2012-03-23 / Columnists

Commentary On Things Present

The United States Senate
By Peter Stubben

Bob Turner - a local Rockaway guy - announced last week his bid to run for the US Senate. When was the last time anyone from Rockaway represented New York State in the US Senate ... or even ran for the US Senate? Can I say never in the history of this Peninsula! Further and amazingly, when was the last time anyone from our bubbling borough of Queens sat in City Hall as Mayor, or stood in the Senate Chamber as a New York Senator? These are interesting times, as the Chinese like to say. Bob Turner has lived his entire family life in Queens – Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and now Breezy.

During the summer of 1787 our Founders negotiated, in secret among themselves, a government not too centrist and not too unbalanced (re: the small states vs. the big states). Our national legislature was broken down to represent the states equally in the Senate, and to represent the people equally in the House of Representatives. Our six-year termed Senators included many great American leaders: JFK, Hubert Humphrey, Olympia Snowe, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Charles Sumner, Thomas Hart Benton, Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, among many others. And who do we have now – Senators Harry Reid (NV) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) ... please!!! ‘The President proposes, Congress disposes.’ This old adage now hangs untrue, thanks to the intransigence and incompetence of our current Senate and our sitting President. There can be no more fundamental job for the US Senate, and for the President, than to pass the Federal Budget. This is rudimentary stuff, so how can it possibly be that this Senate and this President have not passed nor signed a federal budget bill in more than two years!!! How can this possibly be??? The House of Representatives passed a budget this year, but Harry Reid and Kirsten Gillibrand tabled the House bill and have done nothing yet! With all the speechifying and grandstanding we hear from them every day, the Senate has come up short – going on now for the third consecutive year. Last year’s budget proposal by President Obama was rejected by the Senate 0-97 ... that is, not one member of the President’s own party voted yea for his proposed budget. ‘Not deliberative nor serious,’ the Senate says, even by his own party-members in the Senate; and the President now crisscrosses the nation attending fund-raising benefits in secret, and joking about $4 gas prices in public.

The House, where Bob Turner presently reps Rockaway, has passed the Jobs Through Growth Act (HR #3400); Cut, Cap and Balance Act ((HR #2560); The Welfare Reform Act (HR#1167); The Pioneers Act (on oil shale HR #3408); The Middle Class Relief Act (HR #3630) and the just-passed Jumpstart Our Business Startups - The JOBS Act (HR#3606). In the Senate, Harry Reid and Kirsten Gillibrand tabled the first five House bills, doing nothing. Hopefully – maybe, just maybe – they will pass the JOBS bill noted above. The US Senate needs a boost ... a red bull, a revitalization! ... to get back to work. How about a working man: someone who spent his business career building and managing his own business, while raising his family in Queens.

Many here might say – well, Pete, we’ve never had a senator from Rockaway, but one of our former Congressmen is now New York’s senior Senator – great for Rockaway, no? And I might say – well let’s look at this senator’s legacy, locally: that is, with the federal agencies that interface directly with Rockaway. How has the management of Fort Tilden and Riis Park been for the last fourteen years? Can I say horrible and point out that Riis is one of the worst-ranked parks in the National System ... a disgrace to the beautiful Rockaway shore. How about the Army Corps of Engineers and their interfacing on Rockaway’s beaches? You know, the corps has been studying Rockaway’s tidal patterns for more than 20 years – but, most regrettably, NOTHING DONE! And ask Tom Friedman – NY Times columnist and author of “The World Is Flat” and “That Used to Be Us” – about our international airport just across the bay. Friedman constantly laments in his op-ed columns on JFK’s debilitating underinvestment to the point that he now calls JFK a thirdworld airport!. The Ronald Reagan airport is nice, the Portland (OR) airport is beautiful, and billions of federal tax dollars have gone to build ‘The John Murtha Airport to Nowhere’ in Greenbrier, Pennsylvania. But what about JFK and LaGuardia Airports, Senator Gillibrand? These two airports link New York City and New York State to the nation and the world – and are vital to our growth, development and prosperity. Bob and Peggy Turner are tremendous people ... but let me say they’re no different than anybody else on this Peninsula, just locals who wanna do good for themselves, their families, their block, their peninsula, their city, their state and their nation. Could the wind now beat Rockaway’s back?

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