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New York City Council Race 2 9 C D
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TIRACO INDEPENDENCE CITY HALL TIRACO INDEPENDENCE CITY HALL

ABOUT THIS ELECTION

October 18, 2001
September 11th has changed everything. This election should have been pushed back 90 days, in this way, it would be fairer, and not jammed down the voter's throats by the Democrats, who see their advantage in a quick decision. Mayor Giuliani would have his extra 90 days without a mayor-elect criticizing his every move, and the city would get a thoughtful election process, with perhaps, more equitable representation.

Election reform was a bust too. The NYC Campaign Finance Board turned out to be a welfare program for the Democratic Party, which got all the money. The CFB's lasting legacy was to make a bad situation worse by turning New York City government into a complete one party system. Millions of New Yorkers who are not Democrats will have no voice whatsoever in city government.

The section below was written five months ago, which, recent events have shown, was a completely different era. I have left this section intact so the voters may gauge for themselves the thought process of an imperfect human being.

May 5, 2001
Wow! Term limits and 4-to-1 public financing for campaigns. Irresistible lures that may significantly widen the political process in NYC. In fact, it's a down-right bloodless revolution with power shifting from a stodgy elite with lifetimes in one political office, to the voters, who select from a steady stream of new blood competing in even handed races.

Perhaps, the advent of the citizen legislator is about to dawn. Not since ancient times has a cosmopolitan city the magnitude of New York City been governed by its ordinary citizens. The fate of this experiment, for better of worse, depends on increasing the range of views presented to the electorate and shortening the life span of political entrenchment; first and foremost, a restructuring of public policy to reflect the consideration of every community and constituency more closely then ever before. In effect, public policy becomes fine-tuned to the electorate's frame of mind.

When competitiveness becomes king, and not money, money would no longer dominate politics - at least, not in NYC. Any individual with a passion for politics can, in theory, afford to intrude new ideas into the public process and run a winning campaign. But, there is one very limiting proviso: to qualify for public financing, a candidate's name must appear on the ballot. Public funding for political campaigns (and the introduction of new ideas) is, at this point in time, a winner-take-all proposition.



REALITY REVISITED

Revolution, especially a paper revolution, can quickly sputter out. While New York City is poised at a new century - and a new millennium - expecting change through the most far reaching, thoroughly enlightened election reform in the nation's history, it remains no more then good intentions until Election day and the results can be measured. Power and politics in New York City has been an especially potent mix, from Democratic Party strongman, Boss Tweed to Republican Party upstart, Fiorello LaGuardia, from the decentralization movement of John Lindsay to the iron fisted Ed Koch, in retrospect, we loved them all. But, the power to make public policy has now come into the hands of the electorate, the public will get its turn at shaping the city- maybe. The extraction of power from the hands of political bosses is, especially in Queens county where Boss Manton controls the show, a process froth with iffy-ness:

  • If - the judiciary continues as a policy, the wholesale disqualification of petitions for preposterous infractions (like a missing dot above an "i" or an uncrossed "t" or an omitted middle initial or an insignificant spelling error, etc., etc., etc.), a defacto screening process to protect entrenched interests . . . after all, judges are part of the political process;
  • If - the NYC Campaign Finance Board becomes overly officious, chary and predetermined in practice, reserving public funding for the major players . . . the Campaign Finance Board must remain apolitical in the hot political climate;
  • If - the city's incumbent politicians, instead of riding gracefully off into the sunset, decide to modify either term limits or the 4-to-1 public financing. . . a legal right they now have, but should not;

Then - this extraordinary social experiment and the so called promised reforms may themselves be in dire need of reform, and the new election process remains essentially the old election process with a fresh coat of paint.

And what about the voters, are they not the centerpiece of the reform movement? Will they respond to the increased responsibilities, and a government more open to them? After voting themselves vast new powers, will the voters just stir up the mud and little else?

stay tuned to this website

ABOUT THE
29th CD

SEE THE MAP

The 29th CD comprises several New York City neighborhoods with very strong identities, Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens are fairly homogeneous, as are Ridgewood, Glendale, and Middle Village; Elmhurst and Maspeth are the oldest, established during New York's Dutch colonial days ( the name Maspeth is American Indian in origin.) We can say with pride and justification that the American experiment has worked its magic on our community. Solidly middle class with a distinct air of affluence in many sections, and extremely well integrated to the point of ethnic celebration; our divisions are economic and not racial - indeed, if Martins landed on Earth with a few bucks to spend, they would probably buy homes here and fit in quite well.

Elmhurst and Rego Park host some of the busiest shopping malls in the United States (in terms of money spent.) A walk through the mall is like strolling through the United Nations, conversations are occurring in just about every tongue spoken on the planet, completely shattering the myth of the poor emigrant, or down trodden black person - indeed, the black population of Queens has a higher per capita income then their white counter parts, and no community in the borough is more indicative of the new upward mobility of ethnic Americans then the 29th CD.

We have our problems too. Traffic is choking our streets, and auto exhaust emissions our lungs. Many heavy manufacturing companies have moved out of New York City leaving behind industrial properties that we now discover are teeming with toxic waste. Zoning laws have been used and abused by the city - or more accurately, by incumbent politicians to fill their campaign war chests. Through most of the past decade, the city seems to have made up new zoning laws as they went along, essentially, by redefining the existing laws to meet their needs. Perhaps the most egregious "redefinition" of a zoning law was the so called "Mom and Pop" zoning law intended to exempt small business from red tape. The city simply redefined the Home Depot Megastore chain as "Mom and Pop" hardware stores, and allowed them to build in residential communities without environmental studies. As a consequence, mom and pop stores were driven out of business by the very law intended to help them prosper, a good law twisted and distorted for political advantage.

In some respects, we are victims of our own success. The population of our community is nothing short of explosive. The latest censes figures show an astounding growth pattern, well beyond the published demographics used to provide government services. Public facilities from post offices to libraries are swamped; service at the Forest Hill post office is rated as the worst in the country. And, the population growth has probably been under reported because of the illegal occupancy conversions which are rampant in this community. Builders buy up property, tear down a house and jam several new houses on the property. We are being packed together tighter and tighter, slowly but surely.

Beneath it all is an undertow for more self determinism, a yearning for autonomy in community affairs. Just as European communities during the Middle Ages grew affluent and soon wearied of exploitation by land barons, raised walls around themselves, and struggled incessantly and successfully for self determination to bring about the end of feudalism, our modern communities, with clear political boundaries and no need for walls, are desirous of an end to exploitation by baronial politicians and determined to gain a larger roll in shaping the future of our communities.

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The NYC Voter Guide
excerpt


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CANDIDATE'S NAME: Joseph Tiraco

PARTY ENROLLED IN: Independence Party

OCCUPATION: Computer Consultant

OCCUPATIONAL BACKGROUND: A former stock broker specializing in computer startups; designed a Public Works Project that helped hundreds of artists on welfare; also an amateur playwright, producer and artist.

PRIOR PUBLIC EXPERIENCE: Not a politician

I am a third generation resident of this community. My grandfather, Angelo DeSimone, settled in Middle Village in about 1910, when the area was mostly farms and forest land. My mother, 87 years young, was born and raised here, attending PS 87, as did multiple generations of the family. My grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins are buried in St. John's cemetery, across the street from my home. I have lived on Trotting Course Lane next to the Remsen Memorial for 41 years.

I have actively opposed weakening the zoning laws and blurring the distinctions between residential and commercial neighborhoods. The disregarding of environmental studies to allow large scale, 24 hour retailing in residential neighborhoods was a serious mistake. National chain megastores receive millions in tax breaks, while their heavy trucks and incessant traffic tear up community roads and lower air quality. Because they do not pay medical benefits, their employees become wards of the taxpayers when sick. This policy needs to be revisited.

Children are our replacements in life. They must be properly trained to prosper in a fast paced Internet society. The City's wealth and future are directly related to the citizen body turned out by our public schools. Every student must have a computer on their desk, and access to the Internet, both in school and at home. Internet mentor programs, and unlimited email support for any questions students or their families might ask, should be supplied. I would urge the BOE to adapt 21 st Century curricula and teaching techniques.

I support the limited use of school vouchers given to kids in schools that do not meet minimum standards, and dissolving those schools, forcing the Board of Education to become more accountable and competitive or cease to exist.

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