Sunday, July 26, 2009


The Grassroots Education Movement to Defend Public Education or GEM indicates on their blog that they are a newly formed coalition of NYC Group that "seek to educate, mobilize and organize educators, parents, students and our communities against the corporate and government policies which serve to underfund, undermine and privatize our public school system. GEM advocates, both within and outside the UFT, around issues dealing with the equality & quality of public educational services as well as the rights of school workers."

A recent entry on the site discusses Tony Avella as the “leading man” in the education movement.

Posted by JW, it reads:

"After Tony Avella's statements at the Working Families Party forum a couple of weeks ago, progressive educators seem to be backing his run for mayor.


You can't get much clearer than that.

Avella will first have to topple Bill Thompson in the Democratic primary, and that will take some doing. In the meantime, Thompson's been putting on some new coats. He certainly wasn't asking to fire Joel Klein before Avella said it at the WFP forum.

The Avella campaign is letting people know that their man was on NY1 bashing the rubber rooms, no-bid contracts, and the atmosphere of intimidation at the DoE. Video will be available online tomorrow.

They've also put a new page on Facebook: Educators for Avella.

Tony Avella is forging the correct agenda on education.

Bill Thompson is real "Old School" when it comes to teaching kids, and he's now just playing catch up."

— JW

Sunday, July 12, 2009


from New Yorkers for Avella - blog by Milan - 7/12/09

Or maybe that should be, "spend, baby, spend!" Michael Bloomberg's desperate attempt to become mayor-for-life has his staff on the defensive, defending his record-breaking campaign spending. He's burned through nearly $37 million to date this year, breaking all records for a city campaign and unprecedented even for Bloomberg. This is the guy who told us recently that an election can't be bought. He would do well to remember this in the race against Tony Avella and William Thompson.

Aides to Bloomberg are said to be worried that the sour economy could turn voters against him. A New York Times story on Bloomberg's campaign spending quotes Bloomberg aide Jill Hazelbaker as saying polls consistently have shown that voters are not concerned about his campaign spending, which already is four times more than he had spent at this point in 2001. Another Times story characterized as "a chink in the armor" Bloomberg's failure to win a recent sought-after endorsement. (We hear the mayor is stressed-out about this, but doesn't he know that money can't buy you love?) Ms. Hazelbaker also noted that Thompson had taken more than $100,000 in what she called “special interest money.”

Good news is that candidate Tony Avella is beholden to no special interest groups. This is a tenet of his campaign, and it is the way he has always served in his role as a City Councilman. He's a fighter for the people, our schools, our neighborhoods, and small businesses. It's about people, not money.

The AP's Sara Kugler reminds us of Bloomberg's own recent remark that "you can't buy an election" because the public is "much too smart for that." And word is that behind the scenes in the Bloomberg campaign, there is some hand-wringing about the way things are going (although the damage control experts spin things a little differently.) Not only is Bloomberg's spending obscene, but his advertising is exposed by blogger JD2718 as shameful--don't miss this one!

Friday, July 3, 2009

WFP MAYORAL FORUM - "I made every dime I have."

The WFP Mayoral forum was held Thursday night, July 3rd. I don't know how it was perceived on the webcast - whether you could hear the audience or not -- but there is no doubt that Tony Avella won.

However, I have unanswered questions about the Working Families Party. They injected themselves big time into the term limits debate last fall and were very opposed to the overturn of term limits, including getting involved in a lawsuit.

But then they endorsed Christine Quinn for another term. Quinn led the fight with Bloomberg to overturn the will of the people. Some people even think that the term limits question was not raised at the event because they made a deal with Bloomberg. Remember when Bloomberg said to a reporter "you are a disgrace" for bringing up the issue?

The WFP will make an endorsement vote on July 9th.

Bill Thompson had the nerve to call himself the "presumptive" nominee. And he will be if every registered Democrat goes to the polls in September for the primary and does the "politics as usual" thing and votes the way the Democratic political establishment is telling you to do.

These are some of the Twitter comments on the WFP site.

"So I think that Avela won the debate/forum - the reason being that any time you quote #the wire you win! "

" Cool forum WFP. Thanks for the opportunity. But if you endorse Bloomberg, then this city has gone to the dark age"

"Bloomberg is out of touch. Thompson seems a bit rehearsed. Avella rocked."

"Thompson was SO boring - he should run for senate."

"No Thompson, NYers aren't energized by you. Nice try though..."

"Did Thompson just call himself the presumptive nominee? That is some questionable messaging. "

"Thompson gives the same stump speech every time. "nuanced" is a bit of a stretch"

"thompson is going off the cuff, up is down"

Some articles: read comments after the article:

NY Daily News:
Mayor Bloomberg defends massive campaign spending: "i made every dime I have."

NY Times: At Working Families Party Forum, Bloomberg Declines to Toe the Liberal Line

Live Blogging at Mayoral Forum in NYC

NYC Mayoral Forum live blog (start at the bottom)

Monday, June 22, 2009

TONY & JULIA: The Lips Story

So typical of the press. Give them a serious issue like child obesity and instead of reporting on it, they focus on what kookie fitness guru Richard Simmons said at a recent press conference sponsored by Council Member Tony Avella ... that Avella has lips like Julia Roberts. Oi vey! What was he thinking!

Avella is introducing a resolution asking Congress to pass the FIT Kids Act, which would require state and community educational agencies to produce annual reports on health and physical education programs. The most serious report was from the NY Times.

But back to the lips comment ... Funny? Maybe…. But at least Tony has lips. Did you ever notice King Bloomberg’s? – his top lip looks like it is glued to his front teeth. I’ve always wondered if he just finished eating a peanut butter sandwich or maybe it is a permanent application of rubber cement or crazy glue and he just cannot help it.

Yes - this lip story has legs – but not the obesity story. Azi Paybarah, of the “you are a disgrace" fame reported the Lips in his recent column.

So maybe this will bring Tony Avella the attention he very much deserves. And being compared to Julia Roberts ain’t all weird.

Roberts apparently does not like to talk politics but she is a big environmentalist – as is Tony Avella.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Emperor Bloomberg is sounding more and more like W every day:

from the New York Daily News:

Mayor Bloomberg was asked today to comment on the criticism President Obama is receiving for killing a fly during a recent interview, and his resulting response was such a quintessential example of Bloombergese that it simply cried out for posting.

And so, here it is, compliments of the DN's Erin Einhorn:

“I don’t know why he did it. I had pickets outside my house for geese last night. We are sending some of these geese for well-deserved rest up in the sky, wherever geese go.

"But the bottom line is, we can make fun of the geese but they’re a danger to human beings flying. And we’re doing what's appropriate, and I’m sure what the president thought about was that particular fly might be spreading something like the H1N1 flu and he was going to risk his own life with hands - bare hands, without Purell - and he protected the public by hitting that fly, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. I'm sure he’s laughing about it right now."

This is our mayor? How embarrasing!

I am sorry President Obama killed a fly on national TV - it became a press diversion. But "risk his own life?" What was Bloomberg thinking?

And as for making fun of the geese. This is just a stupid and insensitive comment. The plane that landed in the Hudson River was hit by Canada geese - i.e. migratory geese. Killing the geese who live around the airports will not make a difference to the safety of air travel. Finding ways to protect the planes and an understanding of the bird's migratory patterns will.

Do we really want this dope as mayor again. I don't.

Vote for Tony Avella for mayor.

mage from Emperor Bloomberg.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


The media is mostly not our ideal of what they should be -- investigative reporters searching for the truth -- idealistic muckrakers. For many, it is a job - they go with the flow; reprinting press releases with a tweak here and there. The media, after all, is owned by corporate America - (or is it China) In truth, if any of them did have the courage to speak out against His Emporership Mayor Bloomberg, they would forever be banned from City Hall. And they would have no story - albeit a slanted one. This is democracy, kids. Face it.

When an underdog like Queens Council Member Tony Avella - a progressive with great ideas and courage - tries to make a difference, he is mostly ignored. He is called an "outlier." Instead, Bill Thompson, the pick of the Democratic machine – is the favored Democratic candidate. …. But by the machine and politicians, that is ... not the people ... and certainly not on the blogs that I have read.

So it came as a breath of fresh air when Bernie Mooney from the Examiner writes a blog titled "Bloomberg is a Petulant Rich Kid” criticizing the mayor for being out of touch with New Yorkers. If this petulant rich kid was such a financial genius – then why did Wall Street have such a serious meltdown? Why is unemployment so high in New York City. The man has been mayor for eight years after all. Why didn’t he see it coming and do his “magic.” And why are the schools in such bad shape. Ask any teacher!!! Why – because Bloomberg had no answers – that’s why. And because he controls the media, you hear what he wants you to hear.

Mooney on Tony Avella: “There is a dark horse. That dark horse is Tony Avella, a city councilman from Queens who is no fan of mayor Mike. He has even taken his council colleagues to task for kowtowing to Bloomberg’s whims. He is most definitely against the out of control development under Bloomberg’s terms. Frankly, I never heard of him until I picked up a copy of WG, Williamsburg Greenpoint News +Arts.”

While I am impressed that Mr. Mooney gets it right in his piece, my problem with him is that as a political writer he has never heard of Tony Avella. Tony has been in the council for eight years and has been a leader against the abuse of eminent domain and over development. He knows how the real estate industry has run this city into the ground -- and he wants you to know also. I knew who Tony was and I do not make a living writing about politics. Tony is undoubtedly the most progressive, courageous and independent thinker in the Council - never afraid of speaking out against corrupt Christine Quinn. One of the few with real ethics, he refused to accept a large raise, which the council voted for themselves. But don’t take my word for it – check out Tony’s web site – please get informed. Learn about the issues that affect the average New Yorker.

But unfortunately, the average New Yorker – even those who actually vote – do not have a clue who their Council Member is – or who hold all of the citywide offices. This is how scoundrels get into office because at election time –some of these same New Yorkers get “religion” and feel obliged to do their “civic duty” to vote. They will go to the booth and pick the first candidate – or just vote the party in which they are registered. And they think they did a good thing. Ask them who they voted for - or if they know anything bout these candidates and they cannot tell you. This is very frightening. This is why Bloomberg and the City Council were able to overturn term limits.... it is because YOU voted for the very council members who made deals with Quinn - you rub my back and we will rub yours.

If you want a better New York with a mayor who actually listens to you … it is within your power to make that change. Bloomberg is a tyrant. He does not deserve another term in office.

Council Member Tony Avella would be much needed progressive change for New York City. Let's give him (and us) a chance at real democracy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


In today’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristoff proclaimed that “animal rights are now firmly on the mainstream ethical agenda.” The piece, entitled Humanity Even For Nonhumans is reprinted below. For those of us who have lived this lifestyle for years and have suffered the slings and arrows of detractors - this is wonderful news coming from such a conservative paper … and yes it is .. when it comes to animal issues.

Some of the blog entries after this article referred to old religions like Buddhism and Jainism, which certainly revered animals. But they are not mainstream and Mr. Kristoff is recognizing this “profound difference from past centuries.”

In a testimony I gave at the January 30th hearing of the City Council Committee on Consumer Affairs regarding two pieces of legislation concerning the NYC carriage horse issue, I referred to an article published in the Harvard Crimson last year entitled Compassionate Campaigners how animal voters were shaping the 2008 presidential election. Written by Lewis Bollard, this opinion piece talked about the new electorate who care about animals, and how they see a politician’s attitude to animals as a broader reflection of his compassion and character. Bollard calls them news-savvy, socially integrated, and politically active. They are the people who sent over 300,000 e-mails to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell successfully urging him to drop convicted dog fighter Michael Vick from the league. They’re politically active, and willing to use their votes to protect the defenseless.

So it comes as no surprise that there was such wide spread interest in the puppy for the Obama family – and and not just any puppy - but it must be one from a shelter.

Yes the times are changing and the paradigm is shifting.

Why is it that these kinds of progressive and ethical ideas grab hold in the grass roots first and take so long to move through the government, corporations and those with the power and money.


April 9, 2009


Humanity Even for Nonhumans


One of the historical election landmarks last year had nothing to do with race or the presidency. Rather, it had to do with pigs and chickens — and with overarching ideas about the limits of human dominion over other species.

I’m referring to the stunning passage in California, by nearly a 2-to-1 majority, of an animal rights ballot initiative that will ban factory farms from keeping calves, pregnant hogs or egg-laying hens in tiny pens or cages in which they can’t stretch out or turn around. It was an element of a broad push in Europe and America alike to grant increasing legal protections to animals.

Spain is moving to grant basic legal rights to apes. In the United States, law schools are offering courses on animal rights, fast-food restaurants including Burger King are working with animal rights groups to ease the plight of hogs and chickens in factory farms and the Humane Society of the United States is preparing to push new legislation to extend the California protections to other states.

At one level, this movement on behalf of oppressed farm animals is emotional, driven by sympathy at photos of forlorn pigs or veal calves kept in tiny pens. Yet the movement is also the product of a deep intellectual ferment pioneered by the Princeton scholar Peter Singer.

Professor Singer wrote a landmark article in 1973 for The New York Review of Books and later expanded it into a 1975 book, “Animal Liberation.” That book helped yank academic philosophy back from a dreary foray into linguistics and pushed it to confront such fascinating questions of applied ethics as: What are our moral obligations to pigs?

John Maynard Keynes wrote that ideas, “both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.” This idea popularized by Professor Singer — that we have ethical obligations that transcend our species — is one whose time appears to have come.

“There’s some growth in numbers of vegetarians, but the bigger thing is a broad acceptance of the idea that animals count,” Mr. Singer reflected the other day.

What we’re seeing now is an interesting moral moment: a grass-roots effort by members of one species to promote the welfare of others. Legislation is playing a role, with Europe scheduled to phase out bare wire cages for egg production by 2012, but consumer consciences are paramount. It’s because of consumers that companies like Burger King and Hardee’s are beginning to buy pork and eggs from producers that give space to their animals.

For most of history, all of this would have been unimaginable even to people of the most refined ethical sensibility (granted, for many centuries those refined ethicists were also untroubled by slavery). A distinguished philosopher, Thomas Taylor, reacted to Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 call for “the rights of woman” by writing a mocking call for “the rights of brutes.” To him, it seemed as absurd that women should have rights as that animals should have rights.

One of the few exceptions was Jeremy Bentham, the philosopher who 200 years ago also advocated for women’s rights, gay rights and prison reform. He responded to Kant’s lack of interest in animals by saying: “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

In recent years, the issue has entered the mainstream, but even for those who accept that we should try to reduce the suffering of animals, the question remains where to draw lines. I eagerly pushed Mr. Singer to find his boundaries. “Do you have any compunctions about swatting a cockroach?” I asked him.

“Not much,” he replied, citing reasons to doubt that insects are capable of much suffering. Mr. Singer is somewhat unsure about shellfish, although he mostly gives them the benefit of the doubt and tends to avoid eating them.

Free-range eggs don’t seem offensive to him, but there is the awkwardness that even wholesome egg-laying operations depend on the slaughtering of males, since a male chick is executed for every female allowed to survive and lay eggs.

I asked Mr. Singer how he would weigh human lives against animal lives, and he said that he wouldn’t favor executing a human to save any number of animals. But he added that he would be troubled by the idea of keeping one human alive by torturing 10,000 hogs to death.

These are vexing questions, and different people will answer them differently. For my part, I eat meat, but I would prefer that this practice not inflict gratuitous suffering.

Yet however we may answer these questions, there is one profound difference from past centuries: animal rights are now firmly on the mainstream ethical agenda.

This beautiful photo above is from Sharing our Earth with all Species a blog by Carmen Mandel-Cesareo, a professional photographer, author and conservation advocate