Posted by: vote4claxton | December 14, 2007



2009 will be huge political year for New Yorkers

By Nayaba Arinde, Amsterdam News, 14 December 2007. English Language.

The 2008 presidential election notwithstanding, in New York, the year 2009 will be a whirlwind of grassroots and mainstream political activity. Those in the business of caring about the issues will train their collective mind on the vast number of upcoming city [government] vacancies and how to engage the concentrated interest of the youth, the disinterested and the disenfranchised in the next few months.

Seats up for grabs include: the mayoralty, the public advocate, the comptroller, four borough president seats, 36 City Council seats and congressional seats.

The Amsterdam News asked some city activists for their perspectives on the political future of the city.

“I think that has been the problem in the past. Black people, specifically, have been under-involved in electoral politics,” artist and activist Nana Soul told the AmNews. “We have yet to evolve past the mindset that voting is enough. Keeping tabs on candidates, following their stated platforms and their follow-through is equally as important.

“Additionally, the only way that we can really engage the disenfranchised – and the disenfranchised are youth as well as elders and those in between – is by being able to pull off a series of successes that demonstrate our power as a community. Being engaged in all aspects of community will have a tremendous impact on how we engage in electoral politics. We can’t separate one from the other. If we can’t name a street after who we want, if we can’t procure justice for those targeted by law enforcement and the justice system, and if we can’t house the homeless, educate our youth and feed the hungry, it will reflect on how well our interests are served by those in office. An opening of seats doesn’t necessarily mean that we are being given a chance to gain representation; it simply means that we must seize the opportunity.”

Speaking on changing the political paradigm, December 12th Movement co-founder Omowale Clay noted, “It is imperative that we elect representatives that speak to a Black agenda for the local communities that they represent. Our communities cannot and will not survive if we continue to elect Black representation that is owned by a white, racist, Democratic machine.

“The battle over the naming of four blocks in Bed-Stuy for the local/national Black nationalist hero, Sunny Abubadika Carson, demonstrated that if our elected officials could not stand up for this issue, what possible principles could we ever expect them to uphold, being led like puppets by this same Democratic machine?”

“Two thousand and eight and 2009 are very critical years for the future of our city,” said Kevin Powell, community activist and writer. “Between George Bush’s devastating emphasis on wars abroad at the expense of our cities, we’ve witnessed cutbacks in necessary social programs, violence run amok, high levels of unemployment and despair, the explosion of prisons as big business and the subprime mortgage crisis. And, locally, we New Yorkers have been caught up in the whirlwind of a so-called development movement that has made it nearly impossible for many middle- and working-class folks to live here.”

Powell, who is pondering a second run for Congress in Brooklyn, continued, “I think those issues and more are going to lead to more folks hitting the polls and demanding a new kind of leadership from elected officials. And it is going to be the leaders who have the courage to speak the truth on behalf of the people who are going to get folks to the polls, who have plans of action, who are going to win.”

The Black community as a collective holds incredible economic – and therefore political – power that goes unquantified and unrealized for the most part.

BlackBallot.Com, the research firm, states that there are 38.7 million Blacks in the United States with (in 2005) $761 million in consumer spending power.

Councilman Charles Barron (D-NY) is ecstatic by the possibility of what 2009 could render for the Black, Latino and Asian communities.

“There will be a totally new administration in 2009,” he told the AmNews. “There will be 36 new seats in the City Council; there’ll be elections for a new mayor, new public advocate, new comptroller and four borough presidents. This is going to be an opportunity for us to gain power in this city, because Black, Latino and Asian people make up 62 percent of the population in New York City; 38 percent is white. We are the new majority, whites are the minority. We need to develop a new mentality to acknowledge the fact that we are the new majority, so that we can begin to act like it, talk like it and vote like it. And we can do that in 2009.”

With unveiled optimism, Barron continued, “A Black, Latino or Asian can take all those positions that are to be vacated. Why not? We can take control of the most powerful city in the world, with its $60 billion budget. That is larger than 48 state budgets in the United States; and it is larger than every single budget in any African, Caribbean and Latin American nation. It is certainly bigger than any single budget in Asia or even Europe.

“So we Blacks and Latinos, it is our turn now to be in a power position and determine the policies and the budget priorities and who the commissioners are going to be. We can get rid of the Ray Kelly types, with his underlings who routinely terrorize our community, and Nicholas Scoppeta, with his 97 percent white fire department.

“We can get rid of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and John Mattingly, where they have been testing AIDS drugs on our children without their parents’ consent. And we can get rid of the very unqualified Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. This is our time to make structural changes. We can get rid of poverty in the South Bronx, with 42 percent poverty – the most impoverished congressional district in the country – with Harlem and Central Brooklyn at 30 percent, in the richest country in the world.”

On a numerical roll, Barron continued, “New York has the nation’s fourth-largest budget. The federal government has a $2.7 trillion budget, California has $130 to $140 billion; and the state of New York has a $120 billion budget. So what the hell are we doing with poverty in our boroughs? With the government feeling it is all right to be spending $770 billion for an unjust war, there shouldn’t be any problems building up New Orleans or [insuring] 47 million uninsured Americans. Those are capitalism contradictions that you can have a filthy-rich nation and Native American reservations and homeless and hungry people nationwide.”

Preparing for the monthly Operation P.O.W.E.R. (People Organizing and Working for Empowerment and Respect) meeting at the House of the Lord Church (415 Atlantic Avenue, at Nevins Street), Barron said that the grassroots organization is focusing on “meeting the challenge in 2009. We meet every month and we hold political clinics, and this week we will be talking about the budget, developing leadership and how to win an election. We’ve been meeting for three or four months now, and we want to develop new candidates who are not going to be afraid to deal with racism, how to get our Black men employed, how to stop the foreclosures, how to deal with police terrorism, the prison industrial complex, the question of reparations and freeing political prisoners.”

Barron continued, “This is our time. We have the numbers. We can be mayor, public advocate, comptroller and appoint the commissioners, and run the City Council. Twenty-five of the 51 council members are Black (13), Latino (11) and Asian (1). We can move from plantation politics and the dictatorship of the speaker, and put real dedicated Blacks, Latinos and Asians in office. And not domestic neo-colonialists.”

Barron, who is planning a run for Brooklyn Borough president, concluded, “We have to build off this Barack Obama movement in New York City and build a movement that will transform the white male-dominated power structure, and we have to do that if want improve our quality of life.”

We as a people are in desperate need of effective, visionary leadership. What is especially painful is that Black elected officials have traded in the needs of their base to keep their jobs,” said Marquez Claxton, co-founder of civil rights organization 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.“If we begin to critically analyze what role the Black politician has played in the socio-economic and educational descent in our communities, a lot of the legacies of some longtime Black politicians would be exposed as lies because we have grown tired of pathetic, selfish, cowardly, ineffective political leadership.”

As 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement discusses the possibility of running candidates in a few of the upcoming political races, Claxton concluded, “We won’t have to merely throw rocks at the throne, we may flip it over.”



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