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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Letters to the editor, Nov. 24

Bernie bashing is unsubstantiated

Re: Letter, “Hillary pilloried for not being perfect,” T&V, Nov. 10

I’ll never understand why people with strong opinions are not strong enough to sign their names to their letters.

For example, a “Name Withheld” writer confidently states: “I am proud to vote for Hillary Clinton who is intelligent, competent and completely qualified,” but is not proud enough of her views to sign her name. She states that Bernie Sanders “ran on a platform of grandiose ideas that he did not have a hope of getting through Congress.”

How does she know this? Did Bernie tell her, “Hey, Name Withheld, I know these ideas of mine don’t have a prayer for success, but when you run for public office, you gotta say something?” And did she tell Bernie he is “not qualified to head the Executive Office,” to which he replied, “Who is?” Although being a mayor or governor might offer some experience, I doubt that anything prepares one for being the president of the USA. What were Obama’s qualifications? Or W’s? Or (are you sitting down down?) Trump’s?

After trashing Bernie, Name Withheld defends Hillary by writing that voters “struggle to see a woman in office. They find reasons to attack her over not very much. Misogyny, unfortunately, is still alive and well.” But maybe it’s not Hillary’s gender that voters find troubling, but rather the appearance of years of dishonesty and corruption.

I can’t speak for others who find Hill and Bill so untrustworthy there’s not enough space in T&V to list their reasons, but I did vote for a woman. Her name rhymes with Hill. She heads The Green Party and because I want a third party, independent of the two giants in America, I voted for Jill Stein. Stein’s platform was almost identical to Bernie’s.

And maybe she lost like Bernie because she didn’t have a hope for success either.  But I do. We have the knowledge and the ability to clean up all the mess we have created in our society. We just need the will.

John Cappelletti, ST

Editor’s note: At Town & Village, we agree that signed letters have more credibility than anonymous ones. However, in this case, it was the editor’s mistake to sign the author’s letter as “Name withheld,” when in fact, she hadn’t made a request to remain anonymous. The author of the letter is Harriet Gottfried, a retired librarian living in Stuyvesant Town. We regret the error.

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Opinion: A letter from a mom

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Last week, after the umpteenth rejection by Congress to pass any restrictions on the sale of guns, President Obama acted with an executive order to restrict online and gun show sales of weapons without a sufficient background check of the persons attempting to purchase firearms in this manner. Naturally he was immediately attacked by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and candidates seeking the support of the NRA.

Donald Trump, in his efforts to pander to the gun lobby this week even said that his “first” action as President would be to eliminate all “gun free zones,” in America including the ones near and on school grounds! Of all the outrageous remarks he has made as a candidate for President, that one is probably the saddest of all.

I have written much about efforts to enact sensible restrictions on the sale and possession of dangerous and deadly firearms. I have spoken about the culture of guns ingrained in the American experience. I have strenuously criticized Congress and candidates who look the other way in the face of mass murders with high powered assault weapons. I have trotted out statistics which show that since the assassination of President Kennedy with a mail ordered rifle, 1.5 million people have died at the hands of persons with guns. That is more deaths than all the American servicemen and women who died during all American wars spanning 240 years… combined! And still the politicians look the other way and pretend that the Second Amendment is inviolate and cannot be tampered with, even if a gun could propel a nuclear device. This is utter madness. These arguments fall on politicians ears drowned out by the sound of campaign cash and political endorsement by the NRA.

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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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David Axelrod, former Obama adviser and Stuy Town native, releases memoir

President Barack Obama (right) with David Axelrod (second to left) and others in the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza/ White House)

President Barack Obama (right) with David Axelrod (second to left) and others in the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza/ White House)

By Sabina Mollot

David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, who’d also helped strategize campaigns for him and a slew of other elected officials, and who worked as an adviser to President Bill Clinton, has recently written a book about his professional experiences. The Stuyvesant Town native, whose introduction to the world of politics began with a historic visit from then-Senator John F. Kennedy to the street where he lived, has called the memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics ($35, Penguin). While in the midst of a multi-state media tour, Axelrod, now the director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, discussed his book, his background and his career with Town & Village.

What was growing up in Stuyvesant Town like for you?

I grew up reading your newspaper. It was a great experience. It was a different kind of community than it is now. It was pretty modest. A lot of World War II veterans and families, and it was really an oasis in the city. We all got together in the playground. I’m still friends with a lot of people I grew up with. Some of them came to my book event in New York and some of them are coming to my event in Boston. Back then there was a real sense of community in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper. The people you grew up with you stuck with from nursery to high school and ultimately through life. I have a great association with Stuyvesant Town and growing up there.

I was just there a week ago to film a piece for CBS about my book. We walked on 20th. My first address was 622 East 20th Street. We talked about the day in 1960 when JFK came and campaigned in Stuyvesant Town. I was noticing the change in the community, all the high end kind of stores and air conditioners in every window, because we didn’t have that back then. It looked like a very upgraded version of what I remember. When we lived at 622, my parents were mostly still married, but they did split up when I was eight. Then my mom and I moved to 15 Stuyvesant Oval. My mother was a writer and worked in advertising and my father was a psychologist. I had an older sister, Joan. At 622, it was a two-bedroom, so Joan and I shared a bedroom with a wooden divider.

As you know, Stuyvesant Town apartments are small, small kitchens, small bathrooms. By today’s standards, the apartments were very modest, but it seemed comfortable to me. My parents got divorced when I was 13 and my mom and I went to live at 15 Stuyvesant Oval. My sister was gone by then. My mom moved in 1948 and moved out in 2006 to an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. She died last year. (Axelrod’s father committed suicide in 1977.)

There was a lot of activity and my group was the Playground 10 group. There were parts of Stuyvesant Town that were predominantly Jewish and parts of Stuyvesant Town that were predominantly Catholic and parts that were predominantly Protestant, and the playgrounds roughly followed those ethnic divisions. Like Playground 9 was where the Catholic kids hung out. There were very few minorities back then.

I went to PS 40 and Junior High School 104 and Stuyvesant High School when it was still on 16th Street. In my day they were excellent public schools. I still have a teacher in my head who played a formative role in my life. It was at PS 40 and her name was Lee Roth. She brought poets to our classroom, well-known poets of the day, like Ogden Nash. In the classroom, she would engage us in discussions on current events. It really enriched my life and I feel a debt of gratitude to all the people like her.

JFK crowd at 1st ave

When JFK came to Stuyvesant Town in 1960, David Axelrod was in attendance. This photo, originally published in Town & Village, also appears in his book.

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Letters to the Editor, August 7

Aug7 Toon Cuomo

Inconsistent landscaping is being ignored

I am a resident of Stuy Town for over 30 years. While a lot of landscaping continues in Stuy Town and you write articles full of the ongoing plantings and landscaping, everyone has ignored the fact that the landscaping to the entrance of many buildings is by and large ignored.

If everyone would just get it right! The T level is the front of the building and the front entrance and exit used 90 percent of the time by the residents, where cars, delivery, moving and mail trucks pull up. The M level, which is actually the back entrance, is scary because it is too quiet and women look over their shoulder when using this entrance. Yet the landscaping focus has been on the M and not the T for a long time now.

Consistently some buildings have pretty landscaping and many others are void of any landscape and are in fact an embarrassment. Check out 1 and 3 Oval. Forever ignored, the Terrace levels which again really are the front entrances of the buildings are indeed quite ugly. Is anyone ever going to do anything about it?

Below are pictures of the 1 Stuyvesant Oval T entrance.


Gazala Chinwalla, ST

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Crime down for year, burglaries up for the month in 13th Precinct

Lt. Kenneth Perez, special operations at the 13th Precinct, and Lt. Vincent Collins at a Tuesday meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Lt. Kenneth Perez, special operations at the 13th Precinct, and Lt. Vincent Collins at a Tuesday meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Crime is down overall for the year in the 13th Precinct, though it’s up for the month, mainly due to a spike in burglaries, police said on Tuesday.
Community residents got the latest stats on local crime from Lieutenant Vincent Collins, who took over the most recent Community Council meeting at the 13th Precinct. The precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, usually gives leads the meetings, but was stuck in midtown on President Obama’s detail.
Collins said that Ehrenberg was hoping to make it back downtown before the meeting ended but he didn’t make it in time for the crime report, in which Collins noted that the precinct is still on the right track.
However, crime was up 2.8 percent for the past month with the major problems due to burglaries, which shot up by 63.6 percent for the month compared to last month. Collins noted that while grand larceny is still a frequent problem in the area, it usually drives the crime in the precinct and is down for the year by 8.2 percent. He added, as Ehrenberg has emphasized in the past, that the most prevalent crime in the neighborhood is also one of the most preventable.
“A forum like this one is so important because we can tell people, keep an eye on your property,” he said. “Car break-ins are also a problem and in this day and age, we shouldn’t have to tell people, don’t leave your $1,800 laptop sitting on the front seat. Not everyone is as honorable as we are.”
Residents often attend the community council meetings to voice concerns or complaints about noise in their neighborhood and with so many bars in the area, noise issues are a common problem. Peter Cooper Village residents Anne Greenberg and Joan Greene were at the meeting on Tuesday to voice a concern about a more seasonal noise problem: the drunken rowdiness of party-goers disembarking from boats on the East River at all hours of the night.
“They come off the boats incredibly drunk and noisy, walking in the middle of cars and walking down the middle of 23rd Street,” Greenberg said. “At this point, I’m more concerned about the drivers because they wouldn’t even know that there are people right in the street.”
She added that while it is a seasonal occurrence starting when the weather gets warmer, it’s been going on for a number of years and isn’t just once a night. “It’s a sudden uproar and it’ll go on at midnight and sometimes again at 3 a.m. I’ve never seen any police presence controlling it.”
Detective Ray Dorrian said that the precinct does have cops stationed at the boats for crowd control right when people get off but that they would send people over to check out the area.
Anthony Solomito of the Manhattan CERT was also at the meeting to raise awareness about emergency preparedness as hurricane season starts up again. He emphasized that there is a new hurricane map and said that there is a push for residents to know their zones since the system has changed. The mapped zones have changed but the zones are also numbered now, from one to six, instead of lettered.
“All the stuff they send out about evacuating doesn’t do any good if you don’t know your zone,” he said. “And you don’t want to be on your own. If they say you should get up and go, get up and go.”
Cissy Stamm, a co-founder of New York Area Assistance Dogs and a resident of East 14th Street, was also at the meeting to raise awareness for business owners on how to recognize and react to individuals with service dogs, and what to expect from emotional support dogs.
“You have the right to ask what services the dog performs,” she said. “You can’t ask what the disability is.”
She added that a special vest isn’t required for service dogs and since those can be easily purchased online, aren’t always the best way to determine if it is a service dog. “You go by the behavior of the dog and the questions that the person answers,” she said.
In addition to assisting a blind person, Stamm said that some of the answers one might expect to the question of what tasks a service dog or emotional support dog performs is for hearing impairment, diabetes alert, seizure alert, mobility alert and general medical alert.
The 13th Precinct Community Council usually meets on the third Tuesday of every month but there are no meetings in July and August. The next time the community council will gather is at National Night Out Against Crime on August 5 at the Simon Baruch Middle School playground.


Placard in car parked in ST compares Obama to Hitler

By Sabina Mollot

Placard found in a car in Stuyvesant Town.

“The Obama youth is coming for your children.”

That was the message written on a placard, the words surrounded on both sides with swastikas, that was placed in a car parked in Stuyvesant Town this week.

The dark blue car that had the sign in the windshield is often seen parked in the 20th Street Loop, according to one neighbor, though no one seemed to know who it belonged to when a T&V reporter asked on Monday.

However, once residents took a look at the placard, none thought highly of its message. Continue reading