2008-06-27 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But (Politics As Usual Issue)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Nobody Asked Me, But … Mayor Michael Bloomberg has once again shown his disdain for the common New Yorker and his conviction that he knows best what every city resident needs. Speaking to a Jewish audience in Florida, Bloomberg said of the gasoline price crisis, "They should be raising the tax and encouraging people to reduce consumption.

The anti-tax people don't like that. But using capitalism to encourage the right behavior is exactly the [right] direction of going. Tax policy is the way the government uses capitalism."

Bloomberg is still angry that his congestion pricing plan died and he wants to take it out on motorists by costing them even more money, because he is convinced that his faltering and largely inexcusable commuter system is the savior of the city. Add his desire to increase the cost of gasoline to keep people from driving, to the smoking ban and the transfat ban, and you have nannyism at its best (or worst). One local, who is usually mildmannered, but who must drive each day, used some very strong expletives to describe the mayor when she first heard his comments.

Another motorist, quoted in the New York Post, perhaps put it best. "Bloomberg's a billionaire and he has no idea of what it's like out here." By the way, aren't those large, gas-guzzling SUV's that the mayor uses to get around the city?

… Bloomberg made even more friends among teachers two weeks ago, when both teachers and kids sweltered in near 100-degree heat in burning classrooms.

The union complained and suggested that schools might have been closed earlier on those days. " This may come as a very big surprise to you, but people of my generation went to schools without air conditioners," was the mayor's response.

Very understanding.

The media has already begun its attack on John McCain. On Monday morning this week, the Channel 2 news morning program ran a package entitled "Five Things You Didn't Know About John McCain." All five, of course, were negative.

The first, for example, pointed out that he had at least two other airplane crashes prior to being shot down over Hanoi. I don't expect we'll ever see "Five Things You Didn't Know About Barack Obama," unless they can come up with five positive "facts."

In addition, this week's issue of Newsweek magazine has a few slanted pieces. One of them, the cover story, is a slightly negative story about "The Real Cindy McCain." The other story, "What Experience Is Worth," posits that Obama's experience in the state legislature might be more valuable to a president than McCain's experience in the Senate. See the way it works. Subtle, but the twist is there.

… On June 1, the New York Times ran a correction that really shows its liberal bias. The correction said, "An article on May 4 about the Reverend Jeremiah A Wright, Jr., Senator Barack Obama's former minister, erroneously confirmed a statement by Mr. Wright that the United States used biological weapons against other countries. There is no evidence that the United States ever did that." Enough said about the Times.

… Clark Hoyt is the Public Editor for the New York Times, tasked with critiquing the coverage of the newspaper and acting as an ombudsman for the reading public.

In a recent Sunday column, Hoyt defended the paper from charges that its treatment and coverage of Hillary Clinton was unfair and bordered on sexism. Hoyt responded by saying that he believed that the news coverage was fair, but that the columnists were "over the top," particularly columnist Maureen Dowd, who excoriated Clinton for her "cackle," and her pantsuits.

Hoyt wrote, "The relentless nature of her gender-laden assaults on Clinton - in 28 of 44 columns since January 1 - left many readers with a strong feeling that an impermissible line had been crossed, even though, as Dowd noted, she is a columnist who is paid not to be objective."

… The City Council funding scandal continues to grow. A published report last week cited the fact that scores of neighborhood groups got millions of taxpayer dollars from council members even though the organizations had never filed for tax-exempt status with the state attorney general, as required by law. There seem to be a number of local organizations that fall into that category, and they are urged to get their paperwork in order with the AG if they want to continue to get council funding.

One such organization quickly comes to mind. Drive by Beach 104 Street on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, and you'll see a storefront for Chapey's Trinity Services, run by Democratic District Leader Geraldine M. Chapey. That organization, which has received more than a million dollars in both city contracts and member item money from the City Council over the past dozen years, is not registered with the state AG, although an earlier organization, Trinity Senior Services, Inc., may be. Chapey has so far refused to answer any questions about whether or not her organization is a non-profit or where all the taxpayer money goes. The AG has told us that the last report she filed was in 2006, a report we got only by filing a freedom of information request with the state. That report is now undergoing review by a forensic accountant.

Stay tuned.

… The fate of Democratic control over the State Senate might hang with our own City Councilman Joe Addabbo. As you all should know by now, Addabbo is abandoning Rockaway to run for the Queens Senate seat now held by Republican Serph Maltese. An Addabbo win would put the Democrats over the top, making them the majority party in the Senate and elevating Senator Malcolm Smith, who is now the minority leader, to majority leader of the Senate, one of the three most powerful political positions in the state, joining Governor David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver in the triumvirate.

This is not the first time that Addabbo has abandoned Rockaway, however. He did that years ago, when he gave up the seat of the Council's Parks Committee to Helen Foster.

As the Parks chair, he could have done Rockaway a lot of good. Instead, he put off those who wanted to increase access to the beach and boardwalk with talk of surveys and polls, and then ran away from the position, even though Rockaway sorely needed him in that slot. Perhaps he'll do better for his constituents in the Senate.

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