Opinion: As The World Turns

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Some weeks feel like a year in the life of national politics, especially as it concerns President Trump. He likes saying that no president in history has done more than he. Maybe, but is it good? If last week felt like a half dozen episodes of a soap opera, you are forgiven. It was produced by the recently self-proclaimed “chosen one.”

In just one week, Trump attacked members of Congress who have been critical of him and the Israeli government. He proceeded to pressure Israel to forbid the planned visit of two of them. Evidently the First Amendment has no meaning to this President.

He went on to lecture the Jewish community about anti-Semitism and said that any Jew who voted against him and for a Democrat was either ignorant or “disloyal.”

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Opinion: Running out the clock

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

To understand what is going on between President Trump, his attorney general, other high-ranking administration officials and the Democrats in the House of Representatives, it is useful to understand basketball strategy. When the game clock is winding down in a close basketball game, the team that is barely ahead and has the ball tries to make sure that the opposing team does not get another shot at scoring a bucket. So they protect the ball or just pass it back and forth to themselves.

With 535 days left before the next presidential election the Trump team is doing just that. Democrats in Congress have issued a subpoena to obtain the full unredacted report by Robert Mueller after newly appointed Attorney General William Barr refused to release parts of it. Barr said NO. Tick, tick, tick. Democrats have also subpoenaed President Trump’s concealed tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. Thus far Trump and his Treasury secretary have said NO. Tick, tick, tick.

Democrats in Congress have requested bank records from a financial institution, which loaned Trump billions of dollars for questionable business dealings, that is now under scrutiny. Trump is suing to block that disclosure. They also want key Trump officials to testify at Congressional hearings regarding a variety of matters now under investigation. Trump is asserting “Executive Privilege” to try to block their testimony which might prove either embarrassing or unveil information about obstruction of justice during the Mueller investigation. Tick, tick, tick.

And to add to the president’s woes, The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee just subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to return and clarify information that he provided about contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 election…Uh-oh.

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Protesters pack Union Square over border wall

Hundreds of protesters packed Union Square Park on Monday evening to protest the president’s renewed push for a border wall.

By Jefferson Siegel

Hundreds gathered in Union Square on the Presidents Day holiday, Monday night, to protest the policies of president Donald Trump and specifically his declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the Mexican border. Dozens of similar protests were also held around the country. Sixteen state attorneys general as well as several legal organizations and numerous private citizens have filed lawsuits against Trump over declaring a national emergency.

At Union Square, there were also a handful of Trump supporters who were being kept apart from the main protest.

Photos by Jefferson Siegel

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Letters to the editor, Dec. 6

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

More bike regs would go a long way

To the editor,

Thank you for researching and publishing (in your Nov. 29 issue) data that’s been collected re: bike/pedestrian accidents in New York City (“Stats on bicycle/pedestrian crashes”).

I frequently cross at 23rd Street and Second Avenue. As at other major cross streets bicycles have their own traffic light which is rather adorable (red, yellow and green icon of a bicycle). Many, perhaps half, of the bicyclists ignore it, if they see it at all. It’s particularly evident when there is a left turn signal for downtown traffic to turn to go East on 23rd to the FDR. That includes many trucks and at least one bus route.

I’ve seen vehicles having to deal with a bicycle weaving about in front of them as they turn. More frequently the bikes zip outside their lane to continue straight down Second in the middle of the street.

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Maloney: SCOTUS pick an attack on Roe v. Wade

July12 kavanagh rally maloney

Congress Member Maloney with pro-choice advocates protests the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, despite a small counter-protest. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney joined other local elected officials and pro-choice advocates on Tuesday to oppose the nomination of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The politicians and advocates gathered in Foley Square across from the New York State Supreme Court and the focus of the rally was the possibility that Roe vs. Wade could be overturned when a new justice is confirmed, which drew two counter-protesters responding to advocates’ call to keep abortion legal.

The small but vocal group didn’t noticeably identify with any particular group but the pair, a man and woman, delayed the start of Maloney’s rally with calls of “Keep abortion legal? No!” and “Put them up for adoption!”

The protesters also made it clear that they vehemently dislike President Trump, although they agree with him on this point. Anti-choice group Created Equal had sent out a call to lobby senators to confirm Kavanaugh at rallies to be held in Washington next week, although the protesters at Maloney’s rally did not specify if they affiliated with that or any other group.

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The Soapbox: More guns don’t equal more safety

By John Cappelletti

I am a retired teacher who does not agree with President Trump’s proposal to equip teachers with guns and echoing the NRA’s position that “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

But if the government is going to equip teachers with guns to prevent tragedies like the one in Florida on Valentine’s Day 2018 which was the 18th gun-related incident on school grounds this year, it must equip workers in other professions to prevent more tragedies in places where large groups congregate.

For example, if you’ve seen “The Godfather,” you know that hospitals are not necessarily safe. Shouldn’t the government require all doctors and nurses to have a Glock at their hips? And since we’ve had shootings in churches, shouldn’t priests, ministers, rabbis and imams display small handguns around their necks like pendants? Workers in government buildings like the post office in Edmond, OK, should have guns as well as those who work in shopping centers, theaters and concert halls, restaurants and sporting events like the Super Bowl and the World Series. Maybe the players could carry guns as part of their uniform. Think Tom Brady. Then James Brady.

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Hoylman talks ‘resistance’ with Obama adviser

State Senator Brad Hoylman with Neera Tanden, former policy director for President Obama and policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senator Brad Hoylman spoke with domestic policy expert Neera Tanden about the state of the Democratic Resistance movement and how New Yorkers can “fight back” in a town hall at CUNY’s Graduate Center last Thursday. Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, previously served as Hillary Clinton’s policy director when she ran for president in 2008 and also served as policy director for President Obama.

Hoylman and Tanden discussed ways in which New Yorkers can get involved, but also covered the Russia investigation and the memo from Congressmember Devin Nunes, which had not been released at the time of the event. The memo, ultimately released on Friday, alleges that FBI officials abused their surveillance powers in investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Thank you, William McClellan

Re: “Stuy Town gets new public safety chief,” T&V. Sept. 21

To whom it may concern:

Having recently received notification of the change in leadership of the head of Public Safety in our community, I should like to take this opportunity to thank William F. McClellan for keeping me safe for the many years that he has been head of Public Safety.

Though I have been here going on 47 years, fortunately I have had few incidents when I needed Public Safety. In each case, under Mr. McClellan’s leadership I have been safely protected. Once when I was coming out the back door or my garage on Avenue C, a giant man lunged at me as I was starting out. I quickly slammed the door and called Public Safety. Someone immediately came, almost within seconds, to protect me. On another occasion, some inspector came to my door uninvited by me and unannounced. He wanted to come into my apartment. He showed me a badge but it could have been fake so I refused and told him to stay put and I would call Public Safety to come and escort him inside. Very quickly, a Public Safety Officer was sent and the inspector was for real but he stopped in my dining area as he saw that nothing illegal was going on in my apartment. I for sure felt safer letting someone in my apartment with a Public Safety officer at my side.

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Trump, Sanders voters unite to protest Clinton book signing

The former presidential candidate waves to fans while leaving her book signing at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, not far from the small protest. Behind her is longtime aide Huma Abedin. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Supporters of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were out in very small but very vocal numbers to protest Hillary Clinton’s book signing at the Union Square Barnes and Noble on Tuesday.

Howard Caplan, a Trump voter who traveled from Philadelphia to protest the signing, said that he voted for Sanders in the Democratic primary and for President Obama in the previous two elections but “would’ve voted for a three-legged monkey” instead of Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

“To write a book about why you lost takes a lot of hubris,” Caplan said. “She just keeps the anti-Trump contingent going.”

He also handed this reporter a pamphlet titled “Investigate #Pizzagate,” referring to a debunked report of Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor.

Brooklyn native Ayton Eller said he was protesting the signing because he is a supporter of the president.

“I voted for Trump because he’s pro-Israel and pro-USA,” said Eller, who also addressed this reporter with shouts of “You lost, we won” before being asked any questions.

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Opinion: For once the president shuts up

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Say this about Donald Trump, he knows his base… and they evidently know him.

During his campaign rallies, he would preen and strut around the stage and insult his opponents with childish name-calling. On occasions, he would arouse his supporters by saying he’d like to punch demonstrators and see them carried out on stretchers. Music to the ears of the unstable.

As president, he urges police to rough up persons they arrest. He calls transgender individuals unfit to serve in the military in any capacity. He makes up facts and lies constantly. Is it any wonder that violent irrational groups previously relegated to the shadowy fringes of society now feel emboldened to take to the streets?

He labels the press as “enemies of the people.” But when Neo-Nazis and assorted white supremacy hate groups gathered in an incendiary demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, spewing racist and anti-Semitic slogans while parading as the Ku Klux Klan once did, our self-styled “tell it like it is” president had very little to say. He demurred from confronting the gaggle of haters who use Nazi symbols and KKK imagery to intimidate. Instead, he offered muted opposition to bigotry “from many places.” His initial statement refused to identify or condemn the instigators of this violence or single them out in any way.

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Fireworks and a message of unity on July 4th

Fireworks on the East River (Photo by Edward O’Rourke)

By Sabina Mollot

On July 4, thousands gathered at Waterside Plaza to view the fireworks from windows as well as outdoor areas on the complex. This year, with the barges centered solely on the East River from 24th to 41st Streets, the complex got an even more enviable viewpoint than usual. The roughly 25-minute display sponsored by Macy’s showcased 2,200 effects per minute from each of the five barges.

The event even drew a visit from Mayor Bill de Blasio who stopped by before the fireworks to discuss immigrant rights on Independence Day. He spoke about the travel ban and how if people are feeling disenfranchised by the Trump administration, they could fight back by remembering that New York is an immigrant-friendly place.

De Blasio, who began by saying it was his first time visiting Waterside, called it “pretty amazing. I’m seeing everything good about New York City in one place.”

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Letters to the editor, May 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

More money than brains

Back in the time when human beings were bought and sold to provide free labor and other perks for their owners, I imagine that slaves wore clothes that were basically old, tattered jeans handed down to others. Nowadays, people of all races, ages, genders and nationalities are wearing “shabby chic” jeans that are ripped, torn and threadbare. These jeans are extremely tight on females or too loose on males as evidenced by some men’s exposed jockey/boxer shorts or plumber’s crack. In addition, these shabby jeans now have permanent fake mud stains. In fact, I believe Nordstrom’s is selling these “filthy jeans” for $425.

Who can afford these jeans? Probably those who will benefit from Trump’s tax “plan,” which redirects our investing in clean air/water/food, health care, education, scientific research and our citizens’ pursuit of happiness to investing our taxes in corporations and the ultra-wealthy One Percent who stand to pocket hundreds of thousands so a few bucks can “trickle down” (a Trump fave) to the rest of us. He revealed a tax plan so simple it fits on a single 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, unlike his own personal taxes, which, if he’d reveal them, would speak volumes.

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Opinion: Trump’s disciples

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

There is an old saying that “nothing succeeds like success.” In politics that is an axiom of election strategy. When a political campaign is successful, especially one that is so unexpected, it is carefully studied and often times imitated by the next group of candidates.

Last year we saw the rise of Donald Trump to the Presidency. He accomplished this long shot feat by breaking all the rules of political decorum. He was not only brash and boastful, he had absolutely no experience in government. He was beyond just a provocateur, he was personally offensive to his political adversaries and all those who opposed him in any way. He took the low road with insults and slurs. He targeted and attacked religious and ethnic groups much to the delight of many in his fan base. He offered up lies and passed them off as fact and made promises to his supporters that he has already broken. But there he is in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that was the point of it all.

So the Trump model of political campaigning is now taking root. Right here in New York State there are two individuals interested in running for high office who are doing their best Trump impersonation, hoping that such a style may propel them too into high office. Call them candidate copycats. Call it trickle down politics.

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Opinion: Bait and switch

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

It was a sales pitch; it was always a sales pitch. It was like the defunct Trump University whose former students now have buyer’s remorse and have won a $22 million restitution of their tuition costs for a product that was promised but not delivered.

For nearly two years since the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to put Americans first and to “make America great again.” He advertised his credentials as the consummate businessman and the ultimate deal maker. Just the kind of tonic Washington D.C.’s unhealthy dysfunctional government needed.

To that end he promised to repeal the current health care law and replace it with something “much better and more affordable for every American.”

But instead he endorsed a plan that would toss 24 million Americans from their current health coverage, increase premiums and roll back benefits.

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Opinion: Benching of Bharara

The former U.S. attorney had this to say on Twitter last Monday.

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

If I were Donald Trump, I would have fired Preet Bharara too.

For the past eight years, Mr. Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Appointed by President Obama, he has been a relentless prosecutor of official government corruption. And he has been an equal opportunity crime fighter against both Republicans and Democrats, bringing down some of the most powerful state legislators.

Before his dismissal last weekend, he was in the midst of cases against several of Governor Cuomo’s most trusted advisors who are now under criminal indictment for bribery, bid rigging and other charges. Bharara was also investigating Mayor de Blasio and his administration for political fundraising violations and steering lucrative contracts in exchange of big donations to the de Blasio campaign. The mayor is using public funds to employ expensive defense lawyers in the hopes of avoiding indictment.

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