Last Tuesday I walked the four blocks from my house to Euclid Elementary School in City Heights to vote. The election notices were in five different languages and the citizens lined up in the hallway were conversing in those languages. Young people had small children in tow and pushed baby carriages. Elderly people moved slowly using canes and walkers. The poll workers were all young and ethnically and racially diverse; the voting process went smoothly and quickly. Despite all of my anxieties regarding the electoral outcomes, I felt that “rush of democracy” Megan Burks described so well in her Speak City Heights article about election day in City Heights. [Read more…]
This past weekend I suddenly became conscious of a quotidian, unremarkable occurrence in City Heights. I was walking to the number 7 bus stop on University Avenue when a large van with the words Alliance for African Assistance turned down the street. Earlier that morning a mini-van pulled up next door with a small group that socializes regularly with my ethnic Chinese neighbors.
But this weekend I wondered if vans, mini-vans and even buses will be used to get citizens in City Heights to the polls on election day. I hope so. [Read more…]
The Election Integrity Project, although it defines itself as non-partisan, operates as a platform for the conservative Heritage Foundation, the right wing Breitbart.com, and the Tea Party groups True the Vote and the non-profit iCaucus. Their website raises the ubiquitous fearful specter of voter fraud; their intent is to police the act of voting itself, to assure that “every lawfully cast vote [is] accurately counted.”
While the restrictive voter laws enacted after the Republicans gained power in 2010 have the impact if not the explicit intent to suppress the vote of communities of color, the young and the elderly who tend to vote Democrat, True the Vote and its offshoots not only support those efforts but have also assumed the role of election vigilantes at the polls and registrar offices. [Read more…]
The City Heights Area Planning Committee (CHAPC) meeting held on Monday October 15 was spent presenting information and answering questions about the capital projects on the master list; a bare-bones list of projects that includes the installation of sidewalks, street lights, drainage projects, a number of small parks, renovations for a senior center, repairs to the police shooting range and a new fire station. During the course of the meeting committee members and the audience were given the opportunity to add additional projects to the list.
On November 5 the CHAPC will decide upon a prioritized capital project list. Their goal is to present the top five projects. I encouraged them to submit every single project as a number one priority for the community. I was dead serious. Jim Varnadore responded that while the committee didn’t dispute the validity of doing so, the City would impose its own prioritization. I responded that the City does that anyway and that their ranking process is not transparent.
The list does not include the pressing infrastructure need for wireless hubs throughout City Heights. Councilman Tony Young stated in a budget committee meeting earlier this year that he would like to see wireless access made available to the surrounding communities using our public libraries as a broadcasting source. He quickly discounted the possibility unless the City found a private partner.
Councilman Young knows that his district as well as the other low income districts constitute the have- not side of the digital divide. While the city as a whole ranks high in internet connectivity, there are whole sections of the city in which families do not have computers or are unable to afford monthly internet access fees. There are large swaths of the population who are not computer literate. City Heights is one of these communities. [Read more…]
Teresa has spent the last two decades addressing the impacts of inter-generational poverty, drug addiction and incarceration upon our young people– the very issues our presidential candidates have chosen to overlook. She carefully unwinds these young people’s stories resulting in fully realized, complex human beings who deserve not only our compassion and our understanding, but more importantly our commitment to finding solutions. [Read more…]
Many of us living in the inner city communities and south of Route 8 will remember Mayor Sanders as the leader who performed triage with a hatchet upon a flat-lined city budget. He destroyed the villages writ small while saving the only village that really counts–powerful business interests and an entrenched downtown establishment.
Mayor Sanders’ recent endorsement of Carl DeMaio raises the obvious question–Will Carl DeMaio, if elected, embrace the same governance policies and attitudes? The corollary of course is–Does City Heights want more of the same? [Read more…]
On trash night last week an elderly Vietnamese woman stood outside my front door, waiting patiently for me to notice her. I recognized her immediately and opened the screen. I suspect that she knows little English–she simply stood there, smiling shyly. “Oh! Bottles! I forgot!” I smiled and pointed toward the back alley. Her bicycle was hung with a number of empty bags as she began her slow evening peregrinations through City Heights alleys, picking through recycling bins that were as tall as she. Our bin always provides a particularly rich haul. It is evident that she is not doing this as an antidote to unbearable ennui or as part of an exercise regimen. She clearly depends upon the recycling to augment her income.
This week I watched the recent video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney describing the 47% of the population that pays no federal income tax as shiftless, government dependent moochers. While this is not a new right wing talking point–it played heavily during the Republican presidential primaries–there was a shocking quality to Romney’s assertions. He oozed equal parts certitude in those assertions and utter dismissiveness of their subject. Which is to say he came off as a sneering plutocrat. [Read more…]
An ongoing conversation about voter eligibility, voter registration, voter turnout and fistfuls of dollars
“…a key characteristic of a democracy is the continued responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals. …In a political system where nearly every adult may vote but where knowledge, wealth, social position, access to officials, and other resources are unequally distributed, who actually governs?” Robert Dahl
Will the establishment of the new ninth district translate into a greater voice in civic affairs and political power for the minority populations who reside in the district? Will City Heights be ground zero for addressing the enormous gap between race and political power? I don’t think any of us living here think the path to democratic governance, and that’s what we are really talking about, will be an easy one. [Read more…]
Perhaps what we call “diverse” communities are those that haven’t reached equilibrium, but are in the process of changing… Is there a stable equilibrium of genuine integration in this country?
Chris Hayes Up With Chris HayesJune 17, 2012
Before the housing bubble finally burst in 2008, taking the economy with it, the conversion of often aging rental housing stock to condominiums had been proceeding full bore. City Heights, ripe territory for sub-prime mortgages, attracted its share of condominium investments. To first time home buyers of limited income, these City Heights condo conversions offered a last chance for “affordable” home ownership, with units advertised in the mid to high $200,000 range.
One such condo conversion occurred across the street from me. The original 16 unit apartments, consisting of two long buildings of eight units each, were set back from the street with curb cut parking in the front and minimal landscaping in the Huffman architectural style. The owner spent little if anything on the external upkeep of the building. Like many parts of City Heights, the apartments looked like not much thought was given to them beyond their utility in providing the most basic level of habitability. [Read more…]
We are reminded time and time again that the only human beings in a position to rescue us from our economic woes are the enormously wealthy “job creators.” The bad news is that they are just too uncertain about the economy to tap their accumulated wealth parked far far away from City Heights to start investing again in the US, anywhere in the US.
We are also told that they simply can’t do their “job creating” job without more tax cuts and less government regulation. And they also want us to know that their feelings are very very hurt that we don’t love them enough. None of these wealthy aggrieved individuals live on my block, so I am of course getting this information second hand, but I extend the invitation for tea, even though it will not be accompanied with much in the way of sympathy. [Read more…]
It was stinking hot walking from the 40th Street transit stop on University Avenue to the City Heights Post Office four blocks away. Cumulus clouds, a sure sign of summer rain everywhere else I have ever lived, were piled up in the sky directly above me. They deflated before my eyes, as if whatever rain they held had been sucked right out of them in one thirsty gulp. There would be no sudden refreshing rain shower.
A rain shower would not have been well received by the fifty or so adults sitting on the low wall outside of the Church of the Nazarene, or standing on the sidewalk and leaning against the wall of the building in the adjacent alley. It wasn’t 2:30 yet and the church would not begin its weekly food distribution for another half hour. Most of the people were elderly. A long line of their collapsible walkers with a seat and basket awaited the box of food that would be forthcoming. [Read more…]