Tag Archives: Bill de Blasio

Good News Friday: The mayor of NYC says the city will provide free health care for ALL of its residents. An air traffic controller does something awesome for a crying passenger. And a schoolteacher has the flight of her life thanks to great kindnesses

And a Happy Friday, denizens of the Internet. Hope you are somewhere warm today, as we freeze our tushes off here in NYC. Have to be honest with you, not a whole lot of good news going on in America right now for me to bring to you on Good News Friday this week, or maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places.

Between this ridiculous, painful and wholly unnecessary government shutdown, and other events (poor Andy Murray has to retire from tennis because of injury, that bummed me out Thursday night) there’s a lot of bleakness.

But there’s plenty of goodness, too, which I want to share. First off, let’s start in my home state of New York, where our progressive mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio, announced a pretty major and drastic program that will ensure that undocumented immigrants and low-income city residents who don’t qualify for insurance will still receive medical treatment.

According to this New York Times story, “New York City already provides health care to the uninsured and the undocumented through its hospital system, a roughly $8 billion behemoth whose history of service to the poor, regardless of an ability to pay, can be traced to the founding of Bellevue Hospital in the 18th century. A person without medical insurance has long been able to go to a city emergency room and get care, free of charge, or to seek a primary-care physician.

But the financially challenged system did not work well to connect patients to doctors, Mr. de Blasio said. He promised a streamlined approach — complete with a hotline and dedicated membership card — and one that would be focused on the primary-care doctor, rather than the emergency room.”

More details here:  “The mayor’s proposal is a mix of insurance and direct spending, and Mr. de Blasio said it would take about two years to get it fully running. The city already has a kind of public option for health insurance for low-income New Yorkers, through an insurance plan run by city hospitals known as MetroPlus.

The new proposal would improve that coverage, which already insures some 516,000 people, and aim to reach more of those who are eligible, such as the young and uninsured, and others who qualify but have not applied.

It would also provide additional direct city spending, at least $100 million per year when fully implemented, officials said, for the city’s hospital system to support care for those without insurance. “

This is outstanding. Health care should be a right, not a privilege in this country of so much wealth, and I’m glad New York City, and many other cities and states around the country, are finally starting to realize that.

I’ve been critical, as have many of my fellow liberals, of de Blasio’s, shall we say, less than inspiring five years as mayor. But this is a big step in the right direction.


**Next up today, I thought this was very awesome. Jahmaul Allen, a ramp agent for American Airlines, saw a child crying on the airplane right in front of him last week. So he decided to start dancing to try to cheer the kid up.

Hey, he had me laughing. Very cool little moment. Isn’t life really all about the cool little moments that occur in between what we call “the big stuff?”

To quote Linda Richman from “Saturday Night Live,” “Discuss.”

**And finally today, I love a good “people help out a teacher” story, and this one is definitely a little different. A public school teacher working in inner-city Chicago flew to Florida to visit her parents over the holidays, and had a life-changing trip on her flight.

Bermudez talked to her seatmate, a stranger, about life and funding in inner-city schools, and after a few minutes, the man asked to get her information; the company he works for likes to donate items to schools like hers, he explained. Maybe they could work something out.

The kind gesture already made her flight a heartening one. But then things really took a turn. Bermudez felt a tap on her shoulder.

The man sitting behind her apologized for having eavesdropped on her conversation — then handed her a stack of cash.

The bill on top was $100.

One thing has led to another, and other passengers got involved, and the story went viral, and Bermudez’s school has gotten $4,000 in donations from total strangers.

It’s really a beautiful story; read the rest here.

A rare good election night for Democrats has me cautiously optimistic. Three idiot UCLA basketball players about to encounter the China justice system. And Tom Hanks helps a man propose, awesomely

The last few election cycles, it’s been really hard being a Democrat.

Our candidates have been pummeled almost nationwide, losing local, state and oh yeah, federal races with pretty alarming regularity. It’s been so bad. Need I remind you about who the bigoted, sexual-assaulting man who currently inhabits the Oval Office is? He ain’t a Democrat.

So Tuesday night, after a long but great day for us featuring my new son’s bris (more on that Friday, I promise there’ll be no photos of the snipping), I was happy to, for once, see some Democrats doing well and winning races.

Way too early to say this is a rebuke of Trump and the GOP by America, but encouraging signs nonetheless.

Some quick thoughts on a rare election night when I’m happy:

— Let’s relax with all the “the Dems are back and will take back the Senate in 2018!” stories, national media. I saw way too many of those in just a brief look around Twitter Tuesday night (and geez, I’m so glad Twitter now gave everyone 280 characters. I’m sure it’ll lead to saner Trump Tweets).

Of course it’s good that Democrats won some races. But for a real, legitimate sign things are turning, let’s at least see what happens on Dec. 12, when batshit crazy former judge Roy Moore, who’s to the right of even Ted Cruz for God’s sake, is on the ballot for a U.S. Senate seat against Democrat Doug Jones. That’s a race that could have huge national implications.

Still, it was nice to go to bed feeling that maybe, maybe things were turning around. As horrible as Trump has been and will continue to be, maybe he will end up reviving the Democratic party nationally. With wins in the governor’s races in New Jersey (bye bye Chris Christie, we’ll miss you so much!) and Virginia, two blows were struck against awful ideas and intolerance.

Baby steps. But important ones. A few more election thoughts…

— A couple of very uplifting and cool election results from Virginia Tuesday, besides Democrat Ralph Northam winning the Governorship. First, in a beautiful piece of truth being more interesting than fiction, Virginia elected its first-ever trans woman to become a state delegate, as Danica Roem (pictured above) will represent District 13. What’s even more fabulous is Roem defeated Ralph G. Marshall, who wrote a anti-trans “bathroom bill” in Virginia earlier this year that was defeated.

Man, that’s gotta burn Marshall up. I hope he’s so burned up he’s got to go throw up in a public bathroom, and a trans person is in the next stall.

— Also in Virginia, you may remember in 2015 the absolutely horrific on-camera, live murder of a local TV reporter named Alison Parker. I can stomach just about anything on the news but I have never and will never watch that, it’s just too much. Parker’s boyfriend, Chris Hurst, was also a reporter but after what happened to her, left the media and decided to start a political career, in hopes of helping change some gun laws. Well, Hurst won his first race Tuesday, elected into the Va. House of Delegates.

“I know that Alison is with us and she’s smiling,” said Andy Parker, Alison’s father. “I’m so proud of Chris and all that he’s done with this campaign.”

— Bill de Blasio was easily re-elected as mayor of New York City. I voted for de Blasio, I generally like him, and I still have hope that he’ll end up being a good mayor. So far he’s been … a so-so mayor. He fights stupid fights with the press, comes off as impossibly arrogant and wildly defensive for a man who had to know the mayor of NYC gets criticized, and he seems to think he’s bigger on the national stage than he is. All of those things can be fixed, I just don’t know if de Blasio can do it, but I hope he can because he truly has good ideas about fixing income and housing inequality here in New York City.

**Next up, today, more proof that Tom Hanks is America’s coolest guy. He was at a book festival in Texas last week promoting his new collection of writing when, all of a sudden, he told the crowd he was bored of answering questions and wanted to ask one.

It was a marriage proposal from a man named Ryan McFarling to his girlfriend Nikki Young. Because this is 2017 and everything is videotaped, we are lucky to have footage of it. Her reaction at :26 is awesome.

** Finally today, the three college kids in this story deserve the title of “too stupid to be in college.” For some idiotic reason (read: money), Georgia Tech and UCLA’s men’s basketball teams are opening their season in China this week. An incredible amount of travel and school missed to play one game. But hey, happens all the time now in college hoops.

What doesn’t happen all the time is that three UCLA players, including LiAngelo Ball (L.A. Laker Lonzo Ball’s brother) were arrested Tuesday and charged with shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store near their Shanghai hotel.

And you know, they’re in China, so bail is not available, they take shoplifting very seriously, and these kids could face from 3-10 years in prison.

But don’t worry guys, Trump is in Asia right now. I’m sure he’ll take care of everything. Yeah, right.

I mean… really guys? Shoplifting in a Communist country? How stupid can you be?

New York City finally gets smart about arresting pot users. A retiring teacher gets a wonderful send-off. And the “anti-Jared from Subway” gets some revenge


If you don’t live in New York like I do, this story probably didn’t get much attention in your local newspaper or on TV.
But it’s a pretty big deal here, and I’m thrilled it is.

After years and years of promises to change New York City’s insane policy of arresting citizens caught with even a tiny amount of marijuana, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the other day that from now on, New Yorkers caught with 25 grams or less of pot will be given a ticket, not arrested.

This is such a simple, intelligent change to America’s drug policy: Millions of people are slapped with a criminal record, and needlessly crowd jail cells, just for carrying a small amount of weed. Not selling it, not smoking it in public, not doing anything whatsoever other than carrying it. And yet we criminalize and stigmatize small marijuana users, while cigarettes and alcohol skate by scot-free.
How many police officers have their time wasted making small pot arrests? (A 2011 study found that NYC spent $75 million making pot arrests in 2010.)

How many stop-and-frisks that take place, primarily of young minority kids, are a complete waste of time when they result in a joint or two being found?

De-criminalizing marijuana possession is one small step on the road to a sensible drug policy. I know we’re miles, and miles away from actually stopping the prosecution of those who smoke pot, but hey, I’m a dreamer. This is a long-overdue first step by the city I love.

**Next up today, a wonderful video that Upworthy.com just highlighted that made me feel good.  A first-grade teacher in Tennessee named Nancy Flexer is retiring after 41 years of service to her community’s students, and so an organization called “Kid President” decided to throw her a surprise going-away party.

They recruited a bunch of her former students, who over four decades had their lives shaped by this remarkable woman.

“I was a timid little blond girl, and your love for me gave me the confidence to grow into the woman I am today,” one former student says, wiping away tears.

The whole video is that good, and here’s some more background on Ms. Flexer.

Great teachers are the most precious resource we have.


**And finally today, this story cracked me up: An Alabama man named Zachary Torrence felt he was overweight and decided to try the “Jared from Subway” diet, trying to emulate the TV commercial star by eating Subway sandwiches three meals a day.

Unfortunately for Torrence, he didn’t lose weight. So to get his revenge, he robbed four Subway restaurants in the area to get his money back, he told police.

Oh, Zachary. Would’ve been so much easier if you just ate some fruits and vegetables.

On the plus side, chances are he’ll get to lose some weight in jail, I hear the food there stinks!


12 years after 9/11, and where did the time go? Spitzer and Weiner go down in NYC, and a twist in the mayor’s race. And Arsenio’s back!


Time is a funny thing; it never stops, just keeps marching on, but somehow its passing can still sneak up on you.

I have to be honest: I didn’t realize 9/11 was coming this year. Usually, I start to think about it on Sept. 4, or 5th, as it gets closer and closer and I realize that yet another anniversary of the most awful day of our lives is coming closer.
But this year, it kinda snuck up on me. I didn’t realize this was 9/11 week until Sunday.

And I feel guilty about that. The date deserves and demands to be paid attention to, to be commemorated, and to never, ever be forgotten.

I can’t believe it’s been 12 years. At once it seems like so long ago, and just yesterday, that I was riding a Long Island Rail Road train into NYC that morning, on my way to work, when I heard on my Walkman radio (seriously, I still had a Walkman then) that a second plane had crashed into the Twin Towers.

The memories are awful. But I’m glad they’re still there. I hope they always will be.

My usual 9/11 recommendation: Check out this incredible 9/11 memorial slide show and song by Jason Powers.

Twelve years. Never, ever forget.

**Tuesday was a big day in New York City politics. First of all, looks like we’ve finally gotten rid of the stench of Anthony Weiner, who finished with a miserable 5 percent of the vote in the mayoral election. (Somewhat surprisingly, Eliot Spitzer, Weiner’s partner in sleaze, also got beat in his race for city comptroller. Not sure Spitzer is dead politically yet, though.)
Second, I actually voted for the winning candidate in the Democratic primary, which rarely happens. Bill de Blasio won, with it appears to be 40 percent of the vote, which means he won’t have to compete in a run-off.
I like De Blasio the more I see and hear of him; he’s a true progressive who will, I hope, end some of the racial profiling practices of the NYPD, and try to rein in the income inequality which is rampant in my city.

It was a good day in NYC politics; a couple of bums were shown the door, and a new, progressive voice should be on his way to City Hall.


**Finally today, this may not mean much to most of you, but Arsenio Hall is back on late-night TV, and I am very excited.
Arsenio was a big part of my childhood; I loved that finally there was a young, hip, funny guy on TV instead of old and stodgy Johnny Carson. Arsenio was a breath of fresh air, he was hilarious, he had different guests (way cooler musical acts than Leno or Letterman did), and he could also do serious, groundbreaking television, like he did when Magic Johnson appeared after telling the world he was retiring because of the HIV virus. (It was truly an extraordinary TV moment; if you don’t remember it, click here for their emotional interview.)

Arsenio dressed different, and acted different, from anyone else on TV back then, and this suburban white kid from Long Island dug him, always trying to stay up a little later to see who was on.

Anyway, Arsenio went away for a while after his show got cancelled in 1994, did some reality TV lately, and now is back with a new late-night show.

I caught the premiere on Monday, and yeah, it was a little cheesy, and yeah, it looked like the exact same kind of show he did in 1994, but you know what? I still dug it. And I’ll still watch occasionally.

He was a happy memory from my childhood, and I’m glad to have him back. Now let’s get busy.