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5/13/2001: ON THE QT #3

WELCOME

to issue 3 of On The Qt. Another bag of goodies about baddies. The political kind, regardless of ideological persuasion. Left or Right-- we don't discriminate. On The QT posits that the need for REFORM has become so pressing that it qualifies as a movement unto itself. Our subject matter ranges from the micro to the mega. Whether it's garbage rotting in your neighborhood or in the halls of government. The old adage

LAY DOWN WITH PIGS

and get up smelling like garbage is oh so true. Sniff sniff. A majority of Americans believe current campaign finance practices are corrupt or unethical. Potus The Last treated the White House like his own personal hog wallow. Then came Dubya...

SPEAKING OF ELECTIONS

what follows is a tale of two cities. At opposite ends of the Hudson. Jersey City, New Jersey at the mouth: Albany, New York just below the source. Both cities had an industrial job base which decamped, contributing to the formation of an underclass with nowhere to rise. Both cities have a history of being dominated by Democratic political machines embodied most perfectly by Jersey City's Mayor Frank "I Am The Law" Hague and Albany's paragon of longevity, Erastus Corning. Both cities now have mayors (Jersey City Republican Brett Schundler and Albany Democrat Jerry Jennings) who were first elected in the early 90's. Both ran as reformers who promised to address neighborhood concerns about crime, neglected properties, garbage, noise, etc. Almost a decade later those promises go largely

UNFULFILLED.

Eventually both mayors concentrated on select sections of their cities, funneling into them state and federal development funds and/or granting long term tax abatements. More modest residential neighborhoods got crumbs, flower potties and pie in the sky. The poorest nabes went to hell in a bullet riddled shopping cart. A recent poll revealed residents in Jersey City's low income neighborhoods feel more threatened by crime than those in wealthier ones. Life in a condo compound has its perks. In Albany, Mayor Jerry Jennings didn't acknowledge gang involvement in Albany's flourishing drug trade until after New York City's migrating Crips and Bloods became community fixtures. When forced by publicity to admit the gang problem, Jennings decided to solve it by bulldozing the most hard hit neighborhood. Developers will tear down the low income neighborhood and replace it with-- a denser low income neighborhood. Using massive grants from HUD. Ripley's Believe It Or Not: Jerry Jennings has

NO OPPONENTS

in the upcoming Democratic mayoral primary! Despite a drug trade that just won't quit and flabby property values! Of course Jennings did get Claudia Schiffer's no flab underwear ads removed from city buses. Claudia, by the way, is getting into the hand held computer biz. Perhaps a complimentary (tm) Vx Claudia Schiffer Edition Palm Pilot for BURGERMEISTER Jennings would serve as a peace offering. In the other hand we have the

MULTI OPPONENTS

of Mayor Brett Schundler. Brett is leaving office to run for New Jersey governor. The non partisan mayoral race he left behind was crowded with candidates, most of them running against his record. JC has one daily newspaper and Mayor Schundler meets regularly with the editorial board. Not much TV coverage either. The candidates had to get out there and hustle. And a political cyber storm has swept Jersey City. WEBSITES have bloomed and increasingly serve as news forwarding services and rallying points. Most are partisan: Stop Brett Schundler, No more BS, etc. Some are a tad obsessive. But all are lively, informative and prove that democracy is going strong. The results of the election? Schundler opponent Glen Cunningham won the majority of the vote. But a runoff will be necessary. If ex-police officer Glen Cunningham wins, he will be Jersey City's first African American mayor. And he will have done it by stressing Schundler's development deals and his neglect of neighborhood issues.

OVERDEVELOPED

Hoboken, New Jersey also held a mayoral election. Mayor Anthony Russo, who never met a developer he didn't like, was booted out by reform coalition candidate Dave Roberts. The margin Russo lost by was far larger than expected.

INTERNET PAUL REVERES!

Folks are mounting up for the ride. Which could help bridge the DIGITAL DIVIDE. The divide was the topic of a recent conference at the State University of New York at Albany. As one panel member put it, bridging the divide involves a lot more than just getting wired. Application is the key. A community needn't be wealthy to reap technology's political rewards. Look at

HELL'S KITCHEN

in Midtown Manhattan. Despite recent waves of gentrification Hell's Kitchen is still largely a low income neighborhood. It's also a low rise neighborhood which developers have sought to swallow for years. Some of their plans have succeeded. More threats loom. Like plans for a 62 story tower atop the Biltmore theater. But Hell's Kitchen has proved remarkably resistant. It's beaten back real estate great white sharks like Donald Trump and the Fisher Family and has persistently fought the good fight on issues such as traffic, noise, booze barns and crime. When HOOKERS were lining the streets, Kitchen residents went out and shone flashlights into the cars of cruising johns. The Hell's Kitchen community is highly political with plenty of factional infighting. But when threatened, it pulls together and kicks major community A. It has some dedicated local political representatives. It also has a very effective Website/Email scene which reaches thousands of people, many of whom are not online. News posted electronically is spread via neighborhood and tenant association hardcopy newsletters.

SAY IT WITH ANIMAL TONGUES

and spray painted black roses. That's how Providence Rhode Island Mayor "Buddy" Cianci's co-defendant Edward E. Voccola prefers to communicate. Home confined while awaiting trial for his part in the Cianci administration's "Plunderdome" racketeering scandals, Voccola was ordered by Judge Robert Lovegreen to refrain from mailing animal tongues and black roses to witnesses. Which is what Voccola sent an insurance investigator who successfully nailed him for defrauding 12 insurance companies. When not staging auto accidents Voccola does fabulous flower arrangements.

DON'T CALL US DIRTBAGS

pleaded a bar owner at a government hearing in Montpelier, VERMONT. Under consideration by the state's House Committee of General, Military and Housing Affairs is the easing of penalties for those caught serving booze to minors. Committee Chairman Allan Palmer implied that since booze is hard for minors to get in Vermont, kids turn to heroin. Dirtbag logic, anyone?

HELP YOURSELF--

the operating principle of dirtbags everywhere. When caught, point finger elsewhere. Obfuscate. White collar criminals whine that street thugs run free. Street thugs huff that big guys never do time. Slumlords pose as providers of affordable housing. Drug dealers as misunderstood Robin Hoods. Some say hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. It's also a way to beat the rap.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Predatory Mortgage Lenders/Student Ghetto Online Photo Essay/ Buried In Kansas, Still Leaking/Corrupto Updates/Do Boom Cars Cause Cancer?/HUD's Historic Hovels/Booze Barn Riots/James Traficant's Ohio Elephant/DC City-Statehood?/& More More More

"One hates to think the worst, but unfortunately my dear, it's so often true."

Miss Jane Marple

"In Cyberspace, the First Amendment is a local ordinance."

John Perry Barlow

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Copyright (c) 2005 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.


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