A very simple message: support Paul Newell.

I’m going to try and make this short. I hear blog readers want bullet lists and such, so let me hit the high points quickly, and then the three of you that read for, you know, style, can continue south. One: Vote for Paul Newell, who is the first person to challenge Sheldon Silver for the 64th Assembly District of New York State since 1985, this September 9, in the Democratic Primary. Two: if you are inclined to do more, come to M1-5 (52 Walker Street, between Church & Broadway) next Tuesday, June 24, and toss some dollars in the pot. I’ll be there, if that’s any appeal.

I’ve been a constituent of Sheldon Silver for most of my time in New York. What Sheldon Silver has actually done, for me, as a constituent, I’d have a hard time enumerating. As much as I admired his (nonetheless) dirt dealing quashing of the Jets Stadium (a project I showered less than no love for), it affected mostly my abstract principles about urban development. On the ground, things like congestion pricing, rent stabilization, and the commuter tax, he’s been an absent landlord at best, offering obfuscation about his reasoning that at best sounds like ‘we know what’s better for you’. And I gotta tell you Shelly, paying well over two grand for a tenement pad feels great. Thank you.

When you live in New York, you can be forgiven for not seeing the gradated differences in what we loosely call progressive politics. Give the Speaker some face time with just about any national politician, and he will play the way we expect: somewhere left of Emma Goldman, and we can all pat ourselves on the back for the symbolism of unrepentant liberal idealism.

But, you know, when the proverbial rubber hits the road, Silver comes up more than a little short. The oft used excuse for his lack of constituent service is the larger problem of holding down the fort against Joe Bruno. But you know, the Democratic majority in the Assembly is overwhelming, and we are creeping up on the Senate. So every craven accommodation and compromise, is suspect. Considering how drastic the impact of some of those issues has been (the commuter tax and luxury decontrol, to name two), trading that to protect upstate assemblymen who sell us down the river for a stoplight, even when our tax dollars subsidize the entire state, is a bit rich.

Paul Newell has a very simple point. For everything else Silver is, he still represents a discrete district. He has an obligation to those people, to act in their interests, with transparency and honestly, two qualities that he is distinctly lacking around the largest issues. Smaller issues, like funding security in public housing, developing the few remaining viable lots in lower Manhattan for affordable housing, things that can directly effect the people he ostensibly serves, get caught up in these supposed larger battles. But those battles often look like they all center on one struggle: sustaining Silver as one of the “three men in a room.”

The Democrats are poised to retake the Senate. Their control of the Assembly is seemingly unyeilding. We have a Democratic governor. That we have to go hat in hand to try and get Silver off the dime of business as usual is an insult to the progressive ideals that people often point to as a defining feature of this city. And it is particularly galling to those he was elected to serve. People like me. I’m more than ready for Change. We are on the verge of the possibility of an historic change. At all levels.

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