On the west coast socialists and their supporters were celebrating the victory of Kshama Sawant’s election to the Seattle City Council. In the midwest we were celebrating socialist activist Ty Moore’s 42% of the vote in a very close race against establishment favorite Alondra Cano for a Minneapolis City Council seat. In Lorraine County, Ohio the rank and file union members pressured the Labor Council to run independent Labor Party candidates against the Democrats and succeeded in winning 24 Labor party council seats.
But the silence from the Liberal/Progressive mainstream press, television, websites and blogs was deafening during these campaigns. After the victory of Kshama Sawant there was finally some coverage. Even the close race in Minneapolis had a radio black out of the city council position in which Cano won a close race. It was generally thought that the radio stations were concerned that if they interviewed Cano (the victor) they would have to point out how she almost lost to a socialist activist.
On the other hand the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City was proclaimed the agent of real change as he had campaigned against Stop-And-Frisk and against economic inequality in the Big Apple. He received 97% of the Black vote.
So those who believed in his campaign promises must have been shocked when their new mayor announced that he was appointing Bill Bratton as Police Chief. They knew him. He had been police chief under Rudy Guiliani 1994-1996. An Amnesty International 1996 report on Bratton’s NYPD found “A serious problem with police brutality and excessive force. Racial disparities appear to be most marked in cases involving deaths in custody and questionable shootings.”
In a December 5, 2013 New Yorker interview Bratton talked about Stop-And-Frisk. “Stop-And-Frisk is a basic tool of policing. If cops are not doing Stop-And-Frisk, they are not doing their jobs. If you do away with Stop-And-Frisk the city will go down the chute as fast as anything you can imagine.”
Both Bratton and Stop-And-Frisk are hated in communities of color. In June 2012 there was a protest of New York City policing policies. Five thousand marched to Mayor Bloomberg’s home. On December 27th there was another protest this time it was against the new mayor’s appointment of Bill Bratton. And this time it was in Harlem on 125th street. It was sponsored by Parents Against Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization Of A Generation. Nellie Bailey an activist with the Harlem Tenant Council “This is a confirmation of the neoliberal pact that Mayor de Blasio will pursue. This reassures the plutocrats that he has matters firmly in hand with the Black community and people of color...Bratton was the architect of Stop-And-Frisk”.
There were more shocks to come for those hoping for meaningful change from the Bloomberg administration. Alicia Glen, a Goldman Sachs executive was appointed Deputy Mayor Of Housing And Economic Development. The only response the mayor gave to his confused supporters was, “I don’t care about stereotypes or assumptions”.
For Budget Director, De Blasio chose Dean Fulsein who is experienced in negotiating many cutbacks in public services for past Democratic and Republican governors. He will begin negotiating with city unions, who are seeing $7 Billion in retroactive pay on long expired contracts. De Blasio proclaimed himself “a fiscal conservative” at a meeting of business leaders.
Some people will say the new Mayor has to do all these things. But we know that is not true. We have an example in Seattle of a different way of governing. Someone who is unapologetic about being an advocate for the working class and understands that social change happens when social movements are independent of the two major parties. This was illustrated today when the new mayor-elect of Seattle announced that he was going to grant by executive order a $15 floor for city workers. Socialist City Councilor-elect Kshama Sawant quickly issued a statement congratulating him on his action but reminding everyone that this was only happening because of the growing movement to fight for $15. She then went on to say that this new floor for city workers should also be extended to all city contractors. And by the way we are continuing to work to see a city wide minimum wage of $15 an hour for every worker in Seattle. It is clear that we will see someone who will govern the same way she campaigned. And this is why we should all support her calling for 100 independent working class candidates to run for office across the country in 2014.