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Archive for the tag 'barack obama'

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Councilman Domenic Recchia slammed Representative Michael Grimm for siding with Tea Party House members when it came to pursuing legislation that has led to a government shutdown. In a report by the Brooklyn Eagle, Recchia characterized Grimm as being in league with controversial Texas Senator Ted Cruz and other members of the Tea Party movement.

Recchia’s rhetoric towards Grimm’s vote in favor of a bill that would grant government funding measures on the condition that Obamacare be delayed was strong, reflecting the potentially explosive fight the two are expected to have in the upcoming 2014 congressional elections.

“Tonight, in a massive governing failure, Michael Grimm voted in lockstep with Ted Cruz and the Tea Party to shutdown the United States government,” Recchia said, “This de-habilitating action is widely expected to inflict significant harm on the American economy and will delay further action from the federal government for Superstorm Sandy recovery. Grimm took this action despite the fact that thousands of constituents in Staten Island and South Brooklyn continue to struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of the storm that hit almost a year ago.”

As we previously reported, Grimm, who is the only congressional Republican representing New York City, is considered vulnerable by both Democrats and Republicans in the upcoming election. While Grimm rode into office on a wave of Tea Party populism in 2010, he has at times flashed a moderate streak. In February, gun rights activists hammered Grimm for comments he made supporting gun control measures following the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. In August, Grimm publicly criticized New York GOP party bosses for inviting Senator Rand Paul to speak at a Republican conference in the city after Paul had bitterly opposed the $60 billion Sandy Aid package on account of his libertarian principles.

The New York Daily News reported that there was hope among moderates that Grimm would join fellow New York Republicans in a rebellion that would end the Tea Party drive to shutdown the government over Obamacare:

When GOP moderates led by Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) launched a small rebellion intended to force the House to accept a “clean” funding bill, Grimm was among several Republicans some colleagues expected to vote with Democrats.

But Grimm’s vote, made in the final seconds of balloting after a huddle with GOP leaders, put him at odds with King and upstate Reps. Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna — though he voted against a subsequent measure delaying part of Obamacare.
In his defense, Grimm reportedly blamed the Senate for the shutdown, expressed hope that the government closure would be short and dismissed the potential negative political consequences of his actions.
“I could care less about the politics of which side has an advantage in 2014. Our entire government has taken a hit,” Grimm said.

A Bath Beach girl who lost her uncle in the September 11 attacks made a public plea to President Barack Obama, urging him not to go to war with Syria. The New York Daily News reported that Brittney Cofresi, made the plea while reading names of victims at the September 11 commemoration last week.

Cofresi, who is 15 years old, was paying tribute to her uncle, Salvatore Papasso, a tax investigator who died at the age of 34 when terrorists struck the World Trade Center back in 2001. Papasso, who worked on the 86th floor of 2 World Trade Center, was said to be helping people evacuate the building before being killed.

Cofresi was reading names of September 11 victims on television a the World Trade Center memorial site and after naming her uncle, she urged Obama to give peace a chance.

“I was only 3 when you were taken from us, and we miss you very much. President Obama, please do not bring us to another war,” Cofresi said.

The Daily News contacted Cofresi and asked her motivation for making the public plea:

“I’m just a girl from Brooklyn,” the freshman from Bath Beach told the Daily News. “I wasn’t sure if the President would get my emails or letters. I felt like the only way to get my voice heard was to say this on TV.”

Brittney said she was moved to speak after watching Obama’s primetime speech on Syria the night before.

Cofresi’s wish that Obama avoid engaging Syria in war has become more tangible in recent days, as a compromise between the United States and Russia calling for Syria to give up their chemical weapons has been struck. Now we wait for Syria to follow through.

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

The New York Daily News reports that Congressman Michael Grimm received heat for using his planned opposition to action in Syria as part of a fundraising email, and Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is challenging Grimm in the 2014 Congressional elections, attacked the incumbent for changing his mind on the situation in Syria and the fundraising stunt.

Grimm’s email to supporters, which has since been yanked, was detailed by the Huffington Post.

“Today, I decided to withdraw my support from President Obama’s proposal for a military strike against Syria. I have heard from many of you in Staten Island and Brooklyn, and it is clear to me that their [sic] is strong opposition to the strike. As your voice in Washington, I will continue to listen and take a stand for you,” he wrote.

The letter then followed with: “Will you stand with me in opposing President Obama’s plan with a donation of $25 or more right now?”

Grimm’s campaign quickly admitted that the email was a mistake and that the Congressman was “fuming” over it. Grimm gave a more detailed apology to SI Live.

“It is an absolutely disgraceful mistake,” Grimm told SI LIve. “If I got an e-mail like that, I would be offended.”

Recchia pounced over Grimm’s email in a statement.

“The use of military force is the most serious of issues, and it should be treated that way,” Recchia said.

Last week, we reported on Grimm’s change of heart regarding the U.S. potentially taking action in Syria over the Asad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in their ongoing civil war. Initially, Grimm made statements signifying that he was supporting President Barack Obama’s request that Congress give him authorization to strike in Syria. A few days later, Grimm changed his mind and announced that he was no longer in favor providing support for the President’s plans. The Daily News described Recchia’s reaction to Grimm’s flip-flop:

Grimm’s expected Democratic challenger next year, New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia declined to say how he would vote. But in a statement Recchia said that Grimm “took one knee jerk position and then completely flipped in 72 hours,” in a show of the “petty politics that have shut down Washington.”

The Daily News then detailed a meeting with Grimm held with constituents that led him to change his mind after receiving an unpleasant reaction after informing them that he was backing the President:

Addressing Staten Island constituents Wednesday night at a meeting South Beach Civic Association, Grimm was still arguing for backing Obama, according to audio of the meeting provided to the Daily News.

“Do we draw a red line and not do anything?” he asked, referring the message Iran could take from inaction. “Do we allow a regime…to use chemical weapons and not do anything and allow that precedent to stand?”

Grimm also told constituents that would not take a position before joining the debate in Washington.

“There is no right or wrong or here,” he said. “When I get back to Washington I’m going to be involved in debate. I’m not going to fully make up my mind. I’m leaning towards — I’m leaning towards supporting the President because he already committed us”

That comment was met by angry disagreement by audience members at the event.

Grimm changed his mind following the angry reaction from constituents, prompting his campaign to send out the email soliciting for funds based on his opposition to the Syria issue.

Source: FArepublicans via flickr

Source: FArepublicans via flickr

Representative Michael Grimm changed his mind regarding his previously expressed support of President Barack Obama’s proposed military strike in Syria. According to a report by WFUV, Grimm reversed his position, joining a growing number of New York politicians who oppose intervention in Syria.

After evidence came to light that the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al-Asad, had used chemical weapons in their ongoing civil war, Grimm backed President Obama’s plans to strike, announcing his support on CNN. Now, in a statement, Grimm expressed the opinion that an intervention would be unwise:

“Now that Assad regime has seen our playbook and has been given enough time to prepare and safeguard potential targets, I do not feel that we have enough to gain as a nation by moving forward with this attack on our own,” Grimm said in a statement, released Thursday.

Grimm told CNN Thursday evening he was not asked by anyone to shift his support.
He added in a statement: “I have heard from many constituents who strongly oppose unilateral action at a time when we have so many needs here at home. Thus, after much thought, deliberation and prayer, I am no longer convinced that a U.S. strike on Syria will yield a benefit to the United States that will not be greatly outweighed by the extreme cost of war.”

According to WFUV, the majority of New York’s 27 elected federal officials have remained undecided when it comes to casting support for Obama’s war plans. WFUV broke down a list of politicians that has either expressed their opposition or support for the planned strike:

Rep. Peter King (R)
Rep. Eliot Engel (D)
Rep. Brian Higgins (D)
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D)
Rep. Chris Gibson (R)
Rep. Greg Weeks (D)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D)
Rep. Michael Grimm (R)

Interestingly, the split of those for and against the strikes do not fall on partisan lines.

Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

The racial diversity of Brookyn (Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service)

It might be hard to believe but every single pixelated dot represented on the map above is a person living in Brooklyn in 2010 and the colors correspond to their race. Dustin Cable, a senior research associate at the University of Virgina’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, created the interactive map using data from the 2010 census.

The zoomable “Racial Dot Map,” astonishingly places a different colored dot for everyone of the 308,745,538 people tracked in the last census. Incredibly, according to a report by National Geographic, if you zoom to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the location of the White House, you see can see 5 green dots (representing black Americans) signifying the first family and Barack Obama’s mother-in-law.

More locally, we can see how race fans out over Brooklyn. The predominantly white population (represented by blue dots) of Sea Gate abruptly gives way to the black, Hispanic (orange) and Asian (red) enclaves of Coney Island. The western section Brighton Beach is almost entirely white. A mix of Asian and Hispanic people are tucked neatly away in the land side of Brighton Beach, away from the more desirable waterfront, while the majority of Manhattan Beach is clearly made up of white people.

Sheepshead Bay is actually surprisingly integrated. It’s predominantly white but blended – especially as you approach Avenue U – with smaller pockets of Asian and Hispanic people lining the edges. We’re not particularly integrated when it comes to black Americans, though, which are appear confined to the greenish, orangish square of the Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing projects.

It’s quite the eye opener to see just how Asian and Hispanic the historically Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst has become. Anecdotally, and through census numbers, we know the area has transitioned drastically over the years, but seeing it visualized like this brings it to life. Bath Beach and the Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst border are real bastions of integration, if only because it’s still in flux.

Surprisingly, based on the unscientific eyeball test, some of the most diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn are Red Hook, Park Slope and South Slope (which we’re not entirely committed to recognizing as a real neighborhood yet).

Another interesting note is that the further you zoom out, the more you see the colors blend in ways that indicate greater diversity. Purple and teal colors signify great diversity and when the map is pushed back to reveal the entire tri-state area, it is clear that Brooklyn and New York City is mostly a purplish blob. This is evident in most metropolitan areas across the United States. Still, the closer you zoom in, the more you can racial divides, even on a street by street basis. Interesting stuff, indeed.

You can play around with the map by clicking here.

UPDATE (August 30 @ 3:32 p.m.): In response to a request from a reader named bill, I’ve attempted to overlay district lines on the map above. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close and the best I was able to do:


It was actually a great suggestion that helps us visualize exactly how districts were shaped to either bolster representation of some ethnic groups (either to match requirements set by the Voting Rights Act or concentrate a voting base, depending on your perspective), and to diminish others.

Some examples? Looks like Bensonhurst’s Asian community was divided up among four different council districts. In Sheepshead Bay, the housing projects by Nostrand Avenue, once part of the 48th District, were drawn into the 46th, pretty much removing all of the black vote from the district and putting it safely in a minority-majority district.

This is probably one of the most politically enlightening maps I’ve seen yet, so thanks to bill for suggesting we put it together.

Rep. Michael Grimm (image by Dan Macleod for CNG)

Rep. Michael Grimm (image by Dan Macleod for CNG)

Representative Michael Grimm joined his Republican colleagues on Capital Hill in another effort to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. SI Live is reporting that Grimm voted on legislation that would prohibit the IRS from enforcing the controversial law.

The bill, known as the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act,” is not expected to pass in the Democratically controlled Senate. While this latest GOP effort targets the IRS, the bill essentially amounts to the 40th time that the GOP has attempted to trash Obamacare since its passing in 2010.

“The IRS has proved to be a scandal-ridden organization that has abused its authority by targeting individuals and organizations. How can we expect the American people to trust it with something as important as health care? Health care decisions should be made by patients and doctors, not by Washington bureaucrats at the IRS,” Grimm said.

Grimm’s outspoken opposition to Obamacare represents the GOP’s broader last ditch effort to derail or bury the Affordable Health Care Act before it goes into effect in 2014.

Recently, the New York Times published a front page report detailing that the average New Yorker’s health care plan costs would be dramatically slashed once Obamacare is implemented:

State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower…

The plans to be offered on the exchanges all meet certain basic requirements, as laid out in the law, but are in four categories from most generous to least: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. An individual with annual income of $17,000 will pay about $55 a month for a silver plan, state regulators said. A person with a $20,000 income will pay about $85 a month for a silver plan, while someone earning $25,000 will pay about $145 a month for a silver plan.

In response to this news, New York Times op-ed contributor Paul Krugman argued in a recent piece that Obamacare represents the “right’s worst nightmare,” because once implemented, the measure would become wildly popular:

To understand what’s happening in New York, you have to start with what almost everyone at least pretends to believe: Americans shouldn’t find it impossible to get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions that aren’t their fault. Two decades ago, New York tried to deal with this by imposing community rating: insurance is available to everyone, and the price doesn’t depend on your medical history.

The problem was that this created a death spiral: young, healthy people didn’t buy insurance, worsening the risk pool, driving up premiums, driving out more relatively healthy people, etc., until you were left with a rump of very ill people paying very high rates.

How do you deal with this? Well, ideally, Medicare for all. But since that wasn’t going to happen, you improve the risk pool by requiring everyone to buy insurance — the individual mandate. And since some people won’t be able to afford that, you also offer subsidies. Voila! ObamaRomneycare!

Where does the money for the subsidies come from? Partly by reducing corporate welfare: reducing overpayments for Medicare Advantage, reducing tax breaks for very generous insurance plans; partly with new taxes on the wealthy.

And while a few people will be hurt — young, healthy individuals too affluent to qualify for subsidies, wealthy taxpayers, etc. — a much larger number of people will be helped, some of them enormously.

As the day Obamacare is implemented draws nearer, it will be interesting to see how average people react to the reality of the system. If the Affordable Health Care Act ends up insuring millions while saving people money right away, conservatives like Grimm, representing traditionally Democratic areas, might find themselves desperately trying to defend their vehement opposition to the measure for years to come.

Who is worst? Domenic Recchia, the Emperor or Biff? (Source: Photos via wikipedia

Who is worst? The Star Wars Emperor, Councilman Recchia or Biff? (Source: Photos via wikipedia

The election victory of Barack Obama over Mitt Romney was a wake up call for Republicans everywhere. They learned that they were uncool, not hip and out-of-touch with today’s Buzzfeed-culture obsessed world of neo-hipsters. Looking to tap into the rich vein of nerdy references that cause geeks everywhere to squeal with delight, Republicans have experimented with this style of gorilla internet campaigning with spectacularly lazy results. According to a report by Politicker, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has put out a list that compares Councilman Domenic Recchia (D) to a slew of generic movie villains.

Recchia, who is challenging Republican Michael Grimm for his seat in Congress, has been accused of abusing his position as finance chairman. Recchia has doled out millions of dollars in “member items” spending to Staten Island based charities, schools and hospitals. The spending is outside of Recchia’s domain as councilman but inside Grimm’s domain as congressman. Recchia took some heat for the maneuver, which critics initially painted as a purely political to raise his profile in the district as he seeks to unseat Grimm.

Republicans have stepped up their criticism a notch by comparing Recchia’s actions to those of the worst movie villains Hollywood has come up with, including Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, Biff Tannen from Back to the Future and Lex Luthor from Superman.

The incredibly silly list, which you can read by clicking here, is just sad. It isn’t sad because it represents another tasteless example of political mudslinging at its worst, though it does, but because of how incredibly lazy and dumb it is.

Will the real Domenic Recchia please stand up?

Are Republicans seriously comparing the questionable, though technically legitimate expenditures on Superstorm Sandy affected hospitals in Staten Island to the guy who built the Death Star? Are Recchia’s actions as terrible as Lex Luthor, who fired hijacked nuclear missiles at California and New Jersey? Because if they thought this through, they might have been able to come up with a list of lesser known, though otherwise corrupt politicians from actual history rather than resorting to ridiculous cartoon villains from movies. Instead of unfairly comparing Recchia to Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, why not unfairly compare him to State Senator John Sampson or Carl Kruger?

Besides, everyone knows that if Recchia – or almost any local pol, really – were to be compared to a super-villain, it would have to be Chairface Chippendale, from The Tick, who has a chair for a head. Chippendale, like Recchia, and, again, any other local pol, tries repeatedly to gain infamy by vandalizing public objects with his image.

Stick to what you are good at Congressional Republicans, whatever that is, and leave the pop-culture wisecracks to people smart enough to understand them in the first place.

Source: Azipaybarah via Flickr

Sal Albanese is running for mayor and your’re probably thinking, that name sounds familiar, where do I remember him from? Well, the crack researchers at Bensonhurst Bean are here to give you FIVE incredibly detailed vital must-know facts about Albanese so you can be informed like no other New York political junkie. Without further ado, here is the exhaustive list.

1. He’s Italian, 2. He was a councilman, 3. He’s a Democrat, 4. He’s from Bay Ridge and 5. He is bald. Thanks for reading! Now take your Sal Albanese knowledge and inform the world!

Wait, sorry, that’s not incredibly informative. Let me try again.

  1. This is his third run for mayor – Albanese is no stranger to the biggest stage of New York City politics. He is high on ambition but low on big victories. His first foray into the world of national stage politics came in 1992 when he ran for Congress in New York’s 13th Congressional District. He lost to Republican Susan Molinari by 18 percentage points. His first run for mayor came 16 years ago in 1997. He came in third in the New York primary, earning 21 percent of the vote. He finished behind Al Sharpton and Ruth Messinger. He briefly entered the 2000 race for mayor but dropped out early due to fundraising difficulties.
  2. He’s a liberal in a conservative world – Albanese’s remarkable career in the City Council bucked the odds. Representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, traditionally conservative leaning districts, Albanese was a liberal Democrat. He represented these areas for over 15 years from 1982 to 1997. Albanese was a big advocate of Mayor David Dinkins, supports gay rights and fought hard to increase the minimum wage. His 1996 New York City Living Wage Bill passed, much to the opposition and ire of Rudy Giuliani. According to the New York Times, Albanese was popular in his districts because of the high level of attention he paid to people in his district who came to him with their problems. Since leaving the City Council, Albanese’s most recent foray into politics came when he ran as a delegate for Barack Obama. What’s a delegate? They are the people who cast their votes on behalf of their chosen candidate  at the national party conventions.
  3. Albanese also has an independent streak – While the former councilman shrugged off opposition for his more liberal beliefs (protesters picketed his home after his staunch support for a 1986 gay rights bill), Albanese refused to toe the party line, much to the annoyance of his fellow Democrats on the council. Albanese was stripped of committee chairmanships three times in his political career for voting how he felt, not how he was told. His decision to run as a delegate for Barack Obama instead of New York-favorite Hillary Clinton in 2008 was also a bold break from local political pressure at the time.
  4. He has a strong financial background – Since leaving politics in 1997, Albanese has immersed himself in the business world, serving as a Marketing Director for INVESCO and then as the Managing Director of Institutional Sales & Marketing for Mesirow Financial. Since announcing his latest mayoral bid, Albanese has had no shortage of ideas in attempting to solve the city’s long term fiscal problems. According to a report in BK Bureau, he doesn’t want to create new surcharge taxes on those making more than $500,000 a year in fear of driving higher income residents from the city. He also believes that the city’s pension fund is not the source of the city’s economic problems, but rather, he wants to limit the amount of overtime city workers can rack up right before they retire. He also wants to hire 3,800 new cops and divvy them up based on the frequency of radio runs each district gets. He also stated his support for the controversial stop-and-frisk program, but argues that policemen must be intensely and consistently trained on the proper administration of the tactic.
  5. He has been silent on major city issues since 1997 – Albanese’s voice has not been heard on city issues since he left politics in 1997. Albanese admits that his absence is likely his biggest challenge. A lot of New Yorkers have forgotten him and he has a lot of ground to make up both in his financial war chest and in his visibility among voters. While Albanese has been absent from city politics for over a decade, he is confident that if he gets his message out, he can connect to voters. He summed up his rational to run to BK Bureau:

“I came here as an immigrant at the age of eight. The city is 40 percent immigrant-based. I went to New York City public schools. I went to the City University of New York. I mean, I’m a New York City story. I spent 15 years in government, 15 years in the private sector,” he says. “Our challenge is going to be raising enough money to get our message out. I think we’re going to be able to do it.”

Source: Roxanne Jo Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons

A national event is taking place wherein supporters for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign are coming together across the country and hosting house parties to “get the conversation started.” A local group is taking part as well.

The location is not a home per say, but Bensonhurst Park at Cropsey Avenue and Bay Parkway, near the Bay 29th Street entrance. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude at 10 p.m.

The plan is to talk to volunteers and friends, exchange ideas, eat, and discuss grassroots campaigning. According to the invite, this local event will also include dance, game playing and party favors.

Organizers for the event are Bernadene Weekes and Sonny Urbine. Contact Weekes at (347) 379-3544 for information.

Candidate Mark Murphy, who is vying for Congressman Michael Grimm’s seat, had this to say about the Supreme Court upholding President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act:

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is good news for millions of Americans who will now have access to healthcare and for small businesses choking on the cost of health insurance. It is especially good news for those with pre-existing conditions who were denied coverage in the past.

The Affordable Care Act is a prescription for healthier families and a healthier economy. I am pleased that the Supreme Court decided to renew the prescription.

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