Tag Archives: New York

NYC to link funding for arts and museums to diversity, de Blasio says

Martin-Luther-King-01

From Fox News: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday the city will begin linking funding for arts groups and museums to how quickly they increase diversity at their organizations, posing a challenge for the city’s major institutions.

New York City is renowned for its diversity – 67 percent of residents identify as people of color – but only 38 percent of employees at cultural organizations are employees of color, according to a recent study from the city’s Cultural Affairs Department.

However, the 175-page report comes amid the mayor’s re-election campaign, as de Blasio works to strengthen his standing as someone who fights inequality.

The plan to tie funding to diversity was unveiled as part of CreateNYC, the city’s first comprehensive cultural plan that received feedback from 200,000 New Yorkers and took 10 months to complete.

In a press conference, de Blasio said the city would collect data on the diversity of staffs and boards at places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and dozens of other organizations, according to the New York Times. “This will be a factor in the city’s funding decisions going forward,” Mr. de Blasio said at the announcement in Queens, reports the Times. “We do this because we believe in fairness.”

“The least-white jobs are maintenance and security,” Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of cultural affairs, told the Times. “And the whitest are curators. That points to some problems.”

Although it remains to be seen how much cultural organizations will now feel pressured to change their hiring tactics — and whether or not this move boosts the mayor’s campaign in any way — de Blasio’s announcement drew praise from some city officials.

Our city draws strength from its diversity. No matter who you are, what language you speak, or how much money you have, you have a right to take part in the city’s rich cultural resources,” said New York City Council Member Stephen Levin.

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Kamala Harris: The Democratic message is “telling the American public we see them”

kamala harris

Kamala Harris: Womyn unshackled…

So inspirational!

From Yahoo: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said that Democrats have a message “much bigger” than opposing President Trump and that the party is focused on telling Americans “we see them.”

“The issues are not simple, so the message is not going not be simple,” Harris told Yahoo News in a small gaggle of reporters after she gave a speech at the “Women Unshackled” criminal justice conference Tuesday morning.

Harris said Democrats should not have a “monosyllabic” simple slogan, but instead focus on issues that matter to Americans, like jobs, the economy, health care, climate change and criminal justice reform.

“It’s going to be multitiered, but essentially it’s about telling the American public we see them,” Harris said of the Democrats’ message. “All Americans want to know that they are healthy, that their children and their parents are going to have access to health care and dignity. All Americans want to know they can get a job and keep a job. All Americans want to be able to retire with dignity.”

“These are truths, and when we see people for who they really are, and instead of some demographic based on what a pollster looks at, I think we’ll all be better for it,” she added.

Democrats have struggled to articulate a unified message since Trump won. And the issue of the party’s branding sparked up again after a top House Democrat, Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., recently told the Associated Press that the message is “being worked on.”

Harris is a buzzed-about potential candidate for president in 2020 and has already raised significant amounts of money for her Senate colleagues running in 2018. Harris has said she’s not giving “any consideration” to running for president, but Democratic donors are increasingly speculating about her as a top contender.

Harris’ criminal justice speech Tuesday to a bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists was greeted with enthusiastic applause, and the senator was nearly mobbed afterward with fans wanting to take selfies with her. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., are also speaking at the event, organized by the U.S. Justice Action Network.

In her speech, Harris criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for steering the country back toward another war on drugs, which she called an “abject failure” and “crazy.”

“We made a mistake when decades ago we decided to criminalize what is a public health matter,” Harris said, advocating for drug treatment instead of jail time for nonviolent offenders.

She also spoke of her recent visit to a women’s prison in Chowchilla, Calif., where she talked to incarcerated women who were making American flags. “I walked away thinking, ‘Isn’t it part of who we are as Americans that we believe in second chances?’” she said.

Harris, a former prosecutor elected just last November, has made criminal justice reform one of her top issues in her short time in the Senate. She has co-sponsored legislation with other Democratic lawmakers to ban the practice of shackling pregnant inmates, and she announced during her speech that she would also be introducing legislation to reform the bail process so that decisions about whether to release prisoners ahead of their trials is based more upon the security risk of doing so and not upon how much money the prisoner has.

The senator told reporters she’s “optimistic” that legislation could pass, even in a divided Washington. “I think this is something that should not be thought of as even bipartisan — this should be a nonpartisan issue,” Harris said.

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Teen who blasted “f*ck tha police” at NYPD funeral booted from apartment

julien rodriguez

Julien Rodriguez

Na na na na na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.

From NY Post: A cop-hating Bronx teen has been kicked out of his apartment for repeatedly blasting the rap song “F–k Tha Police” from the window as thousands of NYPD cops gathered to mourn a slain colleague, the building’s superintendent said Friday.

Super Danny Morales said he ordered a tenant to get rid of Julien Rodriguez, 16, and his older sister, who had been staying in the tenant’s third-floor pad. “I called him and told him he needs to take care of this right away,” Morales said.

“I told him it’s disrespectful and they can’t be doing this. The police lost a family member. We all need to come together and respect that.”

Morales said he was especially offended because his nephew, Saul Quiles-Morales, is a cop assigned to the nearby 40th Precinct. “I wouldn’t want to see him lying in a box also. We need to respect the police,” he added.

The tenant, who identified himself only as “Jesus,” insisted the incident wasn’t his fault and called Rodriguez and his sister “lowlifes.”

They’re gone. The case is closed. They’re no longer in my house. I don’t know where they went,” he added.

On Tuesday morning, Rodriguez started cranking gangster rap songs from his bedroom when cops began arriving for the funeral of Officer Miosotis Familia at the World Changers Church around the corner.

Familia was shot in the back of the head early July 5 by a gunman who fired without warning through the window of an NYPD truck in which she was filling out her official memo book.

Rodriguez switched to NWA’s infamous anti-police anthem — which includes a line about “taking out a cop or two” — moments before her memorial service was set to start, and only turned it off after 20 cops paid a visit to his apartment.

Rodriguez tried to justify his insolence by claiming that his brother and a friend had been killed by the NYPD, but The Post couldn’t verify that claim based on the names he provided.

The teen’s sister, Suleika Rodriguez, complained Friday that her brother has been threatened over his anti-cop antics, adding: “I got people on Facebook telling him, ‘You’re wrong.’”

“I don’t give a f–k. I already have an apartment,” she said, but refused to elaborate.

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Lena Dunham Gives Away Her Rescue Dog After Four Years With Him

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Bye, bye Lamby…

If you’ve ever gone to a shelter to adopt an animal, you know the process is intense (in most major cities). You are thoroughly scrutinized about your pet ownership background, your home, and your ability to care for a pet – especially a rescue animal that may have issues. After all, it’s a lifetime commitment. Well, in most cases…

From Yahoo: Lena Dunham has been showing off her two new puppies, Susan and Karen, everywhere from Instagram to the Tonight Show. So her fans were wondering what was up with Lamby, the rescue she adopted in 2013. The Girls alum gave them an answer on Wednesday: She gave away the troubled pup (a four-year old pup?) in March.

“A lot of you have been asking where Lamby is these days since he’s always been the star of my gram and I’ve been posting pics of my poodle girls,” Dunham wrote. “Well, you know honesty is my jam but this one has been really heartbreaking to talk about. But I feel I have to share that last March, after four years of challenging behavior and aggression that could not be treated with training or medication or consistent loving dog ownership, Lamby went to live at an amazing professional facility in Los Angeles @matt_thezendog where an awesome person named @therealdanishay (who is educated in a rescue dog’s specific trauma) loves him so hard.”

“Lamby suffered terrible abuse as a pup that made having him in a typical home environment dangerous to him and others- we needed to be responsible to ourselves, our neighbors and especially our beloved boy. Jack and I will miss him forever but sometimes when you love something you have to let it go (especially when it requires tetanus shots and stitches.)

“Someday I’ll really write about the pain and relief of letting Lamby go off and really be Lamby, biting and peeing in his own mouth and all,” she wrote. “There were so many lessons in it, about forgiving myself and loving with an open palm and giving in to a larger plan. Shout out to @jennikonner for listening to endless hours of Lamby pain, and especially my partner @jackantonoff for loving him even when he ruined floors and couches and our life. Jack knows what Lamby means to me and he let me come to the decision in my own time even when it made his days challenging. Susan & Karen will never be my first loves, but they are fuzzy and hilarious stuffing for the hole Lamby left and we cherish them deeply.”

Dunham adopted Lamby from the Brooklyn animal rescue BARC, and it made headlines at the time as he started showing up on her social media accounts. Oh, and in Vogue magazine spreads. The dog had an Instagram account with 17,500 followers, including fashionable ones like the editor-in-chief of Glamour mag, Cindi Lieve.

Issues arose almost immediately after Dunham brought home the dog, however, which she detailed in a piece for the New Yorker in March 2013. Lamby, which she described as “a golden sausage with the most human eyes I’ve ever seen on a non-human” and “perfect,” didn’t like her boyfriend, Jack Antonoff. The first night the dog, which had three homes before Lena’s, met the musician, he bit him.

“Tears stream down my face. What have I done?” Dunham wrote of having doggie regrets just two months after adopting the pooch. “We had such a nice life. The first real comfort I’ve known in so long. Nights were quiet and sweet, and we slept until whatever o’clock we wanted, then sat on the couch in our underwear and planned the day.” Nonetheless, she vowed to take care of the troubled pup. “‘I’m not going anywhere,’ I tell Lamby,” she wrote.

A year later, Dunham posted a photo on Instagram of her bleeding behind, which Lamby bit. She revealed that it was the second time the dog had bit her. Gawker ran a piece blasting the actress, saying the dog should be taken from her due to insufficient care. She defended her doggie care on social media.

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Because it’s complicated: When asked their sex, some are going with option ‘X’

gender in between your ears

From USA Today: America has slowly begun to acknowledge that for many people, gender is much more complicated than simply being a man or a woman. And a growing number of Americans are seeking recognition of a third gender, neither exclusively male or female, under the label non-binary.

People typically think of transgender as meaning gender reversal, where someone identifies as the opposite sex from their birth sex. But transgender is an umbrella term used to cover a wide spectrum of people whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth.

More than one-third of transgender people describe themselves as non-binary, which the National Center for Transgender defines as “people whose gender is not exclusively male or female, including those who identify with a gender other than male or female, as more than one gender, or as no gender, identifying as a combination of genders or not identifying with either gender at all.” 

Non-binary people have always been part of the population. But for the first time, state governments in the U.S. are beginning to recognize their identity. Oregon approved a third gender option on driver’s licenses last week; California’s Senate passed a law with the same aim, and similar legislation was introduced in both New York and the District of Columbia this week.

Non-binary people are now represented in popular culture as well. Actor Asia Kate Dillon, who is credited with being the “first non-binary actor ever to be portrayed on TV,” plays a gender non-binary character on the Showtime series Billions.

“Hello, I’m Taylor. My pronouns are they, theirs and them,” Dillon’s Billions character declares when introduced to one of the show’s two protagonists. The scene likely also introduced the concept of non-binary people and non-gender specific pronouns to many viewers.

Why the gender on IDs matters

The issue of gender on official documentation is not merely a semantic one. Nearly one-third of transgender people said they were harassed, assaulted or denied service because their ID did not match their “gender presentation,” according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Presenting an identification document that does not accurately reflect one’s sex and is inconsistent with one’s gender identity can trigger invasions of privacy, prejudice, stigma, violence and discrimination and harassment in a wide variety of settings, including in employment, education, public accommodations, health care, housing and interactions with the government, including with law enforcement,” the LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal wrote to the Oregon Department of Transportation arguing for the rule change to allow a third gender option.

Oregon became the first state to give residents the option to identify as neither male or female on their driver’s licenses and state identification cards Thursday after a ruling by the Oregon Transportation Commission. Beginning July 1, those IDs will offer an “X” as a third option in addition to the traditional “F” and “M.”

A bill passed the California Senate to allow the state’s residents to change their gender identity on their birth certificates and state IDs, including driver’s licenses, to “female, male, or non-binary.” The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the state Assembly. Similar legislation has been introduced in New York and the District of Columbia.

Randy Thomasson, the president of SaveCalifornia.com and the Campaign for Children and Families, has derided what he sees as the spread of “sexual anarchy.” 

Thomasson argued against the legislation in California on the grounds that allowing people to change gender invites identity fraud.

“If one’s sex can be officially ‘changed’ by simply — even repeatedly — filing an $11 form with the state government, it’s going to be a lot harder to accurately identify ‘non-binary’ accused criminals in open court,” Thomasson said in a statement. “The gender identity fraud that this radical bill would usher in is the antithesis of law and order.”

According to Lambda Legal, there are at least eight countries that recognize more than two genders on passports or national ID cards: Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan. Thailand recognizes a third gender in its constitution but hasn’t yet made that an option on government documents.

Read about the rest of the “complications” here.

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Obese NY judge hasn’t worked in years but still collects fat paycheck

serious

From NY Post: An obese judge did not do his $193,000-a-year job for over three years because he was too fat — and will still retire with a hefty pension even though an ethics panel found he milked the system, The Post has learned.

Acting Supreme Court Judge Daniel J. McCullough, 65, stepped down last month, after a state ethics probe determined that he “persistently failed to report to work” since April 2014 instead of going on proper medical leave.

Had he taken such leave, McCullough would also have taken a pay cut. His decision to remain an “active” judge prompted the state Commission on Judicial Conduct to find last month that McCullough failed “to respect and comply with the law.”

“He was basically forced out,” a court source said.

Despite being pressured to leave, McCullough will take home a $143,000-a-year pension.

McCullough — who neighbors say weighs some 300 pounds — suffers a host of maladies, from morbid obesity to herniated disks in his lower back and intestinal bleeding, according to commission records.

He earned full pay even though other judges were forced to pick up the slack in his absence.

In December 2014, about eight months after he first stopped working, a judge ordered McCullough to undergo a medical exam to find out how bad his problems were.

The tests revealed that the Corona, Queens, resident, who had been on the bench since he was appointed by then-Gov. David Paterson in 2010, had “a complicated medical history which involves morbid obesity,” in addition to the other problems.

In November 2015 the chief judge ordered McCullough to undergo a second medical exam, but he ignored the order, according to the report. He was in a Long Island rehab facility at the time and vowed to return to the bench.

McCullough, a former officer with the city’s Department of Correction, learned in October 2016 that the Commission on Judicial Conduct had started investigating his absences.

On May 4, the commission found that McCullough failed “to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

The next day, McCullough filed for his retirement. On Monday the commission announced McCullough’s resignation, effective May 29.

“By any reasonable standard . . . three years is too long for a judge to be out of work . . . while others absorb his caseload,” said commission administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian.

McCullough escaped punishment aside from agreeing to stay off the bench.

​McCullough’s attorney, Roger Adler, said his client is still recovering from a 2016 surgical operation, never contemplated going on disability leave — and nor did the administrative judges suggest that option. “It’s a tragic situation,” Adler said. “He really hoped to come back.”

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NY insurers want double-digit hikes for ObamaCare policies

O laughs

Surprise, surprise!

From NY Post: New York health insurers requested double-digit increases as high as 47 percent for ObamaCare policies next year as the debate rages in Washington on how to overhaul the law.

The average proposed increase for individual policies for 2018 is 16.6 percent, the state Department of Financial Services said in a report released late Wednesday.

But some consumers would get whacked with much higher increases, if approved by Albany.

HealthNow New York is seeking a 47 percent boost in premiums, United Healthcare of New York a 38 percent hike, and Care Connect wants 30 percent more. Emblem Health/HIP has filed for a 25 percent hike and Healthfirst PHSOP 22 percent.

MetroPlus, the health insurer run by New York City’s municipal health system, Health+Hospitals, has proposed a more modest 7.9 percent increase.

“MetroPlus has made every effort to keep its rates affordable for 2018. We believe that affordable rates combined with a strong network of high quality providers and caring service make MetroPlus a clear choice for New Yorkers,” the company said in a statement.

For the small group market, insurers requested an average increase of 11.5 percent.

Last year, insurers sought an average 19.3 percent increase and the state approved 16.6 percent. DFS will decide the 2018 rates following a 30-day public comment period.

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