All posts by Patrick Bobilin

The Case Against Political Ambition

When you’re in the position of nearly 9 million New Yorkers, where your mayor and your governor hate each other, you wonder what it would take to bring them together. If you’re one of those New Yorkers, where your two top leaders are planning on presidential bids, you’re waiting for the rhetoric to start. Just days after the end of the 2018 general election, it did.

All of a sudden, in a city with a crumbling infrastructure, where public housing has a lead crisis, and the rent is still too damn high, we’re talking about jobs. Speaking to Brian Lehrer in mid-November, the Bernie Sanders-endorsed mayor who has told us he’s a progressive as many times as he’s told us he’s a Mets fan, he sounded like he was John Kasich stumping in upstate New York.

When you’re working at an office, you can’t go up to your boss or the people who sign your check, and tell them that you’re interviewing for other jobs. No matter who you are at a company, this kind of talk will drive stock prices, morale, and the future of your company down the drain.  It’s likely that you’d lose your job because of this.

So why is it legal for our elected officials to hold an office while they travel the country, absent from their job, trying to interview for another office? Why do we encourage those elected officials we like to slack off from their jobs, aim higher, and inject broad rhetoric into their platform?

I’d like to argue for why it should be illegal to run for another paid public office while you’re being paid to hold another.

From Resistance to Rhetoric

From Maxine Waters, to Cory Booker, to Bernie Sanders, we have made celebrities out of people who we brand as part of the #resistance. Their participation or their consent to this position is irrelevant. Enamel pins, viral posts, and think pieces are circulated regardless.

Their work and their positions are why we crown them with this title. However, the actual requirements for their resisting is much more limited.

When resisting an administration that flirts with fascism and authoritarianism, there is a long tradition of protest for these leaders to tap into.  Regardless of whether or not they have historically protested or put themselves into a position of arrest, it seems all the rage.

It was somehow vindicating to see New York City council members subjected to the violent arrest tactics that protestors fighting for basic civil liberties have experienced.  The fact that elected officials experienced this validates the struggle. However, there’s an element of rhetorical theater to their arrests.

They protest as if they’re not also the legislative keyholders. While we want to march arm in arm with our leaders, they show up when the workload is on someone else, never when it’s on their own shoulders. When they’re the one who is tasked with speaking a resounding “no” against corporate developers and donors, they don’t bring the rhetoric.

Should a local elected official move from running to represent 100,000 people to representing 10 million, the needs of those 100,000 will be neglected while the 9 million others are courted.  There’s something sickly undemocratic and privileged for us to allow people who are supposed to be solving problems at home to neglect us and seek work abroad, getting paid while problems inevitably mount.

The Appointed, The Unelected

As someone who has worked the street corner, hustling for my own political office, I know that people think “they’re all crooks”. I’ve also worked at polling places where people walk in unenthusiastic about voting, instead voting for a party line out of obligation.

How can we argue that we should trust the people who we elect to office knowing that so many of the people in power are appointed rather than elected? We’ve seen it when presidential appointees are lambasted by congressional committees.  We see it when someone asks “wait, who controls the school board?” and then out comes someone who you’ve never heard of before. Worse, it could be someone you have heard of before who happens to be a disgraced friend of the elected.

When an elected official goes out of town to stump for their next big office, their staff and their appointed subordinates take their place. In the world of politics, these are people who have their own ambitions, agendas, and ways that they think they’ll become politically famous.

When these un-electeds start making decisions, voting by proxy, or releasing statements, we have little to no control. While we can get mad at the electeds, those appointed staff can be too easily scapegoated. They can be fired and forgotten about while the electeds are forgiven.

Incumbency is a Drinking Game

In most drinking games, the person who does worst at the game is the one who takes a drink. Losing is winning short-term is losing long-term.

The party who is most prepared or equipped to win is given the chance to set the balance for how likely the opposing player is to win. What starts off as a slight imbalance only gets exacerbated as the game is played.

This is the case when incumbents are allowed to run for higher office. They build a base around a community and with each perpetual win, that base widens. In a way, it feels only natural to extend that base.

The concept of free market thinking assumes that everyone who succeeds deserves the chance to continue that success. What does a world look like where they are instead responsible for bringing success to other people?

In a drinking game where the winner is supposed to drink, the game continues at an even playing level for much longer. The winning team can’t win forever, as they’ll soon be evenly matched with the losing team. The losing team will spoil their advantage after a couple of wins, rebalancing the game.

If we can reimagine politician as an egalitarian drinking game, we can see broader access to public office. This will drive more engagement via a political ruling class that’s committed to building a political community.

This approach takes some imagination to execute.  Currently, we’re so accustomed to cash and carry politics where we almost encourage our favorite figures to not do their job if we happen to agree with them. With this approach, we could stop elected officials from interviewing for a new job for years while they’re beholden to another.

The Housing Crisis Is a Feminist Crisis That Democrats Need To Hear

Image via Boston Globe by John Tlumacki

Every election year, Democratic candidates download the latest changes to the Democratic Party platform. They usually make sure to hit refresh on the Wikipedia page for feminism and check for new developments.

It’s a miracle, with an unapologetic sexual assaulter in the White House, that reproductive health and the gender pay gap are getting any airtime at all. For statisticians and pundits, support for these issues is the best way to make a back of the envelope calculation of odds.

If you follow political punditry, you’d think Americans were split on Roe v. Wade. The fact is, only a quarter of Americans support rolling it back. For perspective, the anti-vaxxer movement has about as much support. The truth is that most Americans are in favor of social equity and access to basic social services.

As it stands, women still make 70% of what men do. Women are more often bound with being the sole breadwinner of single-parent households. Women often have more debt and lower credit scores than men. Women are also the fastest growing section of the homeless population.

Every potential obstacle for having a roof over your head is in the way for women.

Given that Democratic political candidates want to show their support for social justice, feminist, and lower-income issues, you’d think they would commit to ending the housing crisis. With a ratio of six-to-one between the number of vacant homes (18 million) and homeless Americans (3 million), you’d think they’d want to close the gap.

Housing, displacement, and gentrification should be stronger feminist issues injected into the Democratic party platform, as they affect the most dependable Democratic voters, women of color, first. This could bring new life and new energy to the platform.

The Wealth Gap Isn’t Closing

So long as women make 70% of what men make, while paying 100% of housing costs, the wealth gap between men and women will persist.

Women are also saddled with two-thirds of the student debt in the U.S. While women make up a few percentage points more of the college population than men, they are far less likely to get a high-paying job without a college degree or to inherit a family business.

Women also pay more in healthcare costs, paying an average of 30% more than men do. Just staying alive is more expensive for women.

Even high earners and entrepreneurs face a obstacles to affordability. With just 16% of business loans being given to women, companies owned by women face a glass ceiling when it comes to growth.

The Parenting Gap Is Real

In New York and California, where the minimum wage is headed toward $15 an hour, women are required to work two jobs to afford adequate housing. The cost of a two-bedroom apartment for a parent and their children in these states is around $26 an hour. The simple dignity of privacy after being a dedicated and productive contributor to the economy is denied to many women.

There are social expectations for women to take responsibility in the event that the family is a single-parent household. When men are tasked with single parenthood, they’re deeply lauded and appreciated in ways that single mothers aren’t.

Single mothers are often perceived as defective and plagued by problems they’ve somehow caused on their own. Single fathers are perceived as strong, emotionally complex, and courageous more often than single mothers are. Meanwhile, single mothers account for over 70% of all single-parent households.

Homelessness Is Increasing For Women

Unemployment numbers don’t tell a complete story. Unemployment is down as people need to take 2-3 part-time jobs just to get by. Single women and families with children form 50% of the homeless population and their numbers are growing, even though many of them have employment.

While elected officials propose small concessions and programs to act as a band-aid, they simply don’t solve the issue.  Homeless advocates are constantly struggling with elected officials who tell citizens to help the homeless by calling police, public safety, 311, 911, or an endless list of 800 numbers.

This reveals how abstract our understanding of housing insecurity is. People will sometimes endure homelessness as a way to escape an abusive parent or partner. If their abusers are in the local shelter system, elected officials are offering a thoughtless solution that fails to address both chronic homelessness and chronic abuse.

Another problem in the relationship elected officials have to housing insecurity is in the scapegoating of the mental health crisis. Plenty of people with mental health issues have homes. However, living with housing insecurity can cause all kinds of untold damage to the psyche.

And Yet Women Are Still Voting

Elected Democrats continue to stand on banal feminist platforms and telegraph their support for the right to choose and closing the gender pay gap. After decades of denying these rights or the visibility for these causes, this feels like progress.

Cynics could say that these changes could be attested to by the fact that more women vote than men. Others could say that Democrats are waking up to the fact that their most dependable demographic is women. However, given that in 2016 an infamous misogynist got the majority of votes from white women, Democrats can’t rely on women as an unspecific monolith.

Democrats are losing voters as you go up the income bracket, with people making more than $50,000 a year dropping off precipitously. This has been hard for Democrats to face, as they’ve enjoyed funding from the real estate and financial services industries. Angling for the people who are voting for them most dependably would win elections but require a disruption to the fundraising that pundits tie to a candidate’s ability to win.

So Where Do The Democrats Turn?

The people who you’d think would be too busy to vote, working single mothers who might have to work two jobs on a Tuesday, are showing up for Democrats. Why aren’t they showing up for women, especially their most loyal voting block, black women?

Just as the DNC ignored the “flyover” states in the 2016 presidential election, just as the assumed conservativism of the south is being turned on its head, the future of the Democratic party can’t survive on the steam built up by the current Democratic establishment. Democratic voters want new issues, an inspiring platform, and something more than just a team to root for.

We should push that our Democratic platform includes intersectional feminist principles that feature housing prominently. We must then demand that Democrats start putting those principles in practices.

As the 2016 presidential election proved, Democrats can’t and shouldn’t count on anyone to turn out. That’s all the more reason to work to earn our trust. So long as they withhold progress on this front, we should withhold our endorsement of their platforms.

The Quiet Scapegoat: What we Talk About When We Talk About a Stranger’s Mental Health

This is not an article about mental health. At least, I hope that it’s not. It’s about how mental health is weaponized by the powerful and used as a strategy to move a few political chess pieces around a board.

Every conversation about mental health gives us the opportunity to talk about the crisis in healthcare. While more people have access to medical carethan ever before, if you extend the definition to vision care, dental care, and mental health, you see a precipitous drop in access.

Mentioning “mental health” becomes a strategy for the powerful. It’s deployed to explain marginalization, to defy legislative changes, and to deflect guilt from powerful industries and lobbyists. When powerful figures use the term “mental health” to explain an issue, it never leads to a discussion of how to extend access and destigmatize care. “Mental health issues” are a black hole to pour all of our problems into when issues get too complicated.

The fact that this strategy is used by figures from the whole spectrum of progressive and conservative voices should be alarming to us. If extending integrity to marginalized people is the task of progressive voices, we should be wary any time our actions or words shadow those who we find to be otherwise reprehensible.

Taking Away Power

When elected officials are tasked to talk about the 60,000 people in New York City who are homeless, they’re quick to talk about mental health. Never mind the fact that 34% of homeless New Yorkersare employed, but can’t afford the skyrocketing rents.

Economists say that the maximum amount that someone should spend on housing is 30% of their income. With 15% of jobs paying $15 an hour, or less if you work in the gig economy sector, that means to afford an average $1,500 studio with no privacy would require a 75-hour work week.

So when elected officials talk about mental health, you have to ask them a capitalist chicken and egg question. In a fair society, in a fair economy, in a supposedly fair market, how can someone work a 75-hour week and still have a robust social and emotional life? If all things are fair, how should someone measure their self worth if, after working a 40-hour week, they still can’t afford to pay for a roof over their head? What comes first: emotional instability or economic instability?

When elected officials are swear that the market is fair, how do you not start to feel like you’re living in another reality? How do you not feel like a failure if, after working 40 hours, you’re still spending 70% of your income on housing?

We don’t have 60,000 people asking for luxury accommodations and 40thfloor high rises. We have 60,000 people asking for dignity.

It’s both irresponsible and unethical to look at the grievances of people who are seeking a dignified life in exchange for their hard work and begin speculate on their mental health.

If I tell an elected official “I can’t afford my rent and it’s causing me depression” and then am told to see a therapist, they’re addressing a symptom, not the disease. Meanwhile their actual responsibility, which is to create prophylactic legislation, goes unaddressed.

Whose Violence Is This?

The Parkland school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018 was already the 17thschool shooting of the year. The resulting protests, public conversations, and the March For Our Lives told the world that if adults wouldn’t address gun violence, children would make their voices heard and say #NeverAgain. The prevailing response from both media and elected officials following this, and most shootings, is to have a conversation about mental health.

Only 3-5% of gun violence incidents can be linked to people with serious mental illness. People with mental illnesses are 12 times more likely to be victimsthan perpetrators of violent crime. These. Are.Facts.

It’s essential that we question the mental health of anyone who espouses the kinds of ideology and violence that these men need to feel empowered. However, they are outliers of the mental health crisis. They deserve the treatment they need but they are the aggressors in this situation and not the likely victims.

The mental health crisis is about people who don’t have access. It’s about the teens who don’t have anyone to talk to and hurt themselves. It’s about the people who work 75-hour weeks to support their family and who don’t have a high-quality professional to check in with regularly before it’s too late. But the mental health crisis and the crisis of gun violence are two different problems.

Death Of A Working Class 

When Trump won the electoral vote on November 8, 2016, there was a sudden dearth of stories about how his core supporters came from places where jobs had disappeared. The concept immediately conjures images of coal-mining towns, former auto manufacturing hubs, and urban textile plants. These jobs started to disappear during the Reagan administration and have dwindled to a tiny fraction of the job market in 2018. The disappearance of working class jobs is blamed on everything from the opioid crisis to the rising tide of nationalism.

The problem is that this sepia-toned characterization disregards the working class job crisis facing cities around the U.S. For the past 40 years, one of the most reliable jobs that working-class city residents and recent immigrants could support a family on is to work as a cab driver. A taxi job could put kids through universities, buy homes, and even pay for an occasional vacation.

In the early morning hours of February 5, 2018, Douglas Schifter parked his car in front of the east gate of New York’s City Hall, the mayor’s entrance. He posted a Facebook status about the state of the cab industry and how “Bloomberg, de Blasio, and Andrew Cuomo have each had their part in destroying a once thriving industry…They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry.”

He wrote that he’d rather be dead. Minutes later, he killed himself inside of his car with a shotgun.

In the following days, when asked about how to change regulations to prevent further strife, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio avoided naming the driver and pivoted his response toward the driver’s mental health. In this WNYC interview, at the 18 minute mark, he says “when that happens, there may be other societal factors, but it also begins with somebody unfortunately dealing with their own struggle and some kind of mental health challenge.”

By not saying his name but using his details, he failed to acknowledge Douglas Schifter beyond the purpose he served in that moment. Keeping the details spare allows his pain to be instrumentalized for the sake of making a point related to a political goal. In this case, the mayor adeptly flips the conversation to promote his initiative, asking anyone concerned for a friend or family member to call 888-NYC-WELL, part of an initiative he created in the absence of readily available mental health care.

He cautions listeners against making a hasty societal analysis and instead offers his own hasty and unqualified psychological analysis of a man he had never met.

Again, if I tell you that I can’t afford my rent and it’s making me crazy, your first response shouldn’t be that I need to see a therapist. This is especially true if you have any sort of purchase over the conditions and direction of rent prices. Your concerns shouldn’t be over my internal struggle. It should in the realm over which you preside.

Elected officials aren’t psychologists. They shouldn’t feel comfortable talking about anyone’s mental health. They are elected to talk about legislation to fix problems, not to deflect the issue over to something that’s more emotionally resonant but wholly disrespectful to grieving families.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Mental Health

Sometimes, we feel the need to talk about mental health to explain madness that engulfs us. President Trump’s mental health affects the world. Suddenly, everyone feels qualified to comment.

The mental health of a cab driver, who commits suicide because of issues in the city’s economy, isn’t addressed by those who control the economy. His gripe with an unregulated industry turns into a tool for elected officials to comment on mental health issues and promote their own misguided initiatives.

The acceptance of publicly scapegoating mental health has given a perfect opportunity for elected officials to bait-and-switch arguments about industry regulations for faux-sympathetic chatter about mental health.

Imagine how the families of Douglas Schifter and Nicanor Ochisorfeelto have their spouse’s or their father’s names associated with mental illness because elected officials are too cowardly to focus on the job they were elected to do.

Imagine being a queer high school student struggling with identity issues, who survived a shooting, only to have people more concerned with the shooter’s mental health than your own.

Elected officials are meant to protect the vulnerable many from the deregulating desires and profit motivation of the few. Instead they throw them under the bus along with another community, people dealing with mental health issues.

Mental health has become a magician’s tool of misdirection that elected officials use to make our concerns about the regulation of developers, arms manufacturers, and tech companies disappear before our eyes.

Caught in a Trap: Being a Latino Democrat is Being in an Abusive Relationship

Photo by Molly Adams | CC BY 2.0

It’s a strange time to be a Latino Democrat. As a requisite for attending Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, many Democrats brought staffers or constituents as guests who were Latinos or who represented marginalized identities.

We are told that, as Republicans want to blame us for lost jobs and chain migration, Democrats see the good in us. They see value that others don’t see. They see we’re beautiful and successful and kind. We are contributing to the economy and deserving of consideration because of that.

So they bring a few of us out in an effort to represent all of us. And we should be grateful that they want to be seen next to us, as if that is all they are required to do to fight for our humanity. They love us, they just don’t always show it.

Emotional Manipulation

Scroll through photos of Democrats from the State of the Union address, and you’ll see a litany of posts where Democrats are “defiantly” standing with Dreamers and DACA recipients. While this places a powerful image in the mind of voters and constituents, during an era when symbols absolutely matter, it smacks of symbolic politics.

When you’re talking about someone’s life, freedom, happiness, and a broad range of cultural identities, symbolic politics aren’t enough. In fact, those symbolic gestures lay the groundwork for lumping us all together.

Do I think that any alt-right, cryptofascist idiots who my dad accidentally bumps into on the bus are going to realize he’s Puerto Rican, an American citizen, just like they are? Or will that nudge fuel a rage they’ve kept just under the surface, the same rage that oozed out of people like them when they’ve told him to “go back home” while literally on his way home from work?

What if in their love for power and order, those same people become police?

Bigoted ICE agents aren’t inquiring whether someone is from El Salvador or Chile when they arrest them on suspicion of being a member of MS-13. They’ll see brown skin, they’ll hear men talking in Spanish, and they’ll react.

No matter how warm the embrace is from Democrats, March 5th, the deadline to extend DACA, continues to approach. They tell us they’re going to do something, but here we are trying to explain to our friends and family why we’re sitting by the phone, anxious and upset yet again.

Gaslighting

Why are things so desperate in so many Latin American countries? Why are things so tough that we can’t all just “go back home”? These islands and countries are so rich in natural resources that their economies should thrive, no?

Think about who holds the purse strings. The same countries that would refuse our humanity are the ones who hold our resources hostage through a direct pipeline lining their pockets. They’re bulldozing rainforests to make grazing land for cattle. Anglo-American corporations own huge stakes in Chilean copper mines. These companies aren’t giving back to the local economy. American, European, and Japanese conglomerates are making the money.

The idea of countries pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, playing their hand, when other countries run the table—nay the whole damn casino—is akin to gaslighting. “They want to come here”, “They want all the benefits”, perhaps they want to get back some of the wealth that’s been plucked from their homes.

It’s akin to saying “why didn’t you just leave?” or “why didn’t you come forward sooner?” as if that thought never crosses the mind of the abused. Should we leave though? Or should they leave? We do so much on our own as it is.

Barefoot and Penniless

When Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats handed over the only leverage they had, with the promise that they’d try to run a separate sprint against Republicans to help Dreamers, can only shrug our shoulders and let out a sigh. The Senate’s Republican wing has no reason whatsoever to reach a compromise.

Dreamers, DACA recipients, and Latinos of all types now merely hope that they don’t run across ICE raiding their office or workplace. Racism and bigotry given unlimited power and the scope of the federal justice system will run unbounded through the streets, picking up a lot of collateral, making life insecure, and creating trauma for millions of families.

When we’re not around, do Democrats tell you it takes a significant number of immigrants up to 25 years to get citizenship?

What do we say to the people who are in their 30s, who have been here for 25 years, who have a family, a life, a career? We send them to a place they don’t know for no reason other than principle—we who, without hyperbole, sit on stolen land ourselves. It’s nothing if not deeply and sadly ironic.

Only The Best

Often, the worth of a Dreamer or a Latino is measured on a scale that takes into account social and economic merits. When our intelligence or our talent is in question, members of the #resistance will rattle off figures stating how many of us are graduating from college or honored for our achievements.

Our patriotism is touted as a top achievement and quoted by Nancy Pelosi recently when she said “Why are we here, if not to protect the patriotic young people who are determined to contribute and to strengthen America?”

What about average working class Dreamers and DACA recipients? What about the ones cooking your food, managing the café you go to every morning who get your latte started as you walk in the door because you’re always in a rush, or the one who watches your kids. The US Latino GDP is the seventh largest GDP in the world and would be second only to California if Latinos comprised our own state.

We put food on the table. We take care of the kids. We clean up. And yet our worth is still up for arbitrary measure, even when we meet the demands set out by White Americans. We produce growth and value beyond any other demographic and we’re still told we’re not good enough.

 

If this isn’t an abusive relationship, I don’t know what kind of relationship it’s supposed to be. What do you want from us, Democrats?

Even if they do come through for us on March 4th, should we stick around? We’ve already invested so much and this is our home. We shouldn’t have to show up with abusive Democrats and pretend this is a fair relationship. We should no longer be afraid to have arguments in public. We have a right to be heard. We have a right to be happy.  We’ve invested so much.

Let’s see how great you can make America again. We’ll wait.  We’re used to waiting.

 

Ethical Stardom: Pursuing Dreams in Cities Under The Shadow Of Gentrification

As cities become increasingly difficult to afford for middle-income Americans, how do we reframe the concept of ethical consumption to fit the requirement for creative people to move to a major cultural center to succeed?

Banksy, Follow your Dreams

The idea of moving to New York to pursue your dreams or a better life has a history dating back centuries. There are chefs from around the world who wanted to open a restaurant sharing their hometown cuisine with American audiences. There are artists, writers, and musicians from the Midwest who wanted to be in the biggest city in the country for the most opportunities.

It’s a romantic story that’s no less interesting and unique because it’s so common. While native New Yorkers rightly show off their stripes, go back a generation or two and you’ll find most of their families were based somewhere else.

This narrative continues as people arrive by bus, train, and plane every day. However, this is a different era with different conditions.

I’m not talking about immigrants seeking refuge or people who’ve bravely fled war-torn countries for survival. I’m talking about people who choose New York purposely, because of its cultural capital.

Where once this was a city to arrive in with a dollar and a dream, it’s now a city that requires you to save for months or years in advance to land on your feet.

Moving to New York, or most American cities, to pursue your dreams has become both a privilege and a requirement in many fields, especially the arts and humanities.

But with city populations ballooning and real estate prices skyrocketing, cities already have a great pool of talent vying for every position.  There are kids growing up in the Bronx struggling to get the change together to take a train downtown for an art or music camp their parents saved up to bring them to.

It takes a charming arrogance to presume that as a small kid from Minnesota, you could be better than every other dancer or poet living in New York. It makes for a great origin story. Sometimes it works out and it’s hard not to identify with that underdog story.

The only problem is that type of success is starting to look a lot less like luck and a lot more like a victory lap.

It’s not always a victory lap for the young person who hasn’t made it. Not everyone who moves to a city comes from wealth and comfort. But often in pursuit of the familiar, a transplant fuels a system that’s in motion to suburbanize the city.

This system aims to make New York and every other major city a safe and familiar tourist attraction. People come to New York to eat at the Applebee’s in Times Square, to shop the Disney Store or visit the Nike store—all things they could find in their own nearby malls.

They don’t come here for the now-closed shows, luncheonettes, and hat shops. There’s a closed commercial loop between the box stores in suburban malls and the businesses that now populate the tourist capital of New York City. There’s a responsibility that’s fallen on the city in maintaining a welcome environment for small businesses rather than trying to offer family friendly entertainment to tourists. In failing this, they’ve driven small business to the margins of the city, where tourist dollars are needed, but where they’re never directed to go.

Jeremiah Moss writes:

… Combined with a record-high population of 8.5 million, the city is being destroyed by its own so-called success […] Locals avoid the city’s art museums because they’re jammed with tourists clamoring to take selfies with the masterpieces. […] The green-jeweled oasis of Central Park is “being trampled to death,” as former parks commissioner Adrian Benepe told the Times in 2016. And still City Hall wants more. The latest goal is 67 million tourists per year by 2021.

Young, enterprising, low-income New Yorkers need to pursue alternative paths to pay for their dreams. Without credit, assets, or property, they might have to take out pricier loan options, making the whole enterprise of following their dreams a higher stake venture than it is for large established businesses.

This is not to discourage anyone outside of a major city from following their dreams. But if you achieved your dream in someone else’s hometown, you have a responsibility to your community to try to make room for two of you.

If your neighbors speak a language you don’t know, learn their language. Buy groceries from their shops. Sincerely love the neighborhood you live in, or don’t move there. If you choose a neighborhood because it’s got cheap rent, realize your role in harvesting the fruit of someone else’s life and work.

You need to ensure that local public schools can offer the opportunities you had. You need to make sure that a single parent can do what you’ve done without having to struggle and sacrifice in ways you’ve never had to.

The garment district is moving to Brooklyn. The art world has moved from SoHo, to Chelsea, to Chinatown. Long Island City is starting to look like Dubai.

While other cities like Detroit and Philadelphia have tried to attract more of this cultural capital that once went exclusively to New York and LA, it’s important not to just repeat the same mistakes in a new environment.

I implore other aspiring artists to bring their talents wherever they feel they’re needed. But if it looks like the boat is full, why not check with the passengers before you jump on. There will always be another boat.

Photo: Move NY

Don’t Cry For Franken: Cry For This Broken System

On Thursday, December 7th, around 11:30 am, Senator Al Franken announced his resignation that will be coming in the following weeks. As a long-respected writer, his speech was unsurprisingly powerful and emotionally charged.

It was both historic and difficult to hear a strong progressive (who still voted for an inflated military budget) taking a leadership role (after much hedging) by claiming that public officials have a responsibility to their constituents.

Sort of.

Throughout the course of the allegations, he has claimed he doesn’t remember the events as unfolding the same way that his accusers claim. Franken also made sure to take swipes at the president’s own braggadocio in describing his assault of women. He then made sure to leave room to talk about Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate being named as a multiple-time sexual predator and pedophile.

While this may have vindicated a Democratic party so quick to remind the world of their moral authority, it was poorly timed. And it didn’t differentiate them from the Republican party in any clear way.

Much like Dustin Hoffman claiming that his actions don’t represent who he is, those who perpetrate also wish to write the narrative around their crimes. They get to measure the suffering of victims as “assault” versus “harassment”. They get to say, “Well, this is what we did back then.”

These cheap responses are indicative of a broken system of accountability where men, while perhaps feeling on edge in post-Weinstein times, don’t ever have to atone. And when they do, they expect a reward for their admission of guilt.

As has become the spirit of the times, those who are extended privileges also seek to cry foul when their privilege has been named a privilege. Dustin Hoffman is privileged to still be able to walk onto a set and call the shots. Al Franken is privileged to be able to stand before a microphone and cast doubt on his accusers. Roy Moore has the privilege of not being behind bars.

Meanwhile, virtually no men in power are unselfconsciously donning a cape and trying to stand up for the victims.  The only people speaking for the women who were victims of these men’s abuses are other women who have been abused.

As has long been the history of dealing with misogyny, women have to be the victims of crimes, healers of one another, and teachers to men. Meanwhile, men cast aspersions at one another, comparing the severity of their crimes and going out with their pride intact.

I shed a tear when I heard Al Franken’s speech. It was historic and moving. He’s a powerful writer and a confident orator.

I only wish he would have let one of the many victims of the male abusers in power speak in his stead. This would have allowed the Democratic party to differentiate themselves from this arc of history which seems to be bent infinitely backward.

Don’t Cry For Franken; Cry For This Broken System

On Thursday, December 7th, around 11:30 am, Senator Al Franken announced his resignation that will be coming in the following weeks. As a long-respected writer, his speech was unsurprisingly powerful and emotionally charged.

It was both historic and difficult to hear a strong progressive (who still voted for an inflated military budget) taking a leadership role (after much hedging) by claiming that public officials have a responsibility to their constituents.

Sort of.

Throughout the course of the allegations, he has claimed he doesn’t remember the events as unfolding the same way that his accusers claim. Franken also made sure to take swipes at the president’s own braggadocio in describing his assault of women. He then made sure to leave room to talk about Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate being named as a multiple-time sexual predator and pedophile.

While this may have vindicated a Democratic party so quick to remind the world of their moral authority, it was poorly timed. And it didn’t differentiate them from the Republican party in any clear way.

Much like Dustin Hoffman claiming that his actions don’t represent who he is, those who perpetrate also wish to write the narrative around their crimes. They get to measure the suffering of victims as “assault” versus “harassment”. They get to say, “Well, this is what we did back then.”

These cheap responses are indicative of a broken system of accountability where men, while perhaps feeling on edge in post-Weinstein times, don’t ever have to atone. And when they do, they expect a reward for their admission of guilt.

As has become the spirit of the times, those who are extended privileges also seek to cry foul when their privilege has been named a privilege. Dustin Hoffman is privileged to still be able to walk onto a set and call the shots. Al Franken is privileged to be able to stand before a microphone and cast doubt on his accusers. Roy Moore has the privilege of not being behind bars.

Meanwhile, virtually no men in power are unselfconsciously donning a cape and trying to stand up for the victims.  The only people speaking for the women who were victims of these men’s abuses are other women who have been abused.

As has long been the history of dealing with misogyny, women have to be the victims of crimes, healers of one another, and teachers to men. Meanwhile, men cast aspersions at one another, comparing the severity of their crimes and going out with their pride intact.

I shed a tear when I heard Al Franken’s speech. It was historic and moving. He’s a powerful writer and a confident orator.

I only wish he would have let one of the many victims of the male abusers in power speak in his stead. This would have allowed the Democratic party to differentiate themselves from this arc of history which seems to be bent infinitely backward.

Patrick Bobilin is a writer, filmmaker, and New York County Committee member. He ran for city council in NYC on a platform of human rights, social justice, and ethical environmental practices. He’s also a huge fan of Jodeci and grapefruit-flavored seltzer. Read more about his latest work in politics at http://patrickfornyc.com.

Don’t Cry For Franken; Cry For This Broken System

On Thursday, December 7th, around 11:30 am, Senator Al Franken announced his resignation that will be coming in the following weeks. As a long-respected writer, his speech was unsurprisingly powerful and emotionally charged.

It was both historic and difficult to hear a strong progressive (who still voted for an inflated military budget) taking a leadership role (after much hedging) by claiming that public officials have a responsibility to their constituents.

Sort of.

Throughout the course of the allegations, he has claimed he doesn’t remember the events as unfolding the same way that his accusers claim. Franken also made sure to take swipes at the president’s own braggadocio in describing his assault of women. He then made sure to leave room to talk about Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate being named as a multiple-time sexual predator and pedophile.

While this may have vindicated a Democratic party so quick to remind the world of their moral authority, it was poorly timed. And it didn’t differentiate them from the Republican party in any clear way.

Much like Dustin Hoffman claiming that his actions don’t represent who he is, those who perpetrate also wish to write the narrative around their crimes. They get to measure the suffering of victims as “assault” versus “harassment”. They get to say, “Well, this is what we did back then.”

These cheap responses are indicative of a broken system of accountability where men, while perhaps feeling on edge in post-Weinstein times, don’t ever have to atone. And when they do, they expect a reward for their admission of guilt.

As has become the spirit of the times, those who are extended privileges also seek to cry foul when their privilege has been named a privilege. Dustin Hoffman is privileged to still be able to walk onto a set and call the shots. Al Franken is privileged to be able to stand before a microphone and cast doubt on his accusers. Roy Moore has the privilege of not being behind bars.

Meanwhile, virtually no men in power are unselfconsciously donning a cape and trying to stand up for the victims.  The only people speaking for the women who were victims of these men’s abuses are other women who have been abused.

As has long been the history of dealing with misogyny, women have to be the victims of crimes, healers of one another, and teachers to men. Meanwhile, men cast aspersions at one another, comparing the severity of their crimes and going out with their pride intact.

I shed a tear when I heard Al Franken’s speech. It was historic and moving. He’s a powerful writer and a confident orator.

I only wish he would have let one of the many victims of the male abusers in power speak in his stead. This would have allowed the Democratic party to differentiate themselves from this arc of history which seems to be bent infinitely backward.

Patrick Bobilin is a writer, filmmaker, and New York County Committee member. He ran for city council in NYC on a platform of human rights, social justice, and ethical environmental practices. He’s also a huge fan of Jodeci and grapefruit-flavored seltzer. Read more about his latest work in politics at http://patrickfornyc.com.