Letters to the Editor, Aug. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Appreciating coverage on people and animals

To the Editor,

First, my thanks to T&V for some wonderful issues in the depths of our summer when so many are away. I especially appreciated the editorial (and letter) on the homeless and Steve Sanders column (in T&V, Aug. 13).

I give regularly to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, which is wonderful and has constantly expanded since 1982 when the congregation thought it would be temporary. They have added a social service unit to connect their guests to services they didn’t know they qualified for. I hope Mayor De Blasio’s plan will enable the Bellevue Shelter to increase their services, and that the change in who it serves will not take forever as your editorial so beautifully stated.

Don’t know if it helps but The Chief (Aug. 14, page 2) mentions several names along with agencies involved in the mayor’s plan that our community might approach.

Speaking as a psychotherapist, it is very tricky to define who is potentially violent so don’t be shy if you’re worried about an individual. As for who is mentally ill, if you have no money or home and you’re hungry, might you not get angry and try to bully a clerk into giving you food? Being upset and in agony is not per se mental illness but it can be.

Steve Sanders’ column (“Killing our sacred cow”) is so rich with insights and well-reasoned that I can not only agree but also hope it will be published again when the news will probably make it needed.

That Cecil the lion suffered has been glossed over to some extent. I heard it was 40 hours of living with an arrow in him before he was found and shot. The American dentist who shot the arrow apparently had no concern for the suffering he was inflicting. Lions seem to have been symbols for we humans for as long as we have history. It’s patience and fortitude who grace the entrance to the 42nd Street library. Can you think of another symbol there? I can’t. C.S. Lewis in Narnia made Aslan a lion. Steve Sanders did a beautiful job of detailing our American culture of guns and killing. With Cecil it felt like Aslan was not only slain but tortured and many of us wept. Let’s hope we can live on with more grace and love.

Joyce Kent, Gramercy

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The road to reform in Albany

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

The King is dead. Long live the King!

By now you have heard, ad nauseum, about the indictments and resignation of Sheldon Silver as speaker of the New York State Assembly. Assemblyman Carl Heastie from the Bronx has been elected as speaker.

The stunning downfall of Mr. Silver is very sad on many levels. On a personal note he has been a friend and an ally. I believe that as the leader of the Assembly for 21 years he accomplished much. Notwithstanding the charges of personal corruption alleged against him which a court must ultimately decide, I believe that from a public policy standpoint, Silver leaves his post and the state better off than he found it. But if his arrest and fall from grace is the ultimate result and legacy of this year’s legislative session in Albany that will be sadder still. Reform is needed and badly. And if not now, when?

The public needs to have confidence in its elected officials and its government institutions. Plainly said, today they do not.

The road to reform does not begin and end with the State Assembly; it must go through the State Senate as well as the governor’s office. Reform does not mean replacing one leader for another; it means systemic and enduring changes that will hold public officials to a higher standard of conduct. And it will mean that current office holders, including the governor, will have to sacrifice some of their current and cherished prerogatives.

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OP-ED: The legacy of Mario Cuomo

In November, 1993, Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill into law that created a new $210M  program for mental health services by redirecting savings from psychiatric hospitals that were closing and creating a network of local programs. (Pictured with Cuomo are Sanders, the bill’s author, and State Senator Nick Spano.)

In November, 1993, Governor Mario Cuomo signed a bill into law that created a new $210M program for mental health services by redirecting savings from psychiatric hospitals that were closing and creating a network of local programs. (Pictured with Cuomo are Sanders, the bill’s author, and State Senator Nick Spano.)

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Much has been written about Mario Cuomo since his passing a week ago. I had the honor to serve in government as a member of the New York State Assembly during his 12 years in office as governor. During that time I got to know him on a personal and political basis.

Mario Cuomo was a fiercely loyal man. Loyal to his family, loyal to his convictions and loyal to the state that he governed from 1983 through 1994. He was a man of high intellect and unquestioned integrity. These traits seem desperately wanting in today’s generation of politicians… with notable exceptions of course. Mario Cuomo did not need a press advisor to distill what he said on a given issue. He was clear and articulate, and he was unequivocal. Reason, logic and eloquent speaking were his stock in trade in government. And unlike most, he led by example.

He was his generation’s spokesperson for the virtues of government as a force for good. When President Ronald Reagan declared that government itself was the problem, Mario Cuomo advocated the view that government is an equalizing and essential instrument for social progress when entrusted in the right hands. And like Lincoln he sought out “the better angels” of people’s nature.

When the public and politicians were clamoring and pandering for the death penalty as a way to respond to rising crime rates, Cuomo stood apart at great political risk and prevented its use in New York. Although a devout Catholic, and contrary to the importunes of the Church hierarchy, Cuomo made the legal and moral case for a woman’s right to choose. Before a national audience in 1984 Cuomo warned against the growing inequality in America and the schism of “haves” and “have nots” that was leading to “a tale of two cities” 30 years before Bill de Blasio co-opted that theme. Like the Kennedys of the 1960s, Mario Cuomo inspired a new generation of young people to join public service through his intellect and charismatic eloquence.

When given an opportunity to run for president in 1988 and 1992 he demurred and put any national aspirations aside because he felt that his promised work in New York State was still unfinished. That decision came from his heart as well as his head. Logic, loyalty and commitment overruled what may have been his political passions and ambitions.

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Residents unsure who to vote for

Undecided republican voters Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson Photo by Sabina Mollot

Undecided republican voters Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

The primary for the mayoral election as well as other citywide positions is right around the corner, but in Peter Cooper Village (always an area with impressive voter turnout), residents are still saying they don’t know who they’ll be voting for.

A Town & Village reporter cornered people who were minding their own business, sitting out on the benches this week, to ask about who they think they’ll choose. In response, all those interviewed said they had no idea or were still on the fence about a couple of candidates. Most also seemed unimpressed by the current crop of candidates running for mayor.

One senior couple, Paul and Gerry Singer, said they’d been following news about the upcoming primary to some degree. However, due to their having just moved to PCV from Nassau County, were at this time ineligible to vote.

Still, Gerry said she was torn between current frontrunners Public Advocate Bill De Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“I like what they have to say,” she said. “Whether it’s true or not I won’t find out unfortunately until after one of them is elected.”

“It’s very hard to choose,” said Paul. The candidates “will say, ‘We’re going to stop stop-and-frisk, but they don’t say how. They make a lot of statements and they expect you to trust them upfront.”

Frances Jivekian, who worked in catering until retiring recently, said, “I’d vote for Bloomberg if he was running again.” That said, she was not a big fan of the bike lanes he instituted, blasting the one on First Avenue as dangerous. As for the current candidates, “I’m still undecided, but I will probably vote for Quinn,” said Jivekian. “She’s my favorite. I like the woman and I’m a democrat. I don’t like that other guy, that big guy,” she said in reference to the towering de Blasio.

Pal Brenda Satzman, who until recently worked in floral design, said she isn’t going to be voting. She normally doesn’t vote in mayoral or gubernatorial races anyway, “unless there’s a character I’m interested in. I know the issues are very important but who’s going to be listening to those issues?”

She, too, said she likes the current mayor but said none of the current candidates stands out for her.

Heidi Clever, who works in the fashion industry, said education is a deciding issue for her when voting. At this time, she’s torn between de Blasio and Quinn.

Quinn, who has recently proposed opening five new technology/science schools for girls, has, through the Council, expanded pre-K by 10,000 seats and made kindergarten mandatory.

De Blasio wants to create universal pre-k, create after school programs for middle schoolers and also supports the expansion of tech education.

“I’m not sure how they’re going to deliver though so I want to do more research and I haven’t had a chance to do that yet,” said Clever. “I have a son in school so school (is the issue) for me.”

Clever’s friend Jacqueline Farmer said she was also considering de Blasio or Quinn, and that she too has school aged kids, 10 and 18.

“So that’s big for me,” said Farmer, also a full-time student herself at CUNY Hunter, studying English and political science. Farmer said she likes that De Blasio wants to put more money into CUNY (financed by taking tax subsidies away from big companies). She also likes the candidate because of his interracial marriage and family. “I’m mixed and I think he would be understanding about minorities,” she said.

However, Farmer is also still leaning towards Quinn, because, “I’m a part-time feminist and I like that she’s a woman and she exposes her flaws. She doesn’t hide anything.”

Married couple Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson said they were die-hard voters and voted whenever they could in a primary, being republicans. Both said they thought Bloomberg had done a good job but didn’t seem to have anything to say about the Republicans currently on the ballot.

“I’ll probably go for the one the Times endorsed, but I don’t remember his name,” Aaron, an engineer, admitted.

Dorothy, a retired teacher who taught at School “47”, agreed, saying she and Aaron always vote the same way. (For reference, the Times endorsed former MTA head Joe Lhota for the Republican side.)

Aaron also indicated he doesn’t care for de Blasio, due to his plan to fund pre-k seats by taxing the wealthy.

“He says he’s going to tax the rich, but he doesn’t define rich,” Aaron said, adding, “You betcha” when asked if he was concerned personally about a possible tax hike. (Reports have said this would mean New Yorkers earning over $500,000.)

Karl Guerie, a photographer who also does administrative work at the V.A. Medical Center, said, “I’m still debating.

“To be honest no one really stands out for me, so that’s why I’ll be waiting until the last minute to decide,” he said. “There’s nothing fresh, nothing new. There are different things they’re talking about but not enough to define the individuals. One person may be talking about stop-and-frisk. Someone else will say where they stand on housing. I believe it should be a complete package, but if that’s what you want, you may not end up voting at all. Sometimes it’s the lesser of the evils.”

Guerie added he will try to consider the city’s population at large when choosing. “When people say, ‘Who’s good for me?,’ it makes things difficult. I’d like to believe it’s bigger than me, the individual. Because what happens to all the people whose voices aren’t heard?”

Helen Sanders, a retiree and mom to former Assembly Member Steven Sanders, a Democrat who represented Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town for 28 years, said she too doesn’t know yet who she’ll be voting for.

“Right now no, I’m still deciding,” she said, adding that her son, now a lobbyist in Albany, doesn’t try to nudge her towards one candidate or another. But she said she will be voting. “Oh yes,” said Sanders. “I always vote.”