On Politics by anthony.stasi
Oct 24, 2008 | 498166 views | 0 0 comments | 2889 2889 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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A Flower Grows In Brooklyn
by anthony.stasi
Feb 20, 2009 | 52222 views | 0 0 comments | 1381 1381 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
What makes our economic times interesting in terms of government is the type of leadership we get from appointed government officials. Nothing about appointing someone to head a large and important agency is easy. Simply take a look at how choppy the water has been for the new president when choosing cabinet members.

Herbert Stupp was the commissioner for the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) for eight years under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Stupp is the Chief Executive Officer at Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York. Little Flower became a voice for abused and neglected children in 1929, when it was formed through St. Peter Claver Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Most of the children and the clergy then were African American. Little Flower is a quite diverse organization today, helping children all over New York. Little Flower has its roots in the Catholic tradition, but serves children from all backgrounds.

At DFTA, Stupp was in charge of a budget that lingered around $250 million. Today, he heads an organization that has a budget of around $50 million dollars and serves around 2,000 children and families. I get email from students majoring in public administration about this field as a career. Stupp’s journey is one of success, so it’s a good place to start when talking about public management.

The government employee, or public administrator, has – by definition- changed. The city gets a better employee today because there are people that actually study public administration beforehand. Generations ago, a man came back from military service, and if he found no other work, there was work with the government (often the post office was a good place for veterans to find work). It was a good way to reward veterans. Later, the government employee was often a person that just did not find work elsewhere and agencies were kept afloat out of political patronage. Because of this, the quality of service became that of the infamous Department of Motor Vehicles (which has since gotten much better).

What has changed? Well, it started with Stupp’s generation and continues today. People are going into public service, instead of falling into it. So their passion and energy are making for a better government. Managing in government is every bit as valuable as managing in the private sector. And we do not need to be reminded that the private sector does not always get things right.

Because these economic times are so pressing for us, I thought I would reach Stupp in order to better understand the differences in pressures faced by public administrators when they go from government to nonprofit organizations. The pressures are different, according to Stupp. “In a government agency, there is less risk of the agency itself going away,” explains Stupp. “With a nonprofit organization, it can fold if it cannot support itself. Many organizations have gone under recently, not us…but many others have.”

On the other hand, Stupp explains that his work at Little Flower is less tied to external, political worries. Commissioners of government agencies can be asked to leave for things for which they have no control. That is less likely in a non profit position.

Stupp’s work at the Department for the Aging is well remembered by former staff at the agency. When overhearing some folks that used to work at the agency talking about some of the scandals that the agency endured in the past, I asked if any of it was on Stupp’s watch. “Oh no…no way,” was the answer I got. Stupp’s eight years were considered successful and Mayor Giuliani would later write “I don’t think the DFTA has ever been better run, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time in which the senior citizens of this City feel the commitment of the City more than they do now.”

Organizations such as Little Flower and New York Families for Autistic Children have taken a big hit in recent years because much of the money that they hope to get by way of donations has slowed. What this creates is a need for expert leadership to pilot them through these tough times.

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Andrew Cuomo and the Conservative Party Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Feb 08, 2009 | 54484 views | 3 3 comments | 1398 1398 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
The New York State Conservative Party inviting Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to speak at its annual dinner signals no change in the ideology of the party. Conservative Party chairman Mike Long has always been a strong advocate of smaller government and tighter budgets. The state’s fourth largest political party is really the third largest. The Independence Party is third only because the name of the party confuses newly registered voters that want to remain independent, and so they unwittingly check of the capital “I” – Independence Party. Truly independent voters would check of “I do not wish to enroll in a party” in order to be independent.

So, for the sake of honesty, let’s just say the state’s ‘quite large’ fourth party is the Conservative Party. The party was formed following the ideological footsteps of Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. It was created to push the then left leaning Republican Party back to the right. The theory was to then disband the party once the GOP moved away from Rockefeller’s liberal Republicanism.

Andrew Cuomo is proposing to streamline local governments. It’s a bold and interesting idea. For the longest time, Long Island and upstate New York politicians have created these separate government entities as a means to give patronage jobs to friends and supporters. Now the Attorney General is suggesting we revisit all this in order to make government more responsive and less expensive. Mike Long thinks it is worth considering. After all, the Conservative Party’s candidates are often not part of the patronage machine. Conservative Party candidates run on their own money and, while they do not often get elected (unless they share a line with Republicans or Democrats,) they rarely owe anyone anything in return.

It is for this reason that Long has stayed true to his ideology. People have criticized the Conservative Party for endorsing pro-choice candidates in recent years, but what lights up the core of the party – a belief in a smaller government - still shines. Mike Long doesn’t care if Cuomo is a Democrat, he cares that someone is talking about fixing government.

This is clearly an effort by Cuomo to court support for some future race. It is not the work that we expect from an attorney general, but Cuomo is better at policy than he is at campaigning, and so opportunities to talk about policy are important to him. If Cuomo can make the case that he wants to introduce a bold plan to restructure government and save tax payers money, he is speaking to the right crowd.

For too long the Conservatives have been stereotyped as people living in another era that belong to a value system not entirely compatible with today’s America. Now, with budgets in every state being squeezed and a federal government that spent the last eight years writing blank checks, it appears that the Conservatives were right on many of these counts.

Long may not say if the party is willing to endorse Cuomo, which would be interesting since Cuomo’s father was the voice of liberalism – or anti-Reaganism - in the 1980s. But putting Cuomo on their line should be brought with a degree of caution. Remember that Cuomo was once a gubernatorial candidate on the New York State Liberal Party line. When he agreed to drop out of the race, he remained on the Liberal line. He received very few votes (around 16,000) and so the Liberal Party lost its automatic slot on the New York State ballot. If Cuomo did the same thing on the Conservative Party line, he could, in effect, sink that party as well. Unless that is his ultimate plan, which in this case makes him a genius, or an evil genius…depending on how you vote.

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Michael Steele Heads the GOP Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Feb 08, 2009 | 52556 views | 1 1 comments | 1363 1363 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
On Friday morning, I emailed Belinda Cook, Michael Steele’s communication’s director. Steele was supposed to call me last week, and he was called into meetings, and so there was a lot of back and forth email. I wished him good luck on Friday morning. He was chosen as the new chairman of the GOP on Friday afternoon. The left wing bloggers immediately criticized it as choosing an African American just so the party does not look as though it is racist. No need to point out the irony here now, is there? But the fact is, Steele has been in state politics for a long time in Maryland, and served as its first black state-wide elected official. Steele brings two things to the Republican Party. First, he believes in a large tent membership approach in order to bring about new ideas and new candidates. This would not have been the case if some other people got the nod. Secondly, Steele is a devout Catholic. Catholics make up a large percentage of voters – and they live in pivotal places. Steele was a good, even tempered, sensible choice.
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Anthony Stasi
June 18, 2013
Uh...hi...I'm Anthony Stasi. When did I start writing for this publication?

100…(so far 7) Innovative Ideas for New York City Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Feb 08, 2009 | 44430 views | 0 0 comments | 1369 1369 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
The services the city provides was already slowing down in the last year, and now with the economy on the fritz, the mayor has told city agencies that it is belt tightening time. This means that people will be laid off and services will be cut.

You may have already seen it happening. Subway cars are far less clean than they were a few months ago. The public transportation system, which was so ugly in the 1970s, is on its way back to those challenging times. All at a time when the mayor – not even a year ago – wanted to encourage people to use public transportation as a means to cut down on congestion.

The mayor is good at managing budgets, and in this case, we are seeing an across the board cut in services. This is not good news, but it is rooted in fairness. A few years ago, Marco Rubio, a state legislator in Florida wrote a book called 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future. We are not as concerned with Florida’s economy as New Yorkers, although they seem to be in some difficult straits as well (especially in their real estate market). But the concept is important to us. What are some ideas that can help New York’s future?

1. It appears that the current administration’s stimulus package will pass the senate after it flew though the House. The city has been made to feel that it will be more of a priority to Washington than it was the last eight years. In that case, we may be able to save jobs in a few sectors, namely public schools, emergency services, and law enforcement.

2. People that are losing their jobs in the city – whether in the private or public sector – may be looking to go back to school. The city and state have to make sure that city and state residents are the focus when it comes to admissions to its academic institutions.

3. The city may have to re-examine how it pays city retirees in the future. Working for city is hard work and people need to retire with a stable income – especially when they risk their lives. But remember that in some sectors people that work for the city for 20 years can pad their salary with tons of overtime in the last few years, and thus retire with yearly incomes that trump their average salary. Add to this the fact that people are living longer and you have large payouts that the city might not be able to handle.

4. We’ve heard the story a thousand times, how the president’s father came to the United States on a scholarship and attended Harvard University. That opened the door for his son to have a better life in the United States. These scholarships are there for us to attract the best and the brightest, and it’s a good plan. But we are in times when we might want to focus any new scholarship money to our own kids at the undergraduate level. This is not to suggest taking anything away from people now benefiting from a scholarship. But going forward, we need to build our economy back from the inside out, not the other way around.

5. The closing of our private schools is hurting the city. Our public schools are overcrowded, and now we face the possibility laying-off teachers. We need to re-examine a voucher program or a tax credit program that will allow parents to explore other avenues of education. This will allow the public schools to work with less if they are forced to face cuts. Private schools can do this work at a fraction of what the city pays, with better results.

6. The city should do whatever it can to make sure that it does not stop any new construction projects. Construction (which involves all trades such as electrical, cement, drywall, paint, steamfitters, etc) is one industry where if it buckles, the economy can really take big negative hits. Construction is also a pressure point in an economy where if it thrives, other industries begin to climb back. Franklin Roosevelt knew this and started his public works projects to begin priming the pump of the economy. The World Trade Center and any new subway systems need initial investment and should go ahead as planned. It will help the city climb back.

7. Any bailouts that go to private companies should have a clause that states that new jobs that come from the help that they receive from government have got to be in the United States. Whether it’s the big automakers or AIG or Citibank, their return to financial glory has to take place in upstate New York, New York City, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc. These lower-middle class folks should not have to bail out companies that take their jobs to India or Sri Lanka. (No offense to those countries, they have shown themselves to be hard workers and pretty innovative.) Is that too much for the government to ask of these companies? That they agree for a ten year period to house new jobs in the United States. Ten years would be enough to rebuild the nation’s economy where it would have strong staying power.

If you have other ideas – write in to the blog site. I will read them and we can see who we need to reach in order to put some new ideas for New York City into play.

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Autism... And The People That Live With It Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Feb 03, 2009 | 39819 views | 0 0 comments | 1367 1367 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
State Senator Hiram Monserrate may be in some turmoil over a pending investigation, but there is one cause where his absence will be felt should he leave public office. Monserrate, as a city councilman, had a good record on producing results for families with autistic children. Families that deal with autism are always looking for the next politician to take this issue seriously.

Oddly enough, some of autism’s best elected friends often find themselves in choppy political waters. Autism knows no political party and so people that call for serious investigations as to why there is an autistic child born for every 150 births are often from all ideological backgrounds.

Dan Burton, conservative congressman from Indiana is so conservative he gets straight A’s from gun ownership organizations and was constantly suspicious of then President Clinton. When Burton’s grandchild was diagnosed with autism, however, he felt there was a need for government involvement. As chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he asked for investigations into what causes autism. A common belief among families and advocates of autism is that the Thiomersal in vaccines is a cause of autism. (This has been disputed with great amounts of money by the American Medical Association.) What makes this more interesting is that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, which makes Thiomersal, is one of the biggest employers in Burton’s state.

Congressman Burton lost that chairmanship, and that was before his party lost the majority in the house. On the local level, enter Hiram Monserrate. Monserrate was instrumental in securing safe school busses for children with autism. He attends meetings at civic organizations. Now, however, he has a few other things on his plate…like proving his innocence in an assault investigation.

It is merely coincidence that these advocates for this disease may have lost traction. Sarah Palin, in her convention speech, mentioned autism and has remained a voice for the disease. In fairness, she also called for across the board cuts in her state’s budget – and that includes social services.

If the widespread epidemic of autism (rates are higher in London) is due to vaccines, there are explanations owed from pharmaceutical companies. And that could be a legal bloodbath for which they are quite concerned. If the vaccines are not the cause, then there still needs to be an explanation as to why so many children are diagnosed with autism. Why is the disease not as common in rural areas? Is it because children in larger cities get bulk vaccines?

It is unfortunate for families that deal with autism that the people that champion this issue are not greater in number. It is only through government, through politicians, that public policy on this issue gets focused. It should not take a politician to have a child with special needs, in order for them to get involved. Congressman Weiner and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer are pretty active on autism in Queens.

You can help families with autism. Each year, New York Families for Autistic Children holds its major fundraiser at Russo’s On the Bay in Howard Beach. This year, the event is held on Thursday, February 26th. NYFAC sponsors recreational programs for children with autism, including little league, bowling, and crafts. They also lobby in Washington for better legislation. They even train teachers to deal with autistic children. The goal of NYFAC is to make an autistic child’s life as close to normal as it can be. This is why NYFAC allows an autistic child to bring along with them a friend or sibling that is not autistic. It’s a way of assimilating children with special needs and making them feel every bit as involved as other kids their age. Because of this, however, NYFAC doesn’t get a great deal of state aid. When government aids a program for children with special needs, stipulations are often that there cannot be children absorbing those funds without special needs. So in order to stick to the plan and have autistic children mix with non-autistic children, the organization has to raise its own money. This event is a big boost to the cause of helping families.

You can visit their website (nyfac.org) and call about the fundraiser. It’s a great event, and there are plenty of faces that you will recognize – local officials, business people, etc. Russo’s does a great job at housing this event, and if you have never been to this place, this is a good reason to go. It’s also entirely tax deductable.

You should never find yourself in dizzying feeling of hearing that your child is autistic, but your help goes a very long way for these people and this organization. I became a trustee at New York Families for Autistic Children in 2001.

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It’s Not the Amount of Money – It’s the Principle By Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Jan 20, 2009 | 44060 views | 0 0 comments | 1410 1410 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Political commentator and strategist James Carville said last week that his party – The Democratic Party – was in a ‘bad streak.’ Carville didn’t mean that his party was in any way in a losing streak, he was referring to the scandals that have sprouted up quite recently.

It was only three years ago that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Washington were calling for a house cleaning due to Republican excesses. They got that house cleaning. They won both houses of congress. They won governorships. They won city seats in cities all over the country. Now, they have a trend of corruption. None of this leads to the White House, in fairness. But it does make a party that made its bones on being more responsive, more ethical, and anti-war look as though it couldn’t accomplish any of the three.

There may be another to way see this trend, however. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon was indicted on 12 counts last week for taking gifts from a developer that had business with her city. Maverick New York Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio was caught taking $500,000 in bribes in an FBI sting. Bill Jefferson, the congressman from Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district was famously caught with money stashed in his freezer. Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, did not accept the new president’s appointment to Secretary of Commerce, due to pay to play dealings in his state.

The fact that these are all Democrats is not too relevant – unless you want to gauge the lack of outrage by Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Think about this, all of these people, and many of the other scandalous politicians (Rod Blagojevich-Illinois and Elliot Spitzer-NY) are from districts, states, and cities that are considered politically safe for them. In other words, Mayor Dixon would have little, if any, competition from the Baltimore Republican Party. Anthony Seminerio had a job for life in his district. The man that defeated Bill Jefferson, Anh "Joseph" Quang Cao, is a Vietnamese immigrant that would never have beaten Jefferson without a pending scandal.

The point is, these seats are too safe and there is a lack of checks and balances. Spitzer got elected governor of New York with great ease – that might have been the problem. Where there is no two party presence, there is a recipe for wrong doing. It works both ways. Look at the corruption that the GOP had is Alaska. Alaska was safe ground for Republicans, and former Governor Murkowski knew it. The FBI didn’t quite get to the northern tundra to clean that up, but there was a hockey mom that thought it was time for a change.

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Intelligence Squares Off on a Cold Tuesday Night By Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Jan 20, 2009 | 38344 views | 0 0 comments | 1406 1406 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
In this time of mass hysteria, when people become obsessed with the personal lives of celebrities, athletes, and politicians from Chicago, there is still hope that public opinion can be swayed through well argued academic discussion.

Last Tuesday, I was invited to attend a segment in a debate series sponsored by a group called Intelligence Squared and the Rosenkranz Foundation. This is a series of debates on public policy where the issue of the day is centered on one resolution. The resolution for this week was “Reductions in Carbon Emissions are not worth the Money.”

The debate was taped for broadcast, and will be aired on the British Broadcasting Network (BBC) in March. Hosted by ABC news war correspondent John Donvan, the debate is broken into two teams, each consisting of three people.

Before the debate begins, the audience, which all paid $40 dollars to get in, votes on the resolution. The audience then votes after they have heard the arguments and whichever team improves the most from the first vote, is declared the winning team.

The early vote, before arguments saw only 16% of this New York crowd saying that reducing carbon emissions are not worth the money. 49% felt that reducing emissions was worth it. The other people voted ‘unsure.’

The team that argued that cutting carbon emissions was not worth it included Forbes writer Peter Huber, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, Bjorn Lomborg, and the third member of the team was liberal professor of Biogeography at the University of London, Philip Stott. Opposed to the resolution was Hunter Lovins, founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, Oliver Tickell, a British journo that often spars with Lomborg, and Adam Werbach, the youngest director in the history of the Sierra Club.

In the end the team that argued that reducing emissions was not worth the money won overwhelmingly, after garnering only 16% of the vote. They took their paltry 16% and argued it into 49%. They made the most convincing argument that while climate change is an issue, the needed $3 trillion a year needed to affect climate change could go to far more pressing human issues that would make the planet a better place.

In order to slow climate change, the effort – the panel agreed – would take approximately 10% of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Are the world’s financial resources unlimited?

The most convincing case came from Peter Huber. Huber made his case early in the debate, and the audience was clearly skeptical of his feelings about the world economy. It was Huber, however, that changed the landscape. China, he explained, has been cultivating coal mines for years and continues to do so. They will attract future manufacturing to their shores, and so will the Asian rim. While the United States ‘goes green’ with wind farms, businesses will run someplace else. “At least if we keep businesses here,” argued Huber, “we can keep an eye on them and make sure they operate as cleanly as possible. By letting businesses go overseas, they will be even more unchecked.”

The bottom line with international environmental agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol, is that developing nations (poor third world countries) are allowed more room to manufacture in poor environmental conditions, while the larger countries, like the US and the European Union would be forced into regulations that make it more difficult to compete.

The side that argued that reducing emissions was worth it kept going back to the fact that we (the world community) can do both – save the planet and pay attention to other human concerns. It was their issue to lose – as it seemed like a slam dunk. And they lost. They did not fully explain what the cost – per capita, per human effort – would be.

China’s Shi Zhengrong, is the world's first solar billionaire. He manufactures solar panels. He sold over a million of these panels to customers in Germany. As Lomborg explained, with these million-plus solar panels producing energy, the climate – over the next 50 years – would be changed by only one hour. One hour!? All of that change, and you make an impact of one hour. He was saying that an effort like that was not worth it, especially when you consider the cost of putting solar energy in place.

It was a great debate. While I still feel as though reducing emissions is worth the money in some areas of policy, I was shocked to see a Manhattan crowd moved like that. Judging public policy by a return on investment is not always fair. Reducing carbon emissions may not be worth the money – these people know better than I. But I know public policy better than many people – and policy does not have to be worth the money, if it can somehow prove it was worth the quality of life that it produces. The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (home of the NFL-AFC Champs!) has seen a dramatic increase in asthma among children, just as carbon emissions has gone up. Quality of life might trump costs in some cases.

Perhaps it would be worth seeing a debate like this with our elected officials. Term limits? Let’s see a panel of three elected officials argue that they need term limits extended, while three others argue against it. It might be a great town-hall type of political discussion that we could have in Queens.

Resolution: Term Limits Are the Will of the City and Should Stand

Resolution: Kennedy Airport Should Pay to Clean the Air It Pollutes in Queens

Resolution: Raising Subway Fares Discourages People from Using Public Transportation

Resolution: Saving Private Schools will improve Education in New York City

…you get the idea.

If you think you cannot be swayed away from your stance on these issues, you would be in for a ride. It’s about the power of debate. Now can we bring that kind of thing to the auditoriums at Queens College and Brooklyn College?

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Residency Options and City Jobs by Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Jan 20, 2009 | 39700 views | 1 1 comments | 1393 1393 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
With the City Council’s passage of Intro 837, the residency standards for certain city employees will get easier. This bill does not affect police officers and fire fighters, but instead it targets social services workers who, until now, were relegated to living in the five boroughs indefinitely.

New York City Employees Union DC 37 fought for a more lenient residency standard, while the city council was reluctant to grant this for a long time. DC 37 employees are described by the union on its website as people who “work in the Departments of Social Services, Homeless Services, ACS, Finance, Environmental Protection, Transportation, Parks, HPD, Buildings, City Planning, Citywide Admin Services, Health, Law, Sanitation (non-uniforms), Police (non uniforms), Fire (non-uniforms), and Correction (non uniforms), among others.”

Then-City Councilman, now State Senator, Joseph Addabbo fought to make this standard more lenient. It’s not hard to understand the city council’s reluctance in years past. The jobs that are in question are not high paying jobs, but people compete for them. Nobody wants to see the city lose jobs to Westchester or Long Island. But the times in which we live demand that public policy address economic concerns.

Rents in New York City are high. Real estate in New York City is high even with the recession. If an employee earns an average of $31,000 a year, and that is what DC 37 says their members are getting, options need to be available. It’s a good bill. It will in all likelihood not cause the city to hemorrhage jobs.

If you add to the already harrowing economic climate the fact that many people in their forties and fifties have taken in aging parents to live with them, and you see why it is a good idea to make options available to people.

Under the bill, a person needs to work in this position as a resident for two years, and then the employee has the option to live in six counties surrounding the city. As someone that would stand to benefit from this, I asked Addabbo if there was a way he could work Jersey City into the mix. He wasn’t biting on that one. But when you think about it, a person that works in lower Manhattan can live in Jersey City and be much closer to work than if that same person lived in Mineola. And the rent and real estate options would be more compromising if you earn $31,000 a year (the $31,000 is an average estimate).

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Kim Seward
January 28, 2009
Would the City lose city or state tax dollars for out of state workers? Despite the geographic convenience of Jersey City, tax collectors would prefer citizens to commute for an hour or two each way rather then lose any money.

The ‘Housing First’ Theory And How It Affects New York by Anthony Stasi
by anthony.stasi
Jan 20, 2009 | 47132 views | 0 0 comments | 1444 1444 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Philip Mangano
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An ongoing issue for the City of New York and the HIV AIDS lobbyists is the way the New York City HIV and AIDS Services Administration (HASA) dispenses vouchers to people with AIDS. HASA issues vouchers to people living with AIDS when they are in the advanced stages of AIDS. This means that there are a higher number of fatalities in the shelter system, according to Sean Barry of the New York City Supportive Aids Housing Network.

To understand the larger picture, you have to go back to a guy named Phil Mangano. President Bush chose Mangano as his ‘homeless czar’ early in his administration. Mangano’s idea was to house people first - and then try to usher in services (such as meds, mental rehabilitation, etc.) The idea was to do the opposite of what had been done for so long – which was to clean people up first, and then house them. The idea was tried in San Francisco and it soon got traction. People that were being housed were taking care of themselves because they were housed.

What some AIDS activists are saying is that when you are dealing with homeless people with AIDS and HIV, they need to be housed first, and it is equally important to get to the folks that are in the earlier or middle stages of the disease. This, they feel, gives a person a fighting chance.

I brought this issue up to Comptroller William Thompson, a candidate for mayor. Thompson was well aware of HASA’s eligibility standards. The comptroller was concerned, but maintained that the people that were most in need had to be helped first.

We are now coming into a new government; a new federal government and a new state senate. The issue of low income housing will be with us for a long time. Thompson’s office has seen a great deal of investment in refurbishing property and housing construction and he says that there is no reason to not continue the trend. This also bodes well for construction jobs.

There are some conservative housing analysts that see ‘Housing First’ as simply giving housing to people for nothing. People do not even have to meet the criteria of ‘cleaning up.’ That is true, it is something of a give-away, but it comes with results. Mangano’s ideas are showing results. Consider this; a study cited in Governing magazine followed 15 chronically homeless people in San Diego for 18 months. While homeless, these people gobbled up over $3 million dollars in government services. This means, as writer Christopher Swope explains, that the city would have been better off giving these people $200,000 each. Do you earn $200,000 every 18 months? It is becoming clear that this new way of thinking might be a fix for the future.

Now, when you add HIV/AIDS to the mix, you can see how important it might be to house them first, and then get treatment regiments started. It’s a program that comes from the work of homeless academic experts like Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania and ‘homeless czar’ Philip Mangano. Mangano has said that he credits the life and writings of St. Francis Assisi for spiritual inspiration in his work, and that was part of why he thought San Francisco was a good place to try this new idea.

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Are You Pro-Choice (When It Comes to Education) (11.24.08)
by anthony.stasi
Jan 01, 2009 | 37746 views | 0 0 comments | 1382 1382 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
As Catholic schools close their doors due to a lack of funding, public schools get crowded. Watch any debate on public education, and two issues stand out; a strong contract for educators and overcrowded schools.

Teachers unions are quite powerful, and they can influence policy. Unions have long opposed any possibility of school vouchers as a means of opening up new opportunities for children and their parents. The beneficiaries of a voucher program would not be the wealthy; they can already afford private education. The good student, trapped in a bad school needs an education now. He or she does not have the time to wait for a school to re-tool itself.

The idea of school vouchers, where parents would get to choose a school of their choice (if they chose to opt out of public education), is not a perfect solution. Some see this as a violation of church and state concerns. They feel that this is public money that can fund private institutions. There also runs the risk that if the vouchers work, the already overburdened public school system would drink a tall glass of humiliation.

I graduated from a small Catholic high school, where I was “zoned” for a very poorly performing public school. An odd kid, I honestly thought I needed more structure. So I was happy to go to private school. I made friends with which I still keep in touch. I went on to go to college and graduate school. There is no guarantee that any particular education will breed success. But those of us that graduated Monsignor McClancy High School in 1989 became good citizens. Not all were Catholics. Not all were very smart. None of us were wealthy. But the work and the attention to basic values served these (still young) men well. I wish other students in failing schools could benefit from what I was lucky enough to have. I think we can do this without hurting public school teachers.

Maybe vouchers are too controversial and polarizing politically to ever get the traction needed. After all, the politicians in the neighborhoods that need this the most are usually in the party that opposes this most. But perhaps a tax credit plan, where parents could get a credit back on the money they are already paying, would make choice possible.

Would the tax credit plan hurt funding that is slated for public schools? Well, public schools spend an average of $8,000 per child. Private schools do this with almost half of that amount, and the results are far better. If a family received $500 in return for not using the public system, they would be saving the public school the cost of educating that child.

Many public schools in New York City are the best in the country. Bronx Science, Stuyvesant High School, Bayside High School, and the list can go on. This is great, and it means that there will not be a mass exodus of students leaving the public system. It would also help the private schools, which are in demand, but – due to economic reasons – have many empty seats.

Some students cannot learn in a large, factory-like school. Some may get intimidated by it. We have these great private schools that can take the burden off of the public system; we owe it to kids to find a solution.

In a time when even Barack Obama is talking about utilizing faith based programs (and sending his kids to private school), why would education be any different? There is no more important program than one that educates. After all – the new president has made it a point to say that all Americans should have access to the same healthcare as their congress and president. Why would access to education be any different?

This may upset career educators, and I hope it doesn’t. I have been a teacher as well. The focus right now needs to be on the students, and the ability of the parents to play a more active role in the process. School choice should be a part of that process.

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