“Quinn Doesn’t Win”

This is a follow-up to “NYC Community Media” Endorsements.

There’s a little more variation between the five papers in how the election results are covered than there was with the endorsements, but in the Mayor’s race The Villager and The East Villager are without doubt the worst:

tv-quinn
The Villager

ev-quinn
The East Villager

“Quinn Doesn’t Win”. That’s how they announce the results of the election. Quinn didn’t just not win, Quinn came in third place!

These headlines only make sense if you know (as readers of Quilas do) that NYCCM endorsed Quinn in each of their five newspapers. To someone who didn’t know that, it would make no sense at all. That’s some serious wound licking!

At least they acknowledge that a vote for Quinn was a vote for a continuation of Bloomberg. I wonder if they realize they did that?

And finally, has anyone ever seen a semicolon in a headline before?

***

They don’t do much better in their other newspapers, either:

cn-quinn
Chelsea Now

They name the winner this time, skip the second place contender, and run the story with a photo of Quinn.

Finally, they get it right:

gcn-mayor
Gay City News

There’s got to be some connection between The Villager and The East Villager being the only papers in the stable to endorse a Republican candidate, and neither of them mentioning DeBlasio in their lead stories. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m going to keep an eye on this as the general election approaches.

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I mentioned that NYCCM only endorsed Daniel Squadron in one of their newspapers (Gay City News). I wasn’t sure why that was, but after seeing how they reported his race, I can see they must feel pretty ambivalent about him:

ev-squadron
The East Villager

Does anyone know if that’s Squadron’s hand?

Their photo in The Villager (the only other paper where they mention this race) is better. The problem is that they’re taking 6×4 (1.5:1) photos and using them in 8×3 (2.67:1) layouts. It worked with the Quinn photo above (if you look, the right and left edges are the same; it’s the top and bottom that are cropped in the wider photo), and it might have worked in the Squadron photo if they had paid attention! Like this, for example:

ev-squadron

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Marshall Berman, 1940–2013

The truth of the matter, as Marx sees, is that everything that bourgeois society builds is built to be torn down. “All that is solid [melts into air]” — from the clothes on our backs to the looms and mills that weave them, to the men and women who work the machines, to the houses and neighborhoods the workers live in, to the firms and corporations that exploit the workers, to the towns and cities and whole regions and even nations that embrace them all — all these are made to be broken tomorrow, smashed or shredded or pulverized or dissolved, so they can be recycled or replaced next week, and the whole process can go on again and again, hopefully forever, in ever more profitable forms.

The pathos of all bourgeois monuments is that their material strength and solidity actually count for nothing and carry no weight at all, that they are blown away like frail reeds by the very forces of capitalist development that they celebrate. Even the most beautiful and impressive bourgeois buildings and public works are disposable, capitalized for fast depreciation and planned to be obsolete, closer in their social functions to tents and encampments than to “Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, Gothic cathedrals.”

=–=-=-=

Marshall Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity (New York: Penguin, 1988) p. 99.

“NYC Community Media” Endorsements

In Workers Need Not Apply, I showed the endorsements the non-neighborhood papers owned by NYC Community Media LLC (NYCCM) made, to demonstrate their lack of editorial independence. Today I’m going to see which of their people won.

endorsements

Mayor

Well of course the big loser was Christine Quinn. They weren’t just off, they were way off! She came in third! You have to wonder what motivated this holding company to endorse her. I can’t take any of the newspapers themselves to task, because they don’t write their own editorials, but did NYCCM think people wanted Bloomberg-2? It’s more likely that they thought they would benefit from a Quinn victory, and this was their chance to get people to help them. It will be interesting to see how their reporting changes going forward, now that their audience let them down so.

On the Republican side, Joe Lhota won over NYCCM’s Catsimatidis. It’s interesting that they only endorsed a Republican in The Villager and The East Villager. I wonder if there are more registered Republicans in these areas? You’d think there would be more in the Downtown Express domain. Well, I would think so, anyway. Maybe it was the “self-made” man thing. That kind of thing resonates strongly here.

Public Advocate

Daniel Squadron, who now faces a runoff election against Letitia James, was endorsed in only one NYCCM’s newspapers: Gay City News. Their reasons for endorsing him are valid, in an identity-politics sort of way, but if you’re trying to influence people, why endorse him in only one newspaper? If they’d have endorsed him in their other four newspapers, maybe he would have won?

Comptroller

Oddly enough (is it odd?) NYCCM didn’t endorse anyone for Comptroller.

Manhattan Borough President

Julie Menin came in last. Last! I like what Tenant.net wrote:

    [A]ll four candidates are disappointments. Of the four, Gale Brewer is less objectionable…

Gale Brewer won. Julie Menin came in last.

City Council District 1

If I were registered to vote Democrat, and lived in District 1, I would have voted for Rajkumar!

City Council District 2

Rosie Mendez is the big winner over Richard Del Rio, but why would NYCCM not endorse Mendez in the newspapers where her district is situated? Maybe they thought there was no reason, that she was a shoe-in. Still, why not score some points? They only endorsed her in a newspaper with a significant portion of its readership outside Mendez’s district. Maybe they don’t really support her?

City Council District 3

Corey Johnson was the winner over Yetta Kurland. Another successful choice for NYCCM. It’s probably not a surprise that they endorsed Quinn and Johnson. Tenant.net describes Johnson as “Christine Quinn’s mini-me.” They link to this article back in June:

    Corey worked for a billion dollar real estate company, GFI Capital, which has made a habit of evicting poor and middle class workers and replacing SROs with luxury hotels and condos. His former employer has even been sued by the Department Of Justice Civil Rights Division for discrimination.

Endorsements aren’t predictions. These are the candidates NYCCM wanted it to appear their neighborhood newspapers thought would best serve the residents of their circulation area. But if they also want us to think these newspapers have their finger on the pulse of the neighborhood, they bungled it big time. I suspect Jennifer Goodstein will be looking to sell soon.

The Origin of 80/20 Housing in New York City

If the real estate cowboys invading the Lower East Side in the 1980s used art to paint their economic quest in romantic hues, they also enlisted the cavalry of city government for more prosaic tasks: reclaiming the land and quelling the natives. In its housing policy, drug crackdowns, and especially in its parks strategy, the City devoted its efforts not toward providing basic services and living opportunities for existing residents but toward routing many of the locals and subsidizing opportunities for real estate development. A 1982 consultants’ report entitled An Analysis of Investment Opportunities in the East Village captured the City’s strategy precisely: “The city has now given clear signals that it is prepared to aid the return of the middle class by auctioning city-owned properties and sponsoring projects in gentrifying areas to bolster its tax base and aid the revitalization process” (Oreo Construction Services 1982).

The City’s major resource was its stock of “in rem” properties, mostly foreclosed from private landlords for nonpayment of property taxes. By the early 1980s the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development held over 200 such in rem buildings in the Lower East Side and a similar number of vacant lots. With sixteen of these properties, the Koch administration made its first significant foray into the real estate frenzy of gentrification; artists were to be the vehicle. In August 1981 HPD solicited proposals for an Artist Homeownership Program (AHOP) and the next year announced a renovation project that was to yield 120 housing units in sixteen buildings, each costing an estimated $50,000, aimed at artists earning at least $24,000. Their purpose, the Mayor proclaimed, was “to renew the strength and vitality of the community,” and five artists’ groups and two developers were selected to execute the $7 million program (Bennetts 1982).

But many in the community disagreed vigorously enough to oppose the AHOP plan. The Joint Planning Council, a coalition of more than thirty Loisaida housing and community organizations, demanded that so valuable a resource as abandoned buildings should be renovated for local consumption; city councilwoman Miriam Friedlander saw the plan as “just a front for gentrification”; “the real people who will profit from this housing are the developers who renovate it.” And indeed, the HPD Commissioner expressed the fervent hope that the project would be “a stimulus for overall neighborhood revitalization.” While supporting artists portrayed themselves as normal folks, just part of the working class, a population already largely displaced from Manhattan who deserved housing as much as anyone else, an artists’ opposition emerged — “Artists for Social Responsibility” — who opposed the use of artists to gentrify the neighborhood. HPD, the mayor and AHOP were ultimately defeated by the City Board of Estimate, which refused to provide the initial $2.4 million of public funds (Carroll 1983).

But AHOP was a warm-up for a larger auction program, as HPD prepared to leverage gentrification citywide using in rem properties. The Joint Planning Council decided to grab the initiative by proposing its own community-based plan, and in 1984 it proposed that all City-owned vacant lots and properties be used for low- and moderate-income housing and that the speculation responsible for eliminating existing low-income units be controlled. The City ignored the community plan and came back with a “cross-subsidy” program. HPD would sell City-owned properties to developers, either by auction or at appraised value, in return for an agreement by developers that a vaguely specified 20 percent of rehabilitated or newly built units would be reserved for tenants unable to afford market rates. Developers would receive a tax subsidy in return. Initially some community groups gave the program tentative support; others sought to adjust the ratio of market-rate to subsidized housing to 50:50, while others rejected the entire idea as a backdoor route to building minimal public housing.

But opposition mounted as the actual intent of the program became clear. In 1988 the City announced that the Lefrak Organization — a major national developer — would build on the Seward Park site where, in 1967, 1,800 poor people, mostly African-American and Latino, were displaced when their homes were urban renewed. They were promised the new apartments scheduled for the site, but twenty years later the renewal was yet to happen. The fee for the site was $1, and Lefrak would pay a further $1 per year for the ninety-nine-year lease. Under the plan, Lefrak would build 1,200 apartments, 400 of which would be market-rate condominiums, 640 would be rented at $800–$1,200 to “middle-income” households earning $25,000–$48,000, and the remaining 160 units would go as “moderate-income” units to those earning $15,000–$25,000. No apartments were actually earmarked for low-income people. Further, all rental units would revert to Lefrak as luxury co-ops on the open market after twenty years; Lefrak would get a thirtytwo-year tax abatement, and an overall City subsidy of $20 million. Lawyers representing several of the 1967 tenants filed a class action suit against the Lefrak condo. “Yupperincome housing in low income neighborhoods” is how one housing advocate described the plan, “and the purpose is creating hot new real-estate markets” (Glazer 1988; Reiss 1988). The project got as far as a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the City, but as the depression closed in, the folly of attaching any subsidized housing to market development became clear. Lefrak abandoned the project — but not before it became clear that the City had no intention of mandating Lefrak to build the 20 percent of subsidized units in the same neighborhood. The geographical mobility of the subsidized housing of course opened up the specter of gentrification again for those who had not already seen through the “double-cross subsidy” program, as it came to be known by community activists.

=-=-=-=-=

Neil Smith, The New Urban Frontier (London/New York: Routledge, 1996) 22-23.

Workers Need Not Apply

There are a number of web sites that report on news of the Lower East Side: The Villager; The East Villager; The Lo-Down; NoHo News; to name a few. There are also more personal-type blogs that cover local events. Of all of these, only one reported on the recent walkout by fast-food workers that occurred on August 29, even though there are twenty fast-food restaurants in the Houston-to-14th, Avenue D-to-Broadway quadrangle. That site was Quilas.

The Villager is owned by NYC Community Media LLC, which owns the following papers: Chelsea Now, Downtown Express; The East Villager; Gay City News; and The Villager. Not one of these papers mentioned the day of walkouts, neither announcing that it would occur, nor reporting on it afterwards, despite the number of fast-food restaurants that exist in this area:

local-newspaper-map

Although these papers position themselves as neighborhood newspapers (with the exception of Gay City News), they are relatively uniform in their reporting (many of the same stories, written by the same people), and absolutely uniform in their endorsements of political candidates for the primary election:

endorsements

NYC Community News is itself owned by Jennifer Goodstein. Through each of these newspapers, they demonstrate their hostility to workers’ interests. In their endorsement of Christine Quinn for Mayor, they write:

    She would be a tough negotiator with the unions, which will be critically important for the next mayor.
    The East Villager, The Villager.

    …the city wrestles with fundamental questions about how policing is carried out as well as critical challenges regarding affordable housing, schools, healthcare access and public employee union contracts [Emphasis mine –Q]
    Chelsea Now, Gay City News.

    She also understands the city’s budget process, and is an experienced hand who can run the difficult labor negotiations to come. [Emphasis mine –Q]
    Downtown Express

Both of these papers (The Villager and The East Villager) also recently ran an article titled “Will a Democrat for mayor stand up for small stores?” followed-up a month later with “Who has the guts to fight for our small businesses?” Advocating for small business is a coded way of attacking workers’ rights. Small businesses don’t want the minimum wage to increase, nor do they want paid sick days. Neither do large businesses, but they can’t very well advance their agenda by writing: “Who has the guts to fight for our large businesses?”, or “Who has the guts to fight the increase in the minimum wage?” They know that if fast-food workers are successful in achieving their goal of $15/hour, it will have an upward push on their own workers’ wages.

Interestingly enough, through The Villager and The East Villager, NYC Community News endorsed a Republican candidate. They describe him as “a self-made man,” which is true only if “self-made” means on the backs of his workers.

***

The “personal-type” blogs didn’t write anything about the walkouts either. In their effort to oppose chain stores, they cannot bring themselves to support the people who work in fast-food restaurants (unless they can use it as a cudgel against the chains themselves). For that matter, they don’t support the workers who work in the small businesses they favor. It’s as I wrote before, workers are not a part of the “community”. Community members are shopkeepers and their customers, only. But even that’s tenuous, as I will discuss in a future piece.

When I first started writing Quilas, I wrote that some day the banner of “East Village” activism would be raised to fight the increase in the minimum wage. I think that day is drawing near.

Ads on Quilas

I recently discovered, quite by accident, that ads appear at the bottom of my posts. I inadvertently connected to a post of mine without being logged in and was appalled, appalled I say, to discover a 30-second video at the bottom of the page. I don’t know what it was selling – I didn’t bother to find out – but I must apologize to all of my many readers for this.

However, if you’re not already using AdBlockPlus, it’s really your own fault. AdBlockPlus is available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Android, even Internet Explorer! So get it! It’s free!

So, that said: