Sunday, September 15, 2013

The role of Jobs for New York in Council races still resonates (if you notice)

The Jobs for New York role in the recent City Council election won't be forgotten, even if some downplay it. Times columnist Gail Collins' lighthearted 9/12/13 column, New York Has a Message. provoked a forceful response from 35th Council District resident Sandy Reiburn:
If that Tip O'Neill's adage about all politics being local is important..the NY Times has failed to make that a reality. What the NY Times, as well as much of the blogosphere and 24/7 competitors for readers & viewers, have done has been a disservice to the "locals".
The perfect example: Instead of focusing and reporting on the actual impact of the Citizens United ruling which enabled unlimited (in the case of NYC/Brooklyn) money to purchase City Council members seats...we got details on sexting..Afro-do's...gay wives...and all the irrelevant stuff which appeals to brain dead readers of tabloids. Whatever was published about local concerns was inadequate and too late in coming...
What happened in our Ft Greene/Clinton Hill race was appalling...the journalists at the NY Times were too busy seeking the salacious and the sarcastic...reporting facts just isn't "sexy"...The discrepancy in money thrown at "their" candidates by the real estate and luxury housing builders will have an impact well beyond the snark. We now have a City Council member ...unqualified and beholden to the REBNY interests what "brung her" because our press (other than the Daily News, it must be said) managed to find the column space to stress the unimportant...and dismiss the vital. 
That's what this week's election meant to me...and what my paper of record failed to do in reporting. 
I'm not sure that Jobs for New York can be credited for Laurie Cumbo's win--she had broad backing from unions and elected officials, name recognition from the museum she founded, and worked hard on her campaign--but it sure can be credited for ensuring an unequal playing field.

Jobs for NY a winner

City and State called Jobs for New York one if last week's winners:
Jobs For New York - If there were any doubt that the post-Citizens United era had come to New York City politics, it was put to rest by Jobs For New York PAC, bankrolled with millions of dollars by the Real Estate Board of New York, backed by unions like UFCW Local 1500 and the Mason Tenders, and masterminded by Parkside Group. Rather than directing its fire power at the citywide offices, JFNY threw its significant heft behind a host of Council candidates across the five borough, sending a clear message to 51 folks that they better listen carefully to the real estate industry or there will be consequences.
The newspaper also called the city's dailies one of the losers, given that their endorsements of Christine Quinn had no impact. I should note that the Times, the only paper to endorse in the 35th, endorsed Cumbo rival Ede Fox, though it published no news articles on the race.

Times columnist Jim Dwyer, on 9/13/13, wrote Surge in Independent Spending Is Reshaping City’s Elections, focusing on anti-Quinn spending but also mentioning the unprecedented spending by Jobs for New York, about $275,000 per race, swam[ing "the $160,000 the candidates themselves could spend on their campaigns if they participated in the public financing program."

While some 80 percent of the candidates backed by Jobs for New York won their races, in some cases they were already the front-runners or at least close to the front.

In today's Times column, Building Blocs, Not Lofts, Ginia Bellafante addressed the insurgent victories of Brooklyn candidates Antonio Reynoso, and Carlos Menchaca:
Worries that Sunset Park will become the next Williamsburg or Dumbo are hardly unfounded. Jobs for New York, a political action committee set up in part by real estate developers, spent an astonishing $7 million on Council races this year, close to $1 million of it in rapidly gentrifying areas like Astoria in Queens and Crown Heights and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn.
The group spent close to $300,000 trying to get Ms. [Sara] Gonz├ílez re-elected, vastly more than Mr. Menchaca’s campaign spent altogether. The $300,000 does not include the more than $50,000 the group spent specifically opposing Mr. Menchaca, printing fliers, for instance, that painted him as an arriviste who had moved to New York from Texas only recently, when he had in fact been here for nine years.
Hardly an antagonist of the real estate industry, Mr. Menchaca had worked in economic development for Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, before he took a job with the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, doing outreach to gay men and lesbians.
While Gonzalez had Jobs for New York, Menchaca had a wide array of labor and liberal endorsements, including the Working Families Party.

Local apathy

Another Times Metropolitan section feature today, the generally insipid "At the Table" series, contains this account of 20somethings:
WHAT THEY DIDN’T TALK ABOUT “We haven’t talked about the election at all,” Mr. Torre said. “Not too into it. I didn’t vote. I’m registered in New York, but I don’t know much about the candidates, I have to say. I’ve heard a little bit about them, but I feel I don’t know enough right now.”
Ms. Stieglitz, too, abstained. “I don’t really follow it too much, actually,” she said.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:32 PM

    Cumbo had very little name recognition from MoCada, the Unions she had with the exception of one didn't have strong memberships in the 35th and were more focused on the bigger stuff. The electeds also were not an issue because only one, Jeffries really mattered, but the transferability wasn't there. REBNY was the deal breaker.

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