Although I was not voted in as your next Common Councilor At-Large, I wanted to follow-up about my plans, focus, willingness, passion, and strategy for effecting change and helping to build the peoples’ power of Syracuse. I will lay out this strategy further down in this letter following an analysis of the details from my race. And I hope you will see how it dovetails with not only your own personal strategy and activism, but also that of the progressive political community in Syracuse and Onondaga County.
5 FOR THE VOTE
My vote percentage for the November 2017 election was 9% of the total, which translates into 18% of voters choosing me on their ballot ( two seats being selected for) - a small decrease from the 20.8% of voters who selected me on their ballots in 2015.
I received a total of 3,443 votes, over 8x the amount I received in 2015. This was a citywide total compared to a district, but larger numbers of votes means greater name recognition, and wide-spread support of my candidacy and our platform against poverty.
I had a citywide vote total comparable to former Democratic Party Councilor Lance Denno - who undoubtedly was a much more known name in politics when he ran on the Green Party line in 2015 and who received only 365 more votes for 3,808 total for the same position in a three-way race (whereas I achieved my vote total in a four-way race).
My total was on a single ballot line, the other candidates ran on two or three party lines.
With only 400 registered Greens in Syracuse, I received 8x more votes than the number registered in our party. In a Mayoral campaign season in which person was stressed over party, Greens continue to pull in votes many times our registered voter numbers.
5 FOR THE ANALYSIS
We can be confident in the work we did, with the limited resources we had available, as the only candidates not accepting financial support from corporations or for-profit PACs.
We have not lost ground, we have held our ground, even in a year when Independence ballot line votes were stronger due to Ben Walsh’s Mayoral campaign as a self- proclaimed independent (through unaffiliated voter registration status).
The winning campaign cut across boundaries not only of party but also of ideology. In this respect we must be vigilant as residents to hold those elected accountable, for, In standing for everything, the risk is that one will stand for nothing.
The independence touted and credited with the winning mayoral race during this last campaign season was an independence from the the major party lines. This helped to move many votes to the Independence Party line, which moved votes down ballot to the Republican candidate for Councilor At-Large. Howie Hawkins puts it in his analysis of what happened due to dynamics such as“the anti-Trump Democratic vote that swept the nation. That explains the strong Democratic vote in the council races. The second was the record levels of dissatisfaction with the two-party system. That helps explain the strong vote for the Independence line in the council races and the win by “independent” Ben Walsh running on the Independence line in the mayoral race. It was the vote the Greens might have captured”
The Mayoral victor’s independence was based upon his unaffiliated voter registration and lack of ballot line status from either of the two commonly recognized major parties. As a Green we always maintain such an independence from the duopoly party lines as de facto policy. In addition, we double-down on our independence staying financially clear of campaign contributions from corporations and for-profit PACs, allowing us to have the clearest and cleanest path to representing the poor and working class in our city.
5 FOR THE REFLECTION
- Since Election Day, aside from staying on track with my responsibilities at the Onondaga SBDC as a public business advisor, and as President of Cooperative Federal Credit Union, I took a couple big breaths and a few naps, spent lots of time outside and in the garden at home and at 610 Gifford St, took a few days of silent retreat at Hamilton’s Chapel House in which I read a great book on participatory budgeting in the Black Rose Books series “Another City is Possible” by Yves Cabbanes, and the satirical dystopian “Utopia Three” by Hugo award winner George Alec Effinger, cooked a full vegetarian meal with and for family and friends over the long fall weekend, and kept busy with Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today Westside sector meeting and citywide facilitator gathering and training.
- The main print outlet in Syracuse, the Post-Standard newspaper, gave minimal coverage to the Councilor At-Large race. With the exception of the coverage of my announcement event on May 9, there was only one mention of the race and the candidates in an informational article post, but one that didn’t contain any information about the issues or policies, on October 18th. In a final word, the Post announced its endorsements (for which I do appreciate the allotted interview of myself and the other candidates), which went to the Democratic Party candidates, with a single thin paragraph referring to a few of my planks in a diluted form.
- Syracuse.com’s post election analysis was with two registered Democrats - Joe Driscoll who won an uncontested race for the 5th District Council seat, and Tim Rudd, plus unaffiliated voter Ruthnie Angrand a “community advocate who works in marketing”. All three mention that the first take-way is that the results represents “change” yet not recognizing the absence of a Green or Republican on the same panel they are participating in. Of the issues discussed, the analysts mentioned one of the changes they would like to see, the live-streaming of council meetings which I had been forcefully campaigning for, yet recognition for the idea was only attributed to other Democratic candidates.
- One of the most fun activities during the campaign was my facebook live Q&A with Ursula Rozum, which ended up reaching 9,465 people with over 2,400 views. But social media is very much an echo chamber. In response, I am now excited about our upcoming local events and political activism radio program on the public airwaves at Syracuse’s Spark! Radio 93.7 and 103.3 FM. Spark! is an independent media project focusing on Syracuse voices, Syracuse music and Syracuse stories. Volunteer-run and non-commercial, supporting local artists, giving voice to the underrepresented and striving to be a reflection of the community - using radio, online streaming, podcasting, social media and video to promote community engagement.
- The best of Syracuse came out for this election, but we have a lot of work to find the rest of the best and empower them too. Consider joining us at Political Feedback Karaoke Fundraiser event on Saturday December 9th - https://www.facebook.com/events/295221680971540
5 FOR THE STRATEGY
Although I will signify my interest and apply for appointment to the upcoming open At-Large council seat, the overall strategy I am undertaking moving forward is not one of campaigning, but of taking action, representing the constituents that I ran to serve, and creating change as demonstrated by the achievements below from the past 4 weeks after Election Day.
Major themes of discussion during the campaign season were openness, transparency, change, and resident involvement. I have initiated public conversation for the need for these themes to be part of the At-Large Councilor seat that will be appointed when vacated by Helen Hudson to take her seat as President of the Council. Stay tuned for more on this issue as January 1stapproaches. Meanwhile, see media coverage of my campaign at http://www.urbancny.com/request-for-public-and-open-consideration-of-appointed-at-large-council-seat/ and http://waer.org/post/former-councilor-large-candidate-calls-transparency-when-filling-upcoming-vacant-seat
Additionally, I have started providing archived audio coverage of Common Council study sessions, regular meetings, and committee meetings at my website to allow anyone who would like to hear and learn from them, the opportunity to do so - even if they cannot attend the meetings in person. Visit http://votecetera-syracusegreens.nationbuilder.com/meetings_audio
Another very important decision being made now is the creation of the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication which will start operating sometime in 2018. I spoke in Syracuse Common Council chambers this past week about transparency and public process in favor of open information from the Bureau’s activities. I almost didn't get the chance because there is no requirement for a new piece of law on the agenda to have a committee meeting or public hearing before being voted on by council, and this committee meeting was implemented last second at the end of the previous regular meeting only because a few questions from Nader Maroun had not yet been answered by legal. Another change I think we will have to work on soon. I also spoke out in favor of a mechanism to ensure that neighborhoods in the most need that have been overlooked for decades resulting in the poverty and segregation we see today, will see not only an adequate amount, but a favored amount, of placement of resources from the new bureau. Read more at http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2017/11/citys_new_code_violation_bureau_likely_wont_be_up_and_running_until_next_summer.html
I am making available to everyone a copy of the Common Council Rules of Procedure. I was unable to find this document online, so I approached and asked City Clerk John Copanas who provided me with a print copy. I have scanned it and am posting at the following page for your convenience: http://votecetera-syracusegreens.nationbuilder.com/rules_of_procedure - remember, information is power.
My next action will be to soon post a draft of the sidewalk municipalization legislation I have written, to be available for public comment. I will be using the https://mymadison.io/website where the Green Party of Onondaga County has been approved as a Sponsor for disseminating policy documents for public collaboration.
5 FOR THE FUTURE
Our average donation during campaign season was surprisingly high at $52.00. So, if everyone who voted for me gave just 10% of that donation average, or $5, today we would reach our yearly county committee overhead fundraising costs immediately (insurance, website, database, rent, utilities, etc). Contributions from supporters like you keep the Onondaga Greens truly independent. But not everyone can or will donate. And that's fine. This year, please consider making a donation of $5, $20, $50 or whatever you can to protect and sustain independent politics in Onondaga County.
PUBLIC & MEDIA RELEASE: Request for Public and Open Consideration of Appointed At-Large Council Seat
Syracuse, NY, November 13, 2017— Frank Cetera, the Green Party recent candidate for citywide Syracuse Councilor At-Large, and Green Party of Onondaga County Committee Member, released a statement calling for an open and equal process for consideration of candidates to fill the open At-Large seat vacated by now President Helen Hudson. This seat will be appointed by majority vote of the current council members.
Cetera stated “I would like us to avoid a repeat of what took place in 2015, when, with no public notice and no consideration of candidates who had run for council office that year (including myself), Council voted furtively after the election for one of their own - Joe Nicoletti - that we see now was an obvious insider attempt at positioning a chosen candidate for a 2017 Mayoral run.”
Syracuse.com reporting from November 23, 2015 indicated that “The action prompted angry denunciations from several councilors, who . . . . . were outraged by the haste with which he was chosen. . . . . Councilor Khalid Bey said it was an example of "cronyism that causes the taxpayers to become less interested.'' He said the hasty selection . . . . .was "underhanded.''
Cetera continued “All of the council and mayoral candidates this campaign season have made a large deal about government access, transparency, and constituent services at the public forums we have all participated in. They now need to demonstrate that by demanding proper open process for the appointment of this seat.”
Green Party 2nd District recent Candidate Eric Graf makes the case for appointing a Green Party candidate per his analysis of the 2015 election results: “Had Denno, or another qualified Green been chosen, the resulting Council would have reflected a proportional representation of the total city-wide vote for that year. 8 seats were filled; total Democratic vote percentage: 58% would translate to 6 Seats, total Republican vote percentage of 7.5% would yield 1 seat, and total Green vote percentage of 10% would also result in 1 seat.”
Cetera himself just five days before the 2017 General Election, during a press conference on the steps of City Hall where he stood with over 20 supporters who came out on a dreary day, called for improvements to the current operational structure of council to enable such open access and transparency, including:
Expanding study sessions and public hearings to a larger variety of times and locations,
Live streaming and archiving online all public meetings,
Open office hours for Councilors.
Sharing with the public as to the reasoning behind the votes that are made,
A ticket system for constituent services for equal responsiveness to all neighborhoods,
Civic education for the whole city in legislative writing and processes.
Cetera ends his statement with the request that The Common Council Regular Meeting agenda for Monday November 20th contain an item for implementing a timed, specific, and transparent appointment process for the open seat.
# # #
My op-ed about the battle for fair taxation and revenue creation/capture for the city of Syracuse, that was originally published by Urban CNY News(many thanks), has also been picked up by Counterpunch online!
"Creating change costs money. The residents of Syracuse, New York want change. Syracuse must create or capture revenue to pay for the changes. A graduated progressive income tax is good for the city as a whole because everyone who lives or works or does business in the city benefits from good city services.
Most candidates running this year are calling for more jobs, paying down our debt, additional programs for youth, and increasing services, yet provide no actual numbers for consideration of capturing the needed revenue to do so. I review budgets regularly, in my daily work as a NYS Business Advisor, and as Board President of Cooperative Federal Credit Union. What I can say for certain is that although cost savings in our budget may be found, there is no guarantee that they will be significant, nor will they prevent the city from compromising on the services it provides.
Let’s consider our closest neighbors to the north. Looking at a recent May 2016 report of municipal cost-saving initiatives surveyed across Canada by The Manning Centre, one of the largest hard cost savings found was Calgary’s “Cut Red Tape” Program. This collection of measures intended to remove unnecessary procedures, forms, licences, and regulations only resulted in a savings of $14.6 million over 5 years since it was implemented in 2010.
Five years to save what we are going to indebt in only one year in Syracuse – not nearly enough, even if we can find similar savings here, which considering how much smaller of a city we are, is not likely. If we look at the $14.6 million in ratio from Calgary’s population to ours, the results would only be a savings of $1.60 million for Syracuse. Regina, a city with population of 216,000 implemented recommendations for 61 service area improvements that only saved the city $8.5 million total.
Our own experience, that we see from the first year’s submission to the State County-Wide Shared Services Initiative (per the report from SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government), shows that Syracuse is only identified in one line item for savings, a total of only $4.4 million over two years of 2018 and 2019 in the form of a “Joint Request for Proposals for a Medicare Advantage Plan”. Again, not nearly enough to dig us out of our budget deficit.
Our elected officials have year after year passed the buck on implementing sidewalk municipalization legislation that would maintain the condition of our sidewalks and keep them clear of snow in the winters. During this time, many of us in different neighborhoods have stepped up as volunteers to clear sidewalks in front of abandoned and vacant properties, or to clear pathways to buses at “accessible” CENTRO stops and intersections. The political will finally seems to be in favor of passing this legislation if we can believe the comments from the candidates running this year.
So note, this will be an additional expense to property owners in Syracuse (albeit a small one with estimates pointing to under $100 annually per property owner). Point being that recognition and acceptance of raising money for public services and the public good from the public pockets is not a foreign concept or antagonistic belief of our incoming and remaining council members. Another examples lies in the proposed hotel and use tax which incoming councilors have spoken favorably of.
Yet, they balk at the proposed graduated income tax for the city citing that it will keep businesses away and slow the growth of downtown. No matter that this is the same play from the playbook that we have been using for decades – in the hopeful yet failed track record of trickle down economics – during which time we have reached our highest number of poverty ridden census tracts, our greatest number of homeless children, our greatest amount of segregated blacks and Latinos, and a budget deficit leading us to insolvency in less than two years from now. The profits aren’t trickling down to the poor and working class. Income levels and activity downtown are increasing, but these developments are not translating to improved quality of life in our other neighborhoods.
They fail to peel the onion back even one layer, lacking an analysis of the difference between tax types, applications, and results. We already have sales and property taxes, the two most regressive forms of taxation in the play book, meaning that they impose a greater burden (relative to resources) on the poor than on the well-off. This is why we need the 1% income tax – and this is a line I will not surrender. This is a line which on one side calls for a tax policy focus on downtown development over the poor and working class interests, while my side calls for a shift from regressive taxation to a progressive tax that is fair across the board of economic classes while saving our city from insolvency."
The Syracuse Green Party will spend election day making sure the supporters they have identified get to the polls to vote.
Mayoral candidate Howie Hawkins, 4th district council candidate Serena Seals, and volunteers will be working from the Green Party office at 2617 S. Salina St. in the 4th district.
Councilor-at-large candidate Frank Cetera, 2nd district council candidate Eric Graf, and volunteers will be working from Cetera’s home at 717 Otisco St. in the 2nd district.
Hawkins plans to vote at the Seals Community Center in Kirk Park at 300 W Borden Ave at 3 pm.
When the polls close at 9 pm, the Green candidates and supporters will gather at the Polish Home at 915 Park Ave. on the west side for food, drink, and the election results.
For Immediate Release: Monday, November 6, 2017
For More Information: Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019h, 315-200-6046c
Addressing poverty, policing, health and internet, BLM Syracuse asks you take a few minutes to read "this short election guide for the Nov. 7th election in Syracuse because it will have serious and potentially devastating impacts on people of color in our city, especially those of us who face regular threats, intimidation, harassment, and abuse by local law enforcement and the criminal justice system."
In this city when a Black or Brown person, a poor person, or a disabled person dials 911, they have absolutely no assurance that they will be served or protected. In many cases, they become the suspect of a crime and the victim of more violence. And the officers who commit these acts of violence meet no accountability.
Under these circumstances, it is outrageous to even consider hiring more police officers to the Syracuse Police Department.
Yet, Ben Walsh, Juanita Perez Williams, Laura Lavine, Joseph Driscoll, Quante Wright and Norm Synder have all called for hiring more police.
Howie Hawkins, Frank Cetera and Serena Rahzie Seals think that city resources could be better used on addressing the root causes of crimes and on care workers in the city."
Syracuse, NY, November 2, 2017 — Frank Cetera, the Green Party candidate for citywide Syracuse Councilor At-Large, was joined by voters who have endorsed him from many different walks of life, including local activists, sole proprietor business owners, government employees, union members, higher education employees, college students, health care workers, non-profits staff, and community organization volunteers, among others.
"We stand together on the steps of City Hall and proclaim the need for a peoples’ caucus to usher in changes to how our Common Council interacts with residents, makes decisions, shares feedback and results, and gets things done for the poor and working class!" Cetera said.
Cetera called for easy changes to the existing structure of operations through:
- Expanding study sessions and public hearings to a larger variety of times and locations,
- Live streaming and archiving online all public meetings,
- Open office hours for Councilors.
He also called for new and innovative changes to be made such as:
- Sharing with the public as to the reasoning behind the votes that are made,
- A ticket system for constituent services for equal responsiveness to all neighborhoods,
- Civic education for the whole city in legislative writing and processes.
With all candidates (save the Green Party candidates) accepting large volumes of donations from for-profit interests and large dollar donations from individuals, the people of Syracuse must demand equal access, beyond lip service, that everyone will receive the same attention and consideration as residents of this city. Every resident, voter or not, donor or not, regardless of race, class, or profession (or lack thereof) must receive equal and equitable access to elected officials and decision making processes.
In today’s increasingly hectic world, constituents don’t have time to track whether their state and local politicians are upholding their campaign promises. Combined with that is a decline in local news coverage. The outcome? Power is being handed to lobbyists, says Tony Shawcross, Executive Director of the Open Media Foundation (May 4, 2017: http://nationswell.com/open-media-project-streaming-govern…/)
Cetera, identifying as an activist first and politician second, called for “strength in our numbers so we can show our elected officials that change is coming, we can spread the word that I will stand up for the people's’ voices when elected, and we will start that change now to #EndPoverty and create #ASyracuseThatWorks”.
Campaign video for sharing at https://youtu.be/19_nP2y6eTs.
"We the people of Syracuse are fighting for our lives against decades of segregation and poverty. Wealth continues to leave the city through absentee landlords, commuters, and developer tax breaks. My name is Frank Cetera and I work on long-term solutions, as well as the symptoms, through worker-cooperative businesses, fair and progressive taxation, and public ownership of utilities. Elect me to Common Council At-Large on November 7th to build a Syracuse That Works."
Frank Cetera for Syracuse Citywide Common Council (At-Large District)
Transcription of my Responses from the Campbell Conversations with Grant Reeher on WRVO on October 22
00:00 Grant Reeher: Welcome to the Campbell Conversations. The two upcoming elections grabbing most of the local attention are the Syracuse City mayor's race and the statewide decision on whether or not to hold a constitutional convention. We've hosted debates for both of these decisions on this program and you can find them on WRVO.org. But there are other decisions facing citizens this November and an important one is the race for two at-large city council seats. Voters have a choice among four candidates for those two spots and they join me today for our final election oriented program.
7:19 Grant Reeher: But first let me turn to Frank Cetera the kind of the same question because you'll be on there as a Green. I don't think your campaign literature has exactly the same kind of statements about the Democratic leadership [as Republican Norm Snyder does]. Nonetheless if you're elected you'll be the Green Party person you'll be working with. You know people and other parties from yourselves. How how do you see that working and how do you see yourself being effective in that kind of environment?
7:43 Frank Cetera: Thanks Grant, I read your mind. I was expecting that same question to come right now. [laughter] First of all we're going to see one of the largest ever turnovers in the number of council seats and the representatives on council. And so it'll be a fresh start for lots of people. We are activists first and politicians second as Green Party members and we have been showcasing how we can work with the public and work with neighborhoods and communities. I intend that we will have a people's caucus in order to get things done as well as I feel like I already have a collegial relationship, enough of one with all the other candidates both for council and mayor, to be able to have an attitude of going in and being open minded and being willing to work with them not to be obstructionist but to stand firmly for the issues of working on policy related to ending poverty and segregation in Syracuse and that's pretty much where I'll draw the line. I work with everybody. But there's got to be a point where you say is this going to be a good result or a bad result in terms of the large number of poor people and working class in this city.
12:41 Grant Reeher: Frank Cetera just a couple of minutes before we go to the break where are you on this issue [policing]?
12:47 Frank Cetera: Yeah the question is in regards to how we're most effectively using the police officers that we have. It's unclear to me whether or not we can afford to place more officers on the street at one time. Lots of numbers being thrown around. I know that we have more police per capita in Syracuse than other cities our same size. So brings up many of the questions that the other counselors are asking in regards to utilization. There is however the alternative opportunity to instead of hiring more police officers, to hire more community outreach and community peace officers and mental health workers to be boots on the ground in the neighborhoods and in the same vein that we have a lot of interrupter nonprofit grassroots work out there. We can move that more into the domain of the city and try to stop many of these issues before they reach the need for policing. I espouse looking at a policy of “policing as a last resort”.
14:07 Grant Reeher: Frank Cetera, one of the priorities that you've spoken about is to try to create something you call a workers co-operative in the city - an intriguing name. What is that exactly, How would it work and how would it help?
14:25 Frank Cetera: Thanks Grant. A Workers co-operative is a type of corporation that operates to level the playing field between ownership and workers. We’re behind the curve here in Syracuse when it comes to developing worker cooperatives. New York City has given millions of dollars in the past couple of years to technical assistance programs to do this. Rochester is starting to do so as well. The idea is that over time we convert or create new businesses or maintain current businesses particularly from the baby boomer generation that are reaching retirement age. If we convert those capital assets to the worker class, so that they own the business as well as work in the business, that stabilizes the business in the neighborhood and the community and the city, keeps those jobs open and functioning, and diversifies the assets from a single owner class to a multiple person working class.
15:21 Grant Reeher: What kinds of businesses are you thinking that are going to be owned and why, and is there a certain type of business that it works better than others?
I appreciate this endorsement from Karaline Rothwell as I feel the same about her. See her in the accompanying picture for my endorsements page with our Westside Walks volunteer snow shoveling crew standing to my left!
“While living in Syracuse, I was fortunate to work alongside Frank on many community projects. The projects focused on the improving the health and wellness of the Near Westside. Frank was always considerate of others and patient with his understanding of the community. Rather than pushing the agenda of the priviledged, Frank will impact the Common Council with holistic thought, considering the whole community and it's future prosperity, And, as Syracuse Councilor at-Large, he will give tireless attention to your concerns. Frank's person is true and genuine to this endeavor. I endorse Frank's candidacy!"
Make your endorsement at http://votecetera-syracusegreens.nationbuilder.com/cetera_for_councilor_at_large_2017
Yasser Arturo Guerra Garcia endorses me in Spanish and English languages!! This means a lot as we serve together on the Cooperative Federal Board of Directors providing financial services to many immigrants, refugees, and non-English speakers, providing them with banking products, mortgages and small business help!
Pocas personas de las que conocemos a lo largo de nuestras vidas poseen la cualidad de la perseverancia, esa condición de perseguir y trabajar consistentemente por una causa, por una ideología que con el tiempo define a la persona. Conozco a Frank Cetera desde hace casi tres años y todavía me asombra y admira como usa su tiempo para promover justicia social y hablar en favor de las minorías en nuestra ciudad de Syracuse. Actualmente soy uno de los miembros del Consejo de Directores de la cooperativa de crédito: Cooperative Federal, donde Frank ocupa el puesto de Presidente, en múltiples ocasiones su voz se ha pronunciado en pos de preservar y escalar la misión de la institución: garantizar acceso a oportunidades y productos financieros a personas que no encuentran dichos servicios en las tradicionales instituciones bancarias. Su resolución para pelear en el lado de las minorías, sumado a su determinación en crear una ciudad más segura definen mi posición, yo estoy con él y te pido que tú también lo estés el día de las próximas elecciones.
Few of the people we have the chance to become acquainted with during our live time possess the attribute of the Perseverance, that condition that make one pursue and work consistently for a cause, for an ideology that as time goes by define that person’s character. I have known Frank Cetera for almost three years now and yet it amaze me and cause admiration how he uses his time to advocate for social justice and speak in favor of minorities groups from our city of Syracuse. I’m currently a member of the Boards of directors for Cooperative Federal Credit Union where Frank act as President, in multiple occasions he has risen his voice to preserve and escalate the Credit Union mission, that of empower a sector of the city that has been neglected by the traditional financial institutions. His resolution to fight for minorities, his determination to build a safer city, mark the boundaries of my side, I’m with him and asking you to be as well next election day.