Clarion Masthead

Letters to the Editor: WFP, Pathways, Debates

If you are a New Yorker who supports Barack Obama, you have a choice in how you vote for him: you vote for Obama on either the Democratic Party or the Working Families Party (WFP) lines. I urge you to carefully consider recording your vote for Obama on Row D, the WFP’s line.

Since its founding in 1998, the WFP has steadily increased its vote. In 2010, WFP voters accounted for more than 4% of total turnout in New York State. In New York City, the WFP emerged as the third largest party, with a vote total equal to 42% of that of the Republican Party.

The WFP has only elected a few candidates running solely on its line, including New York City Councilmember Letitia James. But when it endorses a Democrat, its vote total provides a way to show a candidate that progressive voters can make the difference between victory and defeat. The WFP influences the selection of Democratic candidates both by endorsing the most pro-labor candidates in primary contests, and by retaining the option to run candidates in its own name.

The WFP can proudly take much of the credit for convincing the State Legislature to raise New York’s minimum wage, and it is currently spearheading the battle to require employers in New York City to provide paid sick leave to their employees.

So, on November 6, 2012, please consider joining other progressives in voting for Barack Obama and the other Working Families Party candidates on Row D.

Gerald Meyer
Hostos Community College

Editor’s note: The PSC Delegate Assembly voted to affiliate with the Working Families Party in Fall 2011, joining the WFP’s 25 other union affiliates. See page 12 for more info.


Pathways Should Be Retired

As retired college administrators, teachers and scholars, we regard with dismay the Pathways initiative launched by CUNY’s central administration and pushed forward against the best advice of the academic community.

We devoted our working lives at CUNY to the task of improving the quality and accessibility of higher education for the working people of this city, a task to which the University itself made a commitment at its founding more than a century and a half ago. In retirement we have not abandoned that commitment.

Pathways ignores our own experience. It denies the best scholarship. It defies established patterns of governance in matters of curriculum. We cannot accept the disingenuous pedagogical, bureaucratic and cost-saving arguments advanced for its implementation.

What we see is the constriction and dumbing-down of the curriculum available to a population most in need of expanded educational opportunity and a population most likely to repay public investment in liberal education many times over. What we see is a cynical attempt to use contrived austerity as the excuse to tier educational opportunity, relegating many to a cut-rate, get-through-quick experience.

We join with our colleagues in urging the CUNY administration to order a moratorium on the implementation of the Pathways project and to entertain alternatives better designed to provide both a rich and readily navigated road to a college degree.

Jim Perlstein, Chair
PSC Retiree Chapter and the chapter’s entire Executive Committee


Keep an Eye on City Council Redistricting

The New York City Districting Commission’s proposal for future Council districts would destroy the historical integrity of my Manhattan Valley neighborhood, which is attached to East Harlem and the South Bronx. This is very bad news for mixed-income communities of color – the few of us left in Manhattan.

The Commission’s plan breaks up a district that was originally created for Latino empowerment, currently represented by Melissa Mark-Viverito. The proposal dissects Manhattan Valley, which lies between 96th and 110th Streets. It would attach the lower half to the district below and the upper to a new district that includes my alma mater, Columbia University. The timing is of note: we are undergoing another intense gentrification phase, this time led by investment capital. At the same time, Columbia’s development of a new campus above 125th Street and Broadway is displacing local businesses and residents.

Manhattan Valley has an organized housing network that goes back to the community struggles of the 1960s and ’70s. We’ve been fighting this trend for 30 years. Westsiders for Responsible Development and other local groups were recently successful in curtailing high-rise development in the area – maybe we’re being punished for our success.

There was a large and vocal turnout at the October 4 public hearing at the Schomburg Center. We all need to pay attention to the NYC Districting Commission: these hearings are about political power.

Blanca Vázquez
Hunter College and
Co-Chair, Manhattan Valley Preservation Coalition


Style Triumphs Over Substance in Denver Debate

As a Democrat by virtue of genetics…I have to accept that Willard “Mitt” Romney “won” the first 2012 Presidential Debate.

It is of little relevance that Mitt won on style, not substance. His presentation – woven from synthetics, wrought with innuendos, half-truths and fiction – does not affect people with firm views on either side of the issues. What Romney’s win does is to nudge undecided voters off the fence to Mitt’s side. Let’s face it: after 45 months of watching President Barack Obama function and Washington’s dysfunction, if one still has not decided for whom one will vote, it very well might be style over substance that sways you.

In an ideal debate, logic, facts and deductive reasoning are all that matter. For the target audience in a presidential debate, style may be what counts.

Thank the Lord for the recent 7.8% unemployment report, now back below 8%. That is substance that cannot be overlooked or spun to yield anything but a win for President Obama and the tremendous work he has done for 45 months, and for which he needs another 51 months to continue.

Ainsley Allen
York College


Political Activism One Door Knock at a Time

The first weekend in October 2012, I walked through the streets of Western Massachusetts with five other New Yorkers. We had not come just to view the meandering branches decked in red and orange foliage, but to save the Senate from turning red. Not red like the beautiful leaves we walked by, but Republican red – not so beautiful!

Bundled up with our “Elizabeth Warren for US Senate” T-shirts over warm sweatshirts, we shared our enthusiasm for this progressive and capable leader with the people behind the doors we knocked on. Some welcoming, others not so much. Some conversations are priceless: there’s serendipity at many a doorstep.

The addresses we targeted were mostly homes of independents and Democrats who often don’t bother voting. Our aim was to identify those who were for Warren, or undecided, with the latter to get follow-up visits. This will enable tightly focused work the last week to get Warren supporters out to vote.

Polls show voters evenly split between Warren and Republican Scott Brown. The vision of a right-wing Republican takeover of the entire Congress is great motivation to travel to Springfield and lose some weight walking the streets. If you’d like to help, you can get in touch with me at ageiger3@nyc.rr.com for information on free transportation and housing.

Arlene Geiger
John Jay College


Editor’s note: The PSC is organizing phone-banking to union voters in battleground states and key Congressional contests, including the Elizabeth Warren campaign, as well as some bus trips to campaign on “labor walks” out of state. For more information, contact Amanda Magalhaes in the PSC office (amagalhaes@pscmail.org or 212-354-1252).