2008-09-19 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

Nobody Asked Me, But … (Political Edition)
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Nobody asked me, but … If City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. wants to become a State Senator in a mainland district, perhaps he should pay more attention to his day job - representing Rockaway in the council. He has abandoned Rockaway in his attempt to unseat Serph Maltese, but there are many who believe that he was never here in the first place. I believe that his representation of Rockaway really ended when he walked away from the chair of the council's parks committee, a vital slot where Rockaway and its beaches is concerned. Sure, he was around, and he went to some events, but he never angered voters by doing anything at all, going along instead with the party and the council leadership so that he could move on to a higher office. Those who want to vote for Addabbo for the Senate should take a look at the way he treated Rockaway and think about their vote.

… The Democrats are in a bind. That party has traditionally been the women's party, the favorite of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the party that fought for a woman's right to hold top positions in politics and the business world. Now, however, Sarah Palin has changed the dynamic. While some Democrats, in an attempt to discredit the Republican ticket, charge that Palin has no right to seek the vice presidency while she has five kids, including a new baby with Down syndrome, there are others who say that they cannot support Palin because of her beliefs, but add that they have been fighting for years for her right to run for and hold elective office. One political cartoon in the New York Post (the Republican paper), perhaps said it best. In the first box, a woman standing with other women says, "How can she hold high office, care for a disabled child, a knocked-up daughter, and …" In the second box, the same woman stops and says, "We're male chauvinist pigs, aren't we?" That is the predicament.

… A Washington Post poll this week showed white women swinging in large numbers from the Democrats to the Republicans in the wake of Palin's nomination for Veep. That leads some to believe that the Democrats will soon pull a ploy to get Hillary Clinton on their ticket. The scenario proposed by political watchers would have the present vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden, come down with a "heart attack," or some lesser problem that would take him out of the race, allowing Clinton to walk in "by acclamation" of the Democratic leadership. Don't think it couldn't happen. Stranger things have occurred where politics is concerned and the presidency is at stake.

… When does the political advocacy of a religious leader become too much for democracy to bear? We may soon find out. David Manning, a Harlem preacher, posted an angry sermon on his website for the world to see, denouncing Barak Obama as a "pimp" and Obama's mother as a "trashy white woman." A watchdog group filed a complaint that Manning was using his tax exempt status in advocacy against a candidate, something not allowed by the IRS. That organization is now investigating Manning and his Atlah World Ministries with an eye to taking away the church's tax exempt status. There are those, and I am included in that group, who believe that the church has no right as tax exempt institutions to speak out on such political issues as abortion and gay marriage, even though they are religious issues as well. It is their right to speak out, of course, but not to be exempt from the taxes the rest of us have to pay.

…Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents Rockaway and parts of Brooklyn, and who is running hard for mayor of New York City in the 2009 election, says that one of his goals is to do something about the dreaded "Donut Hole," which forces many seniors who live on fixed incomes to pay huge out-of- pocket expenses for their life-saving drugs. The donut hole occurs when those who are on Medicare Part D and do not have other insurance, reach an expenditure of $2,400 dollars worth of drugs paid by them or by the plan. From that point on, until they reach the $3,850 threshold, they have to pay for all their drugs outof pocket. A full one-half of those seniors who are diabetic reach the donut hole sometime in mid-year. For one person in that situation, she now pays more than $200 for insulin when she once paid $60. She now pays nearly $140 for her blood pressure medication that was once $27. Those payments could well go on for months before the "catastrophic coverage" kicks in at $3,850. For somebody receiving approximately $750 a month in social security, that extra money often leads to a choice between food and medicine - a choice that no senior citizen should have to make. According to one recent study, a full fifteen percent of those seniors in the donut hole forgo their meds.

… The city's public housing complexes have always been underfunded by government. The federal government says that the massive housing program is the state's problem and the state says that it's the city's problem. The city has never lived up to its responsibility. There are those who say the underfunding is due to the fact that most of the housing is populated by minorities. There are others who simply put the problem down to neglect and different priorities. Whatever the case, the housing projects are here to stay and should be adequately funded. To fail to do so creates not only problems for the people who live there, but for the rest of us as well. For example, the closing of the community centers at local housing complexes pushed teens out onto the hot, summer streets of Rockaway, where some of them decided it was time to do no good. Then, we have the safety issues. To fail to maintain the elevators, for example, forces seniors to walk many floors up dangerous stairways. That is not what the city should be doing.

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