Ocasio-Cortez Comes Alive

That girl

Astoria, Queens, New York

Saturday in the park. Not the 4th of July, but the firework spectacle of celebrity  and politics was in display at Astoria Park under a clear blue sky with the Triborough Bridge in the background for about an hour and change as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived and gave a speech at a rally for her Green New Deal legislative proposal and also a protest against the new power plant in Astoria that’s being proposed by NRG Energy (what a redundant name for a corporation), which according to the congresswoman, her political allies from the Democrat Socialists Association and various environmental activist groups hanging banners and displaying tables around the grassy knoll, will be powered by fracked gas and will be an existential threat to the health and environment to the residents of the NE Queens neighborhood despite claims from NRG that emissions from the new plant won’t be that severe (suuuurrre).

For someone as massively huge on monopolized social media and corporate cable news, the crowd awaiting her was quite modest. And quite predominantly White if anyone is concerned about that sort of thing.

 

And for a event featuring a politician of such magnitude, there were hardly any  elected officials or politicians campaigning for office in attendance.

Sen. Ramos at the table

Councilman Van Bramer on the phone

After a speech ranting against the new power plant by Senator Jessica Ramos, anticipation was sort of building for the arrival of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez as one of the organizers told the crowd she was running late, citing bad traffic for her arrival, but it didn’t elicit much of a reaction (although it’s a tad off-putting that for someone holding a rally against dirty energy would need to take a vehicle to speak against it). But it wasn’t for long as she surprisingly popped out of nowhere with her entourage and security from behind in the parking lot with some media in tow which made a clear path for her to enter and make a nice 15 minute speech plugging the Green New Deal that’s designed to save the climate and economy.

 

 

 

Then she took it to the stage..

AOC’s speech was for lack of a better word, nice. Actually, there is a better word for it-meh. In fact, the crux of her stump address for the new revolution in climate friendly energy sourcing and job creation were basically already stated in various signs across the lawn, on protest signs and on banners hanging from tables. Plus the speech seem to be tailored for certain quotes to be isolated for videos on the Now This twitter account.

While most of her speech basically derived from the messaging surrounding the grounds, the frustratingly problematic parts of her speech was when she mistakenly on purpose conflated her Green New Deal  resolution as a revolution and brought up how it will lead to other resolutions (or revolutions) like the ratification of a federal $15/hr. minimum wage and the way overdue Medicare For All, the latter of which should have been prioritized during the pandemic as COVID still will not go away because of new variants that will put the most vulnerable people (like essential on the street gig workers) with no insurance in the hospital and with Big Pharma corporations announcing that a third vaccination will surely be a necessity. Surely unbeknownst to the adoring crowd in Astoria Park, AOC and her fellow and new “Squad” members in Congress had every chance to force the vote for Medicare For All by holding out on confirming Nancy Pelosi’s reign as House Speaker (while stopping her continuing profiting from her position) in order to get Med4All on the house floor and she and her allies collectively chose not to. And did the same for the minimum wage raise weeks later.

Another distinguished thing about her speech is how she used certain words to cap it off by describing accomplishing the goals of the Green New Deal as “the How, the Why and the What”, words she used ineptly to describe how to end the perpetual Israeli-Palestenian conflict going on for over 75 years.

And speaking of Force the Vote and how AOC didn’t, this little booster table set up for her speech stood out on the field. Something called “Claim the Vote”, which is a total and lame co-opting of the legendary social media hashtag started by Jimmy Dore back in November when the Dem’s took over the House (and later would tie the Senate).

I don’t know how a vote needs to be “claimed” and I regret not asking these two, thinking that this will be available on the internets but a few engine and social media searches brought up bupkus. And I probably would have got into an argument with these folks about it and even though I’m still banned from twitter where I criticized AOC frequently, the last thing I need is for her, her aides or her AOC-hive sending highway patrol troopers to my abode.

It’s also why I didn’t bother engaging with her in person despite having an opportunity to do so, for the line for the meet and greet went on for a mile and social distancing was not being recognized (as if the media circus circling around her wasn’t clustered enough). Even though my blog was one of the only ones locally in Queens to cover and endorse her, the other being Queens Crap where I wrote the admin about her potential to beat long time establishment hack Joe Crowley, and was actually very proud of her victory after she worked hard to earn it.

Since then it’s been a lot of disappointment. Mostly since she’s been re-elected and her obeisance to the Democrat establishment and her obsession and occupying most her time to her social media accounts. And her humiliating embellishments of how her life was in danger when the U.S. Capitol was being invaded and she was nowhere near there and Trump’s junta LARPers were nowhere near the building she was hiding in which led to her disturbing calls to ban expression and speech of her social media foes and critics in addition to squandering her power and influence as a celebrity politician.

If anything this event shown it was all a virtue signalling performance tweet thread played out in 3D. Even though it was meant to stop a power plant they didn’t want in Astoria, AOC and her GND allies didn’t even consider or acknowledge why the new power plant is being proposed. And that’s because of all the new towers that have gone up in NE Queens in Astoria and Long Island City. It wasn’t long ago when a transformer exploded on New Years Eve a few years ago. Everybody blamed the Gozer, but it surely was from the collective occupation of the new monolithic towers condensed on the East River and there’s already been more towers built and even more to come And those fracking pipelines AOC and the GND posse are against being installed underground in Brooklyn are surely there to supply all the tower pestilence that is going up on that line too from Brownsville to Greenpoint and pretty soon with the amount of luxury public housing that’s been approved for Gowanus. The point is that for all the talking points about green energy that was said by AOC for 15 minutes and two hours by other concerned activists on that lawn is not going to matter dick because the infrastructure for the energy system was already established. Plus there has been a substantial amount of new luxury towers built in her district in the Bronx too since she’s been in office. All of this over-development has occurred without a minute consideration for adapting to climate change and is still reliant on fossil fuels (although some of these buildings has a few trees on the roof for the tower people to enjoy). Being a working resident of NYC, Where the fuck has the congresswoman been the last 8 years, no less three as an official?

And AOC’s plan to protect public housing by putting it under the Green New Deal has immensely back fired, as NYCHA and the Fed’s RAD and de Blasio’s PACT has residents cutting down on fossil fuels by austerity as they cover themselves in extra blankets and subsist on meals prepared for hours on single burner hot plates.

But this Green New Deal/Anti-NRG event did get a nice turnout and some adorable pics for the establishment firebrand congresswoman of the 14th District. For what was in essence a safe space for her, her base and political  action org allies.

Departing from the park, the song Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) was being blasted from a bluetooth speaker by a Black couple chilling out on the grass under the tree. It was actually the only genuine moment that was being expressed about the existential threat of climate change. But I heard that song a thousand times before already so I kept walking. Which is probably how people, including yours truly, will react to AOC and her Green New Deal if it doesn’t progress from platitudes about how to make this new system of renewable energy and millions of jobs to make it work manifest. 

 

 

Housing Inequity, Death And Tax Breaks: A Tale Of Two Queens Areas

Astoria Houses

Thanksgiving, the symbolic holiday where all beings partake in communal gratitude and partake in sharing of the bountiful harvest of food and shelter. But on the east and west sides of Queens, it’s a theory that’s as good as dead.

An apartment building at The Astoria Houses are currently without gas and tenants have been without heat and hot water for a month. Despite the typical dragging of responsive service from NYCHA management to restore their utility they pay rent for, elected officials have been comparably unresponsive. This craven indifference continued until it got the attention of PIX News and a visit from streaming independent news channel Status Coup when a charity group were serving trays of hot food on catering tables at the front entrance at the building with the gas outage.

Then a few days later, a non-profit organization Queens Together arrived tagged along by elected officials arrived to bring some charity of their own. District City Councilman Costa Costantidas, House Representative Carolyn Maloney and newly elected Queens Borough President Donovan Richards arrived with bags of food, PPE’s and 48 crockpots for all the tenants deprived of gas services from the city’s biggest slumlord NYCHA, who supplied their vulnerable residents with single burner hot plates for sustenance.

While crockpots are an improvement over the cheap ass hot plates the tenants it still an immensely poor substitute for action that’s expected from elected officials.Because after their cameo appearances the gas still remained shut down. That three of them showed up so late to aid their constituents in need and come by with crockpots to do a photo op instead of demanding accountability from NYCHA only validated how insignificant their presence was despite their status as lawmakers.

And these lawmakers were just as invisible when it came to the city’s policy for new development that still goes wanting by hundreds of thousands of residents; because a mere 5 blocks north from the Astoria Houses, de Blasio’s NYC Housing program is debuting and opened the lottery for their latest “affordable housing” building with one and two bedrooms with rents ranging from $2,050 to $2,500, all set up for a lucky person or couple earning between 70 and 130 large.

But the luckiest person or LLC who/that developed this tower got a nice 421-a tax exemption from the city for being philanthropic enough to set aside 20-30% of these apartments from this lux building for higher income earning housing starved folks. Who knows how much of the city’s largess went to this developer that could have went to a get a new boiler sooner at Astoria Houses. I bet it would have bought a lot of crockpots.

Even though those donated crockpots look nice, what are people going to do if the power goes out? Or if those crockpots are defective? The only thing Costa, Carolyn and Donnie and that foodie non-profit contributed besides marginal aid for the 48 tenants still without gas utilities were nice optics for themselves.(While Rep. Crowley above quipped that a “single-burner hotplate is simply not a solution”, a crockpot is barely an improvement either. The most they can do with them is be able to boil water faster to bathe and wash dishes with. It’s just another remnant of neoliberal based civic policies that are starving essential services for the vulnerable.

Meanwhile across the river in Flushing, an expansive swath of luxury hyper-development by a filthy toxic creek is being planned and vociferously lobbied and pushed by a Chinese real estate consortium, departing term limited councilman Peter Koo and tainted community board leadership who have a conflict of interest with the land grab (and will resort to violence and intimidation to get this approved) that the city is eager to fast track. It’s layout includes behemoth towers and hotels with a morsel of “affordable” apartments for the consortium to cash in on the sweet 421a break.

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Even though a few other “affordable” luxury towers have already been planted and another in it’s nascent skeletal phase, presumably the developers and the city are all champing at the bit to get this done because they are building these towers to provide equity to low income earning people in desperate need for housing even if that amount is menial. It’s also to “revive” the neighborhood even though it’s one of the highest populated neighborhoods in Queens and arguably the busiest. Naturally this hyper-development that’s being steamrolled has been met with stiff resistance and frequent protests.

But it’s a lot busier on the low end these days in Flushing thanks to COVID19. With 20% of NYC citizens unemployed since the contagion claimed over 30,000 lives and suspended and destroyed small businesses since the first lockdown began in March, lines for a food pantry run by La Journada go on for blocks and blocks. And blocks. And blocks. These people might not have gas outages at their homes, but it’s clear they have to prioritize rent over food because of their existential economic stasis to keep themselves sheltered.

As for the non-sheltered, the homeless population in Flushing as well as most of Eastern Queens continues to amass. Although the city Department Of Homeless Services policy’s past reliance on hotels to shelter people has become a necessity because of the pandemic, many homeless people still prefer to sleep rough on the sidewalks or parks and in inclement weather than to stay in hotel shelters that aren’t safe from violence or infection. Which led to this horrific sight nearby a public housing building, when a citizen found a homeless man frozen dead in a fetal position sheltered by a makeshift shelter made of cardboard boxes furnished with a pillow and blanket underneath him.

Pedro Rodriguez Facebook

Housing and food insecurity and the existential fear of being penniless and dying on the street surely shouldn’t be happening in the wealthiest country in the world and with the Dow Jones at 30,000.

It surely shouldn’t be happening at all in the greatest city in the world with a Democrat majority with alleged progressive values that were elected and appointed to government offices. As this pandemic has exposed even more regarding housing in New York City, these officials inaction has enabled these neoliberal based civic policies prioritizing the needs of a fantasized populace than the one that already exists and all their superficial actions establishes them as the posers they are, and the ramifications from them are leaving devastation, depression and death in it’s wake. The difference now is that they no longer are capable of obscuring it.

Because while Thanksgiving comes only once a year, the laws enacted by fauxgressives favoring the developer overlords assures that everyday is Black Friday for public housing residents, the working poor, the aged and the destitute of Queens and the rest of the five boroughs.