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 like...it 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 hard....how 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.