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Posted Jan 11, 2015
Category: Politics Non-Fiction
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Synopsis

Discussion date/time: Wednesday, February 11th at 1:00 p.m. EST.


Corey Bearak is an expert in understanding how New York City's government works. The articles in this compilation first appeared as a weekly column in the award-winning Times Ledger, a chain of neighborhood newspapers in the New York City borough of Queens, between June 2003 and May 2005.

 

He believes that people ought to know about the many and various issues that affect the quality of their lives.

 

The column deals with issues such as air quality, housing for the poor, police oversight, public transportation, increasing public participation in elections, gun control, funding libraries, keeping the streets safe, education, noise, care for the old, water, access to information, racial profiling, city parks, helping the homeless, real property tax reform, funding for culture, health care, the environment, violence against women, recycling and waste reduction strategies, and how to play the game of "Annoy!" to get things done.

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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1259 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Corey we are excited to be speaking with you tomorrow. Looking forward to your insights!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1259 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    How does a man so young accumulate so much experience, know how and clout?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    For two years just after I left City Government, I enjoyed an opportunity to pen a series of public affairs and public policy columns, The Public Ought to Know.
    Now, thanks to the magic of Joel Chadabe and IntelligentArts, my 103 commentaries came to life again in an ebook (http://tiny.cc/fv2ypx) of the same name (and the subject of the Wednesday, February 11, 1:00 p.m. Gotham Book Club).
    The Public Ought To Know covers issues such as air quality, housing for the poor, police oversight, public transportation, increasing public participation in elections, gun control, funding libraries, keeping the streets safe, education, noise, care for the old, water, access to information, racial profiling, city parks, helping the homeless, real property tax reform, funding for culture, health care, the environment, violence against women, recycling and waste reduction strategies, and how to play the game of "Annoy!" to get things done.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Does The Indictment of a Major Public Official Annoy! You? It should. At a presentation* at New York Law School, U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara, whose office investigated and brought the indictment, focused on how the lack of public disclosure leads to wrongdoing. He noted that the grants to an institute — led by a doctor who referred asbestos cases to the law firm that employed the Assembly Speaker — ceased when the law changed to require disclosure of who receives such grants. This showed how the public benefits when it is in the know. That premise influenced The Public Ought To Know. Paraphrasing Justice Brandeis, sunshine provides the best disinfectant. I buy that and it offers a great place to open a discussion of The Public Ought To Know.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Earlier this month New York City’s mayor devoted his State of the City speech this week to affordable housing. He called his plan bold. Does it meet the need? Does the financing make sense? Will it unfairly change some neighborhoods? Look for an answer in “The Public Ought To Know.”
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    It's Cold Outside, and Still Too Many Live Out On The Streets.
    We know it’s cold outside and forecasts only tell us we face wind chills and a deep freeze. While we huddle in warmth in our homes, many face the elements and worse. Whether they fear shelters, endure issues that cause them to miss or shun help, or just subject to disorientation, society and its government must help these folks in need. What Can You do? Look for an answer in “The Public Ought To Know.”
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Whither public education
    In NYC, the schools chancellor recently announced structural changes in how each school gets support — a return to district supervision models in contrast to the last of several Bloomberg administration structural tinkers that created “networks” that competed to guide principals who paid to affiliate with those entities. At the State level, discussion focus on permitting more charters school and standards for teaching and disciplining educators who fall short or do wrong. Learn through “The Public Ought To Know” the how the debate over structure removes the focus and energies from how to improve our schools, support teaching and learning.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Confused by all the Property tax chatter?
    Last month Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a statewide property relief plan.
    The Governor sought to reduce the tax burden for moderate income homeowners (incomes up to $250,000) and rents for tenants. Discussions of property taxes often turn volatile.
    Homeowners (and co-op and condo owners often complain they pay to much in in property taxes.
    Tenants complain their rent is too damn high. Complicated stuff? Perhaps.
    Through reading The Public Ought To Know you get it the know when it comes to real estate taxes.
    Learn the truth about the property tax, its often unfair impacts and workable solutions to fix the current schemes. Chapters including “Property tax inequities unfair to modest owners” put you in the know.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    A great example of the relevance of “The Public Ought To Know” to the issues of today occurred last one Friday last month.
    Crain’s New York Business reported progress on a study to move rail freight from New Jersey to Long Island via Brooklyn and Queens. “The Public Ought To Know” covers this much needed economic development and transportation project which will also take trucks off congested highways and local streets. If you already read “The Public Ought To Know” you’d already know the issues and what’s needed. More important you’d know the more local issues that might impact the project — issues NOT covered in the Crain’s story. This includes identifying appropriate sites where a rail freight terminus makes most sense, the role of the Port Authority which for years ignore its vital obligation to explore this need.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Recall all those articles and reports questioning the practices of the Queens Library’s leadership. Perhaps if folks paid more attention to budget shenanigans when I first identified how they played with the public’s money, bad acts might have been avoided. Learn all about it in “The Public Ought Know.”
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Play "Annoy!"
    “The Public Ought To Know” details an innovative game you can play all year. And frankly what can be a more fun game than to “Annoy!” those who bug us the most? Reading “The Public Ought To Know” helps you learn the how bug public officials to DELIVER for THEIR (YOUR) community. Two chapters of “The Public Ought To Know” cover this great game I devised back in the day with the late great (and extremely witty) Newsday political columnist Joe Queen. Anyone can play “Annoy!” and winning often benefits those who never play, including your neighbors and the general public.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Do you know the issues behind the Police disputes with the Mayor?
    No agency, including the NYPD, should be immune to oversight...Civilian review remains paramount when it comes to protecting public safety and the tactics law enforcement agencies may use.
    There’s so much going on in the news today: The tragic loss of civilians following their “interaction” with members of the police and, the demonstrations that followed, the bloody execution of uniformed NYPD officers in a parked marked patrol car, the marches, the assault on NYPD supervisors monitoring a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge, and the exchanges between the PBA and SergeantsBA and NYC’s Mayor. Learn about sensible solutions in “The Public Ought Know.”
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Ever get stumped and needed some substance to strengthen something you wrote? It could be for you, a client, a cause. I faced that preparing testimony for a client to deliver at a NYS Assembly hearing one morning. Luckily I had access to a resource with more than 100 prescriptions to make a difference small and large. So that morning I joined the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1179 testified in support of State legislation to create a single payer plan in NYS. I drafted the testimony which was well received by the committee. I found crucial material in a commentary from “The Public Ought To Know,” “Residents deserve affordable, quality health care.” (and see the Poco connection)
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Fred, Thank you for kind comment. After I retire perhaps I'll share some "state secrets."
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    John, I honored Gotham selected my book and I look forward to a robust and thoughful discussion tomorrow.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1258 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Welcome Corey! And thank you for participating. We are looking forward to "chatting" with you!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1258 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    How did this potent book come to be published?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1258 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Answering Fred's question.
    Because I attending a CLE sponsored by Israeloff one September several years (or was it the State Bank of LI CLE that featured Michael Garibaldi that got me on the Israeloff CLE list).....
    ...because I met Fred there
    ---because Fred and Lisa Waterman invited me to check Gotham's LI Legal group
    ...because I joined Gotham.
    ...because I became a member/ co-chair of GOtham GREEN
    ...because Gothamite/ GREEN group member Joel Chadabe started an ebook firm, IntelligentArts...
    and Joel talked of his new venture at a Gotham GREEN meeting...
    (or was the question more technical in nature?)
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks for a characteristic comprehensive response.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    So the question I have - based upon your comments above - is their a book that may need to be written -- "What the public should do?" - it's is frustrating dealing with the government...with Silver and the asbestos litigation and now what's happening at the building department, I see a government that is fraught with corruption. What continues to happen, especially in my business (interior design and renovation) the cost of these projects keeps escalating and the bureaucracy to get projects approved is mind numbing....
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Do you plan to expand the book and add to the timeline from 2005 to present?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John, I sense the frustration in your question. The lawyers in this chat know well the Justice Brandeis comment, Sunshine provides the best disinfectant (one of my preferred paraphrases of it). As such i really look to bolster opportunities for disclosure, in a form easily accessed and understandable to folks not use to looking at the data.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Indeed it is frustrating!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    (more on responding to John) In the olden days (my early time in government), the beat reporters at City Hall performed their duties better with out fear of any loss of access (often and still threatened and wield by Mayors and Governors, among others). When the budget or other big documents like the Mayor's Management Reports got released, rather than each newspapers and TV and radio reporters there looking for tidbits (guided today by others in the Mayor's or another electeds' office), the bureau chiefs all combined resources and divvied out the documents in sections to various reporters. The result: a more in depth analysis lacking today. We get the easy stories on process today -- who supports who, who hates who, who appears to be on top, rather than a focus on substance. We see that at the national level as well.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I think your comments above also help to outline some of the issues new face today - with an index to specific chapters. I'm going to have another look at those sections with an eye towards your comments...
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    As a writer/reader, I am interested in the concept of publishing an e-book (in addition to your quality content!). Since this is the first e-book we have featured, could you tell us something about the process? Thanks again for joining us!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You are welcome Julie. I appreciate the opportunity to share.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Interesting, there is not that level of scrutiny today...too many sound bites not enough substance...
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Do you believe that the Governor is trying to ruin the Public School system?? I feel his lack of support and comments continue to set the Mayor and Chancellor up for failure
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I think there are few people like yourself around that know government and how it works! Truly you are a rare breed. Do you have any thoughts on the new NYC ID cards - it's turning into a boon for regular NY'ers who are applying for it - to get the great discounts offered.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    As to the process for the ebook, I met first with Joel Chadabe of Intelligent Arts, my publisher to discuss the concept for the book. I then shared the content. We went back and forth a bit. Joel expressed interest in some content I prepared and posted that I did not envision for the book, or was shared via my website but NOT MINE. Once we settled on the content, it needed to be formatted (publishers end), a table of contents, dedications and preface drafted and book cover created. Believe it or not we went back and forth on the cover more than anything else.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    As to the question on public education, I see many conflicting views. Often the fights revolve around process. My own writing tries to focus on the classroom and supporting what occurs there. I remain unpersuaded and my writing in the book reflects that teachers who need removal from the classroom get a pass. I think those who need to make the removal want to work less hard and following the due process meant to protect good teachers from being abused because someone prefers they be out (need not go further there but we know sometimes supervisors go awry too) does not mean we need to have those rubber rooms with the waste of education dollars. I spent one chapter on that.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I remain diffident on the ID cards. Probably will get one for the freebees that come with it (but I cannot stand the lines. I reflects local politics more than anything. I hope it proves to provide what its sponsors intended.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    In the current program on Showtime, The Affair, the main character is a NYC teacher and towards the end of the season ends up spending time on one of those rubber rooms, whether true to life or not it was an interesting scene!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Have you heard from any politicians after this book was published?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You probably see these things from a much more of an insiders point of view...
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I saw that! And wondered whether that really happens in NYC.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I added the the book to my email signature so some know of it, or through my tweets, and social media, or my make a point to sharing about it when I see them. Fred taught me well in that regard! I am not sure who has it. Sen. Schumer claimed when I last saw him that he knew of the book (but he also claimed to have seen me at my daughter's SUNY Purchase graduation when he spoke there-- I'll leave the rest of that off list). Some electeds are clients and either they or their spouses are supposed to have bought it but absent the posting of a review I do not know if they sprung for it. Mostly, I found mentioning that I have the book impresses them. Few of them ever become authors. Some write books that sell sparingly (I better be careful here because I have no clue who is following this discussion but not commenting!).
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I have another question - in your view - these town hall meetings that are held, say for rent control increases, MTA increases - are these pure theatre or do they foster any real dialog and add to the actual outcome? In my jaded point of view - the outcomes are set from the beginning.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    (more on Julie's Q) One reviewer on Amazon serves a chief of staff to a freshman Bronx Assemblymember who used to work for the White House. Another reviewer is the legislative director for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. (Others all have a Gotham connect)
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    If and when you are Mayor how will you govern?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred - yes he has my vote!!!! LOL
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I never viewed The Affair but the Rubber Rooms John remain very real. My chapter on teacher discipline focuses on the process and its general mismanagement by the Dept. of Ed. I HATE going after people's jobs but if a close friend and Gotham member (not a lawyer) was hired to get the real bums out, I have no doubt following all due processes, any true cancers would be pursuing careers out of the system.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John Yes I have been on the inside but I also have been position far enough outside to understand and argue that viewpoint. My goals is always to take the outsider inside. In some ways I hope the book and newer columns I just started to pen for LaborPress do just that.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Do we have access to the new columns?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John's question on public meetings poses interesting questions. The public meeting provide theatre, comic relief of sorts, the important disclosure and discussion of information and arguments and positions, and where the public attends and testifies, important opportunities to say WE CARE. The rent hike hearing provide all that but if no one came or few came out on the tenant side would you not expect a more pro landlord outcome, and remember NEVER have the landlords been forced to truly open their books to demonstrate they make no money. If Rent regulated apartments were truly money losers, we'd have more business for co-op attorneys such as Bruce Cholst!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    As to the more traditional legislative hearings on proposed laws and/ or oversight, opportunities exist to shape policy. I use them all the time for my clients. We used a hearing yesterday on a bill to mandate a city plan for Bus Rapid Transit to not only comment on some city/MTA proposals that affect my MTA labor union clients but also to advocate better planning for all forms of existing bus service and the infrastructure needed to sustain it.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Further there was testimony -- in response to a downtown Manhattan Councilwoman's question -- by a NYC DOT staffer concerning the shoddiness of painted bus lanes in Manhattan that related to another client's issue and I can't wait to enlighten DOT that the contractor who painted the lines was cited for poor quality insufficient work on that location by the City's Department of Investigation. I just happened to be there to hear the exchange.....
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred, thank you for your support. I really do not plan to run for City Hall. I want to have time to see more rock concerts before all the remaining artists that matter move on upstairs.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Corey_Bearak wrote 1257 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'd much prefer advising one, not necessarily "From The inside."
     
       
     
     
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