2006-04-28 / Columnists

The Rockaway Irregular

Farewell, For Now
by Stuart W. Mirsky

The time has come for The Rockaway Irregular to take a much-needed break. This, not because I'm truly tired of writing in these pages, but in deference to a new development that affects my credibility as an independent columnist. Although known as an ardent Republican and conservative in these pages, I've always prided myself on being fair and accurate with regard to the facts. But I do have a point of view and now I have an interest in events that goes beyond that of the average citizen, as well. Last night, at the Rockaway Republicans' monthly meeting, after listening to Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld makea compelling case forwhy he should be our next governor,I announced my own decision to challenge ourlocal State Assemblywoman, Audrey Pheffer, in November.

Audrey is a nice lady, well known in these parts and, more, well liked. I don't know her especially well though we are acquainted. In the nineties I worked hard for her political nemesis, Tom Swift, in his several unsuccessful bids to unseat her. In fact,that's how The Rockaway Irregular column came about. Faced with some difficulty in getting Tom press coverage, I began writing a regular political columnin thenow defunct Peninsula News. Surprisingly, I found it kind of enjoyable and decided to continueafterTom's last campaignground to a halt.

But the Peninsula News itself bit the dust in the mid-nineties and I was busywith a very demanding city job at the time, so the column died, too. After retiring in '02 I took it up again, however,at the invitation of Wave editor Howie Schwach and havecontinued to follow a path of always trying to offerinteresting, if sometimes controversial, opinions consistent with the standards of good journalism since then. I crossed swords with Audrey in the past in my columns, and other places, though I've had little occasion to do so in recent years. It looks like that's about to change.

My decision tochallenge her for the Assembly seat she holds is not based on any personal animus. It's a matter ofphilosophy and principle. I believegovernment ought to be smaller (when it can be) and fiscally responsible, and think that our state legislators, including Audrey, have been anythingbut. I believe that Assembly persons ought to be busy reviewing and making laws and voting their conscience, not merely acting as a rubber stamp for their party's leaders. On my view Audrey has not stood out in that regard either.

And I believe in the vision sketched out by BillWeld: the need for a state constitutional convention to change this state's mode of governance. We need term limits and redistricting reform and caps on tax increases, overspending and debt creation. Weld's proposals offera way to get there. But we're going to need the state legislature to vote to initiate aballot item calling for a state constitutional convention so that voters can ratify this and the changes start to happen. I don't believe Audrey, a committed Democrat embedded in the status quo, will vote for a constitutional convention. But I will. So those readers who have bridled at my outspoken conservative opinions in the past here won't have The Rockaway Irregular to kick around for awhile (to paraphrase a notorious ex-president). . . at least until after Election Day in November, anyway. And those who have actually appreciated some of my commentary will, hopefully, find other things of interest in The Wave to read.

For myself, I'm looking forward to a bit of a break before serious campaigning begins (and I have to figure out a way to reach voters on the cheap to get my message out). But I'll miss writing this column, too. I've always enjoyed the chance to put my thoughts down on paper (or on the computer screen, which is how we do it these days) and to share ideas with others. It's also a frequently welcome break when my serious writing starts to bog down.

But,given my new role for the next six-plus months, I guess it's better that The Rockaway Irregular goes silent. Hopefully, if I lose (a real possibility, giventhe disproportionate voter registration advantage Democrats enjoy overRepublicans out here and given Audrey'sevident personal popularity), The Wave willstill want me back. If I win, on the other hand, count on me to be the best Assembly person this district ever sent to Albany, bar none,because I'll be going up there with a plan. rockirreg@aol.com

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