Weiner Quips Through Town Hall Meeting
Congressman Anthony Weiner might not yet be ready for a primetime comedy show, but he was good enough to face 300 local residents and quip himself through a two-hour town meeting at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Thursday, April 24.
He started off by calling local Democratic District Leader Lew Simon, “Luscious Lew.”
Then, he chided CB 14 member Vince Castellano for “sitting in the high weeds, waiting to spring a question.”
He said that he was changing Gateway National Recreation Area through his funding by “three yards and a cloud of dust,” referring to an old Ohio State football tactic of grinding out the yardage very slowly.
On the Gateway National Recreation question, Weiner said, “I don’t look like much, but when push comes to shove, I can take care of myself.”
When somebody asked him about his bawdy comment to the mayor, he said, “I’m ducking bike path questions tonight.”
Of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), he said, “I don’t see the problem, that’s such a popular government agency.”
On Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he said, “If only we had a mayor who knows Rockaway better. Oh, I’d better be careful; he’s rich enough to cut off the Internet.”
Of course, the meeting was not all fun and games.
Weiner addressed many somber issues, both in his introductory remarks and in response to questions from the floor.
He started out by saying that the meeting being held was only possible because of “the people who fought and are still fighting for our nation, guaranteeing that meetings like this can go on.”
He said of Afghanistan that “we are alone, propping up a bad government.”
Of Libya, Weiner said, “We can’t be a traffic cop for the whole world, but all of the other nations are behind us on this. Khadafy has to go.”
He added that the President should have gone to the people and explained why our involvement was important and to the Congress to get permission to use American armed forces to suppress the government.
Many of the people in the audience were concerned with the possibility that a new Gateway National Recreation Area 20-year plan may well push local sports and arts groups from Fort Tilden, where they have been operating for years.
“My district has the largest urban park in the nation,” he said, pointing out that he had sponsored funding for such amenities as the Aviator Sports complex, the Ryan Visitors’ Center and the new visitors’ center at the Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as the ferry landing in Fort Tilden.
“The fundamental problem is that we are not like Yosemite,” he said, we are a neighborhood park, and the park service is treating us like Yosemite or Grand Canyon.”
“The local groups have developed the park and visited the park in large numbers, and should be welcome to continue there.”
He promised to back the local community in any battle with the park service.
He added that local groups have spent lots of money to fix up the venues at Fort Tilden and that he wanted the park service to count that money as an offset against the fees they want to charge.
A question of Bloomberg’s program to change the seniority rules for city schools brought a quick response.
“My mother is a retired teacher, and was a great teacher,” he said. “The problem is not the senior teachers, but that we need more senior teachers. They are the mentors for the new teachers. The presumption on the part of the mayor and others that young is necessarily better is ridiculous. It sends the wrong message. The message should be ‘learn from them, not get rid of them.’ ”
He also said that he would oppose any expansion of John F. Kennedy Airport into Jamaica Bay.
“The federal law now is that the bay is part of Gateway, and they can’t expand without a change in federal law. I will fight that,” he said.