NYC Municipal Elections 2013
NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President & Six Ballot Proposals
November 5, 2013 / Flushing Neighborhood / NYC & Bronx Government / Gotham Buzz NYC.
On Tuesday voters get to decide who will run the city for the next four years. You get to weigh in on who will be the next NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President, City Comptroller, Public Advocate and City Councilmembers.
There are also six NY State Ballot proposals some of which are changes to the Constitution: 1) whether to authorize casino gambling in NYS, 2) a credit for qualified veterans with disabilities in the civil service, 3) exclusion of sewage treatment facility investments from county and municipal constitutional debt limits, 4) proposal to have NYS give up land rights in the Adirondacks to private enterprise in an exchange deal, 5) proposal to allow a private company to conduct mining operations on forest preserve land in a trade deal and 6) extending the length of time judges may serve past the age of 70.
Click here for our coverage of the NYC Municipal Elections, including details of the controversial Queens Borough President debate between Melinda Katz and Tony Arcabascio at QPTV in Flushing in October.
NYC Municipal Elections Tuesday
NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President Debate & Six Ballot Proposals
November 5, 2013 / Flushing Neighborhood / NYC & Bronx Government / Gotham Buzz NYC. Continued.
The issues to be decided in the municipal elections this year are noted above, and as we mentioned above, several include making changes to the Constitution.
We advise caution when voting to approve proposals that change the Constitution, as this sets a precedent and likely encourages future changes. And the changes being proposed have been proffered by private interests, who likely are more interested in securing their own welfare, than looking out for the public good. So read carefully before making a decision and pulling the lever.
Tony Arcabascio & Melinda Katz - QPTV Queens Borough President Debate
I attended the Queens Borough President debate at Queens Public Television [QPTV] Studios in Flushing on October 10th. Democrat Melinda Katz and Republican Tony Arcabascio faced off, answering questions by moderators Clifford Jacobs and Roslyn Nieves of QPTV.
Both candidates presented their positions on issues ranging from co-location of schools, to the state of public transit in Queens, to real estate development. Tony took an aggressive stance, articulating that Queens does not get its fair share of city funding, while Melinda defended the current state of affairs, stating that it's far easier to criticize than to fix the problems.
Below is a summary of each candidate's statements.
Queens Share Of Funding
Moderator - Queens has more people than Manhattan but gets far less in NYC Budget funding. What can be done?
Tony said that Queens doesn't get the respect it deserves and that prior Administrations have been using discretionary funds to pay for things that should come out of the NYC Budget. Manhattan which has far fewer residents [1.6 million vs 2.2 million in Queens], gets far more funding.
Melinda said it's a perennial fight for funding and agreed that Queens doesn't get its fair share. She said that small cultural organizations in Queens take the same percentage cuts as large, well-funded institutions like Lincoln Center and the Guggenheim. And then went onto note that the cuts mean more to the small orgs than the large ones because they don't have other funds [like endowments] to fall back on.
Public Transit In Queens
Moderator - There are now longer waiting periods for public transit in many neighborhoods due to bus line cuts. What can be done to address this?
Tony said there are many 'dead zones' in Queens with respect to public transit. He believes that the MTA has done the best they can, but that services keep getting downgraded in the borough of Queens. He rhetorically asked, when is the last time you saw new transit added? He noted that the problem is that Queens needs new leadership, not 'retreads' of the same people now in office.
Melinda said that new infrastructure required to support new developments should be included by way of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.
Queens Infrastructure Upgrades For Storms
Moderator - Shouldn't Queens infrastructure be upgraded to address the possibility of storms like Sandy / climate change?
Melinda said it's a shame that $100 million was allocated to fix the Rockaway sewer system and that none of that money has been put to work, while the Rockaways continue to experience flooding. She also noted that there's an effort to fix the pumps in the Jamaica section of Queens.
Tony said the reason nothing gets done in this regard is because it's not a priority. Here it is a year later and there's still no evacuation plan, no safety plan and no new requirements on where building functions must be placed within the building.
He went on to say that when people [implying pols] owe favors [meaning the people who contributed to their campaigns], they're not going to rock the boat. They just push the envelope. The Rockaways are still devastated and yet $1 million was spent on a new bathroom down by the Rockaways shore.
People [pols] need to be held accountable. We can raise millions of dollars for victims in Haiti and yet nothing gets done to help us here in Queens.
Melinda agreed that the expenditure on the $1 million bathroom was 'ridiculous' and they didn't reach out / listen to the community. She reminded Tony that she's only been a pol once [City Councilmember] and has generally held administrative positions in both government and private industry [law firm].
Public Education In Queens
Moderator - What can you do to help improve public education in Queens?
Tony said he was 'never for Mayoral control' of the school system. The Bloomberg Administration can construe the school performance numbers any way they want, but public education has gotten worse - not better. Right now 0.5% of public schools are charters and 99.5% are run by the government.
You can blame the UFT [United Federation of Teachers] and the public schools / educators, but it's not their fault. We need to engage the parents and community to work with after school programs to help the kids. "We need to do more than repeatedly say, 'we need to fix the schools during elections'."
Melinda said that "parents aren't included in the decisions made by the Department of Education". She noted that former Queens Borough President Claire Schulman had set up a task force to address public school issues like overcrowding while Melinda worked for the Schulman Administration.
Melinda also noted that one of her accomplishments was to stop a co-location at one of the public schools in her district. She noted that they hired a new principal instead. Both Melinda and Tony stated they are against co-locations at schools.
Queens Libraries Funding / After School Programs For Youth
Moderator - What is your position on funding for Queens Libraries & after-school programs?
Melinda said that it's not a real education without cultural activities / education. She noted that the Queens Borough President gets a Capital Budget for infrastructure projects, but not a dime for social programs like after-school programs for kids, food pantries, etc. She said 'we need to bring more money to the borough' because most people don't earn enough to afford spending on cultural activities.
Tony said he supported Queens Library funding for after school programs. He also said that they should bring back after-school sports related activities to help fight child obesity.
Closing Statements - Queens Borough President Candidates On QPTV
Tony said that he talked to many people around the borough and that Community Board Members and civic organizations were eager for new leadership.
He said that Melinda had sent out attack ads, similar in kind to the ones she'd sent out about Peter Vallone in the primaries, trying to make Tony look like he was working for the 1% [wealthiest people].
He noted that it is in fact the 1% that are supporting Melinda as evidenced by the numerous donors who have given her campaign the maximum $3,800 per person. He then closed by saying that he's not indebted to anyone for financing his campaign.
Melinda said something about the Tea Party [wing of the Republican Party]. And then went onto say that she's Pro Choice and against Stop 'N Frisk, school co-locations and overcrowding in hospitals.
And they both asked for your vote in the election Tuesday, November 5th.
QPTV Debate of Queens Boro Presidential Candidates 2013
All in all I thought it was a good exchange. Tony made some good points about what's wrong with Queens current governance, and Melinda displayed her knowledge of borough issues. I have no doubt that both candidates are qualified to assume the office.
The question is - Who will the next Queens Borough President represent? Will it be the general public or the local special interests? For Democracy to work well, we must all remain vigilant and hold accountable whoever wins the race.
Thanks To QPTV & Tony Arcabascio and Melinda Katz
We want to thank QPTV for hosting the debate between the two candidates. We found the questions asked by moderators Clifford Jacobs and Roslyn Nieves very topical and the candidates' answers informative. We also want to thank both Tony Arcabascio and Melinda Katz for participating in the debate. And for the sake of all of us, may the best candidates win.
If You Don't Vote, You Don't Count - NYC Local Politics
Click here to use the NYC Poll locator to find your polling polace and please vote in the election on Tuesday. Polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm.
Queens Borough President Forums - Photos From 2013
Click this link or watch the following slide show containing photos of the Queens Boro President Debate at QPTV 2013.
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