The latest project from Comptroller John Liu's office, and it looks like a good idea to me:
Comptroller John Liu's www.checkbooknyc.com offers unprecedented access into how the City of New York spends its nearly $70 billion annual budget.
While it's catapulted the Big Apple to top in the nation in governmental financial transparency, that was never the end goal. The real goal is to simply compel more judicious spending of precious taxdollars.
The idea here is that opening up government's books and baring it all online empowers and enlists the public to keep an eye out. Then, when city agencies know that every penny spent is being watched, there is an inherent incentive to exercise that much more care in the spending of the public's dime.
The website breaks down city spending by department, vendor, contract, etc. See where your money is being spent by the city!
Last weekend my family attended the second ever community swearing in ceremony for one of our favorite Congressional reps: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. Her FIRST community swearing in ceremony took place 20 years ago, when she was first elected to Congress, and at that FIRST ceremony she was sworn in before the local Brooklyn community by a then little known local judge named Sonia Sotomayor. (Note the community swearing in is purely ceremonial and intended to celebrate with your local friends, allies, and constituents).
Nydia is the reason why Sotomayor is now a Supreme Court Justice.
Here is Nydia testifying for Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court:
And here is video of Nydia at the 2012 Democratic Convention:
My family got invited to the Community Swearing in Ceremony for Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. Not sure why we got invited since she is not our Congresswoman and our own Congresswoman (Yvette Clarke) has not invited us to anything. But Nydia is one of our favorite members of Congress and one with whom I have had many excellent conversations with at parties and political events.
Whenever Nydia and I see eachother we give eachother a big hug because we both know we have fought through, in our own ways (her far more than me!), a lot of tough times trying to get both better and more Democrats elected and trying to get our government more effective and progressive on ALL levels. I appreciate her hugs because I know it means we are on the same page, and I hope she realizes I appreciate her efforts as well.
20 years ago the judge who swore her in before a crowd of assembled Brooklynites was Sonia Sotomayor. This year, to celebrate her 20th year in Congress, Nydia chose to be sworn in by the Hon. Judge Deborah A. Batts, who was introduced as the first black, openly LGBT federal judge in the country (if I heard correctly).
Gives you a sense of what it means to know Nydia Velasquez. From the Hon. Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Hon. Judge Deborah Batts, the career of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez spans 20 years of major progress, with Nydia ALWAYS being at the forefront of that progress. read more »
I have been doing a running report on endorsements for the June 26th Democratic Primary in NYC (particularly Brooklyn races which I know the most about). Here is my latest update.
I want to note that voting in these primaries is critical. People complain about corruption in local politics all the time, but if they don't vote in these primaries they are doing nothing to fight that corruption. If you want a better system for Brooklyn and for NY State, pay attention to these primaries! It also helps to donate to or volunteer for some of these candidates.
CENTRAL BROOKLYN INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS: Considered the most progressive and most reform club in Brooklyn.
One of the best things about this club is that they require candidates to fill out pretty tough questionnaires so you can read about each candidate. Click here to see the questionnaires that have been turned in for the June 26th primary.
Now here are the CBID endorsements:
LATEST CBID ENDORSEMENTS:
Martine Guerrier (57th Assembly District) (Something of an upset in the club, but many people found her very smart and refreshing)
Robin Garson (Civil Court Judge)
PREVIOUS CBID ENDORSEMENTS:
Joan Millman (52nd AD)
Jim Brennan (44th AD)
Nydia Velazquez (7th CD)
No Endorsement (8th CD)
Yvette Clarke (9th CD)
Jerrold Nadler (10th CD)
Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club (LGBT issues)
Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club Endorsement List Primary 2012
PRESIDENT: Barack Obama
UNITED STATES SENATE: Kirsten Gillibrand
DISTRICT LEADER RACES
52nd Assembly District State Committee, Brooklyn: Jo Anne Simon
66th Assembly District State Committee, Manhattan: Arthur Schwartz
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
6th Rory Lancman, Queens
7th Nydia Velazquez, Brooklyn
8th Hakeem Jeffries, Brooklyn
9th Yvette Clarke, Brooklyn
10th Jerry Nadler, Manhattan/Brooklyn
11th Mark Murphy, Brooklyn/Staten Island
12th Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan/Queens
13th Charles Rangel, Manhattan
15th Jose Serrano, Bronx
NEW YORK STATE SENATE
11th Senate District, Tony Avella, Queens
13th Senate District, Jose R. Peralta, Queens
16th Senate District Toby Ann Stavisky, Queens
20th Senate District, Eric Adams, Brooklyn
21st Senate District, Kevin S. Parker, Brooklyn
22nd Senate District, Andrew Gounardes, Brooklyn
23rd Senate District, Diane J. Savino, Staten Island/Brooklyn
25th Senate District, Velmanette Montgomery, Brooklyn
28th Senate District, Liz Kruger, Manhattan
27th Senate District, Tom Duane, Manhattan
30th Senate District, Bill Perkins, Manhattan
31st Senate District, Mark Levine, Manhattan
33nd Senate District, Gustavo Rivera, Manhattan
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
28th Assembly District, Andrew Hevesi, Queens
39th Assembly District Francisco Moya, Queens
42nd Assembly District Rhoda Jacobs, Brooklyn
44th Assembly District James F. Brennan, Brooklyn
52nd Assembly District Joan Millman, Brooklyn
57th Assembly District Olanike Alabi, Brooklyn
61st Assembly District Matthew Titone, Staten Island
64th Assembly District Sheldon Silver, Manhattan
70th Assembly District, Keith L.T. Wright, Manhattan
71st Assembly District Herman D. Farrell, Jr., Manhattan
73rd Assembly District Dan Quart, Manhattan
75th Assembly District Richard Gottfried, Manhattan
Surrogate Court Manhattan: Rita Mella
3rd Civil Court District, Manhattan: Olga Statz
Lambda Independent Democrats (LGBT issues)
Nydia Velazquez, 7th CD
Hakeem Jeffries, 8th CD
Yvette Clarke, 9th CD
Jerrold Nadler, 10th CD
Mark Murphy, 11th CD
Carolyn Maloney, 12th CD
For NY State Senate...
Eric Adams, 20th District
Kevin Parker, 21st District
Diane Savino, 23rd District
Andrew Gounardes for State Senate, District 22
Velmanette Montgomery for State Senate, District 18
Daniel Squadron for State Senate, District 25
For NY State Assembly...
Rhoda Jacobs, 42nd AD
Olanike Alabi, 57th AD
Jim Brennan for State Assembly, District 44
John Mancuso for State Assembly, District 60
Joan Millman for State Assembly, District 52
For Civil Court Judge...
For District Leader...
Lincoln Restler for Male District Leader, 50th AD
Jo Anne Simon for Female District Leader, 52nd AD
Faryce Moore for Female District Leader, 57th AD
Joanne Seminara for Female District Leader, 60th AD
Jacob Gold for District Leader/State Committee, Assembly District 44
Lori Knipel for District Leader/State Committee, Assembly District 44
Chris Owens for District Leader/State Committee, Assembly District 52
More below read more »
We are all angry at the big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citibank because of their predatory lending practices, terrible customer service and greedy, selfish politics and business practices. Basically these banks and similar ones have screwed working class and middle class Americans and made a profit off our suffering. Then they got bailed out with OUR tax money when their lousy business practices and predatory lending hit them in the ass. These banks got us into the economic mess we are in and the CEOs of these banks took America to the cleaners and have been reaping the profits while we suffer foreclosures and tough times. And the fees they charge are insane!
That is why I advocate breaking ties with these big predatory banks and finding alternatives. I personally have been divesting myself of these big bad banks like Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank and instead switching my mortgage, accounts and credit cards to USAA (which only works with Veterans and their families), TD Bank (a large bank that actually has excellent customer service and did not engage in predatory lending), and local credit unions. I have particularly liked TD Bank who refinanced my mortgage at a much better rate and much simpler than the big bad banks.
But so far my wife and I still haven't been able to get rid of all our Chase and Bank of America credit cards. Paying off the debt is tough, but we are working on it. But I would like to find better credit cards to use.
Well, Green America has some suggestions I would like to pass on to you.
Cards Connected to Better Banks
There are socially responsible banks and credit unions that exemplify responsible lending practices—as well as community investing institutions that take the social mission one step further by also investing in low-income populations.
Wainwright Bank Visa Cards (fees and rates vary): Wainwright, a Boston-based bank with a tradition of “socially progressive” banking, offers six different Visa credit cards with different rates and terms. All of these cards are issued and managed by Elan, a financial services company. Steven F. Young, senior vice president at Wainwright, says they “chose Elan because we felt their consumer practices were best.”
Permaculture Credit Union’s (PCU) Visa card (13% apr, no annual fee): Based in New Mexico, PCU is committed to Earth-friendly and socially responsible loans and investments. PCU’s card is issued by the Illinois Credit Union League to anyone, whether or not they are a PCU account holder, though applicants should mention they are “affiliated” with Permaculture Credit Union.
ReDirect Visa (15.15% apr, no annual fee): The ReDirect card is issued by Washington state’s ShoreBank Pacific.Depositors fuel the bank’s lending programs, which enable sustainable community development. ShoreBank Pacific issues the card by way of TCM, which is owned by ICBA Bancard, a subsidiary of the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Your card fees support ShoreBank Pacific’s community investing mission, and half of the card’s proceeds go toward reducing CO2 emissions through Sustainable Travel International’s “MyClimate” high-quality offsets. In addition to a conventional rewards program, the card also earns cardholders discounts at the sustainable businesses listed in regional “ReDirect Guides” for Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins, CO; Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA; and Salt Lake City/Park City, UT. Those businesses that offer Internet purchasing will extend ReDirect discounts to any cardholder. There’s no need to have a ShoreBank Pacific account to apply.
Salmon Nation Visa (15.15% apr, no annual fee): This card, also from ShoreBank Pacific, directs a percentage of its income to growing a community of citizens that practice environmental stewardship of “Salmon Nation,” a bio-region stretching from Alaska to Oregon where wild salmon live. Like the ReDirect card, Salmon Nation Visa isn’t benefiting a mega-bank, and you don’t need a ShoreBank Pacific account to apply.
The Loop Card (11.99% apr, no annual fee): A Visa from Albina Community Bank in Oregon. Profits from this Visa from Oregon’s Albina Community Bank not only support Albina, but one percent of every purchase goes to Portland’s neighborhoods, funding education, health, social services, environment, the arts, or economic development projects. You do not have to have an account with Albina to get the card, and it is not connected to a mega-bank.
Shorebank’s Elan Visa Consumer Card (variable apr, no annual fee): ShoreBank, in the Midwest, is a community development and environmental bank that issues a credit card available to anyone nationwide through Elan, the same company servicing Wainright Bank’s cards, at a rate determined by your credit history.
Self-Help credit union cards (9.95–12.95% apr, no annual fee): Self-Help, headquartered in North Carolina, works in communities traditionally underserved by conventional financial institutions. It offers Classic and Platinum Visa credit cards to members, and through online banking, anyone nationwide can become an account holder and apply. The cards are issued by Self-Help, a community development bank.
For those purchases you make by credit card, using one of these best-option cards can make your charges a force for good.
One of my goals this year is to switch from my current credit cards, which are still mega-bank linked, to one or two of these cards. I hope you will all join my in making the switch.
This was sent by a friend. I can seldom make such events these days, but I have already given to Velmanette's Campaign...and probably will again. I also get to hear Velmanette speak at Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats meetings. But I urge anyone who can to go to this event and support one of the best Democrats in New York:
MEET AND SUPPORT STATE SENATOR VELMANETTE MONTGOMERY
At the home of Joan Reutershan and Meg Harper
70 South Portland Avenue (near Lafayette) 6:00 – 8:00PM
Join Council Member Letitia James along with hosts Joan Reutershan, Meg Harper, Naomi Dickerson, Charles Jarden, Lucy Koteen, Patricia Johnson, Paul Palazzo, and Steve Soblick.
Senator Montgomery, currently the Chairperson of the Children and Families Committee, has stood up for all the right issues:
* Community Supported Development
* Reforming the Juvenile Justice system
* Affordable Housing for all
* Marriage Equality
* Democratic Education
* Opposition to Atlantic Yards read more »