Letters to the editor, July 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Nike’s flag sneakers disrespectful

Re: “It Seems to Me,” T&V, July 11

While Christopher Hagedorn’s belief that the Betsy Ross flag sneakers were “cool” might be true and while Colin Kaepernick’s reasoning against the Betsy Ross flag sneakers I believe to be faulty at best; both sides of that argument missed a far more serious and important point.

If the Betsy Ross flag sneakers had been sold to the public, what would have happened to those sneakers when they wore out?  From my point of view, throwing those sneakers in the garbage would have been little different then from throwing any other American Flag in the garbage.  Total disrespect!

The proper retirement of the American Flag requires a ceremony at which old and worn our flags are burned.  The ceremony appropriately concludes with the call of the bugle: To The Colors.

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Activists protest Jeff Bezos at his Manhattan apartment on Amazon’s Prime Day

Protesters demonstrated at the Manhattan home of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Prime Day, condemning the tech mogul for his company’s alleged connections to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Immigration activists attempted to deliver more than 270,000 petitions to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos during a protest at his new home across from Madison Square Park during a protest on Monday afternoon during Amazon’s Prime Day. Activists were calling on Bezos to cut ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and end abusive working conditions at Amazon warehouses.

The company started Prime Day last year offering deals for members of the Amazon Prime and the protest was organized specifically on Prime Day as part of a national day of action against the company. Representatives and activists from New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York, ALIGN NY, NYC-DSA, Mijente, DRUM, JFREJ, MPower Change, Workers United SEIU, Tech Workers Coalition and Chhaya CDC, as well as immigrant families and former Amazon workers, participated in the protest, which started on the northern end of Madison Square Park and marched to the West 26th Street entrance of Bezos’ apartment at 212 Fifth Avenue.

Curbed reported at the beginning of June that Bezos had purchased three condos, including a penthouse previously listed for $58 million, in the building. The penthouse that Bezos reportedly purchased is a triplex with five bedrooms, five bathrooms and almost 6,000 square feet of outdoor space. The Wall Street Journal reported that the total value of the apartments Bezos bought in the building was around $80 million.

One former Amazon warehouse worker who spoke at the protest, detailing the long hours with no breaks that employees have reportedly been subjected to. While speaking about working with insufficient lunch and bathroom breaks, the former Amazon employee held up a clear water bottle with an unnamed yellow liquid, although an organizer assured protesters that the mystery liquid was not urine.

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Opinion: What’s this picture worth?

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.

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Letters to the editor, July 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Immigration debate all of a sudden

Re: “Politics & Tidbits: Greats of Cooperstown,” T&V, July 12 

Steve Sanders wrote that one of the reasons he liked his visit to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame was because of the protest he saw against Trump’s separation of babies from their parents.

Children have been separated from their parents since the first parent in the United States was put in prison hundreds of years ago.  Why have we not heard protests against this by the Democrats until Trump started enforcing immigration law?

What is the solution proposed by the Democrats, to keep both children and their parents in detention? That is against the law. The solution of the Democrats is not to detain the immigrants at all and to let gangs such as MS-13, hostile terrorists and foreign disease invade our country unchecked.

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Outpouring of support for separated immigrant families shown in drive

Ibiza Kidz owner Carole Husiak with Council Member Keith Powers by some of the donated items (Photo courtesy of Keith Powers)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Motivated by recent news stories of children getting separated from their parents at the country’s southern border, local moms have collected more than a hundred donations in the last month for the children who have been displaced in New York.

Stuyvesant Town residents Rebekah Rosler and Emily Anderson, who started a company called MomMeetUps earlier this year for expectant and new mothers, reached out to their network when the story broke at the end of June and directed residents to drop off items at local shop Ibiza Kidz, where owner Carole Husiak, herself a Stuy Town resident, has also been soliciting donations from charitable people in the neighborhood through a Stuyvesant Town moms Facebook group.

“It was a community effort and because I’m a central neighborhood shop, it was a good place to bring things,” Husiak said. “That’s how it evolved. Everyone kind of jumped on it because we’re incensed by all this.”

Husiak has previously worked with civic-minded neighborhood residents, helping a local non-profit organization collect items for Syrian refugees last April. Husiak told Town & Village at the time that the organization was having trouble finding space for the donations so she volunteered her store as a drop-off site.

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Letters to the editor, June 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The health impacts of family separation

Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation, parent organization to Bellevue and other public hospitals, wrote the following letter on Thursday, following a press briefing.

Over the last few days, I have received messages from distraught physicians, social workers, and other health care providers in our health system who are understandably horrified by the unjust treatment of immigrants across our county. They are seeing first-hand the serious health impact to children of immigrants who have been torn apart from their families — and not at our border, but here in New York.

After separation, some of these children have ended up in our Emergency Departments accompanied by their government-appointed guardians who are often unfamiliar with the children, have no access to medical records, and have no way of getting in touch with a family member to get a medical history.

We have seen children as young as five and have treated teenagers who have presented with signs of anxiety, trauma and stress-related illness, including one extreme case of a teen with suicidal ideations after being separated from his mother.

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Letters to the editor, June 14

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Watch and learn from The Challengers

The final game of STLL’s Challenger Division was played on Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. on the Con Ed west field. The sun wasn’t shinning and drops of rain drizzled upon the players who were undaunted by the less than perfect weather conditions.

The game started out with some fashionable femininity when Anna, wearing the number 1 over a tiered flounce skirt and guided by Red Team Coach Katie, hit the first homer of the game. Number 19, Jonathan, gave the ball a powerful whack before removing his cap, showing off his natural red hair, and rounding the bases with the stride of a long distance runner. Neil, always handsome in shirt number 6, toured the bases, with his own unique style, pausing only to consider a career in photography.

Jamison, number 14, wowed the crowd (especially the pitcher) when she slammed the first ball tossed part way to The East River! Robbie, a tough guy to the finish, made his way to second base wearing jersey number 10 and displaying a true sense of sportsmanship. Jaden, who traveled south from Bronx, N.Y., to wear number 17 with pride has a good-natured mom to run him around the bases. Rory donned the number 8 and a good-looking pair of glasses, before demonstrating his skill and speed.

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Maloney’s opponent focused on immigrants’ rights, gun control

Mar1 Suraj Patel at HQ

Suraj Patel (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who’s easily held her seat for 25 years, will be facing two challengers in the June primary. One of them is Suraj Patel, an East Village resident and entrepreneur, who insists that it’s not the incumbent he’s challenging, but the status quo.

“People say competition is great for democracy, but technically it’s required for it to have any meaning,” he told Town & Village this week. “A lot of people ask, ‘Why are you challenging an incumbent?’ I’m challenging a party. I couldn’t wait my turn anymore.”

Patel, who’s also an attorney (though he doesn’t practice much), has some experience in politics, having worked as an advance associate for former President Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. These days, he’s an assistant adjunct professor of business ethics at New York University’s Stern Business School and also hosts a lecture series on voting rights called “Talks on Law.” He also owns, with his family, Sun Group, a company that owns motel franchises around the country. At this time, he said there are 12 motels operated by the hospitality group, some of them with partners, though none are in New York City.

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Opinion: A history of hostile divisions

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

After one year of the Trump presidency, the divide in America is wider and angrier. In truth, there have always been two Americas. One inhabited by mostly Caucasian persons who were born here with parents who were born here. And then there are those whose skin is not white, or newly arrived who speak with an accent, or who are poor and unwashed but ready to work to improve their lives or for their children’s better future.

The two segments of America were often separated by law or circumstances. There was always an underlying tension between the haves and the aspiring.

The American ethos can be found on the inscription of the Statute of Liberty. The promise of America is written into our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and the policies articulated by every president interested in making this nation more inclusive and more pluralistic. A place where refugees would be protected and immigrants were welcomed and given an opportunity to succeed no matter their race, religion, national or cultural background. Those principles are what made America
exceptional in the history of nations.

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

U.S. can’t always say yes to citizenship

To the editor:

In his “America’s Soul” column, T&V, Sept. 14, Steven Sanders put forward the idea that people who are “fleeing oppression, or [for that matter] just seeking a decent life,” have the same right to be here, on that account, as those who came here legally in the past. Mr. Sanders does acknowledge that “…these people and their children [are] not here lawfully,” and “nations need to have policies to accept new citizens,” yet neither acknowledgement counts for much in his column. Both get set aside… largely because America is the “beacon of hope.”

I too think that Mr. Trump’s maybe-desire to send them back to their native land is sleazy, despicable and expected, but I differ from Mr. Sanders undeclared view that there is now a new way, previously unknown, to obtain citizen status here in America: pain, fear suffering and illegal entry. A person’s life in a foreign country — even a brutal life in a brutal country — may be a horror, and it may be a good and relevant reason to consider granting, and then granting, citizenship, but a life in another country is neither a grant nor a right to U.S. citizenship. Living here as a citizen is not a right one can grant oneself. 

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Opinion: America’s Soul

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

America is not perfect, never was, never will be. After all, we are a reflection of the collective us, some 325 million imperfect human beings. But each generation has tried to learn by the mistakes of the previous ones and aspires to make this nation a more perfect union, and worthy of the lofty words of our founders. To be a beacon of hope for the downtrodden and to secure for our neighbors the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 We are a nation of immigrants, by definition. We came here from Europe, then Asia and later from countries south of our border. Sadly the distant relatives of many of our black neighbors arrived from Africa in bondage to be sold as slaves. That stain on our history is one that we are still trying to come to grips with. Most of us have parents or grandparents who were born in other countries and traveled to these shores seeking a better life. And all of us have ancestors who were new Americans at one time. That diversity has been considered a national strength.

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Musings – An American journey

By Anna Maria Aniban

The first time I was asked this question was in the early 70s. A new bride at 22, I was being introduced by my white, blue-eyed husband (now ex) to his family and friends in the south. Our host’s mother was proud to recount her travels to SEA, India, and other parts of that world. Then, she turned to me and said, “We didn’t have time to see your country but someday, I would like to meet your people.” It was a compliment I thought for someone to show interest in my country. Just a week ago, I was still in my country.

A decade past, divorced with an American passport obtained not through marriage but by choice, basking in the glory of reaching an upper middle management position in a Fortune 500 company, it was a pleasure to go in and out of mainstream white society with ease. This was in the early 80s when equal employment opportunity was aggressively enforced and a female with the right qualifications, no matter what ethnic background, was “pushed” into management. A few remarked on the beauty of a flawless naturally tanned complexion, shiny long black hair, fluid command of the English language, and an ability to banter effortlessly with a touch of the American sense of humor.

But times really haven’t changed that much from the 70s. Invited to a catered afternoon tea party on the Upper West Side, a lovely blonde who left the corporate world to be a successful chef, casually asked me, “When are you going to visit your country again?”  She knew that I loved to travel and we were just talking about my recent vacation in Switzerland. It was the first time the reference to “your country” created a mental and an emotional stir.

“Your country?” I felt like an outsider and yearned to belong.

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The de-evolution of politics

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

One upsmanship, name calling, gotcha, the ends justify the means, winning at any cost, my way or the highway.

Pick any of the above, in fact pick all of the above. Sadly that is what American politics has become. This is true in Albany, City Hall and especially in our nation’s capital.

Witness in Washington D.C. the sorry spectacle right at this moment of our Homeland Security funding being held hostage because a faction in Congress does not like actions that the President took on immigration reform. So instead of dealing with that issue head on, they threaten to disable the government agency charged with keeping us safe from terror attacks, hoping that will force the President to yield on his immigration policies. Of course this is an attempt to slap down the President which plays well in some portions of the country. Threatening to shut down all or essential parts of the federal government to get their way seems to be a favored tactic. Politics before the national interest, not a pretty sight!

Compromise has become a dirty word, and it is harder to find a statesman among the ruling class than to have the winning lottery ticket.

In my 40 years in and around government I have never seen our political institutions at every level reduced and debased to such a self-serving and morally bankrupt condition.

The ultra conservatives in Washington D.C. would rather see President Obama fail than see the country (they loudly profess to love) succeed. And the myopic and partisan members of the political far left are too often mired in sanctimonious rhetoric to be able to reach compromise and govern in the best interest of the people. Politics seems more rife with corruption than ever before. Increasingly individuals seemingly enter government as a way to enrich themselves either through money or power or both advancing good public policies? Well that comes in at the bottom of the agenda.

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