Some say that politics is a blood sport. No one knows that better than New Yorkers. Everyone wants to be an elected official, ideally for some higher office. New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio says that he has not ruled out a run for the 2020 presidency. Is that why he is behaving like a lame duck? Every weekend, he is off to some strategic early presidential primary location to curry favor with locals. Cannot understand why he is in such hot pursuit with all of the problems dogging him in NYC.
He is under constant media surveillance germane to his mental health initiative THRIVE, overseen by his wife Chirlane McCray, which has spent more than $850 million since its inception without proof of its efficacy and outcomes. The NYC public school system is in disarray. NYC homicides and violent crime figures are traveling north, as are homelessness stats. NYCHA is in free fall and Trump announced major funding cuts for HUD. Hizzoner has not mentioned any satisfactory MTA proposals.
Meanwhile, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is making bold announcements about transit solutions: Council/Mayor power sharing and revision of the Mayor’s 2018 City Charter which the electorate blindly approved without fully understanding the power ramifications.
The field gets more crowded for the 2021 mayoral race and de Blasio’s successor, Johnson, covets the job, as does Bronx Boro Prexy Ruben Diaz, Jr., Brooklyn Boro Prexy Eric Adams and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. Don’t know what is on Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ radar screen. Recent polls show that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does well in a mayoral lineup.
The Public Advocate Special Election held a few weeks ago is for a provisional period. Victor Jumaane Williams has to prepare for a primary in September, then the November election to secure the seat. Some of his competitors will queue for the primary, but Williams should be safe. That special election altered the lives of local hopefuls for higher office. Former NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito placed a distant third, which sends a sobering message about her future as a Public Advocate or a mayoral candidate.
On March 11, Congressman Gregory Meeks was elected the new Queens Democratic Party boss. According to the NYC political rule book, the Queens and Bronx Democratic leaders call the shots re: identification of the NYC Council Speaker. Dem party bosses have the power to recommend judgeships and enjoy a cozy relationship with City Council friends. Former NYS Assemblyman Keith Wright is the Manhattan Democratic honcho. Two of the five Democratic boro leaders are African-Americans.
There are a few ruptures in Albany between the Democratic legislators and Governor Cuomo. Black legislators want to legalize cannabis in NYS, but with guarantees of economic equity for Blacks. Legalized cannabis in NYS is expected to generate $3 billion. In the 10 states where cannabis is legalized, Blacks have been pretty much shut out of the lucrative licenses, oftentimes owing to previous jail time. Our Black legislators want NY to be the first state to tie legalization to an economic equity program for people of color. Cuomo’s extant cannabis proposal they claim, “could perpetuate the racial inequity that it purports to fight.”
WOMEN IN THE NEWS
Central Harlem’s Community Board 10’s Economic Development Committee hosts a “WOMEN’S SUMMIT: From Income Disparity to Economic Equity” at the National Black Theatre at 2031 Fifth Avenue, 125th Street, Harlem, on March 18, 6-9 pm. Speakers include Aliyaah Baylor, Make My Cake; Shareen Wood, Harlem Haberdashery; and Professor Myrtle Jones. [RSVP: 212.749.3105 or https://bit.ly/2XHCLhh]
Black women rock in local and national politics in America! At the top of that political pyramid is US Senator Kamala Harris, a 2020 Presidential hopeful. Stacey Abrams, who came this close to winning the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, says that she is keeping all options open: the 2020 presidency, the US Senate, the Georgia governorship. A rising star in the Democratic Party, she is an attorney, former Georgia legislator and writer of romance novels who is ready for the next challenge.
Then look at the prominent Black women mayors in large cities across the USA. They are Muriel Bowser, DC; Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta; London Breed, San Francisco; Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge; Catherine Pugh, Baltimore; Lovely Warren, Rochester; Diedre Waterman, Pontiac, MI; Karen Weaver, Flint, MI; Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, IN; Victoria Woodards, Tacoma, WA.
The April 2 Chicago mayoral runoff is the subject of all manner of media coverage from the NY Times, MSNBC, CNN, to the WAPO. The two candidates are African-American women: Lori Lightfoot, 56, former Assistant US Attorney and Chicago civil servant; Toni Preckwinkle, former history teacher and Cook County Executive. The victor makes history as Chicago’s first Black woman mayor.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight which crashed en route to Kenya, killing 157 people, sounded like the narrative about the Indonesian plane crash, which killed 189 people last November. Both crashed planes were BOEING Max 8 models and the problems started shortly after takeoff. China and Indonesia immediately grounded their BOEING Max 8 fleet. By Tuesday, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Oman followed suit, as did scores of other countries. Many European capitals have not only grounded Boeing Max 8, they do not want the plane in their air space. About 2/3 of the Max 8 models worldwide have been grounded, about 6000 planes since the Ethiopian crash. Boeing stock has dropped. Ethiopia is the superstar of air travel—they have the best safety record in Africa and has dominated the continent’s friendly skies for almost a decade. Globalization, a word fallen into disrepute for more than two years, has reared its ugly head during this crisis. It is good to see world leaders exercise prudent policies with dispatch. The USA and Canada continue to use Boeing Max 8 models. The FAA says that it could find nothing wrong with the plane’s efficacy. Boeing is a major DC lobbyist, spending millions annually, which could influence policy. It is pretty hard to justify the loss of 336 lives and continue business as usual. Crises like this require true leadership, something which once emanated from DC, until the Boeing Max 8 crash mystery is solved.
The March 4 issue of Crain’s New York Business magazine includes a list of the 25 Largest Thrifts, NY-area banks ranked by total assets. Carver Federal Savings ranked 21 with 2018 assets in the millions at $592.3. Founded in Harlem in 1948, Carver was once the “jewel in the crown” of Black American savings banks.
WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Toni Morrison’s new book, “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations,” is divided into three sections: The Foreigners Home, Black Matter(s) and God’s Language. It is required reading any time of the year, according to critics.
Margaret Troupe’s Harlem Arts Salon celebrates Women’s History Month with two literary lionesses: Louise Merriwether, who wrote, “My Daddy Was a Numbers Runner,” in conversation with Bridgette M. Davis, who wrote, “The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers.” They will be at the HAS on March 31, 2:30-6 pm at 1925 Seventh Avenue, Suite 7L, Harlem. Reservations are necessary. Proceeds from the Salon conversation will support the Gloster Arts Project, which bring arts programs to Black children in Mississippi. [Visit harlemartssalon]
A Harlem-based branding consultant, Victoria can be reached at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org.