2003-05-23 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

By Howard Schwach
From the Editor's Desk

From the Editor's Desk
By Howard Schwach

It is occasionally difficult for me to fathom the minds of our elected officials. That is often true of Mike Bloomberg as he wends his way through his first (and, perhaps only) tour of duty as mayor.

Even those legislators that I usually agree with, such as Congressman Anthony Weiner, State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Councilmen Joe Addabbo and Jim Sanders sometimes get me wondering about what they are thinking.

Greg Meeks is another story. I don't think that I have ever agreed with him on a major issue. That is fine. He has a right to his opinion and I have a right to mine. As long as his constituents agree with his positions, who am I to say he does not belong in the Congress?

There is a history between Greg and I that goes way back. I truly do not believe that he served his community well as an Assemblyman, and I do not believe that he serves either his community or his constituents well as a Congressman.

Even the method in which he became a Congressman reeks of the way things are done in the Democratic Party, and especially for those that have toiled in the party's vineyards for many years.

Meeks became an Assemblyman when the Democrats in the state legislature pushed through a plan to increase the number of seats in both the Assembly and City Council specifically to increase minority candidates.

Because this was a new seat, created by splitting Rockaway in half like a barbequed chicken, it ensured that Meeks would not have an incumbent to challenge his candidacy and he won. I would have to say that he probably had the best credentials of any of the candidates and deserved to win that election.

In my opinion, he did nothing, however as an Assemblyman to address the needs of the Rockaway community.

When the Reverend Floyd Flake resigned his seat in the Sixth Congressional District of New York, the legislature got to pick his successor until the next election.

Those in the know told me at the time that deal was quickly cut, and anybody who says that it was not done this way is either a liar or naive.

Meeks needed the support of the local district leaders in order to move up to Congress.

Geraldine Chapey became one of the swing votes. Chapey wanted her mother (also named Geraldine Chapey) to be selected to the Board of Regents, despite the fact that she had become the laughing stock of the local school board in her short tenure on that board.

The state legislative leaders, who wanted Meeks for several reasons, most of them having to do with race and loyalty, cut the deal. Meeks became a Congressman and Chapey became a State Regent.

I have no written proof that this was done, of course, because those who cut deals such as these do not put anything in writing, but I have been told that it is true by several people who were in the know at the time and they had no reason to lie to me.

I believe it, and if you know anything about the Democratic Party in this state, you will believe it also.

Meeks as Congressman spent more time in foreign climes that he did in his district. He has been involved with a number of "exposes" in the daily papers, some for his travel, others for his connection to shady dealings.

He became the head of the minority coalition and spent lots of time on those pursuits.

When I took him to task for spending more time in foreign affairs than in taking care of his constituents, he pointed out that I did not know anything about the Constitution or how government works.

I had to laugh at that, considering that I have had my books for teenagers on those subjects published by a number of major publishers. My American History textbook series has reportedly sold more than 600,000 copies.

Despite everything that Meeks and I have been through, I have made every attempt to be fair to him in this paper, running his press releases and reporting on his contacts with the community.

Last week, however, he went over the hill, at least in my opinion. That is why I write this now, so many years after he first took public office.

Of course, a number of his Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives joined him.

The House of Representatives voted on a resolution (not a law, thank goodness) that asked President Bush to issue a proclamation "designating a day of humility, prayer and fasting for all the people of the United States," and to call on Americans "to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings."

The resolution passed by a vote of 346 to 49, with 23 members voting "present." Our other Congressman, Anthony Weiner, voted "no." Meeks voted yes.

I have to ask Greg a few questions.

What God should we seek guidance from?

What failings do we have to achieve a greater understanding about?

In a recent press release, Greg decried terrorism, but seemed to blame it on President Bush's war on Iraq.

Should the government of Iraq seek a greater understanding of how the families of the tens of thousands of people that government maimed and killed feel about freedom?

What is Meeks talking about?

In any case, life will go on and terrorism will go on and Meeks will go on.

Of course, toppling the government in Iraq did not end terrorism. Nobody expected it would.

Will the proclamation help world peace?

Give me break!

I am sure that I will get another letter from Meeks. Last time, he ran a full-page advertisement in The Wave to address my comments. Perhaps, this time he will need two pages.

My suggestion to him is not to waste his money. Even his constituents are becoming tired of his do-nothing administration.

Perhaps, next time around, he will find out just how disaffected voters are with him and his ideas.

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