Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Republican --Just One, I Think---Grows in Brooklyn

Francis S. Barry. The Scandal of Reform: The Grand Failures of New York’s Political Crusaders and the Death of Nonpartianship. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

New York City has seen battles between political machines for over a century. Nonpartisan elections are more common today, existing in 41 of the 50 most populous cities. Of the ten more populated cities, New York and Philadelphia are the only ones with political party primaries. An effort to change New York to nonpartisan elections was opposed by most liberal leaning columnists. Ironically, nonpartisan elections had been advocated by leading progressives a century ago.

New York City voters in 1790 elected a Common Council, a city legislature, by voice vote out loud to election inspectors. The Tammany Society favored popular elections and allowing non-property owning white males to vote. The Tammany Society denounced President George Washington for suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion. Tammany Club thus became a partisan anti-Federalist society and was supported by many middle class voters. Tammany Hall denied membership to those who disagreed with their political goals. Tammany Hall became the organization that led the city Democratic Party machinery.

In 1834, a Mayor of New York for the first time was directed elected. The three days of balloting were marked by riots, physical attacks, and gun shots.

An Equal Rights movement fought Tammany Hall over corrupt practices of awarding ferry franchise and for opening the city’s election official nomination process. Tammany supporters stopped Equal Rights advocates from nominating Equal Rights candidates, leading to physical fights. The voters elected Equal Rights candidates. Tammany Hall, as it had a few years earlier when a dissident Workingmen movement won elections, adopted some of the dissidents’ positions as their own to regain voter support.

Tammany refused to run Irish American candidates in the 1840s. The Carroll Hall slated elected several candidates who opposed the anti-Catholic positions of Tammany. Tammany began becoming more responsive to Catholic voters, many of whom were recent immigrants from Ireland. Many who took a nativist, anti-immigration position joined the Whig Party.

Tammany controlled Democrats outside Whig control of the Board of Alder5man on an anti-corruption campaign in 1851. Tammany then proven to be corrupt by awarding ferry leases and railroad charters to the politically connected, engaging in corrupt city property sales, and hiring police who did not arrest illegal activities of Tammany friends.

The City Reform League arose in favor of social reforms such as improving tenement living conditions and free nondenominational education. They helped elected Edward Cooper, Abram Hewitt, and Daniel Tiemann as Mayors. They helped replace the 20 member Board of Assistant Aldermen with a 60 member Board of Councilmen, believing it would be too difficult to bribe a larger body. They also adopted sealed bids, replaced lifetime leases with 10 year maximum leases, removed the power of Aldermen to appoint police officers, and required the police to wear uniforms instead of just placing a police star onto regular clothing. Many City Reform supports returned to the Democratic Party in 1854.

Fernando Wood was elected Mayor in 1854 with support from many of the City Reform movement. As Mayor, Wood used patronage, required police officers to contribute to his campaign or face dismissal or 24 hour shifts, and named election inspectors and vote counters who stole votes. The state legislature moved power from the Mayor to state boards and commissions that controlled three fourths of the city budget. The legislature also created a Metropolitan regional police force that fought with the city police over who should perform police duties. The Municipals and state militia arrested Mayor Wood. An Irish American gang, the Dead Rabbits, fought the just disbanded Municipals. The Municipals joined forces with a rival Irish American gang, the Bowery Boys. Over 1,000 gang members fought leaving 12 dead.

In 1857, a new city charter created a Board of Supervisors which regulated city laws and audited city expenses. In 1859, it was given the power to oversee elections and to appoint election inspectors. William Tweed, a member of the Board, bribed his way to control the Board. Tweed thus controlled overseeing the election operations and thus could direct election fraud. Even so, Tweed candidates lost the 1859 and 1861 races for Mayor.

William M. Tweed became the literal Boss of Tammany Hall in the 1860s He adopted many of Wood’s corrupt practices While the M. in his name stood for Magear, the press dubbed it “Marcy” after New York politician William March who had stated “to the victors belong the spoils of the enemy”.

Tweed opened the nominating process to win support from dissident Democrats. Yet he put important powers to a smaller Exectuive Committee whose employment and loyalty were to Tweed.

Tweed led a drive to ease the naturalization process, which included registering those naturalized as voters. Tweed was a partial owner of the company that printed the forms from which 60,000 new voters emerged.

Tammany supported Mayor John Hoffman in being elected Governor in 1868. Tammany supported Sheriff James O’Brien who hired over 1,500 Deputy Sheriffs to arrest political opponents on election day on charges Judges mostly dismissed. The Republican leaning Union League claimed about a third of the votes cast were illegal. Tweed would testify years later the Inspectors of Elections declared vote total without counting ballots.

The U.S. Justice Department was created in 1870. Among their duties were to arrest, try, and penalize election law violators. In that year’s elections, Republican President Ulysses Grant had 6,000 Deputy Marshals and two warships keeping eyes on Tammany’s over 1,000 Deputy Sheriffs. Tammany supporters used the arrival of Federal agents as an argument they were interfering with local politics.

New York state government passed state election laws. Yet the District Attorney and most Judges were supported by Tammany. Enforcement of the election laws would come slowly.

Tweed was arrested in 1871. Voters reacted against Tammany corruption, which included the misuse of tens of millions of dollars, leading to the creation of a reform group known as Apollo Hall winning 30 of 36 Common Council seats, 14 of 20 State Assembly, and 4 of 5 State Senate seats.

Elites who believed property owners were entitled to a greater role in government favored cleaner elections. In 1899, the New York Reform Club called for allowing only taxpayers as voters. Tammany thus appealed more to the masses who opposed elite rule. Many also approved of the patronage which provided entrance into city government for many middle class voters.

In 1886, Democrat Abram Hewitt ran uniting Tammany and reform Democrats. United Labor Party candidate Henry George finished second. Republican Theodore Roosevelt came in third. The United Labor Party organized for government printed ballots cast in secret with government appointed election inspectors. At that time, voters used ballots printed by political groups. Since they were printed on color paper, voters at polls were often asked by electioneers recognizing the color of the paper to switch ballots to their candidates. Ballots printed by the government became the law in 1890. The law also gave party leaders the right to control their portion of the ballots. This thus created official political party organizations. Tammany Hall mostly controlled the Democratic Party ballot from the 1880s through the 1930s. Dissidents thus needed to either gather enough signatures to file as a separate party or run write-in candidates.

A state legislative investigation in 1894 led by Republican State Sen. Charles Lexow produced testimony of Tammany influenced police officers demanding bribes to allow illegal gambling, saloons, and brothels to operate. A reform movement led by city elites organized against this corruption. A Republican, William Strong, was elected Mayor in 1894. Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt closed saloons on Sundays, which upset voting customers.

The Citizens Union reformers allied with the Republican machine, putting aside some fundamental differences to win. Henry George died and with the Tammany Democrats adopting pro-labor stances, many of his supporters then supported the Democrats. Democrat Robert Van Wyck was elected Mayor in 1897. The open corruption of Tweed’s era was over, yet a new type of corruption emerged called “honest graft”. Examples of this was purchasing land before its values increased with advance knowledge that nearby public improvements would later be announced that would increase neighborhood property values. Payoffs from illegal operations continued. Mayor Van Wyck and political friends of Van Wyck and even some opposition Republican leaders owned stock in an ice company that had a city monopoly.

Seth Low, who had the backing of Citizens Union reformers and the Republican organization was elected Mayor in 1901. Tammany returned to power by supporting a candidate who run on an honesty platform, Rep. George McClellan, son of a Civil War General. McClelland at first sided with Tammany in return for their support yet their alliance fell apart. Tammany backed McClelland’s reelection, even though they had split with McClelland, because they more feared his opponent, William Randolph Hearst. McClelland won in a close race which some believe an honest count would have elected Hearst. McClelland continued refusing to give Tammany patronage jobs. He also created a commission that removed Tammany supported Manhattan Borough President John Ahearn from his position for mismanagement, but not due to corrupt practices.

Under New York law then, political parties nominated candidates at announced meetings. The political parties determined voter eligibility. The parties typically controlled the nomination process.

In 1906, New York passed a law requiring political parties to disclose their contributions and expenses as well as disallowing corporate contributions.

In 1908, Republican Charles Evan Hughes was elected Governor over Democrat William Randolph Hearst. Governor Hughes sought to change the regulating of industries from the legislatures to professionally staffed boards. He also supported the nomination of party nominees by direct election. This passed with a requirement that a nominee could only be listed under one party. Thus, a candidate selected by another party would have a notation that its nominee would be found at another party. Many reformers favored this. Tammany used this to their advantage.

Tammany generally supported progressive social policies that were politically popular. Tammany supported State Sen. Robert Wagner and Assemblyman Al Smith among leaders who helped create a workers’ compensation system, minimum wage law, child labor protections, and factory safety standards.

Tammany supported Rep. William Sulzer who was elected Governor in 1912. Sulzer, upon his inauguration, declared his independence from Tammany. Governor Sulzer helped create a compromise primary law. Tammany directed legislators to investigate Sulzer for minor unreported campaign reporting violations. The legislature then impeached the Governor. The legislature then changed election laws by placing a maximum of two parties by the name of any candidate. This ballot structure made it over difficult for nonofficial or fusion organizations and in 1920, none appeared in any citywide election.

Republican Robert Mitchell was elected Mayor with his support for a direct primary being a major issue. Ironically, he would be defeated in the primary he championed.

Governor Franklin Roosevelt had Samuel Seabury conduct a three year look into city government corruption. This led to the resignation of Mayor Jimmy Walker. When Roosevelt became President, he directed patronage and local political matters through state Democratic James Farley and Bronx Democratic leader Edward Flynn.

Rep. Fiorella LaGuardia ran with fusion support and campaign against Tammany. Tammany responded with weapons, shooting, a stabbing, and events leading to 85 arrests. LaGuardia won the election.

Robert Wagner was elected Mayor with the support of Democratic boss Carmine DeSapio. Over time, Wagner embraced reform and spoke against DeSapio.

Republican Rep. John Lindsay was elected Mayor, running as a social reformer. As Mayor, he expanded social programs. Jobs, which Lindsay refused as being patronage, were given to previously excluded Black and Puerto Rican leaders. The reform movement divided. Old reformers wanted more centralized and efficient government. New reformers wanted more government spending and more community-level control.

The Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate Majority often were the primary figures in negotiating the state government’s budget. The legislative body was expected to ratify their final deals. From 1997 to 2001, 95% of important bills passed both house without any debate. None of the 308 major bills were floor amended. Legislative leaders had great control over the legislative process. A movement to create a new Constitutional Convention to change this status quo was defeated by the voters.

Most modern “good government” groups in New York City are led primarily by liberal Democrats. Many such groups have no Republicans in their leadership, even though some are nonpartisan.

There is a movement towards adopted nonpartisan elections in New York City. In 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported nonpartisan elections that would allow candidates the ability to last a party affiliation. New York City has held nonpartisan election when holding elections to fill vacancies since 1989. This movement has not yet (as of 2010) to be successful.

There is also a movement for campaign finance reform, such as disallowing contributions for anyone who seeks to conduct business with city government.

Political leaders today use ballot access laws to their advantage. They are skilled at knowing the technicalities and in creating legal costs that keep opponents from getting listed on the ballots.

New York state legislators lacked staff and offices in the 1950s. They began gaining staff and funds for improving their operational abilities in the 1970s.

The financial gains of political campaigns have moved from political bosses to political consultants. Campaign organizations often seek funds from candidates for their efforts on behalf of candidates.

Political bosses maintain some modern influence. When they endorse a candidate, often opponents hoping for a future endorsement may withdraw from the race. Successful bosses have access to organizational support in getting candidates the required number of signatures and proper petitions to get on the ballot. They also may have access to people skilled in getting opponents knocked off the ballot. Some basses have access to awarding some patronage jobs.

Over 200 incumbents ran for citywide reelection from 1993 to 2005. All but one won general reelection and five lost in primaries, for a 97% reelection rate. This is a much higher reelection rate than Tammany enjoyed. In contrast, major cities with nonpartisan City Council elections have in recent years had reelection rates from 57% to 77%. They have also seen far more closer elections.

The last time a Republican was elected Comptroller was 1941, Queen Borough President or Bronx Borough President since the 1960s, Manhattan Borough President since 1941, and Brooklyn Borough President since 1913. The last time Republicans on City Council or the prior Board of Aldermen could form a veto proof minority was 1919.

New York has closed Democratic and Republican primaries, meaning independents cannot participate in these primaries. Almost half the states have open primaries that allow independents to vote in major parity primaries. Since New York City primaries are important due to Democratic Party dominance, independents cannot participate in this important facet of the election process.

Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed that issues of race have gained significance in New York City elections. The author notes data indicates that candidates belonging to racial minority groups appear to win elections more frequently in nonpartisan elections than in places like New York with partisan elections. The author argues, that most recent immigrants, who are largely Asian in New York City, are more likely to participate in nonpartisan electoral process than partisan ones. Many recent immigrants distrust political parties, especially immigrants who left countries where they distrusted political parties there.

Partisan primaries are more apt to have low voter turnouts that may favor selecting candidates from the extremist wings of the parties, the author argues. In New York City, an extremist who wins the Democratic primary is often assured a general election victory. The author believes nonpartisan elections with reduce the election of extremists to office.

In the 1940s, New York created a law prohibiting a member of a political party from running in another party’s primary. This was passed after a Republican poll watcher was killed by two Tammany supporters in the election of Rep. Vito Marcantonio, a member of the American Labor Party who had also won the Democratic Primary. The result was that the minor parties then negotiated with the major parties for their endorsements.

New York City had voluntary public financing of campaigns. In 2001, Democrat Mark Green was provided $4.5 million in public funds out of $16.4 million he spent. He lost to Michael Bloomberg who spent $73 million of his own money.

Elliot Spitzer was elected as a reformer for Governor in 2006. Yet he was found using police for political reasons, something Tammany used to do. He resigned after hiring prostitutes. Tammany used to protect prostitutes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Anyone Remember When John Lindsay Was a Republican Hero?

Anthony Flint. Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City. New York: Random House, 2009.

Robert Moses, who led various New York City transportation and planning departments, proposed the creation of a ten lane elevated highway in Manhattan. It would require tearing down 400 buildings and remove 2,200 families and 800 businesses. Jane Jacobs was a leader of community groups that opposed and killed this proposal.

Jane Jacobs wrote for “Architectural Forum” when she was assigned to write about city planner Edward Bacon and how Philadelphia center city neighborhoods were being torn down for redevelopment projects. Bacon took Jacobs on a tour and proudly showed her much new construction. Jacobs asked Bacon “where are the people?” Jacobs began questioning urban renewal programs.

The Federal government policies known as Title I, following the philosophy of Le Corbusier that favored large and functional structures, favored razing poorer neighborhoods so new private development could replace them. A problem in New York City was the newly constructed structures were not necessarily better than what they replaced. No one ever asked the residents what they preferred. In East Harlem, relocating 50,000 people also came at the expense of 1,100 stores. Jane Jacobs noted the residents rejected their newer superstores and instead preferred the local smaller stores, now located further away.

Moses proposed constructing a road that would cross Washington Square Park. This was the park where Jane Jacobs took her children. This set up a clash between an urban renewal power, Moses, and a critic, Jacobs.

Moses held as many as 12 appointed public positions simultaneously. When legislation created a commission he wanted to control, he had the legislation created so he would be the obvious candidate to fill the important position within that commission.

Moses used a strategy of building projects quickly. By doing this, opposition to his ideas lacked sufficient time to organize against them. Moses had laws created to enable rapid construction that also provided him ease in condemning land.

Moses ran as the Republican nominee for Governor of New York in 1934. He called the incumbent Governor Herbert Lehman corrupt. Lehman won easily. President Roosevelt wanted Moses out of power and threatened to deny Federal funds to projects Moses directed. Moses leaked this to the press, who faulted Roosevelt for being involved in petty local politics. Roosevelt, Governor Lehman, and Mayor LaGuardia all felt this pressure and decided not to seek to remove Moses. Being able to defy the elected leaders and remain in power only Moses appear stronger.

Moses was known for being vindictive. He was also known for keeping tabs on Commission and Council members and blackmailing them for support in return for keeping quite on extraneous love affairs or drunkenness. Moses even ignored the law, causing Mayor LaGuardia to have the police make certain Moses didn’t have something torn down that legally wasn’t supposed to be destroyed.

In 1949, several members of Congress feared cities were declining. Title I of the Housing Act of 1949 sought to save cities by encouraging new private development. The primary means to build anew was to tear down existing low income and relatively cheaper to purchase neighborhoods. Mayor William O’Dwyer named Moses as Construction Coordinator, Chairman of the Emergency Committee on Housing, and Chairman of the Committee on Slum Clearance. New York received $70 million in Title I funds, compared to Chicago which received the second most amount of these funds at $30 million.

Many of the new developments that were constructed met the aims of the private developers. More profitable housing options for the upper and middle classes were built rather than housing for the displaced poorer residents. Even the housing that was created often cut corners in construction and were not as nice as expected. The displaced low income often could not afford for afford to move back into the new constructions and those who could afford them often were disappointed.

Walter O’Malley, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, noted most of the Dodgers fan base was moving further away from the Dodgers’ stadium, Ebbetts Field. Many fans were moving into more distant Long Island locations. The stadium did not have a Long Island Railway (LIRR) stop and had only 700 parking spaces. Moses refused the Dodgers access to LITT. Moses instead wanted to build a new stadium in Flushing, where Shea Stadium eventually would be built. O’Malley decided to move the Dodgers to Los Angeles.

Moses proposed extending Fifth Avenue through Washington Park. This project called for destroying many Greenwich Village buildings. A new housing development Moses proposed for the area would destroy 130 buildings and displace 150 families.

Moses saw Washington Square Park as a decaying area with broken benches. He saw it as a target for urban revitalization. Area residents saw it as their park and sanctuary. Neighbors in 1935 formed the Save Washington Square Commission in reaction to Moses’s plans. Moses threatened to cut off improvement funds if the residents continued resisting. He refused to meet with the group. In 1939, Moses submitted a second but similar plan. Moses again threatened to cut off New Deal funds. This divided the citizens group and they endorsed Moses’s plan by a one vote margin. A splinter group continued opposing Moses. They gained thousands of signatures opposed the plan. This opposition was joined by a group of nearby New York University (NYU) students who feared for pedestrian safety. Manhattan Borough President Stanley Isaacs insisted that approval of the project would require the support of neighborhood voters.

Moses reacted by vilifying the neighborhood opponents as elitists who were stopping progress. Moses met with New York University officials to seek their support. Moses decided to play a waiting game to wear down the opposition.

Neighborhood groups began obtaining their own data on traffic counts. They did not accept the official city data. Opponents conducted letter writing campaigns to officials and newspapers.

Moses used the tactic of postponing public hearings shortly before they were to be held and then quickly called for them. He hoped this would minimize the number of people who objected from attending.

Jacobs decided her group would insist there be no vehicles allowed at Washington Square. They would not challenge the broad Moses vision, yet they would refuse to compromise on that one point. They would not agree to a two lane road instead of the proposed four lane road,

Lewis Mumford agreed with Jacobs’s group. He saw it as commercial profit at the public expense. Members of the Village Independent Democrats, such as Edward Koch, supported Jacobs’s cause. Both Congressional nominees endorsed Jacob’s goals, including the eventual winner John V. Lindsay.

An alternative newspaper, the “Village Voice”, wrote supportively on the neighborhood battles against Moses. Eleanor Roosevelt joined in support. Then, support began emerging form political power insiders. Secretary of State Carmine DeSapio, a leader of the Tammany Democratic Party organization and a Greenwich Village resident, spoke out for saving Washington Square. Moses realized he had been defeated once DeSapio was against him. From there, support for saving Washington Square increased to including Mayor Robert Wagner and Governor Averell Harriman.

Moses retreated and developed a new proposal in 1959. If Washington Park were to be closed to vehicles, he wanted the streets around the park widened to 80 feet with rounded corners. Instead, Mayor Wagner in 1963 cut off all vehicle traffic, including buses. This yielded 1 ½ more acres of parkland by eliminating the roads.

The location where Moses wanted to become Fifth Avenue south is now LaGuardia Place with a statue of Fiorello LaGuardia. Where the road would have continued south of Washington Park is where Bobst Library of NYU now stands.

Jacobs had a separate struggle with Moses. Moses sought to construct the Lower Manhattan Expressway. This was a project that worked well with the Federal government goals of creating superhighways according to the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. Moses saw several highways connective Manhattan to its regions as important to maintaining Manhattan’s economic and social vitality. He had the Cross Bronx Expressway built and sought to connect it to northern Manhattan. Moses proposed a Mid-Manhattan expressway running from the Lincoln Tunnel to the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Father Gerard LaMountan was upset that this proposed expressway would mean the Church of the Most Holy Crucifix would be torn down. He turned to Jane Jacobs for help. Jacobs decided she could endure another fight when she saw he also had recruited neighbors and skilled organizers. There were religious and political leaders and understanding that La Cosa Nostra was not pleased to see its territory devastated. Bob Dylan wrote a song of support.

Herman Badillo wrote a report for the city claiming all displaced people would be provided with new housing. The opposition was not satisfied. Jane Jacobs stood up against making it easier to drive vehicles in New York City. She encouraged mass transit, foot transit, and bicycling. Moses argued for the need to act to avoid traffic congestion.

Moses let Jacobs and her associates win an initial victory at halting the project. Moses often used delays to his advantage and would wait for the opportunity to renew his fights for his proposals. Moses declared that Jacobs was an obstructionist.

Rep. John V. Lindsay opposed the project and was elected Mayor. Moses still fought, declaring that the SoHo neighborhood was blighted and should be destroyed. The growing historic preservation movement differed. Jacobs thus had new allies in people seeking to preserve the history of Lower Manhattan.

Mayor Lindsay faced a threatened strike of 200,000 city workers if he delivered on his promise to stop construction projects. Lindsay agreed to an open trench highway that would destroy 650 homes and 400 businesses, compared to the 2,000 homes and 00 business structures Moses had proposed. Jacobs and advocates pushed to kill the idea. Jacobs was arrested for protesting. The arrest galvanized support for Jacobs. Lindsay agreed to kill the proposal.

Governor Rockefeller reduced Moses’s powers. Rockefeller agreed with killing the Lower Manhattan project as well as another Moses proposal for a bridge across the Long Island Sound. Moses remained a consultant but his influence was mostly gone.

Jacobs wrote several influential books on city planning issues. Moses retired soon afterwards.

Jacobs continued being upset at redevelopment plans that began with little or no public notification. She continued working to preserve parks and neighborhoods in the West Village against redevelopment. Rep. Lindsay joined with the neighborhood activists in protesting that not enough notice was given. Jacobs appealed to the press as well as to political leaders, and got their attention.

The plan to develop the West Village was led by James Felt, Chairman of the City Planning Commission, and developer J. Clarence Davies, Jr., Chairman of the Department of Real Estate and Director of Housing and Redevelopment Board (a descendant of one of Moses’s previous commissions). Davies declared the West Village was blighted. They sought to diminish the neighborhood activists by creating a group, Middle Income Cooperators of the Village and its subsidiary, the West Village
Site Tenants’ Committee. To support their plans, Roger Starr and his group, the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, also endorsed the redevelopment efforts. David Rockefeller gave his support.

Jacobs filed a lawsuit to stop the project. The Judge ordered that the blight designation be justified. He also ruled the city had not met public hearing requirements.

State Comptroller Arthur Levitt ran against Mayor Wagner for renomination as Mayor. Levitt supported stopping the West Village redevelopment plans. Wagner then also agreed to oppose the proposal and to increase citizen participation. Felt, noting the City Planning Commission is independent of the Mayor, continued pushing for the development. The City Planning Commission officially designated the West Village as blighted.

Felt tried to use the tactic of suddenly scheduling hearings. There was a secret sympathizer against the proposal working in Felt’s office who always tipped off Jacobs as to when the meetings were being announced. Jacob successfully rallied people to attend.

The neighborhood activists determined that private developer David Rose Associates had already been chosen to build the redevelopments. The group discovered that the developers were supporting the community groups supporting development. They found they even used the same typewriter. The activists then obtained over 100 notarized statements from members of the pro-development groups stating they had been tricked into joining. Davies halted the efforts to redevelop West Village. Davies resigned his post within a month and Felt resigned two years later.

Jacobs, in her writings, would argue that city planning was an impossible task. She argued that neighborhoods had their own structures that shouldn’t’ be changed by city planners.

City planner Edward Logue denounced Jacobs’s writing as “a plea for the status quo.” Roger Staff responded that “if Jacobs had visited Pompeii and concluded that nothing makes a city so beautiful as covering it with ashes.” Starr notes Jacobs’s vision would do little to prevent gentrification from driving low income people out of the neighborhoods.

Jacobs joined movement for historic preservation, including fighting tearing down Penn Station. Her writings are heralded by many libertarians.

Monday, September 06, 2010

In Yale, Nation, and Dodd We Trust, and Not Necessarily in That Order

Christopher J. Dodd with Larry Bloom. Letters from Nuremberg: My Father’s Narrative of a Quest for Justice. New York: Crown Publishing, 2007.

The author’s father, Thomas Dodd, was the second ranking prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal held after World War II in Nuremberg. As a child, the author recalls rummaging through his father’s boxes and seeing photographs of the horrors at Nazi concentration camps and of medical experiments. He found pictures his father held during the trial of a prisoner’s shrunken head that had been made into a camp commander’s paperweight.

The trials produced a record of the Nazi crimes against humanities. It also showed the Allies offered tolerance. Instead of summarily executing the Nazi leaders, they were given real trials. 12 were sentenced to death, three were acquitted, and the rest were given various prison sentences.

Thomas Dodd had worked in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. He had prosecuted Ku Klux Klan leaders prior to being asked to prosecute at Nuremberg.

The author writes of the importance of universal judicial rights. He warns against attempts to reinterpret the Geneva Convention. He urges for continuing to defend human rights. He warns against allowing actions at Guantanomo Prison to weaken our commitment for human rights. No nation should regard treaties as Nazi leader Herman Goring did when he called treaties as “toilet paper”. The Bush Administration criticized opponents to his plans to violate the Geneva Convention as being weak on terrorism, which the author states was a political move.

As U.S. Senator, the author opposed aiding any government just on the basis that they opposed communism, which was a major past factor. Some of these anti-communist governments violated human rights. Some had death squads. Over time, as these governments changed, the new leaders appreciated those who defended human rights and who stood up to the tyrants.

Tom Dodd noted the Nazis imprisoned victims without charges and provided them with no idea how long the imprisonment would last. Chris Dodd feared this repeating at Guantanamo. The U.S. Supreme Court would rule against President Bush with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writing “a state of war is not a blank check for the President.”

Chris Dodd also notes that violating international law lessens our ability to insist that others should obey it. Further, our violating human rights increases resentment in other countries against our government.

Robert Johnson was the lead Nuremberg prosecutor. Walter Cronkite, who reported on the trials, told Chris Dodd that Tom Dodd was not always happy with Jackson’s court presentations. He especially thought Jackson was a weak cross examiner.

The Nazi leaders were changed with planning and implementing mistreatment and the murder of prisoners, forcing civilian labor, plundering property, destroying cities, and acting inhumanely in persecuting people on grounds of race, religion, and politics. Elie Wiesel noted Hitler was more concerned with killing Jews than with the war effort. Hitler gave trains taking Jews to death camps priority over military trains.

During the trials, Dodd showed a movie presenting the emaciated concentration camp survivors as well as the horrible conditions of these camps. This film silences the courtroom and was considered an effective move towards showing Nazu guilt. Tom Dodd also produced documents where Himmler and other Nazi leaders wrote about exterminating the Jewish race. Dodd presented evidence of ornaments and lamp shades made from the skins of murdered Jews. Also entered into evidence were records kept of concentration camp murders, with one book having 35.318 names.

Tom Dodd sent his wife Grace over 300 letters during the Nuremberg trials. He wrote from a city, Nuremberg, where the drinking water was contaminated due to the effects of dead bodies as 80,0000 had been killed in air raids and the results of battle.

During Dodd’s interviews of witnesses, he learned military aides found Hitler ran the war full of many ideas and there was often confusion over which of his ideas were to be implemented.

German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel tried to tell Tom Dodd that Germany attacked Czechoslovakia and France in 1938 because Germany feared they were joining to attack Germany. Dodd produced a letter Hitler wrote stating Germany should pretend they were being provoked to attack. This left Keitel flustered.

Keitel admitted ordering killings and burning cities, admitting he demanded “the most brutal measures even against women and children”. He stated he did so because of attacks on German soldiers.

Thomas Dodd was very distrustful of the Soviets. They also committed atrocities. Dodd believed the Soviets executed thousands of Polish army officers in 1943. Russia finally admitted, in 1989, that this happened.

Thomas Dodd believed the evidence showing the human impact of the defendants’ horrors would be the most effective courtroom strategy. He felt the documentary evidence was less forceful. Dodd had to prove that the defendants military and financially planned and implemented an aggressive war. In addition to these trials, there were 12 other trials at Nuremberg of people charged with lesser crimes.

The accused claimed to have no knowledge of mistreatment in concentration camps. These statements were torn apart during cross examination. Goring admitted many of the charges. Dodd’s cross examination got Nazi Minister of Occupied Territories Alfred Rosenberg to admit to allowing slave labor.

Thomas Dodd got Keitel to admit that it was his duty as a professional soldier not to carry out an illegal order, and that Keitel has obeyed criminal orders. Rudolph Hoss, the Commandant at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, admitted that 2.5 million were executed and 500,000 killed from starvation and disease at his camp.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

For Republicans Who Live to Save Money

James Austin, Todd Clear, Troy Duster, David F. Greenberg, John Irwin, Candace McCoy, Alan Mobley, Barbara Owen, and Joshua Page. Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population. Washingotn, D.C.: The JFA Institute, 2007.

In 2007, there were 196,429 people in Federal and state prisons. In 2006, there were 1.6 million inmates. In addition, there were another 750,000 in jails.

In sum, there were eight times more people imprisoned in 2997 than in 1970.

Approximately $60 billion was spent annually on prisons. If the inmate population continues increasing, especially if it continues increasing faster than the population growth rate, this spending will escalate.

The crime rate has not varied much. The driving force in the increase in prison population is the increased length of sentences given to those incarcerated.

About 730,000 are admitted to Federal and state prisons annually (circa 2006). About two thirds are admitted due to parole or probation violations. About 40% of those readmitted are sent back for drug violations, for noncriminal technical parole or probation violations, or for property crimes.

This prison population increase is the result of policy decisions to increase probation and parole surveillance, reduce transition to society programs, decrease support systems for released inmates, and increase the obstacles released inmates face when reentering society.

The increase in the number of prisoners is also credited to the most widespread use of mandatory minimum sentences, truth in sentencing laws requiring the bulk of sentences to be served, less use of early release for good behavior while imprisoned, and parole board that have granted fewer paroles.

American sentences are the longest of any Western nations. They are twice longer than in England, three times longer than in Canada, four times longer than in Holland, five times more than in Sweden, and five to ten times longer than in France. Each of these countries has lower rates of violent crimes and similar rates of property crimes than found in the U.S.

A major cause of the increase in inmates in state prisons from the late 1980s on was the longer sentences given to those convicted of drug offenses.

The longer sentences have been found to have a small impact on crime rates. The impact was so small that some previous advices of increased sentences, such as James Q. Wilson, John DiIulio, and Edwin Meese no longer support longer sentences.

60% of prisoners are African American or Latino.

8% of all African American males are imprisoned. 21% of African American males aged 25 to 44 have been imprisoned at some time.

The U.S. (circa 2006) imprisons 737 people per 100,000 people. This is the highest incarceration rate of any nation. Russia is second with 581 imprisoned per 100,000.

The U.S. imprisons the most people, in total, at around 2.2 million. China is second with 1.5 million imprisoned.

In 2002, the estimated economic costs of crimes to victims was $15.6 billion. The cost of the criminal justice system was over $200 billion.

The average loss reported per robbery was $1,258 (circa 2006). The average served sentence for robbery was 60 months (of an average sentence of 94 months and an average of 6 months spent awaiting trial) at a cost of $113,000.

One third of all males are arrested at least once as juveniles. More than half of all males will be arrested at least once in their lifetimes.

James Thomas and Elizabeth Torrone published an American Journal of Public Health article in2006 connecting higher incarceration rates to higher rates of single parent births among teenagers and sexually transmitted diseases among females.

A Russell Sage Foundation study associated higher rates of HIV among African American females due to higher incarceration rates of African American males.

Approximately five million have lost their right to vote due to state laws removing the right to vote from convicted felons. Approximately half of these are African Americans. Christopher Uggen and Jeffrey Manza claim this has politically weakened the African American community.

The National Academy of Science determined in 1978 that most criminal careers are short lived, lasting only a few years. Only a small group remains in crimes for much longer periods. The majority of criminals cease their crimes over passing age 25. Most ceased criminal activities after finding permanent employment, joining the military, or getting married.

No one has devised a useful predictive model to forecast who will become a career criminal. The U.S. Justice Department claimed to have one yet it proved to be a failure over time. Yet, this claim was one of the arguments given for increasing prison sentences.

Recidivism is not a major contributor to the increase in prison population. Prison rehabilitation programs were not seen as being a significant factor in decreasing prison population.

A study of 291 evaluations of in-prison and community adult offender treatment programs finds 42% of the programs had little impact on recidivism rates. Some even had higher recidivism rates. These programs were boot camps, electronic monitoring, restorative justice, faith based programs, domestic violence programs, and behavioral/psychotherapy for sex offenders.

The programs that did reduce recidivism were treatment and rehabilitative programs. People who sought to enter these programs found better success than those forced into the programs. The recidivism rates for those completing these programs decreased by about 10%. The rate was such that the California Inspector General determined the $1 billion spent on prisoner drug treatments were not justifiable expenses. Some programs increased the prison population due to imprisoning people who failed to meet program requirements.

This report states “treatment programs are necessary and humane, but they are not answers to the crisis of prison overpopulation.”

The high incarceration of African Americans and Latino males probably contributes to negatively stereotyping them. This makes it difficult for them to obtain employment.

The public, according to public opinion polls, tends to believe criminal sentences are not harsh enough.

The report recommends decreasing sentences, not allowing increases in sentences that are not proportional to the increased severity of the crime, and not allowing increased prison terms in hopes of reducing recidivism. In recommends, overall, that prison sentences should be reduced.

This report recommends not making imprisonment the main punishment for technical parole or probation violators. The average imprisonment of technical violators in Louisiana was 20 months (circa 2006). In contrast Washington’s maximum punishment for technical violators was 60 days.

This report recommends shorter supervisory time for those on parole and probation. Research suggests there is no relationship between increased supervision and reduced recidivism.

The report recommends decriminalizing victimless crimes, especially those concerning recreational drugs. Drug offenses represent 31% of all prison admissions.

The report recommends improving prison conditions. People respond better to human treatment. Prisoners should be safe, prisoners should not be cruelly punished, and prisoners should have access to health care, education and treatment assistance, and post-release programs.

Former prisoners should be allowed to vote. (This is not an issue in Pennsylvania.)

This report believes implements its recommendations would cut the prison population by more than half.