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Who is New York’s leading progressive, and is she or he a socialist? New Yorkers Mayor Bill de Blasio, gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who topped Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary, descended on New Orleans this weekend for the annual Netroots Nation conference to lay out their visions for a progressive future.
All three Democrats are basking in the glow of a renewed mainstream interest in progressivism, and each seems eager to play a role in pushing that movement forward nationally.
In their speeches, they indicated that Democrats should double down on progressive messaging to win elections. They also agreed that voters are hungry for concrete policy proposals, as opposed to just anti-Trump bromides.
“We have to give them something that they want to show up and vote for,” Nixon said.
“We don’t make change by talking about him all the time,” de Blasio noted. (It should be noted that all three do tend to talk about Trump now and then.) They are in general agreement about what broad-stroke goals progressives should work toward: more comprehensive health care and higher taxes for wealthy people, among others. Yet all three chart different paths regarding whether those goals mark them as socialists.
Is the term a badge of honor in an era when Democratic Socialists of America branches rev up volunteers? Or is it still a turnoff to too many Americans? De Blasio stayed with safe rhetoric in what was essentially the stump speech for his 2017 mayoral re-election campaign: He described the “dawning of a new progressive era.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who has been lambasted by the far right as essentially a Van Cortlandt-area Vladimir Lenin, chose to highlight how her “socialist” beliefs were really core Democratic issues.
FDR was for a federal jobs guarantee — the party has simply strayed from earlier principals. “It’s time to come home,” she said.
Nixon, who only recently discovered her Democratic socialism, doubled down on the label: “If we learned one thing from the Obama years, it’s that Republicans are going to call us socialists no matter what we do, so we might as well give them the real thing.”
Congestion pricing déjà vu
On Friday, officials announced four appointments to the state’s newest congestion-pricing task force.
If three of the four sound awfully familiar, that’s because they were already part of a congestion-pricing task force — the Fix NYC panel established in October.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed Kathy Wylde, who heads the Partnership for New York City, a business group, while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority selected Fernando Ferrer, the vice chairman of the MTA board. The state Department of Transportation, meanwhile, picked Sam Schwartz, the guru behind congestion pricing who heads the Move NY effort that has pushed congestion pricing to the front burner.
Cuomo’s remaining pick went to Rhonda Herman, a member of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council, a White Plains resident who works for the Internal Revenue Service and commutes via the Harlem line.
The newer task force — called the Metropolitan Transportation Sustainability Advisory Group — was established by the budget in April, and is supposed to emerge with a report on steps for congestion pricing by the end of 2018. State officials said Wylde will chair the group.
While the Assembly had made its picks — choosing two Assembly members who were not part of Fix NYC — we’re still awaiting the State Senate and New York City appointments for the new task force.
If they follow the state’s lead and choose former Fix NYC members, then perhaps the group can just tweak and reissue the Fix NYC report that was released in January.
Randi F. Marshall
United we divide
From the archive: A timeless LI tale
A metaphorical stroll through Newsday’s letter-to-the-editor archives turned up a gem printed on Aug. 1, 1952. The writer vented about police in Rockville Centre cruising Sunrise Highway and handing out tickets to motorists parked at meters.
“They hardly give the meter one second after it expires and there’s a ticket,” complained the letter-writer, who found the practice particularly egregious given the high taxes of the day.
“It’s strange how they are on the lookout to tag a car for the money they get and are out all day.”
The author was the most-published letter-writer in Newsday history — “Pretty Darn Disgusted.”
Yes, letter-writers once were allowed to go by pseudonyms. And Newsday kind of asked for the rant: Letters to the editor 66 years ago were published under the heading “County Irritant.”
Pretty Darn Disgusted finished his or her diatribe by compariing ticketing agents to “leaches [sic] for every dollar they can get.”
The same irritation on the same topic still exists in Rockville Centre. And Patchogue. And Greak Neck. And Port Jefferson. And several other of Long Island’s muni-metered hot spots where revenue from meters and parking fines fund full forces of enforcement agents.
And there you have it — a timeless letter on a timeless topic from a timeless reader of Newsday.