New Yorkers will get a lesson on Democrats’ woke priorities when they vote on a trio of unprecedented ballot questions that some critics say subvert the notion of equality in favor of the Marxist maxim of “equity.”
The measures – one of which would create a taxpayer-funded Office of Racial Equity – are the brainchild of a Racial Justice Commission headed by civil rights lawyer Jennifer Jones Austin, vice chair of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
The panel was created in 2021 by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio in the wake of Black Lives Matters and other racial-justice protests following the police-custody murder of George Floyd in Minnesota a year earlier.
Proponents say the ballot questions mark the first time in the country’s history that voters will directly make decisions on how their government addresses institutional racism embedded in its own operations and, if approved, would create some of the broadest racial-equity laws in the country.
But critics warn the proposed changes would just dig the city in an even deeper hole to climb out of after years of progressive policies they contend have spurred rising crime, economic decline and other problems citywide.
The new office’s duties would include training and offering additional support to other city departments to help staffers improve services for people of color.
However, voters are being asked to approve it despite vague language that fails to clarify how big its budget will be or how many employees it will have beyond a mandatory “chief equity officer.”
The size of the office will be decided by Mayor Adams — who backs the three ballots questions — but he declined through a spokeswoman to reveal his plans for the proposed agency. In May, Adams proactively established a Mayor’s Office of Equity that has a similar mission, but it’s on a smaller scale and isn’t protected under the City Charter from being scrapped by a future mayor.
The same ballot question would also create a new Commission on Racial Equity to help give the public more say in social-justice issues.
Another measure before voters aims to insert a preamble to the City Charter that the city must strive to remedy “past and continuing harms and to reconstruct, revise, and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions, and laws to promote justice and equity for all New Yorkers.”
The third would require the city to create a “true cost of living” measure each year to track the actual cost in the city of meeting essential needs, including housing, food, childcare and transportation.
John Ketcham, a fellow at the conservative think tank Manhattan Institute, questioned whether the ballot measures’ provisions would hold up in court, if challenged, because each contains text stipulating they’re “not intended to create a direct or indirect right of action to enforce” their “terms.”
Establishing a citywide office for racial equity and requiring other agencies to create “racial equity plans would ingrain divisive concepts in city government and agency operations,” he added.
And the new agency would also attract “greater interest-group lobbying, especially because racial equity plans would inform the budget planning process.”
Councilman Robert Holden, a centrist Democrat from Queens, said the city would be better suited focusing more attention of fixing major problems it faces – such as subway crime and homelessness – rather than pushing “proposals that have no meaningful impact on the prosperity of this city.”
He added, “These horrible ballot questions come as a parting gift of the city’s worst mayor in history, Bill de Blasio.”
Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, a Brooklyn Republican who grew up in Ukraine when it was under communist rule, said New Yorkers “don’t need more equity because equity is a Marxist lie and is the opposite of equality.”
“A guarantee of equal outcome has throughout history been dangled before the populace but has ultimately produced tyranny, corruption and trampled on liberty. It is not the American way,” she added.
Adams, a centrist Democrat, has earmarked $5 million in city funds for de Blasio’s Racial Justice Commission to boost voter outreach efforts, including buying television and digital ads that are informational only.
The Commission declined to address concerns raised about the ballot questions, Instead, its executive director Harold Miller said the Commission “is dedicated to educating New Yorkers about the proposals, so they can make informed decisions no matter their conclusion.”
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