2010-10-22 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

A Selective Look At The Coming Election
Commentary By Howard Schwach

This is an unusual election, and I want to wade in with some personal thoughts about the candidates in the upcoming November 2nd election. I have to add the caveat that these are not the Wave endorsements, which are made by the paper’s publisher.

Governor’s Race: I don’t see how any reasonable person could vote for Carl Paladino, the loose-cannon Republican candidate who seems to be against everybody and everything and not for anything. Having said that, however, I can’t see voting for Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo, the quintessential political insider. What to do? I will leave it up to you, but none of the candidates seems very attractive, although I do admire Howie Hawkins’ The Rent is 2 Damn High Party and Kirstin Davis who stands for repealing the ban on marijuana and prostitution. If you are a prostitute who smokes pot (as most probably do), she should be your candidate. I don’t mean to make a joke out of a serious political race that can impact the lives of all New Yorkers, but how else can you look at it. Actually, Davis took the televised debate hands down with such lines as “All the politicians in Albany are whores. Who better to deal with them than a former madam,” and “If that tax passes, businesses will be out of here quicker that Carl Paladino in a gay bar.” You’ve got to love it.

Comptroller’s Race: To my mind, there is a clear choice in this election. I think that Tom DiNapoli has done a decent job in office and that he deserves a chance for a fouryear term.

Attorney General’s Race: My candidate did not survive the Democratic primary election, and I would normally go with Eric Schneiderman, the Democratic candidate. When he said last week that he would have an “annex in Albany” for Al Sharpton and that he would follow Sharpton’s lead on the issue of race relations, he lost me for good, and I am sure that is true of many registered Democrats – both black and white. How could he forget Tawana Brawly, the Rockaway Five, his comment about a “white interloper” that got a Harlem store torched? Schneiderman is much too liberal (progressive?) for my taste. Republican candidate Dan Donovan is his mirror image – much too conservative. Who to vote for? Who is least objectionable to your political taste.

US Senator, Unexpired Term Race: This is the race that brings us Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed by the corrupt and inept New York State party and its leader David Paterson. I don’t like the way she got the job or the way she immediately went from right-wing Democrat to moderate Democrat, but she has done a decent job while in office. The Republican candidate, Joe DioGuardi, came to The Wave for a sit-down interview, and he was really funny and charming. I’m not sure those qualities qualify him to be our Senator.

US Senator, Expired Term Race: No choice here. Vote for Chuck Scumer over his opponent, Republican Jay Townsend.

Congressional Race, District 6: There is no doubt in my mind that Congressman Gregory Meeks needs to go home and ruminate on what public service really means. Meeks is under investigation for various and sundry dastardly deeds, including heading a non-profit that took lots of public and private money that has now disappeared into the ozone, hosting a Hurricane Katrina charity that seems to have helped nobody but his friends and other misdeeds that have the feds and the state looking askance at his operations. In addition, he seems to have helped one of his more important political contributors out by visiting a foreign nation and getting a business competitor put in jail. Unfortunately, the Republicans have put up Asher Taub, an Orthodox Jewish candidate, who is not very attractive in terms of what he stands for and who probably cannot win in a largely minority district. I’m glad I don’t get a vote in this one.

Congressional Race, District 9: No choice here. Congressman Anthony Weiner has represented Rockaway well over his tenure and is one of my favorite politicians. Has he done everything that Rockaway voters wanted him to do? Of course not. His opponent, Bob Turner, who lives in the gated community of Breezy Point and believes all the Fox Five dictums, would be a disaster for Rockaway and for everybody else. Vote for Weiner.

Race for State Senator, District 14: This is another race where an incumbent Democrat needs to be sent home to think about what he has done. Sen-ator Malcolm Smith is the partner in-crime to Greg Meeks, involved in the same non-profit and the same Katrina charity. In addition, he has problems with his now-defunct home building and title company and with various other enterprises, including his Penin-sula Preparatory Academy, one of his two charter schools (the one in Rock-away), to which he continues to steer lots of taxpayer money. Vote for anybody else but Smith. By the way, his Republican challenger is Samuel Ben--oit, about whom I know nothing. The Conservative candidate in the race is Everly Brown, who is really a Democrat and might be an alternative.

Race for Assembly, District 23: This is an interesting race. On the one hand, we have Audrey Pheffer, who has held the job for two decades and who is a good friend. Having said that, I have to add that she has never once in those 20 years voted against the wishes of the leadership and Shelly Silver. In addition, she was instrumental in giving control of the school system to Mayor Mike Bloomberg despite all my warnings that he has destroyed education and that all the gains he showed were illusionary – something that was proved true by the recent standardized test scores. On the other hand, we have Dr. Harold Paez, a local Republican, who is an attractive alternative. Who will I vote for? I probably won’t decide until I walk into whatever passes for a voting booth in this brave new world.

*****

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