2009-11-20 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Rating Our Elected Leaders: Does Anybody Stack Up?
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Everybody is given a report card these days, and in many cases those report cards are inflated. Take a look at the report cards given to city public sch ools. If you really believe that 84 percent of our city's schools deserve either an A or a B, I have a bridge you might want to buy. So, after the recent election in which the electorate returned Mayor Mike Bloom berg to his duchy, I decided to provide a report card for our legislators. Let's cut from the top, with our federal senators and representatives.

Senator Charles Schumer: (Gentle - men's C) Has come a long distance since he was our representative. Good at moving to his left, but has trouble going the other way. Never met a camera he didn't love.

Senator Kirstan Gillibrand (Too Early To Rate, But If I Had To Give Her A Grade, It Would Be A C-) I really didn't think much of Gillibrand at first, and my opinion hasn't changed much over the last few months. She seems like a lightweight, put into the Senate more because of the imperatives of New York State politics than because she belongs there. Makes all the right, safe moves, honoring vets, calling for more milk upstate, but hasn't tackled the hard issues in a hard way. Doesn't have the moxie to go all the way.

Representative Anthony Weiner (B+) I like Wei ner, and I just wish I could have voted for him for mayor. I think he could have taken it all this year, but he ran away and hid. His explanation that he had too much to do in the House of Representatives did not ring true, but judging by all he has done on the health care reform issue, I guess I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He made himself the leader of the one-payer option and pushed his ideas to the limit. Whether or not you agree with him, you have to give him credit for the high-stakes try. I like him on local issues and because he's funny and knows when he's full of you know what. I'm pushing him for mayor four years from now - unless Bloomberg extends term limits for four more years.

Representative Gregory Meeks (D- ) Meeks cares too much for foreign trade and the business done by the airport and too little for Rockaway. He travels often to exotic climes and brings nothing back for his constituents here on the peninsula. I have not liked him for a long time, since he was elevated to Assemblyman and then to Represen - tative so that Geraldine Chapey (the elder) could become a State Regent. You've got to love Queens Democratic politics that could take a man who did nothing as an assemblyman and push him into the House where he does nothing all over again. He is anti-police and anti-city worker. He is rising in the House and its minority caucus only because that caucus is so bereft of real talent. And, those are his good points.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (F) He bribed members of the City Council to change term limits to allow him to run again and then used his fantastic wealth to blow his challenger away, bribing backers with public money and his own largess. He has destroyed real education in this city in a numbers chase that will prove he is the king. Enough said, my blood pressure is rising to dangerous levels.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

C+) I like Audrey, I really do. The fact that she has never buck ed the Dem - ocratic leadership in Albany says volumes about what she has actually done for Rockaway - not much. I have to give her credit for the surfing beach, but that's not a lot to say in a 20-year career in the legislature. She came on the scene when her predecessor was found to be spending your money on no-show jobs and then she hung around for a lifetime. We could have had worse, but we also could have had much better.

Assemblywoman Michelle Titus (F) What can you say about a person you know little about and who has gone out of her way to keep a low profile. Outside of the regular presentation of funds to local schools and organizations, something done by all legislators, what has she done? She has been invited a number of times to come to The Wave for an interview to present her ideas and policies. She never came, and the only assumption I can make is that she doesn't have any - outside of the goal of getting reelected every four years.

State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-) Smith proved to the whole world this year just how inept he is as a legislator. He went from Senate Majority Leader to dupe to something less in the wink of an eye, and he has everybody laughing at him. Talk about a man who is light years above his competency level, and you have described Malcolm Smith. Why we put up with a local legislator who never cares for his constituents is above my understanding. He represents Rockaway, but focuses everything he has (not a great amount) on Albany and the mainland portion of his district. We should throw the bum out!

Senator Shirley Huntley (C-) Rep re - sents only Broad Channel in our orbit, and Channel residents tell me she is much better than her predecessor, Ada Smith, who had the unfortunate habit of assaulting cops and staff members. We have to give her more time in the job.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (B) Ulrich is new, but he seems promising - especially for a Republican. He actively seeks to discuss Rockaway problems and seems to want solutions. While we have to see him on the ground more before we can make a real judgment, we like what we see so far.

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (F) Sanders allowed Bloomberg to bribe him with hopes of a trade school for Rockaway. Sanders does not serve his constituents, has one of the poorest attendance records in the Council and does little to solve the real problems his community faces. He is either a charlatan or a fool. In either case, turn the bum out.

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