Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL
Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL
– I have not ever had such a hard decision to come up with just one person to say they had most affected my life and the lives of the people around them. In such a tumultuous political year it has to be three people, Meres and Marie acting as one force. And by NO means choosing three people does it diminish in any way how important these three powerful people are.
I feel can be held responsible for almost single handedly destroying the political career of mega powerful New York councilwoman and bully Christine Quinn. She is a bully that represented every horrible thing that Mayor/dictator Bloomberg had done to destroy New York City in his 12 years in office. It is Quinn that alone saw to it that the laws were ‘changed’ so that Bloomberg could run for a third term in 2009 against the will of the people. With that, the slaughter of the middle class and it’s neighborhoods continued. This took New York City from 3 classes of citizens: lower, a strong middle and always upper class to a tapestry of investment bankers, real-estate developers, and Russian oligarchs. Then Donny’s release of a 2009 YouTube video exposing her two-faced betrayal of her own (she’s a lesbian) gay community and her horrific anti-animal rights stances exposed her to New York City. The most important and powerful was his documentary “Christine Quinn – Behind the Smile.” Most people thought Donny was nuts, an animals rights fanatic. Well that changed quickly as his persistent voice released more and more videos and more and more people began to listen.
When Gray Line was forcing the live tour guides (me) out of our jobs in favor of pre-recorded tours, because of a Quinn fake anti-noise bill, Donny sought me out to let me know of his fight against Quinn. I dismissed him as a fanatic, after all, Quinn couldn’t possibly be THAT horrible . . . she was worse. I listened to Donny and I jumped on board with Donny’s fight, the tour guides joined and my big mouth got many people to join Donny. Wonderful, wonderful loving animal rights activist groups and anyone that hated Bloomberg and wanted to save NYC joined us. We protested at everyone of her public appearances and taunted her mercilessly. Our numbers grew, as did our budget. We handed out flyers during rush hour at subway stations, bus and ferry terminals. My mother was one of his staunchest supporters, never leaving her house without Donny’s literature to hand out in the neighborhood. People began to listen and the animal rights people, the minorities, the middle class and passionate celebrities formed an army. ABQ = Anyone But Quinn! People like Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon and the entertainment community brought their fame, money and passion to the public’s eye. These people already hated Quinn, but I insist that is Donny’s persistent, passionate, intelligent voice from the beginning opened everyone’s eyes. Quinn’s poll numbers began to plummet from leader of the mayoral race to 3rd or 4th place, week after week.
On November 5, 2013, Bill de Blasio won the mayoral election by a landslide, receiving over 73% of the vote and will become the first Democratic mayor of the city in nearly 20 years. Thank you Donny Moss for giving me my city back!
M+M, JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN and MARIE CECILE FLAGEUL:
A forceful team, together they ARE 5 Pointz/ “the institute of higher burning“, the curators of the leading world’s graffiti and street mural art museum and mecca that was destroyed by the cruel vindictive whitewashing of the building in the middle of the night on November 19 of this year by Gerry Wolkoff. Words almost fail me to describe the incredible joy and privilege I have of being their friends. My heart is so deeply full of the pleasure they have brought to the entire world through their tireless efforts to have made 5 Pointz bigger and better year after year. I had come for years as an enthralled neighbor to support the saving of 5 Pointz. Then it then dawned on me that as a tour guide, this was the ultimate New York experience to bring my guests there as a surprise last stop. Over the years I had gained Meres’ and Marie’s trust by never betraying them or their art, by never pretending to be anyone else but someone who passionately loved this mesmerizing art. I thrived on the surprised looks on my tourist guest’s faces as they approached the loading dock and where overwhelmed by the fantastic colors and phantasmagorical art work. I felt like a million dollars sharing this with them.
Marie fiercely defended the illegal filming on the site, but saw to it that has been included in countless films, music videos and blogs. Meres saw to it that fellow writers and artists respected the sight and oversaw all the murals that would dazzle your imagination, resulting in world wide recognition as the premier street art museum. 200,000-square-feet (19,000 m2) of dazzling imagination from all over the world. Meres’ signature light bulbs are now recognized all over the world. Did you know that if look up any travel guide, 5 Pointz is listed as the #1 thing to see in Queens? – you can thank the brilliance of Meres and Marie for that. Meres’ 5 Pointz tours via SideTours was their #1 attraction and would sell out rapidly when new dates were announced. You felt so very special taking his tour, plain and simple = it was just so fucking cool! New York City owes them a big commission check for all the tourist money they brought to New York, Queens and especially Long Island City.
But one of the most powerful gifts they have given to so many and I have been lucky enough to receive, is their bringing together one of the most diverse group of people from across the city and the globe who otherwise never would have met and shared such passion, joy and fun. Art unites, art opens your eyes and hearts, art can even save lives. Meres and Marie united the world through the brilliance of Meres’ artful vision and Marie’s passion. To say “thank you et merci” almost doesn’t seem enough . . .
The mighty Quinn: For the past twelve years, Quinn and Bloomberg have systematically destroyed New York City as the city has become a city of the über rich and the very poor, 45+% now live near or at the poverty level. We have lost over 12 hospitals during their term in office, glass luxury apartments replace them. Quinn ruled the city and controlled the zoning laws with her slush funds making the city open season for the greedy real estate developers as zoning law changes have become the norm. South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 is being torn down, neighborhoods like Harlem, Greenwich Village and Soho are loosing their soul. Her tearing down of St. Vincent’s Hospital, it’s church and the 9/11 memorial is the most egregious. As the years passed, she became the most powerful politician only second to Bloomberg, a power that was had by vitriolic temper outbursts and control of the city funds.
The angry old white woman who seemed to be the woman in charge said “You’ll have to take it off or leave.” “I thought this was a free country?!” mom angrily argued. “I came here from Nazi Germany where I could not say or do as I pleased, nor vote. Now YOU are going to tell me what to do?! Well, I am not walking all that way home again, then I’ll take it off!” (I had a t-shirt under mine, mom didn’t. The photo here is not from today.) Mom asked me to hold her cane and then to hold her steady. Her hat came off first, then her shoulder bag. She fumbled to look for a place to place her hat and bag.
Uncomfortable curious stares went around the room. Was this woman about to flash the room?! It looked like she would as she asked me to help her lift her shirt over head. As the first signs of an 87 year old woman’s midriff made an appearance, one of the other volunteers ran over and yelled, “Ok, ok, don’t take off your shirt, just lift the bottom part so you can’t see the name Quinn.” (As IF that would sway anyone’s vote at that moment!) So . . . in a very ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ fashion, mom flashed her midsection as she walked slowly across the floor to her voting station to the high five signs from the black volunteers in the rooms, some giving her a hug before she entered the booth. Mom pulled the levers, DeBlassio all the way, turned, pulled the t-shirt down to reveal the name Quinn, exited the booth and defiantly said, “what are you going to do, throw me out?!” and slowly with her cane walked across the room to the cheers and applause of the people inside! (Unfortunately the police made sure I took no pictures.) That’s MY mom! GO MOM !
In 2011, New Yorkers working on the campaign to educate the public about Christine Quinn’s record had a busy year, with more than 20 protests at her public appearances and 2013 campaign fundraisers. Before the 2009 City Council election, many people in her district told us they were planning to vote for Quinn. Once they looked at her record, however, many were just as dismayed as we were. These voters who paid closer attention are part of the reason Quinn struggled to win re-election in her own district. We believe that our campaign made a difference, and we intend to have a more profound impact in the 2013 election for Mayor. In the meantime, Quinn continues to give people new reasons to join the movement against her:
On December 2, the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center released its 2011 NYC Council report card, which grades Council members on their “record in promoting the human rights of New Yorkers” during the previous 12 months. Christine Quinn received a D+, the second to lowest score. To quote the report: “Both the political power of the Speaker and the reticence of the Council Members to challenge it are inhibiting the advancement of human rights in New York City. The power of the Speaker has delayed hearings, stalled votes and restricted the passage of legislation.”
Example: As Michael Powell wrote in the October 10, 2011 New York Times, “A year ago [City Council] members tried to push through a living wage in the Bronx and to mandate a few sick days for workers. [Christine Quinn] ensured each effort ended up baled, tied and set by the BQE for early sanitation pickup.”
Abuse of City Funds
The Speaker position concentrates an extraordinary amount of power in the hands on one person. As Speaker for the past five years, Quinn has abused that power to advance her political career at the expense of the democratic process and the public she alleges to serve.
Among the most powerful weapons in Quinn’s arsenal are the discretionary funds—tens of millions of dollars that Quinn doles out to reward campaign donors and loyal Council members and withholds from Council members who challenge her agenda. As Jason Farago wrote in a December 15 editorial in The Guardian, “Quinn is not only the most powerful legislator in the city; she’s pretty much the only legislator in the city, and from her perch she has nearly unilateral control over lawmaking. She decides what comes to the floor… and her caucus votes for it, or she makes them pay.”
Example: In March, Quinn strong-armed Council members to vote to rename the Queensboro Bridge in honor of former Mayor Ed Koch. Months later, in December, Koch endorsed Quinn for Mayor—two years before the election. A poll found that a majority of voters (64 percent) opposed renaming the bridge after Koch, and Council member Peter Vallone Jr., of Astoria, spoke out against it. Quinn responded by cutting Vallone’s discretionary funds by $600,000.
To put this political stunt in historical context, the Triboro Bridge wasn’t renamed after Robert F. Kennedy until 40 years after his assassination.
On October 4, Clyde Haberman of The New York Times observed in a piece entitled “Like Putin, Like Bloomberg” that Russia’s Prime Minister “was more scrupulous about observing the niceties of term limits than were New York’s political leaders: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his Medvedev equivalent, Christine C. Quinn….” With the help of “complaisant council members,” Haberman wrote, Bloomberg and Quinn “simply changed the law to reward themselves with third terms.”
After the 2008 slush fund fiasco destroyed her chances of becoming Mayor in 2009, Quinn needed four more years to improve her image. But her role in overturning term limits has only further damaged her reputation.
Real Estate Ties
As Kate Taylor reported in the January 5 New York Times, Quinn has already raised more than $4.9 million in campaign contributions. The vast majority of donors who have made the maximum legal contribution of $4,950 to Quinn’s campaign are real estate executives, as are many of the campaign bundlers who have raised more than $20,000. In return, Quinn advocates tirelessly for real estate developers at the expense of her constituents. As WestView readers know, Bill Rudin is planning to build 450 luxury condos on the site of St. Vincent’s Hospital, in Quinn’s district. True to form, Quinn has publicly stated on several occasions that the Lower West Side needs a full service hospital while helping pave the way for Rudin to erect his condos. As of July 2011, seven members of the Rudin family had contributed a total of more than $30,000 to Quinn’s campaign, which may help explain why Quinn not only refused to advocate for tapping into millions of dollars in available reserve funds that might have helped save St. Vincent’s, but also refused to support a community effort to keep the St. Vincent’s site zoned for community use.
In its 2009 City Council scorecard, the NY League of Humane Voters concluded that the “biggest obstacle to more humane laws in NYC is the inexplicable opposition to animal welfare legislation by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn,” who has “attacked virtually every effort in the Council to make life better for animals, despite claiming in letters to concerned citizens that she cares about animal welfare and even ‘supports animal rights.’”
Not only has Quinn killed every substantive animal protection bill introduced into the Council, but she has also fast-tracked several meaningless bills that make her look like she’s helping animals when, in reality, she’s only helping herself politically.
Example: A majority of New Yorkers support a ban on horse-drawn carriages. Quinn does not, and she has killed legislative efforts to take the carriage horses off the streets. But in an effort to make herself look as though she cares about the welfare of the horses, Quinn fast-tracked a bill in 2010 that was filled with fake reforms such as banning carriages operators from working below 34th Street, where they don’t work anyway, or between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00 a.m., when no customers are out. The purpose of the bill was to grant carriage operators a rate hike, but Quinn only touted the fake reforms in the press, giving the impression that she’s an advocate for animals when she has been just the opposite. In 2011, at least seven carriage horses collapsed, tripped, spooked and died in midtown.
In January 2011, Quinn fast-tracked another bill that makes it illegal for New Yorkers to chain their dogs outside for more than three hours. Quinn admitted that the bill is unenforceable, but she held a press conference promoting this meaningless bill, again giving New Yorkers the impression that she cares about animal welfare.
In September 2011, Quinn fast-tracked another bill that erased a law requiring a city-funded animal shelter in every borough. She did this as a favor to Bloomberg so the City could dodge a lawsuit demanding that it fulfill this obligation. (Shelters are desperately needed in The Bronx and Queens.) Rather than being honest about the purpose of the bill, Quinn added language to it mandating increased resources for existing shelters, thereby making a step backward for animals look like a step forward.
How much of Quinn’s campaign is being funded by NYC taxpayers? In the last election, it was a fair amount. In an article in the August 20, 2009 Village Voice, Elizabeth Dwoskin reported that 31 of Quinn’s “more than 90 volunteers” were in fact paid staffers, though Quinn’s spokesperson claimed they were doing the work on their own time.
Quinn has a vast amount of taxpayer-funded city resources at her disposal for her campaign, including a chauffeured SUV. She has the support of Mayor Bloomberg, his paid consultant Ed Koch, the Democratic Establishment and the LGBT community. She has a bully pulpit as Speaker and has the Mayor inviting her to speak at high profile events. But perhaps that’s not a bad thing, because the more potential supporters are exposed to her, the more chances they have to see how much there is about her candidacy not to like.
On our side, we have the truth about Quinn’s record; a public that is becoming more informed about her; several other viable candidates for Mayor; and the will to fight to restore ethics, fairness, democracy and humanity to NYC government.
My 87 year old mother canvases our local street handing out fliers to anyone that will listen – so do I.
See you in the streets.
For more information, see Donny Moss’ documentary “Christine Quinn: Behind the Smile” on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uhR3-8xK6s