Complicit is the 2017 ‘word of the year’ according to a dictionary analysis.

To be complicit is to know of wrongful acts without comment or action and by this silent acceptance, approve of them.

If ever a single word described politics in America today, this one is it.

At a time when genuine leaders are missing, when the two major political parties have little meaning or role other than as labels in red and blue; when government by inaction seems to be the course we continue to steer; when ‘progressive’ agendas offer verbiage not solutions and conservative agendas under the influence of huge amounts of private money have become sinister and negative; when ‘looking the other way’ seems to be the safest course of action, the single word complicit couldn’t be more perfect.

While the expectation of liberals has always been that government can act as a modifier, as an equalizer between the power and demands of Big Business and the needs of people, it is obvious that in this era of government by inaction, there seems to be little hope that these expectations can be met in either the near or long term.

The problems in New York seem to grow larger: schools are not working- proclaimed improved graduation rates cover six years not four and only 25% of these are able to do college work without remediation; subways don’t work reliably anymore and government looks everywhere for excuses rather than at its responsibility to fix it; there are empty stores in some of the best well-known shopping areas throughout the city and the city agency in charge says it is still looking for the reasons why. Really? Though the Mayoral election produced a solid majority for the incumbent only 16% of the city’s eligible voters bothered to vote. No mandate or belief there but the Mayor thinks he should be President. Despite a growing awareness of the slum conditions in New York (and America’s) first and largest public housing development, NYCHA, the conditions get worse every day.

And while these problems have different roots and directions, they are all caused by the fact that those in charge fail to act and those who should speak out, don’t. When people do not understand what is wrong or how to fix it, they couldn’t care less. We cannot care about something we do not understand. And sadly, our silence reflects complicity.

There are answers to failing schools, broken subways, empty stores and most especially, NYCHA. The question is whether the people in charge are seeking them or simply going through the motions – talking about the problems but doing little to fix them – and whether anyone not directly involved will care enough to make noise.

NYCHA

None of the problems in New York equal the human suffering and inhumane response to what is happening to the 500,000 people who live in this massive and crumbling housing development with buildings in all five boroughs.

Nothing has been done to fix the staggering number of problems that exist in these buildings for many, many years. And nothing is being done now that will make any real difference.

And so it is for that reason that we indict Governor Cuomo, Mayor DeBlasio, State and City Comptrollers DeNapoli and Stringer who have published powerfully negative audits and nothing more, Public Advocate James, who has the power to question, explore and reveal but hasn’t, every City Council member and every member of the State Assembly and Senate who has a NYCHA building in their district and remains silent, and each Congressperson who looks away even though NYCHA is part of a Federal program.
We charge each and every one of them with a gross neglect of duty, with conduct unbecoming their office, with a callous disregard for the human and civil rights of each NYCHA resident that we believe amounts to a moral criminality. Government promises safety and security and provides none of that in NYCHA buildings.

Grievances at NYCHA come in waves.

Ceilings fall down in apartments, tens of thousands live without heat or hot water in the coldest days New York has seen, thousands of children are being damaged by lead poisoning in the buildings and NYCHA officials lie about corrective measures, people die in ever-broken elevators, whatever few corrective measures are taken to occasionally fix something are shoddy and subpar and crime in NYCHA buildings continues to amount to 25% of all the crime in NYC.

Not only does the NYCHA administration lie about its activities, it’s Chairman actually lies on a report to the Federal Government, a criminal offense and yet she remains in her job as the Mayor of New York clearly looks away and makes promises he has no intention of keeping. He simply couldn’t care less.

None of this negligent behavior is a secret. It is known by every office-holding politician in New York…and yet, there is total silence. The only hope is that such ambitious politicians as Public Advocate Leticia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer – looking ahead four years to the next Mayoral race – might actually make a case to fix NYCHA problems. Yet if past action predicts future activity, all we will hear are words of outrage but no real action beyond the sound of those words.

Complicit to the core.

We remain committed to doing everything we can to help break the silence of complicity and to help NYCHA residents find a way to finally live in safety and in decent apartments.

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