Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's On! Post-Holiday Fundraiser Bash coming January 7th

It's the 8th Annual Fancy Schmancy, the 2nd Annual Vote for Dave Kerpen Fancy Schmancy Fundraiser, and it's first ever post-New Year's Fancy Schmancy! It's coming Wednesday, January 7th, from 6pm-9pm at the beautiful Trattoria Lucia restaurant in our district in Bellerose, and I hope you can make it! RSVP info to follow soon!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Tweetsgiving AND Happy Thanksgiving!

Our campaign just gave $100 to Tweetsgiving.Org a project of the nonprofit group Epic Change. This is an incredible project that has proven again the power of social media in order to enact change and in order to raise funds. This time, it's been lots of small donations through popular microblogging site Twitter that have helped to raise $10,000 in just 48 hours.

Barack Obama proved this year in his Presidential campaign that mobile marketing and social media can make A HUGE difference in mobilizing people for change. We are proud to support this worthy cause and look forward to demonstrating in '09 the power of social media in a local campaign, when we take on the New York City Council.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Tweetsgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Waiting Game & Happy Thanksgiving

Term limits have been extended in New York and pending a legal challenge they will remain now at 3 terms. While it appears from everything they've said publicly that current Comptroller Bill Thompson is still running for Mayor and my current City Councilman David Weprin is still running for Comptroller, I hear otherwise.

In fact, I have heard from several different sources that when the dust finally settles, Thompson will seek re-election as Comptroller and Weprin will seek re-election for the Council seat I have worked very hard for over the past year, campaigning and fundraising. Therefore, I am not actively campaigning or raising money until the situation becomes clearer. I owe it to my supporters to not raise money unless I believe I have a shot to win, and I don't believe I'd have a shot to win against Weprin. (If you don't know me, I am an incredible optimist, but also a bit of a realist.) I also think Weprin's done a pretty good job as Councilman.

I am very thankful for the incredible support I have received over the past year and quite confident that in January, when the dust clears, if there is still an open seat to campaign for, I will have ample time to gather the funds and support necessary to win next year's Council election.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes we did!

Congrats to Barack Obama, to winners of elections throughout the country, and to the United States of America. Yes we can, and yes we did!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A disappointing day, for democracy in NYC, and for me

This afternoon, the New York City Council voted to enact a bill into law that would extend term limits to 3 terms, thereby enabling Mayor Michael Bloomberg, other citywide leaders, and themselves to run as incumbents next year.

This was done by a vote of 29-22, overturning not one but 2 public referenda, from 1993 and 1996, on the question of term limits. This was done despite a poll 2 days ago that indicated that a whopping 89% of New Yorkers wanted a voter referendum on term limits if the law was to change.

I sit here, devastated that my recent efforts and the efforts of thousands of New Yorkers to defeat this undemocratic bill have not succeeded. While there will be legal challenges to this decision, it will most likely stand, locking out voters on the term limits issue.

It also affects my own political career pretty profoundly. There is a trickle down effect now: Mayor Bloomberg with his billions will run again for mayor, meaning comptroller Bill Thompson will most likely drop out of the Mayoral race and run as an incumbent for Comptroller, meaning my current councilman, David Weprin, will most likely drop out of the Comptroller's race and run as an incumbent for City Council, which leaves me, well, out in the cold.

I could still run, of course, but I'd be running against an incumbent who has already raised $1.2 million dollars, has a wide support base, and, most important, has done a good job in the district. He even voted "no" on today's horrible bill. So to run against David would be politically and practically foolish.

But somehow I feel cheated. They changed the rules on me midway through the game, and it's not fair. When I was on Paradise Hotel, a 2003 reality tv show, the rules changed midway through the game. But it was never supposed to be a fair game. It was a tv show- not real life.
This is real life, and I spent the last 12 months of my life planning a campaign for an open seat on the Council- fundraising, hosting events, reaching out to hundreds of friends and family throughout the country to support me in this venture. That whole time, I played by the rules- and the now the Mayor and Council have flipped the script on me, and on 150 citywide candidates for Council in '09.

This Council vote was a message to the 89% of New Yorkers that asked for a referendum on term limits. That message: F- you, we know better than you- and we're indispensable. It was also a message to the 150 people running for City Council: F- you, we know better than you, and we're indispendable.

The decision to not give the public a vote on term limits will sour many New Yorkers even further about politics and government, and a cynical young public, on it way to optimism and less cynicism throught the exciting 2008 National campaign season, will sadly revert back to the skeptical view that their vote doesn't matter.

It didn't matter this time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Testimony Before City Council on Changing Term Limits Legislatively

I had an incredible experience yesterday, waiting for 8 hours to speak at City Hall and then eventually delivering 2 minutes of testimony before the Council's Government and Operations Committee. It was times quite exhilarating and uplifting and at times quite frustrating and depressing. The following is my entire testimony:

Written Testimony for the New York City Council
Submitted by Dave Kerpen, 25226 60th Ave, Little Neck, NY 11362

Good afternoon. My name is Dave Kerpen. I am a Queens resident, a former public school teacher, a business owner, and a Democratic candidate for New York City Council next year. Most important, I am a husband and father to 2 little girls. As someone interested in politics and government at all levels- I often talk to my 5 year old daughter Charlotte about the issues in language that she can understand. For example, she is looking forward to coming with me next month to vote for ‘Orock Obama’ and she knows that people in the City Council help to make the schools better and sidewalks cleaner.
A few weeks ago, she saw me reading about the current term limits discussion, and so I explained to Charlotte that the rules may change, so that the Mayor of New York and other leaders like the City Council can stay in their jobs for 4 more years. She responded, and I quote, “Oh. When do we get to vote on that, Daddy?”
It is embarrassing that I had to explain to my 5 year old that we may not vote on that issue. It is embarrassing that there is even a debate over whether this should be done legislatively or via voter referendum. It is embarrassing that Michael Bloomberg called a legislative change in term limits “disgusting” just a few years ago and then introduced this bill. It is embarrassing - and really quite sad - that Bloomberg has gone from being a fearless leader beholden to no party and no special interest– to a politician ignoring the will of the people with one undemocratic, purely political maneuver.
I am philosophically against term limits. But the issue before you isn’t about term limits. It’s about how they should change if they are to change– by a vote of the 51 of you- or a vote open to all New Yorkers. It’s about democracy versus political maneuvering.
I fully understand that it may be legal for you to change term limits law despite the fact that New Yorkers voted otherwise, twice. But is it moral? Is it the right thing to do, to vote on the potential to extend your own jobs when New Yorkers have twice voted against this? Can a self-interested Mayor and City Council possibly be a better, fairer group to vote on this than the people of New York in a special election?
I have great respect for public servants and for the political process. In fact, I have been told on numerous occasions by people that obviously don’t share that same respect- to not to go into politics because it’s too dirty – When I’m told that, I respond that I’m happy to still be an idealist- and I believe there are a lot of good, honest people in politics, in New York and beyond.
I know some of you, and I so I know there are a lot of good, honest people in this room. I am proud that my City Councilman, David Weprin, has been a fervent opponent of the bill introduced by the Mayor, and that as of today, nearly 20 of you have publicly joined with David in this opposition. To those of you who are still publicly undecided, I urge you to consider joining those who oppose Bloomberg’s Bill – because the will of the people must not be ignored, because this issue – and those of you on each side of the bill- will not be soon forgotten by the people of New York – and most of all, because it is the right thing to do.
Thank you for your time, and I am confident you will do the right thing, and let New Yorkers vote on term limits. I hope in a few weeks I can tell my 5 year old daughter that we will, in fact, be getting to vote on that thing we talked about.

P.S. Special thanks to Councilman Robert Jackson, who despite seemingly being in favor of this bill, has courageously joined my Facebook group, New Yorkers for Our Vote to Count, opposing the bill on Facebook at least. :-)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Few Good Guys and Gals in the Council (on Term Limits, at least)

Yesterday, I started a Facebook group, New Yorkers for Our Vote to Count.

My hope is that enough New Yorkers will join this group that the City Council will have to consider the needs and opinion of their constituents they are paid to serve.

Today I attended a press conference organized by The People Have Spoken coalition and Norman Siegel. A few dozen people turned out and several networks and publications were there to witness people asking for a voice in the term limits discussion, so that Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council don't decide for themselves to allow (themselves) a 3rd term in office.

The good news? In an article from yesterday's New York Times, several members of the City Council expressed their intentions to introduce different bills that would give the voters a special referendum to decide on term limits. The good guys so far: Bill DeBlasio, Leticia James, David Weprin, John Liu, and Tony Avella.

This issue has really gotten be fired up- and obviously I am self-interested party too- as an '09 Council hopeful- but the more I've thought about it- the more upset I've gotten. It's really disgusting that there's even a debate over whether voters should have a say on this or not. I don't think I want to be a part of a legislative body that would blatantly disregard the will of voters in order to stay in office and keep the Mayor in office.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bloomberg Wrong to Seek Change in Term Limits Law Without Voters

The New York Times reported today here that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce on Thursday his intention to seek a change in term limits laws through the New York City Council in order to run for a 3rd term as Mayor next year.

Even though he is yet to formally announce this, rumors have been circulating for weeks about it and many were quick to comment. Elizabeth Benjamin of the NY Daily News's political blog has a great summary of reactions from Tony Avella, Bill Thompson, Betsy Gotbaum, John Liu and more here.

I am running for one of 36 seats in the NY City Council that are expected to be open seats, unless of course term limits law is overturned by the Council. So, obviously I have an inherent bias in that it will be much more difficult to win against an incumbent than without an incumbent in the contest. And if campaign finance in New York is further reformed, leveling the playing field in a way similar to that proposed by Council candidate Steve Behar here, then I would probably find myself actually in favor of changes to term limits laws.

However, the NYC voters have spoken twice on this issue, and the Mayor and/or City Council changing the law on term limits without a public referendum is just plain wrong.

It would be a willful and disrepectful act towards the entire voting public of New York to change the law that the public has voted down twice. Mayor Bloomberg has done a terrific job ove the past seven years, but no man or woman is above the law- and in this case it's not right to ignore the public's clear consensus on this issue.

I am proud of my current Councilmember David Weprin's position on this issue. Although Weprin supports a change in term limits law, he believes it should be changed by public referendum only, and introduced a bill to that end a couple of weeks ago. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen, as apparently "there isn't enough time" to allow this to go to public referendum. So the City's legislators will vote to extend term limits to 3 terms, allowing Bloomberg and most of themselves to run for a 3rd term next year.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Proud to be a New Yorker

Today is a tough day for all of us. I tried to avoid it the past few days- and I remember thinking as I looked at my calendar, "What should I do - not schedule meetings? I've got to move on."

This morning, I decided not to move on, at least for a couple of hours. At my wife's recommendation, I listened to WPLJ, normally a morning show I don't like- and they had incredible coverage of September 11th, 7 years later.

It was just people calling in, talking, sharing, and reflecting, but most of all, remembering.

On a day in which some media suggested it was time to move on with their coverage (or lack of coverage) , I chose to be sad, and remember, at least for a few hours.

Hearing of thousands of others doing the same, I was proud to be a New Yorker.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yassky- a Like-Minded Democrat

I attended a Queens Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning at Douglaston Manor at which David Yassky was the keynote speaker. Yassky, the City Councilman from Brooklyn, is now running for Comptroller. He spoke about how, although he is a Democrat, government can sometimes help businesess most by "staying out the way." He spoke about de-regulation, about our ridiculous health-care issues and what the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce doing, and about saving mom-and-pop stores.

I'm a proud Democrat too, but as a small business owner, I happen to agree with Mr. Yassky on just about everything he had to say. Keep up the good work protecting and fighting for small business!

Friday, September 5, 2008

US Govt to Bailout Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac...Think our Economy's in a bit of Trouble?

The New York Times reported tonight here that the United States Government has told top executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that they will be seizing them and placing the 2 companies in a conservatorship in what basically amounts to a government bailout.

This follows months of a down economy and the recent bailout of investment bank giant Bear Stearns earlier this year.

In cities far and wide, including right here in Queens, New York, people are losing their homes, foreclosures are on the rise, and financial companies are struggling.

It is a gross understatement to call this latest news disturbing. It is terrifying. I can only hope that our leaders, current and future, after the election(s) just weeks away, will work together to help steer our country's economy in the right direction.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy Labor Day and a couple of thoughts

This week, we celebrate Labor Day. While many barbecue, go to the beach and enjoy a day off, it's important to remember what this day is all about.

I have a unique position, as both a Union activist, with the United Federation of Teachers, as well as business owner, of theKbuzz. Because of this position, I often find myself at odds with people, and even at odds with myself. :)

There are many complicated issues- which I have explored and will continue to explore over the next months and years.

The bottom line, however, is that both labor and business can simultaneously thrive in this city and country. Both sides need to be willing to compromise and need to always put the people they serve first, whether those people are students, taxpayers, shareholders, or customers.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Racism is Sex-Appeal

So I am following the Olympics sporadically--I'm just watching whatever event's on when I flip on the TV, and not really following. I was really surprised when I heard about an advertisement featuring the Spanish Olympic Basketball team. (You can read the original article about it here and here).

Basically, the ad depicts the basketball team pulling their eyes back into slits, and posing
over an asian dragon. It caused an international furor--even local politicians such as John Liu commented on the implired racism, and it was made worse when the Spanish team won 85-75 against China.

I have mixed feelings about the advertisement--besides noting that it is actually a really bad photo--but what really confuses me is what this has to do with the service being advertised. I've heard, and seen, that sex sells, but I don't understand what the company is trying to say here. It's a Spanish courier company, not related in any way to international events except by the team it chose to represent them. So then, is the implication that in Spain, racism is the newest form of sex-appeal?

As a world citizen, I refuse to believe that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why the Heck Am I Doing This Anyway?

This election is over a year away and already it's been hard. I have a young family, a young, rapidly growing business, and tons of responsibilities. My firm, theKbuzz, is doing great- so I stand to make a great deal more money working in the private sector than in the public sector. I already have 4 opponents and, according to rumors, will almost definitely have one more, extremely-difficult-to-beat opponent in Jack Friedman or Mark Weprin.

So why the heck do this?

The answer, as always, is simple:

I want to help. I want to serve my city. I want to make New York City a better place to live in, for my friends, family, and most important, my children.

Maybe it's selfless- maybe it's totally selfish. After all, I'll be the first to admit- I want to help millions of New Yorkers- but most of all, I'd like to help my 5 year old Charlotte and 1 year old Kate, 2 of millions of children to grow up in a community, borough, and city, with great access to public education, health care, clean, safe streets, and continued access to the greatest city in the world, N.Y.C.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Les problèmes de notre Couverture Maladie- Vous me comprendrez?

Healthcare, its availability and affordability, is a major concern for a good percentage of people, particularly here in New York. Despite working at a doctor's office for over a year, and sometimes as a translator for the patients, I didn't think about how hard it is for non-English immigrants to use our current healthcare system due to language barriers. The ones in real trouble are the senior citizens, who need the health services and cheaper medication, but are lost in all the paper shuffling. Medicare has a Spanish hotline, however, in a city with so many Asians, why isn't there a single one Korean, or Hindu, or Mandarin? Right now, it's mainly up to the discretion of private companies--and there are a few who basically hold niche positions within each community--as well as volunteers in local associations.
It happened to my grandmother. She tried to switch from Oxford to AARP because a representative convinced her that AARP had better dental, and that representative misfiled her information. She ended up losing her Medicare as well, and went without insurance for half a year while she was listed as participating with both plans, they were also both inactive. (Note, if an insurance company can hire representatives who speak other languages, then they should absolutely hire support staff who speak the same languages). She tried to take care of the issue herself, but all three spoke only English and Spanish. She had help writing letters, but she couldn't answer any of the resulting phone calls.
It took me only a day to take care of it.
Many immigrants have probably faced similar situations, but because they didn't know anyone who had the time and fluency to help, they gave up and went without insurance.
It's something to think about.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Partisan Politics, Peter Koo, and Facebook

I like Peter Koo. I've never met him,and don't know too much about him, but from what I've read and heard, he seems like a pretty admirable guy: Self made small business owner, (like I am) very active in the community (like I am)- and now running to be the first Asian American elected to the New York State Senate. (Ok, I'm not that.)

He is also a Republican. (Ok, I'm definitely not that.)

2 days ago, I received an invitation on Facebook to join a group in support of his candidacy. I hesitated for a moment, then joined. I knew he was running against longtime NYS Senator Toby Stavisky, whom I liked and admired. I just wanted to support an underdog, even if he was a Republican.

Within hours, I received a message on Facebook from a young Democrat warning me not to affiliate myself publicly with Koo, a Republican. I thought about it, discussed it with my wife, and, moments ago, left the Facebook group.

The truth is, both parties are riddled with corruption, "machine" politics, and a lot of old-school back-of-the-room deals, and both parties need serious reform. But I am a Democrat, and proud to be one.

I may also be a fiscally-conservative business owner, and a novice running for political office, and I may have a lot in common with Peter Koo. But ultimately, I probably have more in common with Toby Stavisky, a fellow graduate of a specialized public high school (she from Bronx Science, I from Hunter), former public school teacher, lifelong Democrat and champion of the underdog. Stavisky was actually the first woman elected to the NY State Senate!

I wish them both luck, and may the best person win. If Stavisky ever creates a facebook group, maybe I'll join that one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Dying Species

So I moved to Little Neck when I was already fifteen. It was the during the real estate boom, when there were a lot of houses being bought and sold, families moving from district to district. I had already been going to Hunter College High School for several years already, so I had my friends, and my usual hangout places in Manhattan.
I didn't make many friends my age around my home--in fact, my friends in the area graduated with me.
It's also because there are less public places where people would hang out. There is the mall in Douglaston, and McDonalds is always a popular hangout location. But it's generally harder to meet people while shopping or eating.
I'm particularly concerned about the teen and tween sets--adults work, and elementary school children have prearranged play-dates. When I was growing up in Woodside, the public parks were where children, teens, tweens, and adults of all ages hung out. But around here, the only parks I know of are attached to the elementary schools. While they are open to the public during after-school hours, few teens go there most likely because everything is pint-sized. Cunningham Park, which is on the far side, is the only exception. This was quite a shock for someone who grew up just blocks from three different parks.
It's a Little Neck/Douglaston trait--everyone has cars, so there is one big park semi-far away instead of many little ones scattered around. Another trend developing here is with the growth of the McMansions, people now go to each other's houses to use their personal pools, basketball courts, etc. Why bother go to a dirty public playground when you have your own private one?
This is why I'm glad the Queens Libraries are trying to counteract that and promote activities that increase communal integration--they just started teen ballroom lessons, online trivia games, and arts and crafts--a lot more than I remembered even a few years ago. (Many thanks go to the concerned politicians that secured the funding).
However, I don't think this is enough. I have plenty of free time this summer (you know, besides preparing for college, and this internship, and teaching karate), so if anyone knows a cool place to meet new people, do share.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Time for an End to a Cruel & Antiquated Industry in NYC

A new issue has recently come to my attention--ending the horse and carriage industry in New York. The horses are overworked and exposed to dangerous conditions, the drivers are under-insured, and there is always the risk of accidents, especially to the horses. Proponents of the industry, like Mayor Bloomberg, and several City Council members well-funded by the industry, argue that it is an essential part of New York City tourism, but dozens of major cities across the globe have eliminated this antiquated and cruel industry.

A new plan put on the table that I particularly like would have the carriages replaced with electric antique cars. This proposal addresses the loss of jobs for the carriage drivers, and points out an environmentally sound alternative that would still attract tourist interest.A petition to the mayor's office and NY City Council to end this industry now as nearly 10,000 signatures- and you can help get to 10,000 by clicking here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where are all the trash cans?

I live only a few blocks from Dave and Carrie. The neighborhood's really nice and quiet. Which I suppose is why the city decided to take away the garbage cans. Not only is there a general scarcity in garbage cans--who'd ever thought they'd be valuable commodities?--but a couple of cans have disappeared over the years, without explanations or any signs of being replaced. For example, outside P.S. 221 and the North Hills Branch Library, there are NO garbage cans. The closest ones are across the street.
Think about the lesson this teaches the children--they have to walk across Marathon Parkway, a major road, just to throw away the juice bottle or snack wrapper. Its bad enough that there's no recycling specific cans, but this encourages outright littering.
Once you get away from the m
ajor roads and into the neighborhood proper, there are no garbage cans, period. None around any corner. There simply is not enough foot-traffic to support the cost. And many think of them as eyesores.
However, those who live in the neighborhood
end up paying the cost anyway. Garbage gets tossed onto their property, into their compose piles, left on their steps, even mistakenly placed in private recycling bins by well-meaning individuals, because there is no place to throw it away. Wouldn't it be better just to have a few extra garbage cans lying around?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Can this middle class family find a home in Little Neck?

Hello, fans and friends of The Unpolitician! I'm Carrie, wife of The Unpolitician himself! Periodically, I'll be posting about issues that matter to me, and to other young parents in our district. The first issue I'd like to discuss is our search for a new home.

2 years ago, we moved into Deepdale Gardens. It is a lovely community of relatively small garden apartments, and we have had a nice time here. But, with the birth of our second daughter, combined with my husband's love for saving and collecting everything, we feel that we're ready to take the next step and get some more space--our own HOUSE!!!

First-- a little background for you. Most of my friends from Queens all got married, grew up, and high-tailed it to Long Island-- in search of green grass and great school districts. Dave and I always laughed at them--- there is green in Queens, and you cannot beat some of the schools! Plus, you have the high Long Island taxes, and a lack of diversity that we always wanted to avoid. We knew that Little Neck was where we would end up. We knew that we wanted our girls to go to PS 221. And, so, in that sense, on my search for homes, I am limited within not just our own political district, but our school district.

Growing up on the sixth floor of an apartment building in urban Briarwood, NY, I am equally excited and nervous about my own home. My Deepdale garden apartment was a great first step. I have lots of ideas about what I want my home to look should be a pretty, relatively small, tudor. That's what feels like home to me. Of course, I'm not REALLY picky-- just a nice place in good shape with a lawn, at least three bedrooms, and a basement.

And so, I began the search. I was surprised to see that ranch homes that CLEARLY were in horrible shape were selling in the 700K range. With these homes being relatively untouchable, considering the amount of work we would have to put into it (and we are NOT handy), I started visiting the dozens of Open Houses in the area. Here are some pictures of what I saw:

As I look at these "McMansions", I am completely fascinated. First of all, my pretty little Tudors look so strange when sandwiched between two giant pink brick homes. Second, I am not sure how any middle class family can afford to buy a home in Little Neck....If I buy the 700-800K tudor, I could probably make it work financially (although it would really be a stretch)...but then I would have to put money into the house, and how could I possibly do that? If I bought one of these 1.3 MILLION dollar homes, I would be extending myself beyond a reasonable realm, AND I would be contributing to the crushing of my pretty tudors.

Anyway, as a homeowner, this is very troubling. Who is buying these homes? I know the developers buy the 700K fixer uppers, and then tear them down. But who is buying the McMansions? I see so many of them for sale.

As the wife of a political candidate, do my feelings change? I know it's the democratic way fight for downzoning, and to fight the proliferation of McMansions. I think, prior to the actual hunt, I really disagreed with this. If people make money, let them build homes, I thought to myself. However, now that I am in the position to buy, I agree with my husband's stance on this issue. I make a six figure salary, I work is it possible that I cannot buy a nice, midsize home in Little Neck?

My friends are all buying their homes in Nassau and Suffolk. They pay 500K for a starter home. They have higher taxes. When they walk down the street, they see people who all look the same. It's a different world in Long Island....and I want to stay here, where my kids will learn about different cultures, and experience being a positive product of the NYC public school system. Tell me how I can do it. Any ideas?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hello all!

So this is my first blog entry here. Hi, I’m Yan Ping, and I’ve never written a regular blog before, much less a political one.

Here's something I didn't realize until now: the craziness in running for office when you still don't know who your opponents are. In fact, it's worse locally--there are only so many possible presidential candidates. Because the rumor mill has people dropping in and out, you're forced to start early. To stake out your territory, if you will. A year before the election, funding is important. It's not the sole factor, but it is a key one in deciding who will run. The idea is that if a candidate can raise a lot of money, he is popular, or can afford to make himself so. Party-happy New York supports only those who they think actually stand a chance, hedging their bets. Then everyone who's declared, or publicly spoke about declaring run around like busy bees, from one moneyed flower to the next, trying to get financial support. And you have to turn to backers; the only way to afford doing it alone is by being a multimillionaire, or related to a bunch of them.

Millionaire or not, connections what gets you elected in New York. You don't have to be tied (closely) to the Party Machine, but you need to support of some influential people, who know other influential people that can a) keep you in the loop regarding events and power shifts b) know how and who to meet to get involved in the same power play if necessary.

Everyone wants to know everyone else's business as well—who has been meeting with whom, how much so and so has been getting, is it true that a certain person is going to run? The political gossip vine is every bit as strong as the social gossip chains dramatized and/or made fun of in the media. In the old days, the two were invariably linked. That is why the majority of prominent politicians were married, if only to get a social manager and hostess. Today, spouses are so much more than that—they are advisors and accountants and managers. Politics has gotten a lot more complicated than in those days, as well.

That is why I think Dave is very lucky to have Carrie—they are such a great couple, supportive even when separate. Carrie had a business meeting with someone yesterday, and heard that A Certain Someone with A Lot of Support from the current council member may be running against Dave, and Carrie started worrying immediately. She wants this badly because Dave does. It is this type of support that any successful politician has, and this is why I feel that Dave still has the chance.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Staff Gives Me New Energy

The past couple of days, I've been re-energized by a couple of young volunteers who have begun to dedicate their time to my campaign. I have been petitioning in my district for 2008 Democrats to get on the ballot- and in the process introducing myself to future voters in my district.

This has been fun, especially because I was joined each day by an intelligent and enthusiastic volunteer. Thanks so much Erika and Yan Ping- your help has reminded me why I'm doing this and has gotten me motivated to go out there and fund raise a bit more before my next filing deadline, July 10th.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Proud to Support Marriage Equality - & Danny Dromm

I am leaving for a 7 day cruise to Bermuda in a couple of hours- but I wanted to post before I left, because this issue is so important to me. I just attended Danny Dromm's first fundraiser for his City Council run - prior to Queens's gay pride parade- and I am filled with excitement, both for Danny's future, and the future of marriage equality in New York State and New York City.

This issue is gaining momentum, and with California's recent decision, New York has the opportunity to be the 3rd state to step up to the plate in this important issue of human rights, which really affects all of us. It is through the leadership of individuals such as Danny Dromm that we will accomplish these goals- and so I am proud to support him, my fellow UFT member.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Memorial Day / It's Alright to Cry

I was on my way to work this morning, listening to WFAN and thinking about the sad state of my beloved New York Mets, when Boomer Esiason closed the show by saying, "This Memorial Day, when you're drinking a beer and enjoying a hot dog, take a minute to really think about what the holiday is all about."

He then played "Proud to be an American/God Bless the USA" to close out the morning sports show, and I proceeded to start bawling in my car like I had lost a puppy. Nope, I'm not embarrassed to admit it, I cried, a lot, as I listened to the song and thought about what it means to me.

I am proud to be an American, and I am proud of everyone who has fought for our country to protect the freedoms we often take for granted. Happy Memorial Day, and thanks to all who have fought and continue to fight for the USA.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Knocking on Doors - Just Not for Myself Yet

In the past couple of weeks - I have hit the streets of Queens - going door to door petitioning, chatting with people about the issues important to them, and gathering support- not for myself, but for my friend and future Council mate, Elizabeth Crowley.

Elizabeth is running in the 30th District which covers central Queens, in a special election June 3rd to replace the recently-resigned Dennis Gallagher. It has been a great experience campaigning with and for her, and has energized me in my own campaign aspirations.

Good luck, Elizabeth!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

NYSUT Convention a Great Reminder of my Teaching Roots

This past weekend, I attended NYSUT's annual convention of teachers and support professionals from all over New York State. As a math teacher currently on a leave of absence, I was able to attend as a delegate, among many representing UFT at the convention.

Highlights included:

  • Hearing Tom Chapin perform live his new parody "Not on the Test".
  • Hearing David Paterson speak for the first time as Governor on New York.
  • Learning officially of Randi Weingarten's candidacy for AFT President.
  • Being surrounded by hundreds of teachers who work day after day at improving the lives of their students.
It made me miss being a teacher, but it reinvigorated me in my early quest to serve the city as a Councilperson.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gennaro a Good Speaker at JFK Club

James Gennaro was the guest speaker at Morty Povman's JFK Regular Democratic Club Thursday night (on whose Board I sit) and he did a very nice job. Gennaro is the current City Councilman from the club's district and he will be term limited out in 2009. Of course, he hopes to not have to worry about that because he's running against longtime Republican State Senator Frank Padavan this year.

The race will be an uphill battle for Gennaro against the ever-popular Padavan, but he did impress at the meeting Thursday. He talked about environmental issues and fiscal equity issues mostly, joking about his recent success at Sundance and talking about the Dems goals of finally taking over the State senate this year.

Good luck, James and let me know how I can help!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Open Message to Male Politicians: Keep it in Your Pants!

The recent news of Eliot Spitzer's illegal involvement with a prostitution ring is nothing short of a total embarrassment, to Spitzer and his family, to New York state, and really to males everywhere.

What the f---?

What makes this so tragic is that Spitzer, the current Governor of New York (undoubtedly not for long) and former Attorney General of New York, has for many years had a squeaky clean image as a family man- and has vigorously pursued criminals and established himself as an upholder of justice for all.

Now he must resign. Whether or not you agree with the morality of the laws concerning prostitution, the laws are there. Worse, because he transported a prostitute across state lines, he has committed a federal crime.

But the worst part of this is not the criminal element. It is the humiliation of another male political leader, a husband and father.

Spitzer's screwup is only one (though arguably the worst) in a long line of idiotic male political leaders:
President Bill Clinton
Governor James McGreevey
Senator Larry Craig
Gary Condit.
Newt Gingrich.
The list goes on and on....

As a young man running for New York City Council and embarking on my own political career, but more important as a proud husband and father, today, I am embarrassed to be a man.


There is absolutely no excuse. If you are a man who takes wedding vows, you have a legal and moral responsibility to your wife not to cheat. If you are an elected official, you have an even greater responsibility to the public to be a role model: To do what is legal and what is right.
If you can't do that, then don't get married, and certainly, don't run for public office!

None of us is perfect. I am certainly far from perfect myself. However, there are certain standards that we must hold ourselves to and that we must hold our elected officials to.

Too many men, most recently Spitzer, have not met these standards, and have disappointed their families and the public.

Just keep it in your pants. It's really that simple.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My First Club Speech Ever!

Last night I had the great pleasure of being the featured speaker at The LGBT Queens Democrats Club, led by my new friend and UFT brother Daniel Dromm. Danny, also running for City Council in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, was kind enough to invite me to speak, and the entire club was friendly, warm and welcoming, from all of their members to their president, Bruce.

My wife was kind enough to come as well and film much of the meeting, and we'll be posting excerpts later. I was a little nervous at first, but mostly very excited. I began by giving a brief bio of myself, from my days at Hunter High School, which featured a 10%+ Club for LGBT kids and their friends, to my college graduation when my best friend came out to me, to my current family, where even though I'm a straight married guy, because I'm a stepfather, my daughter Charlotte has 2 daddies.

I reviewed the 4 major areas of my platform, and then we had a group conversation about issues pertaining to the LGBT community such as marriage equality and homeless NYC LGBT youth. It was not only fun and interesting for me, but truly enlightening- and I look forward to continuing to work with the members and leadership of the club throughout my candidacy and hopefully my term in the Council. Thanks again to Danny for inviting me and making me feel so welcome!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Solution to the Economy on President's Day

Happy President's Day! Today marks the first time I'll mention my marketing agency thekbuzz here, because we're launching a really cool program with possible economic implications in Queens.

You can read all about the program, The Atlas Solution, here, and I'll let you be the judge: Clever marketing program, chance to make an impact on the local economy, or perhaps both?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day to the City I Love!

Today is a special day for me, my 7 month old Kate's first Valentine's day. Happy Valentine's Day to the 3 women I love at home, Carrie, Charlotte, and Kate, to my family I love everywhere, and to all of the people I love in the greatest city in the world, New York!

I think John Lennon summed it up best right here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Queens is on the Rise! Thanks, Helen

This morning I attended a Queens Chamber of Commerce breakfast with Borough President Helen Marshall. The food was good, and the people I met and saw again were great, but BP Marshall, and moreover Queens, stole the show.

Her adapted State-of-the-Borough speech (link to full text here) was phenomenal, and it made me feel terrific, not only as a future Councilperson out of Queens, but as a Queens resident, choosing to raise my family here.

Thanks, Helen.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Christine Quinn's bonus pay idea for teachers a great idea at face value!

NYC Council Chair and likely 2009 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn will push hard for a pilot program which would give highly qualified teachers bonus pay to work in tough schools in difficult areas, according to today's Daily Politics from the NY Daily News. The full text of the excerpt from tomorrow's State of the City speech appears below. This is a terrific (and politically smart) idea from Quinn, and as a future Councilman who wants to make education my number one priority, I can whole-heartedly support this initiative. I hope the UFT (and more important Mayor Bloomberg) give it the same support.

"As The Council's Middle School Task Force report showed, our middle schools are having great difficulty attracting and keeping qualified experienced teachers.

And as you might expect, the problem is most acute in the lowest performing schools in our poorest neighborhoods.

To turn around this situation I am proposing a pilot program for bonus pay to recruit and retain highly qualified, experienced teachers.

I am calling on the Department of Education and the education unions to come together to offer substantial salary incentives to teachers who are willing to work and stay in our most troubled middle schools.

Look, we have to admit that some schools are harder to teach in than others.

And if we are going to convince our best teachers to go there or stay there we have to be willing to experiment with different approaches to compensating them.

If this new approach works I will push hard to take it city-wide and guarantee every middle school student a great education. With innovative and cooperative efforts like this we are on the path to having schools that every New Yorker can feel confident in and proud of."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Whether it's for Obama or Clinton, Make Sure You Vote Today or Register Soon

It's Super Tuesday, and I'm feeling super! As the New York Times said the other day about Jewish voters in New York (of which I'm one of course), it's an embarrassment of riches with Obama and Clinton. Both are excellent candidates that bring a lot to the table for New Yorkers and the nation.

I'll be voting for Clinton, but I do like Obama a lot too. Heck, I don't agree with his politics, but from everything I can tell, John McCain would make a pretty darn good leader too.

The only way you can lose is if you don't vote.

I interviewed a babysitter for my kids yesterday, a smart, passionate college senior who wants to make the world a better place. She wasn't voting, and felt disillusioned about government and the political process. This made me very sad. Surely if this bright, idealistic 22 year old had no intention to vote, there are countless other people young and old not voting in arguably the most important election year of our lives.

The good news? There's still time for the November election.
VOTE TODAY IF IT'S YOUR STATE'S PRIMARY, AND IF YOU'RE NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE YET, REGISTER TODAY! CLICK HERE! Every vote does count, young ladies and gentlemen, and your future is in fact on the line.

Besides, if you're in the 23rd District of New York City, I'll need you to register in time to vote for me next year.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Went to 2 Events Last Night...and One was actually moving

Last night I attended the quarterly fundraiser for the Queens County Democratic Party, who is whole-heartedly supporting Hillary for President. Saw a lot of the same faces, mostly friendly, that I see at all of these functions. Frankly, these functions are already starting to get boring- and the race has barely begun. Thanks to Morty Povman and my friends from the JFK Regular Democratic Club for setting me up at the really wasn't so bad, just not as inspirational as I'd hoped.

I left early, though, to attend a the kickoff party for my neighbor's Relay for Life event with the American Cancer Society. The event last night was held at the Queens County Farm, in my district, just as the relay will be at the Farm May 31st - June 1st, 2008. What an amazing, inspiring group of people the folks are that I met and saw last night. I can't wait for the Relay, at which I'll be a Team Captain. Let me know if you're interested in participating in any way.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hillblazers Night a Great Success for Clinton

After a great 9 day vacation with my family, I'm back and hitting the ground running. last Night I attended a Hillblazers fundraising event for Hillary Clinton at Hiro in Manhattan.

Hillary was at her best, rallying a crowd of 800 young people in what was scheduled to be her last New York appearance before Super Tuesday February 5th. My wife and I met some great people from Park Slope, Brooklyn and enjoyed watching Carson Kressley have to go to the back of line to get in, just like everyone else.

I'll upload some video footage of Hillary later, but to be sure, between the event and the New York Times endorsement, yesterday was Hillary's day to shine in this city.

Friday, January 11, 2008

On Deadline Day, Times Ledger Runs Awesome Piece

Today is the first important deadline in my political career. It's the deadline to receive contributions to file on Jan 15th with the Campaign Finance Board of New York. A year ago, I may have been interested in one day going into elected public service, but I had no idea fundraising was quite this important.

It's the name of the game. More money means electability. More money means the ability to advertise. More money means the ability to hire top consultants. I truly wish it were all about policies, ideas, attitude, etc. but, while those things are important, the ability to raise money is most important. Luckily, I have always been pretty good at sales, and fundraising for a campaign is pretty similar to selling. Luckily also I have a terrific network of friends and family who have gotten me started in an amazing way. So, the deadline is today, and we're still counting up all of the checks, (and if you are interested in contributing, you certainly still can, just click here!) but it looks like we will file with more than $15,000 on January 15th, not bad for the first filing date nearly 2 years away from the election.

Finally, The Times Ledger, the largest paid newspaper in Queens, wrote a terrific piece on me and the campaign today. You can read it all here. Thanks to Mr. Alam, who authored the piece. I hope it'll be the first of many as I attempt to serve my community, borough and city.

I'm going away on a much needed family vacation next week. I'm sure I'll still be checking email, and blogging....just a little bit less.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Young Democrats Taking Over Queens, NY and the World

I went last night to my first Queens County Young Democrats meeting. The club is a chapter of the strong Young Democrats of America. I had joined the club a year ago but had never had the time to go to a meeting. Boy was I glad I did- at the ripe old age of 31, I was so impressed with the energy, passion, and drive of the young people of this club, led by Matthew Silverstein and Costa Constantinides, the latter of whom is running for City Council in Astoria.

It was a joint meeting with the Queens Labor Caucus, another up-and-coming group led by Mike Corbett of the Teamsters. We talked about national politics, of course, including the New Hampshire Primary, getting results via web every 15 minutes throughout the meeting (Now that's my kind of Democratic Club meeting!). We also talked about how to make Queens "True Blue" in '08 and some cool upcoming events: a bowling party January 26th, a dinner meeting February 12th, a celebrity bartender night Feb. 25th, and a Sing for Solidarity Karaoke night March 19th.

Things are really happening with these guys. Glad I joined them!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!!! My 2008 Political Resolutions...

1) To put together a terrific team of supporters, neighbors, friends, and concerned citizens to help prepare for the City Council Race.

2) To lose 30 pounds, partially by walking every single street in the district and getting to know as many of my constituents as possible.

3) To raise at least $100,000 in contributions, before the match, to help fund the best campaign we possibly can for '09.

4) To get as much done for the campaign on my own as possible, and keep my amazing wife from having undue stress about this endeavor.

5) To support the best Presidential Candidate in any way I can, and to support local candidates that I agree with in New York.

Happy New Year to one and all, and here's to a great 2008!