Wednesday, March 09, 2005

more on the MTA and its doings

After the Educators to Stop the War conference, I met Alex Vitale, a really great NYC activist & Brooklyn college prof. who has his own website dedicated to navigating "the complex world of criminal justice activism" in NYC. This is a really cool website, with all kinds of otherwise hard-to-find information. It's easy to navigate and includes a calendar of local activist events. Go there and check out what's going on.

He also posted a cogent comment to the last in my series of fumbling subway politics posts, suggesting that I write more about Pataki's general preference for funding commuter rail projects, also noting that the gov.doesn't have complete control over the MTA, but that the Mayor too has a say on who sits on the board. Specifically, Bloomberg appoints four out of seventeen of the board-members, and according to the Straphangers' campaign, these members have made a difference in the past, for example, creating "cityticket" for w/in the city stops on the Metro-North and LIRR.
The relationship between these "duelling" republicans is confusing, and I don't usually trust NY Magazine, because I think of it as a yuppie-scum rag (really, I think of it in 80s parlance, when I first became aware of its existence when I was a wannabe punk rock college kid). However, it makes this nice point, "Pataki is doing whatever it takes to keep his presidential fantasy alive, and if that means cutting taxes while the subway crumbles, well, no one voting in the Iowa caucuses cares about the subway part. The mayor’s failure, though, is his inability to find an effective substitute for public ranting. He could have used the rebuilding of downtown as a lever against Pataki, but largely ceded ground zero to the governor in favor of taking the lead role in the development of the far West Side."

As stadium politics become more confusing, and more exciting, I paid a brief visit to the anti-Nets stadium activists' site: Nolandgrab which led readers to this article from the NY Observer. It's all up for sale, and these stadium deals with all their complications remind me of old stuff, like those bond issues that went out to the RRs in the 1870s. Oh yeah, I think that this book by Matthew Josephson should provide most of the gory details on that era.

I guess it's important to understand some of the complexity of the local politics when it matters for deciding strategy, but generally I think it's safe to assume that when it comes to big capital in action, the larger similiarities tend to outweigh the differences. As much as we tend to attribute anything to the personalities, hopes, and ambitions of the key elected players, about a hundred years from now, it's likely that the history books will have more to say about the corporate giants than they will about the goings on in City Hall and Albany. The actual politicians will be more and more like the Grover Clevelands and Chester Arthurs: interesting if you really know about them, but somewhat remote and even picayune... significant and comprehensible only when examined for their facilitation of the actions of the true giants of the age: major league sports owners, media conglomerates, oil companies and the rest.

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