Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, the American Democracy was founded with the approval of our Constitution. In the centuries that have passed, it is easy for some to forget how inspired and revolutionary that document was. Sadly, others choose to ignore it.
For the first time, a nation was to be a Republic, governed not by a monarchy or other form of dictatorship or autocracy, but rather by the will of its citizens with important checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government.
That was the enduring genius of our founders. Every president of the United States takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” rather than to preserve his own power.
Like me, you may be wondering whatever happened to those principles and that oath that guided this nation and its presidents for over two centuries.
They sound like partners of a law firm… but in truth they are the firmament of law.
New York has taken center stage in the rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry of President Donald J. Trump.
Three of the key players in Congress are New Yorkers and one is our very own.
I am speaking of Manhattan Congressman Jerry Nadler who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and our very own Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who just last week assumed the post of interim chair of the House Committee on Oversight following the sudden passing of Elijah Cummings.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, seen here celebrating the passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund earlier this year with US Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (right), has been named interim chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Democrats have named Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as the interim chair for the House Oversight and Reform Committee last Thursday following the death of Representative Elijah Cummings, who played an active role in the impeachment inquiry as the committee’s chair.
Maloney is a senior Democrat on the panel and the New York Times noted last week that her appointment as acting chairwoman is in line with House rules. A permanent leader of the committee is expected to be elected at a later time, a senior Democratic leadership aide said.
Local elected officials lauded the news of Maloney’s appointment while paying tribute to Cummings.
“While we all mourn the loss of Congressmember Cummings, I am reassured by Congressmember Maloney’s appointment as interim Chair,” Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said. “Congresswoman Maloney is dedicated to protecting our democracy and I am confident that she will carry out what is necessary to move forward with impeachment inquiries.”
“Men at some time are masters of their fates; the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” The precipitous fall of Rudolph Giuliani is like something from a Shakespearean drama.
For a moment not so long ago, Rudy Giuliani was viewed as “America’s Mayor.” That title was given in the days and weeks following the attack against the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. During that horrible time, Giuliani used his considerable skills to rally a city wracked with grief and anger. His resolute leadership inspired the nation. It was a defining moment for Rudy. It was short-lived.
It is worth remembering that before the attack, Mayor Giuliani had fallen out of favor with most New Yorkers who had tired of his combative and snarling personality. He could not run for re-election because of term limits but if he could have, the odds were that he would have lost.
So off he went to the world of lobbying, forming his own firm working closely with his business associate the former NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerick until Kerick was convicted of corruption and sent to prison. That was an omen of things to come.
Last week, I wrote about how political candidates are being tagged with that seemingly evil “socialist” label for advocating that more government resources be redirected to health, education and other social needs.
But it is also true that Democratic candidates for president are falling over themselves to make one promise after the other, many of which Congress will never approve and all of which would be a major cost to the treasury. However, that is still a far cry from being a socialist. Sadly, some in the political world care very little about the honesty of such a charge, but rather hope that the label of socialist will stick. That is the state of our politics by vilification today.
But the issue of health care for all Americans will dominate the national debate over the next year. Was it accurate to call Medicare or Medicaid socialism when enacted over 50 years ago? Is it socialism to go the next step and provide health care coverage for all Americans regardless of their ability to pay? That is the big question. And how would such a system be paid for?
In response to the ad in the September 5 issue of T&V, the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association received a number of comments and questions. The following letter has been sent to elected representatives in Washington, Albany and New York. The SCPA thanks to all those who took the time to contact them.
On Monday, October 21, the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association will hold its annual Friends of Stuyvesant Cove Park meeting. The meeting will take place at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center, located at 449 East 16th Street. Among our agenda items is the planned razing of Stuyvesant Cove Park as part of the East Coast Resiliency Project.
It is the opinion of this body that the planned destruction and modification of the park, a project estimated to deprive the community use of the park for two years or more, will do nothing to prevent flooding in Stuyvesant Cove Park in the future. In addition, despite the surge in 2012, regular park-goers observed that within months, most of the flora was alive and well, with only a few exceptions, and within six months, you would not know anything had happened. All this in spite of the fact that the park had been under four feet of river water.
We understand that funds are being provided by the federal government. However, spending money simply because it is available should not be confused with justification and we are in total disagreement with the city’s decision to choose years of construction, hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and no discernible new protections for the park itself. Moreover, Stuyvesant Cove Park’s natural resiliency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy proves that this is an ill-conceived over reaction to this event.
Being governor of New York State with its nearly 20 million population and world important venues is a really big job. To govern successfully requires great intelligence, leadership skills and a focus on what matters most.
Andrew Cuomo has had this job for the past nine years. But one must wonder if he momentarily lost his attention on what is really important. Of all his significant policy initiatives during his first two terms, Cuomo’s preoccupation with issuing new license plates for motorists is a head scratcher. Of course, the change is estimated to raise upwards of $100 million for the state coffers, whether the replacement is necessary or not.
It will tax each car owner up to $45 to replace their current plates, once in circulation, for ten years. Governor Cuomo says that is needed because EZ pass terminals are having a hard time reading the existing plates. Since when?
Last week I saw Mayor Bill de Blasio on a local newscast giving an interview from the Iowa State Fair. He looked very relaxed in his shirtsleeves with no tie or jacket. I think he had just eaten a corndog, a local favorite. He seemed a million miles away from the daily cares of his actual job as chief executive of New York City. To be precise, he was about eleven hundred miles away from home.
Hizzoner was enjoying himself free from the problems of the disgraceful public housing conditions, the mass transit infrastructure woes, another police suicide, the worry about a terrorist attack in Chelsea with the discovery of what appeared at first to be improvised explosive devices. You know, some of the stuff that requires a Mayor to be on the job 24/7. But Bill de Blasio assures us that he is in communication with his staff every hour. That sort of makes him New York’s first Skype Mayor.
To be sure, everyone deserves a vacation and respite from their job. But Bill de Blasio has been spending chunks of time out of the city on a regular basis for the better part of 2019. His venue of choice has been Iowa because that is the first state which will be holding a Presidential nominee contest in just five months.
I find the character assassination by letter writer “name withheld” of Stephen Schwarzman and President Trump offensive and all too common by Trump haters. The letter writer should at least have the courage to sign his name. It’s not as if Antifa will show up at his door and threaten his wife and children. Contrary to what “Name withheld” would have us believe, Trump never said there were good white supremacists. Trump said, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
Regarding caging of children, there is no question the situation of people detained at our border is an unfortunate one, but before we believe people who bash Trump for political gain, we need to ask ourselves what are the alternatives. One is to send the illegal immigrants back home immediately, but that would require changing laws that the Democrats refuse to change.
On the Monday after two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, several dozen people gathered in Union Square to both mourn the several dozen victims as well as to criticize the ease of buying guns in America. Organized by the group RefuseFascism.org, many at the rally were critical of politicians who blamed mental illness as the cause of the massacres rather than the availability of military-style guns. (Photo by Jefferson Siegel)
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
Last week I wrote about gun violence and mass murder. My column was a warning entitled “It could happen anywhere.”
Two days later, it did.
This time a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas. It was one of the worst massacres in U.S. history, leaving 20 dead and dozens more seriously wounded. The weapon of choice again was an assault weapon. And then just hours later a gunman in Dayton, Ohio opened fire on innocent bystanders killing nine with an assault weapon. It took 30 seconds. That’s the killing power of assault weapons.
Thirty-one dead and scores wounded in 12 hours. They won’t be the last.
In El Paso, the assailant was fueled by hatred of Hispanics and Mexicans who largely inhabit the city of El Paso. He was said to be enraged by what he referred to as the “invasion” of Hispanic immigrants. He used the very same language that we have heard this president use over and over again. “Invasion.”
Last week the political rhetoric from the President of the United States sunk to a new low, awash with disturbing invective.
Donald Trump attacked four members of Congress who happen to be women of color and have been very critical of Trump’s immigration policies and his efforts to ban Muslims from entering this country. Trump said of the four that they should “go back to the crime infested countries that they came from.” But each are United States citizens, three of whom were born here.
So “go back to the country that they came from?” Say what?
It was not lost on anyone that the women singled out by Trump were either of Muslim heritage or whose family ties include relatives from Central American countries. To state the obvious, Trump’s comments are as factually wrong as they are repugnant and bigoted.
Much of my childhood growing up in Stuyvesant Town was shaped by politics, current events and sports. Not surprisingly, it still is.
The summer of 1969, fifty years ago, was a time of extraordinary and nearly unfathomable moments. For those of us who were part of that generation it left indelible memories.
The year before was marked by tragedy and turmoil the likes of which we had not seen before. The urban street riots and looting across the nation. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy rocked us to the core. The anti-war protests that enveloped the Democratic National Convention in Chicago while hundreds of American soldiers died each month in Vietnam.
The anger stirred by George Wallace who ran for President mostly on his racist segregation policies, and carried five southern states in a contentious election that ultimately Richard Nixon won by a hair.
A father and daughter drowned while trying to cross a river between Matamoros in Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Julia Le Duc)
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
I remember the powerful image of an anguished female student standing over the bloodied lifeless body of a fellow Kent State College student killed by National Guardsmen during the Vietnam War protests. I remember the picture of the lone Chinese protester blocking a tank rolling through Tiananmen Square during that country’s crackdown on democracy. And who can forget the image of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the lunar surface with his giant leap for mankind 50 years ago next month? Such photographs capture a moment in history and became etched in our collective psyches. They also shape the way Americans feel about important events and shape policy issues to come.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In an instant, it can define a policy debate or provide instant clarity to a complicated issue with its powerful graphic. And so it was last week.
Who amongst us was not moved to tears while viewing the father and his daughter both drowned in their perilous attempt to make it across the American border because all other entries were closed off? This was a parent desperate to escape his country’s violence and secure a better life for his daughter and family. Every parent can understand that impulse. This father was certainly not of the criminal element as President Trump has tried to depict all immigrants from Central America.
It has often be said that elections have consequences. That statement was never truer than last week in Albany.
You may recall that Brian Kavanagh, after serving for ten years in the State Assembly, in a district that I represented for almost three decades, ran for an open State Senate seat in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn two years ago. He was elected. But of even greater significance, the State Senate became a Democratic Party majority this year after the 2018 November elections. Senator Kavanagh became chairman of the Senate Housing Committee. That was important because all the New York City tenant protections laws would lapse this year and would need to be debated once again.
For over half a century the State Senate majority was in the hands of the Republican Party almost without interruption and mostly represented by upstate and suburban legislators. For all those years the Senate was commonly referred to as the place where progressive tenant protection and rent regulation reforms went to die. I can personally attest to that.
During my years in the State Assembly, I introduced dozens of affordable housing bills designed to protect tenants from unfair and excessive rent increases and other protections as well. They routinely passed in the Assembly but rarely if ever were even allowed to be voted upon in the State Senate. Did that fact have anything to do with the other fact, which was that Republican senators received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the real estate industry? Well, nobody can say for certain, but neither do I believe in coincidences like that. My counterpart in the State Senate, Roy Goodman, was frequently rebuffed by his own leadership in trying to advance these bills. In those days, Roy was only one of a couple of other Republican senators who represented large communities of tenants in New York State. So try as he did, he was stymied at every turn.
“One nation Indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” Those are the words from the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag first written in 1863 and formally adopted by Congress in 1942. Twelve years later “under God” was inserted after “one nation.” The Pledge articulates the ideal of a unified society with the common belief that everyone is valued and that freedom and fairness guides our civic life. These are principles worth reflecting upon as America observes Flag Day this week.
The Pledge contains nice words for sure, but aspirational at best. Over the decades many Americans have struggled to secure their liberty and justice. Women were only granted the right to vote in the last century and black people and other minorities were suppressed or restricted and also kept from voting by discriminatory local laws.
As for a “nation indivisible”… that is a tough one. From our inception there have always been profound national schisms. At first it was the agrarian states, mostly in the south with their particular cultural orientation vying with the industrialized northern states. The southern states coveted cheap and even free labor to work their fields and desperately protected the immoral and inhumane institution of slavery. Every school child knows that the fracture between free states and slave states led to the bloody Civil War which divided regions and even families, pitting brother against brother on the battlefields of America.
Despite Lincoln’s hopes for a charitable reconciliation at the war’s end “with malice towards none,” the defeated Confederacy lived under a virtual occupation during the Reconstruction Period. Resentments festered giving rise to hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which sought to restore the bigotry of a white supremacist society through intimidation and violence against blacks and others. In the succeeding years America remained deeply alienated along racial, religious and geographic lines.