We Could Use St. Patrick Now
In the sixth century St. Patrick drove the ‘snakes’ out of Ireland. This letter will attempt to answer two burning questions: what route did they take and where are they now?
The real St. Patrick’s Day, first celebrated in the United States in 1848, is upon us; and, bless St. Pat for driving the snakes out of Ireland. How good a driver was Patrick? As drivers go, Patrick was a Saint. How much attention did he pay to routes and directions? For sure, St. Patrick allegorically drove the snakes into the sea. Once in the sea, Pat no longer had control. Just our luck (the luck of the Americans) that those snakes crossed the Atlantic, initially bypassing New York City, continuing up the Hudson to the Albany State House and Senate, some going south to Manhattan’s City Hall and City Council Chambers. Heading south to Washington, D.C. the snakes clearly found a home in the House and Senate even finding refuge in the offices of lobbyists. Snakes in the form of politicians, some poisonous, some impotent, most all slimy sworn to do the people’s business, gone astray. Clearly, St. Patrick, in his role as exterminator, did best for Ireland to the detriment of our city, state and nation’s capital.
Beginning in New York City, our reptile-in-chief third term mayor Michael Bloomberg, pretended all was right in the economic world the last few years as he bombarded citizens with abusive lifestyle summonses, hiked pay and created jobs for his friends and campaign cling-ons when our budget should have been on lockdown: All this from a man who owns one of the world’s premier economic think tanks who should have known better. Thinking nothing of recklessly spending citizen’s tax dollars as if they were in his personal checking account, the mayor continues to this day to demonstrate fiscal irresponsibility (as in do you think now is a good time to renovate City Hall to the tune of $107 million) knowing he can recoop the money through onerous real estate, water, sales taxes and oppressive quality of life summonses.
Second to the Mayor is snake-incharge of schools chancellor, Joel Klein, a man who, like the Mayor, never sat through a single college or graduate course in education theory or history. Is there any wonder that the school system is in shambles? Let it be known to the two of them when you close one school and open three in its place, you saddle the taxpayers with three times administrator’s pay. Do both of you think now is the time to pile additional tax burdens on an already overtaxed public? Haven’t you got a saner more economically sound plan for our schools?
Albany politics is teeming with snakes. From Sheldon Silver and our own Malcolm Smith to our Governor, these snakes have stayed too long at the fair and should out of common decency, retire. The oddest thing about Albany snakes is when they shed their skin they hope the public forgets who they were and what they represent. They resurface with different names and faces yet they offer the public the same type of candidate again and again. Perhaps the following suggestions will spark a return to political normalcy: For starters, Albany snakes should never be able to have discretionary funds for which there is no accounting; nor, should they have any familial or friendly connections to 501C3 groups. They must be audited regularly by the state comptroller. If they break the law, they should be compelled to serve time in jail and lose their pensions: no plea bargains, no back room deals and no forced retirement as a bargaining chip.
Are we in Washington already? No wonder St. Patrick had such smooth sailing, not a pothole in the road there. As opposed to reiterating the point about greedy snakes under the guise of noble politicians pretending to do the people’s business, let us invoke new rules: Congress must not be able to vote their own pay raises. They should cap each race for election at $5 million. They should not be able to retire with their war chests. They and their families and hired workers and their families “ must never be able to confer or collaborate with a lobbyist. And, if found guilty of cheating they should automatically resign and have to forfeit their pensions and health coverage. And, like their New York State brethren, if convicted of illegalities they must compensate the public and spend time in jail.
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, has been celebrated in quirky ways in some cities. Among the quirkiest city is Chicago where in addition to their parade, the Chicago River is dyed green for the occasion. Since we already have the greenest waterway in the country which New Yorkers fondly call the Gowanus Canal, let us look forward to next year when we can give the Gowanus a run for its money turning a slightly tainted Jamaica Bay into an emerald aquatic paradise.
As the tale goes, the Irish are indebted to St. Patrick, Patron Saint, for driving the snakes out of Ireland by way of the sea. But, why, after so many years, did those snakes have to surface here?