An Informal Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio

Dear Bill:

It is hard to describe my feelings to a politician. It almost seems like an act of futility. I believe in the old joke that says “How do you know when a politician is lying? He is moving his lips!” Just to let you know, I voted for you, even though I was aware of the stacked odds against implementing your progressive agenda. Given that, I still stand behind many (not all) the initiatives you expressed in your campaign for mayor. My wife even joined your team and was sitting ringside at your inauguration.

And I half understand why you need to sidle up to the governor. We all have to get along with our co-workers, right?

Annual Columbus Day Parade Marches Down New york's Fifth Avenue

Well here is the other half of that understanding. I am an artist who has always sat far to the left of most things. I am not a radical or a subversive, but I have been known to express extreme left ideas. This may be a byproduct of my clear understanding of humanity and a reaction to the rampant epidemic — addiction to greed. A disease which has rapidly consumed just about everything hopeful on this planet. My response is to look ever deeper into my own heart and search for personal ways I personally can have an effect on our current paradigm.

Another full disclosure about the woman I am married to: like your wife, she is a women of color and a staunch activist and realist in the growing area of urban farming, an agenda I strongly support. So much so that I am now working hard to make this my family’s collective future as I ride that road into my so called “senior” years.

So it is with these small revelations that I will not be supporting any of your candidates in the upcoming primary. For one, I cannot in any shape or form support Fracking. Our environment has taken so many direct hits with no response, it is sickening. And to support a governor who would stand with those who will shamelessly pollute and poison our very source of life, which is water, is unconscionable.

I am also aware of some of the forces you were up against the moment you took office. That force I refer to as the “Developer Steamroller.” This force I fully believe is perched to roll over everything in Brooklyn. With rents in Crown Heights jumping 21% in one year, someone like myself needs to take stock and wonder if there is any future living in this city. Also, with the recent bulldozing of a community garden in Coney Island and several similar stories from around the country, I have to wonder whether an urban farming initiative has any real future in New York City. I say this because even though on the face of it, urban farming may be the most sensible movement to come along in decades—greed addiction threatens to undermine any effort to create a counter attack on poverty. Growing food has been proven to be even better than artists in resurrecting blighted neighborhoods. But once the positive effect has taken hold in any area, the urban farmers need to keep one eye open for the coming reclamation of the land they are farming on. The developers are sending a message that says…”Thank you very much for improving the prospects of my property. Now take your tools and your compost, and get the f**k out of here!”

Coney Island Community Garden Bulldozed For Marty Markowitz's Amphitheater. Dec 2013

Coney Island Community Garden Bulldozed For Marty Markowitz’s Amphitheater. Dec 2013

Until a few days ago, I was not even aware there were any candidates who opposed Mr. Cuomo. I, like everyone else thought he was just a bad dream we were all stuck with. When the New York Times denied him an endorsement (I don’t read any newspapers or watch TV, news included) and the information reached me through social media, it was a wake up call for me, and maybe hopefully a lot of other New Yorkers. I intend to rally people to get out to the primaries. In NYC, the primaries are extremely important as this is a democratic city, and the election can very well be decided by the primary.

So to reiterate, my position is one of progressive movements that do not run counter to our capitalistic ways, but should actually serve to help build a new economy in America. Urban farming, transportation alternatives, renewable energy and re-envisioning education (my wife and I are among the founders of Brooklyn Free School) are issues that to me point the way to a more positive future. As it stands now, NYC has been rated the most unhappy city in America and it is no wonder — as every sense of hope is consistently being attacked at every minute. I am a long time member of the Food Coop in Park Slope so I support GMO labeling and NO GMOs in our food. I would like to see the eradication of harmful pesticides in the growing of our produce or at least a real evaluation of that process and a move away from an industrial farm model. I support community meals, community farming (CSAs) and most things that have the word community in it.

It’s my position that fossil fuels need to quickly become a thing of our past and anything that supports a positive future for a real “green” economy will get my vote. I am aware that because I cannot put large amounts of lobbying cash into anyone’s pockets, that I am looked at as insignificant. But if people will pool together their efforts and try to jolt our politicians awake as to the direness of our situation, our vote can make a real difference.

So if you and Andrew are a little nervous, I feel that it is tough luck. Andrew should already be suffering from severe stomach ulcers with the frequency of his counter intuitive decisions. The consistent grimaced look on his face speaks volumes.

Of course you still have a chance to appeal to your base, and return to some of the common sense policies you rode into office on. As a fellow Brooklynite, I know you are capable of it.

Bruce Zeines


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