This column, was originally published under a slightly different name on Sun, 06/22/2008 – 8:03am. It has been moved here for archival purposes to accomodate a request that it be re-edited to protect someone's privacy–the original comeents have been moved here as well.
“I haven't got eleven kids
I weren't born in Baghdad
I'm not half-Chinese either
And I didn't kill my dad
If you hear more rumors
You can just forget them too
Fools start the rumors
None of them are true”
-“It ‘s Not True” by the Who
The primary between incumbent State Senator Martin Connor and Daniel Squadron (who went from ghost-writing Chuck Schumer’s apologia for Dick Morris style triangulation to generating copy for the PR firm which flacks for Joe Lieberman and Bruce Ratner) has almost no issues as they are conventionally defined.
Except for a serious and substantial difference on the important issue of extending Mayoral Control of NYC Schools, which is up before the legislature next year (Connor favors extensive changes, while Squadron, a former Bloomberg education bureaucrat, favors leaving things the way they are), there is almost no daylight between the candidates on any matter of public policy.
The campaign, as framed by Squadron, seems to be that Connor is stuck in the ways of Albany, while the young, innovative Squadron will think out of the box. Mostly, though, his campaign seems to be a matter of riding swiftboats up and down the East River telling falsehoods; some I’ve documented previously, but looking for new one is like searching for grains of sand in Coney Island. Here’s a recent one:
“I had met Dan Squadron but didn't know him that well, and had never met Marty Connor. I was surprised by both of them — Connor for his progressive stands on issues, and Squadron for his lack of attention to issues beneath the surface. In addition, Squadron's attacks on Connor smacked of the kind of phony politics that we despise. Did Connor "allow" landlords to get all sorts of breaks in 1997? No — he didn't have the power to stop Joe Bruno and George Pataki. But Squadron attacked him anyway.” –Dan Jacoby on “The Daily Gotham”.
But, in the interest of fairness, let’s give credit where credit is due. Squadron is a brilliant innovator, who has pioneered cutting edge tactics in the world of politics. If elected, one can guarantee he will follow in the foot steps of his obvious inspiration.
Surprisingly, that inspiration appears not to be Charles Schumer, but rather Richard Milhouse Nixon. As inconceivable as it may seem, Dan Squadron is well on his way to turning Marty Connor into Helen “Pink Lady” Gahagan, although the thought of checking the color of the Senator’s underwear is probably best not undertaken on a full stomach.
Why do I credit Squadron with such tactical genius? Because of the brilliant stealth campaign he’s undertaken to quietly but effectively spread his message in the hipper precincts of the World Wide Web. Witness these samples, sent out mostly to social networking lists:
From: Young Hipster
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008 12:09 PM
To: Young Hipster
Subject: are you in the zone?Attention New Yorkers,
If you reside within these boundaries then you are 1) stoked to be here and 2) in need of a new state senator.
Our man, Dan Squadron, is tearing up the town and fighting the good fight against the incumbent, Captain Kickback, Martin Connor.
Click this if you want to know more…
Click this if you want to know less…
From: Young Hipster
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008 4:36 PM
Subject: Friday Fun Facts
Here's why your current NY state senator sucks:
*Vanishing housing affordability that means that means middle-class families — teachers, cops, firefighters, city workers, artisits — are increasingly be priced out of the city and new immigrants, who infuse the city with such energy, never move in.
*A public schools system in which good schools become overcrowded, bad schools persistently fail and middle schools too often create a wasteland that causes our communities to lose families to the suburbs or students to low performance.
*A civil rights picture that is timid and unequal — whether on marriage or choice (our abortion rights law was historic back in 1970, when it was written)
So come to the posh event next Wednesday!!! (see below).
You don't have to pay $100!!!
Vote Dan Squadron!
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Team Squadron <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 12:46 PM
Subject: GREAT NEWS and Great Event with Team Squadron
Summer is off to a great start!
We are thrilled to announce that CWA District 1 has enthusiastically endorsed Daniel as their candidate for New York State Senate! Click here to read the story.
Let's keep the momentum going. Click here to support the campaign.
And please join Team Squadron next Wednesday night at the Bourcarou Lounge in the East Village.
Thank you for your continued support. -Team Squadron
For the record: Calling someone “Captain Kickback” has a clear and well defined meaning. While it is almost impossible for a public official to win a lawsuit for libel, this could be a fine test case of the limits of past precedent. Luckily for Mr. Hipster and Mr. Squadron, Marty Connor is a First Amendment absolutist.
But, while unspecified allegations of criminality transgress every border of decency, it may well be the case that the discussion of the “issues” as outlined by Mr. Hipster and others are actually more offensive.
In documenting the case for Senator Connor as a fellatio practitioner (the generally accepted definition of one who “sucks”– how progressive is that?), Mr. Hipster lists a few issues, and implies that Marty Connor is on the wrong side of them. Let us review:
1) Congestion pricing—Connor was and is for it. Squadron is for it, now, but Daniel Millstone of “The Daily Gotham says, “When I talked to Mr. Squadron, following a CODA meeting, he was opposed to congestion pricing. I'm in favor of congestion pricing.”
2) Housing Affordability—Connor is a sponsor of the legislation repealing the Urstadt Law, which allow the State to preclude the City from regulating its own rents. Squadron is correct that the legislation hasn’t passed, but it will about 15 minutes after the Democrats take the Senate Majority. Connor is also working to develop affordable housing in the Lower East Side, Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens.
3) Schools—deserves an article in itself. Since the Mayor took control, schools in Lower Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn have been unable to guarantee admissions to children in their own zones (in one Brooklyn school, apparatchicks from the Tweed Courthouse were caught giving out-of-district variances while zoned children were denied spaces). The "objective" criteria for evaluating schools has been manipulated for political reasons to the point it can no longer can provide any useful information to anyone (which seems to have been the idea). Admissions to pre-kindergarten and gifted programs have become minor scandals; money appropriated in Albany for schools has not made it into our classrooms, and all accountability has disappeared. If you like the new innovations Squadron brags about helping to have created, by all means votes for Squadron.
4) Civil Rights. Throughout his career, even when his district was far more conservative than it is today, Connor has been a champion of the right to chose, and of sexual orientation anti-discrimination efforts, including martial equality. He is supported by every pro-choice and feminist organization which has endorsed in the race, and by every gay political club.
So, the stealth campaign, of which Mr. Hipster’s work is only a sample, is simply despicable. Mr. Squadron, what is the relationship between you, your campaign and Mr. Hipster? Will you repudiate such tactics, and ask Mr. Hipster and others not to engage in them? Will you apologize to Senator Connor, or at least publicly ask Mr. Hipster and the others to do so? Will you and/or him and the others email this apology, and a clarification telling the truth to your respective contact lists?
In other words, Mr. Squadron, are you a mensch, or are you a mamzer?
2011 UPDATE: The Real Name of Young Hipster has been deleted from the article, although he did nothing to earn this courtesy.