It is true, as Chris Bragg writes in Crain's NY Business that the members of the City Council's Progressive Caucus are working closely with labor unions, community groups, and the Working Families Party to help bring about a more progressive New York City.
It's not a secret conspiracy, or even much of an exclusive. We've been writing about it for months. Our whole platform -- 13 Bold Progressive Ideas for NYC 2013 -- is on the web in multi-color (please do take a look). I recently wrote a column about it for The Nation. You can see the candidates we are supporting here.
Yes, we are for progressive taxation! In a city where the wealthiest 1 percent have tripled their share of the city's income since 1980 to 39 percent, but only pay 34 percent of the taxes, we would rather ask them to pay a little more than make any more cuts to libraries, child care, or fire houses.
Yes, we want to move away from the Bloomberg Administration's educational policies of over-emphasizing high-stakes testing, aggressively closing troubled schools rather than helping turn them around, and replacing them with charters. Who agrees? Seventy-one percent of public school parents say they trust the United Federation of Teachers more than the mayor to protect the interests of our public schools. The PAC StudentsFirstNY certainly has the right to raise money from hedge-fund managers to support high-stakes testing and a continuation of Bloomberg's education policies. But I sure don't want to support their candidates for City Council.
Yes, we support a requirement that new hotel development get a special permit. In the Gowanus Canal area near my house, hotels have replaced many manufacturing businesses that provided good blue-collar jobs -- because, of course, hotels can pay a much higher rent than many other businesses allowed in manufacturing zones. And yes, where there are new hotels, we are much happier if they are unionized, so their workers earn a decent salary and have affordable health care.
What else are we for? An expansion of bus-rapid transit to bring better public transportation to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Establishing a Department of Early Childhood Education to coordinate investments in kids from birth to 5, so they show up at school ready to learn (I guess that makes us a front group for four-year-olds?). And good-government reforms in the New York City Council, bringing more transparency to member items, and taking the politics out. Gasp! What's next? Equal pay for equal work?
Actually, New Yorkers overwhelmingly support our agenda. In a recent survey by the Community Service Society, New Yorkers across the income spectrum -- by a three-to-one margin -- indicated that they would prefer a mayor who supports policies that help working New Yorkers get ahead, over policies that favor business like lower taxes and fewer regulations.
Maybe that's what Crain's New York Business is really worried about: that New Yorkers might vote for the more just, equal, and inclusive city that they want.
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