then have Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump, Jr. next in line as dictator when their father dies or gets too old to rule.

    Anyone who really wants to change things now is going to have to get their hands dirty. If they can get the army on their side, it’ll be a lot less bloodshed when the revolution starts. If we’re really lucky, we can have a nearly bloodless coup. But the days where we can change things at the voting booth passed maybe about 20 years ago, perhaps even before that.

  • Maggie

    We have divided government at the state level and relatively unified government at the city level.

    As a woman who cares about issues like the environment, I don’t spend a lot of time fretting about the argument that the two parties are the same.

  • Joe R.

    Unfortunately, the environment is low on the list of issues voters care about, even in NYC. Granted, it’s the one issue where you see the biggest divide between the two parties, but so far elections aren’t won or lost based on a candidate’s environmental stance. I care more than most about this issue because as a scientist and an engineer I realize the time is up. If we don’t take serious actions yesterday, then to paraphrase a line from Aliens “‘Cause if the climate goes south then that *will* be all! And all this, this *bullshit* you think is so important you can just kiss all of that goodbye!”

    Or put in more colloquial terms nothing else matters much if we don’t have a habitable planet. My guess is it’ll take a few really bad storms much worse than Sanday before we finally wake up. I just hope it’s not too late by then.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There were virtually no issues in this campaign. It was pretty much which tribe are you in, and how do you feel about Donald Trump?

    Which is why in a one party district like mine, where the incumbents follow the orders of the most powerful special interests, there is no real election.

  • HamTech87

    I thought Philly was perfect too, and could have been the most transformative of transit: http://planphilly.com/articles/2017/10/10/analysis-how-septa-can-turn-regional-rail-in-philly-into-high-frequency-rapid-transit

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    You make a very good point about Parker and, I’m assuming, Yvette Clarke. But there are solutions to essentially shrugging your shoulders: you could run. Or you could encourage others to run.

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    The Gounardes vs. Golden race is going to be close, and it is a crucial race.

  • Joe R.

    Larry did run once, although I don’t recall for which position. The problem is people who are honest and say what the general public doesn’t want to hear seldom get elected.

  • Simon Phearson

    So it seems to me, Joe, that you have only one option: To take up the cause of the revolution. Get out there and start overthrowing. Organize an insurgency. Whatever.

    Oh, you don’t want to? You mean all of this high-temperature rhetoric about the futility of elections in modern politics is just cover for a deeper apathy you’re ashamed to admit?

    Anyone who believes what you claim to believe has really only two options: either they work hard from inside the system to reform it, or they begin to organize the revolution they claim to be inevitable and necessary. Anyone who makes these kinds of grandiose claims in order to just sit out elections is just protesting too much. Get off your ass, or shut your god damn mouth.

  • Joe R.

    Most revolutions are started by people like me putting the idea into other people’s heads. Organizing a revolution is a multigenerational thing. Look at history. I have neither the time nor the energy nor the money nor the connections to do such a thing. All I can do is help get people angry at the system. It might take 20 or 30 years of people getting angrier before you have a large enough base of supporters such that a revolution can succeed. Here’s the history of the American Revolution, for example:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution

    Look at the timelines. We’re definitely in the earlier stages where people are angry, are trying to change the system from within, but are starting to realize that can’t work.

    The only thing I can think of which might work, short of a revolution, is getting enough billionaires on our sides such that their money can overwhelm whatever corporate interests spend. Unfortunately, the wealthy are typically aligned with corporate interests.

    All of this is probably moot anyway. If we don’t tackle the environmental issues soon we’re probably looking at a Mad Max future.

    On another note, not all revolutions need be violent. I personally feel if we could go to a direct democracy we might succeed where others have failed. With the Internet a direct democracy would be quite feasible. People can propose new laws, or propose eliminating old ones. If they get a certain number of supporters, their proposal comes to a general vote. Maybe voting on proposals takes place online weekly or biweekly. By cutting out the middle man, namely representatives, the influence of the wealthy few can be mitigated.This system would also be a lot more responsive to what the people want. Under the current system, change takes place at a glacial pace.

  • Robert Perris

    Hi Gersh. What is your source for the statement, “community boards are disproportionately filled with old white men”? Please don’t point me to the research elsewhere about volunteer community groups because the ballot measure doesn’t apply to them. And please don’t tell me about the handful of Queens community boards that we keep hearing about because the ballot measure is citywide. Please provide me with your source for the statement that the 59 New York City community boards collectively are “disproportionately filled with old white men”.

    Because at Brooklyn Community Board 2, we have old white men, old white women, old black women, our second teenage member and folks of all ages in-between. Some own their homes; others rent. In the past, we have had several members who use a wheelchair for mobility and a current member is blind. There’s this one guy; I am pretty sure that he’s a homosexual (anachronistic phrasing and word choice intentional).

    Heck, we’ve got Brian Howald! I look forward to reviewing your data. Best personal regards, your long-time acquaintance, Rob

  • Joe R.

    Anyone who makes these kinds of grandiose claims in order to just sit out elections is just protesting too much.

    Who is sitting out elections? I consistently voted for years, until I got tired of my choices usually losing, and also until both major parties focused on issues which are mostly unimportant.

    I personally think sitting out elections is a great strategy if the person either hasn’t bothered taking the time to educate themselves on the candidates, or lacks the intelligence to understand the issues. I don’t want people voting who are just going to go in and pull down any lever with a D or an R next to it. Both parties love voters like that.

  • Joe R.

    Even if community boards ARE disproportionately filled with old, white men it wouldn’t matter if there was a diversity of opinion. I think we should focus less on the race/age/gender/sexual preference of people and more on whether or not they’re up to whatever job we hire them for. It’s nice if the makeup of personnel at any given entity reflects the makeup of the population at large but it’s not always realistic or possible for that to happen.

    The biggest problem with community boards, which I don’t think term limits will solve, is the fact they’re unpaid positions. By definition that means you’ll mostly get people who are either retired, or don’t need to work because they have some other means of support. In general it means boards will skew both older and wealthier than the general population. That means more car owners who have a vested interest to protect parking spots and traffic lanes. Maybe the next proposition should make community boards paid positions.

  • Larry Littlefield

    State assembly. Been there, tried that, when I realized (in 2004) that the subway system was being wrecked financially.

    http://www.ipny.org/littlefield/civicunion2020.html

    http://r8ny.com/2008/02/28/are-you-an-american-in-any-meaningful-sense/

    Only Eric Engquist wrote about it. That was before I realized that EVERYTHING was being similarly wrecked, across the board.

    Anyone who knows anything and is willing to tilt at that windmill, I’m in favor, despite it being mostly too late. Those who benefitted from doing the damage shouldn’t be the ones deciding how it should be allocated, and even making it more difficult for the victims to adapt..

  • Joe R.

    I think you need to see the big picture. For literally decades, big companies avoided NYC like the plague, other than if they were finance, advertising, or entertainment. It’s nice to see a company locate here which will need engineers and other technical positions. 30 years too late for me but at least somebody going to Bronx Science now won’t have the dilemma I did of either staying in NYC perpetually underemployed, or relocating to work at a hell-hole suburban office park. Amazon moving here could have a synergistic effect where other high-tech companies put branches here, perhaps even main headquarters. I’d like to see NYC become a center where major engineering, science, and research firms choose to set up shop.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Their transit system is vulnerable to collapse but well designed and under capacity. Amazon could have made a difference. And the location — right next to 30th Street station — could have put its employees in Washington and New York faster than many of us commute to Manhattan from Brooklyn.

    “30 years too late for me but at least somebody going to Bronx Science now won’t have the dilemma I did of either staying in NYC perpetually underemployed.”

    That’s the point — when they were needed, and could have gotten in on the ground floor, no one would come. Now we don’t need them.

    The lemmings all fled the city, because that’s what everyone else was doing, and now they all have to be in one of seven cities, for the same reason. They get paid big bucks to essentially say “mooooo.” And those Amazon coders are going price out the Bronx Science guys.

  • Simon Phearson

    Both parties love voters like that.

    You mean, eligible voters who don’t bother to vote? They sure do.

  • Robert Perris

    I just took a look at our roster with your comments in mind and by my estimation, 32 of the members of Brooklyn CB2 work, 12 are retired, two don’t work because they are in a single-income household, one doesn’t work because she is a student, two may receive some form of public support and I just don’t know about one member. Put another way, two-thirds of the members manage to hold a job or go to school and serve on a volunteer basis as community board members. And most of the retirees held jobs when they were first appointed; they didn’t apply for membership when they had new-found free time.

    What you are saying, Joe, may be true in some places but certainly not at Brooklyn Community Board 2. But you’re hypothesizing and I suspect that Gersh is generalizing. (I’m still waiting on that data but it’s late, so I don’t expect it tonight.)

    Now that the polls have closed and my expressing an opinion does not constitute campaigning, what we need is better record keeping and more accountability in appointments. The same people who allegedly have been doing a poor job of appointing community board members are going to be the same people filling the vacancies created by term limits. Term limits seem the wrong solution to what probably is a real problem, but not one as universal as proponents of the scheme have made out.

  • Simon Phearson

    Most revolutions are started by people like me putting the idea into other people’s heads.

    So you’re not only making these grandiose, historical claims to cover for your apathy, you’re also claiming to further the cause – in a way that conveniently allows you to escape any of the consequences of your actions!

    Pathetic.

    Some of us will have to live with the world you’re trying to create. If you can’t help us create a better world, don’t actively work to destroy it.

  • Joe R.

    That’s why I’m cool to the idea of term limits for nonelected officials. I think it’s a relatively good idea for elected officials, even if there may be unforeseen consequences, like not being able to reelect someone who is doing a great job and still has fresh ideas.

    Your statistics are very interesting. I’m not saying a working person can’t serve on a community board. However, my thinking is they’ll probably miss more meetings and be less instrumental in making proposals than those who can attend every meeting, spend hours finding citizens who share their complaints, and so forth. That’s why I think we should really explore the idea of pay. It should be enough so the appointed person can quit whatever job they’re holding for the duration of their appointment.

  • Joe R.

    You’re not getting it at all. If we don’t have major changes soon in lots of facets of life, the world as we both know it is no longer going to exist. Maybe we’ll both be dead by the time that happens, but it’s coming. You’re complaints about actively destroying the world should be directed at the people who did all of the following:

    1) Steadily eroded middle class wages over the last 50 years.
    2) Let the infrastructure deteriorate.
    3) Borrowed to pay present expenses, leaving you and I and those coming after to pay.
    4) Let corporations deforest and pollute the planet, perhaps to the point recovery may take centuries, even millenia.
    5) Ended manned exploration of space, which is one of the things whose benefits far outweigh its costs.
    6) Let the health care system become the expensive, ineffective monster which exists today.
    7) Let the educational system become pretty much the same thing.
    8) Actively fought alternative energy and transportation.

    There are probably hundreds of things in that list, most of which are thanks to policies which began before you or I were born.

    All I’m doing is throwing ideas out there. In my opinion, human nature being what it is, I don’t think things will be fixed in time. I just hope I’m dead before it gets really bad.

    I’m far from the only one who feels that way:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/24/end-civilisation-take-different-path

    https://medium.com/vandal-press/3-reasons-why-america-is-about-to-end-138b1e18bcf4

    https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/the-fall-of-the-american-empire-will-come-by-2030-predicts-famed-historian

    Shoot the messenger if you must, but don’t ignore the message.

  • Joe R.

    No, I mean idiots who vote for the party, then when you ask them who they voted for, they can’t even give you a name. Maybe voter apathy is worse, or maybe not, but neither are good for democracy.

  • Joe R.

    Oh, and as an aside, if you think I should get involved more than I am here’s how you or someone else can help:

    1) Find and pay for someone able to take care of my mother, who needs to be attended to 24/7, while I’m out doing whatever. I have no family members who can help regularly, nor do we have the money to pay people (i.e. it’s easily $200 a day). My mom got out of rehab on January 26. I haven’t had a day off yet.

    2) Pay me something for my time. Doesn’t have to be a lot (i.e. $50K is probably enough), but I need to make and save money these last years before retiring or I’ll be out on the streets.

    3) Help me connect with people who are in positions to make even a little difference, and are receptive to my messages.

    I probably need help seeing if there are ways of increasing my general energy level also, but the list above is a start. I don’t expect anyone can help with any of this, in which case just don’t chastise me when I get involved the only way I’m really able to at present.

  • The most important thing that you said is that a revolution is a multi-generational process.

    A revolution needs a vanguard, the most advanced and class-conscious section of the working class. But it also needs the support of the masses of working-class people. Therefore, the job of a revolutionary living in a period when the majority of workers possess no such consciousness is to spread the truth about the class struggle.

    It is only after the majority of workers accept the need for revolution that revolution can be undertaken. We must be clear that no one currently alive will ever see that day. Indeed, the fog of false consciousness is so thick that that day might never come. But the struggle aimed at reaching that day is the very point of political engagement.

    The fundamental political acts consist of presenting arguments in any forum in which others’ consciousness could be raised, and also of setting a good example with one’s own conduct. The personal is political.

  • Joe R.

    Thank you, exactly the point I was trying to make, but you expressed it much, much better than I could. Maybe you’re a better choice than me to be at the vanguard of a revolution.

  • Taking a car is not necessarily a “dumb” way to get around. I live in Stuy town, and will sometimes treat myself to a ride to the east village or Union square for dinner. The subway doesn’t serve every transit need in the city, not even close. Blanket statements like Chuck D’s are what’s “dumb”. Besides, his argument hinges on perceived “music execs” who he claims rely on Uber to travel three blocks. Anyways the music industry has been decimated. There aren’t a whole lot of execs living large off record sales in 2018.

  • Robert Perris

    I don’t think it’s a major leap of reasoning to write, three days later:
    no response = I don’t have a source = I am pretty much guessing