William Scarborough Shares!
Southeast Queens Assemblyman
William Scarborough called my office to ask for a sit-down, I was pleased.
my many years of schmoozing with political hoohahs, our two paths never
I’m glad they finally did.
is impressive. In an hour session, he proved to be intelligent,
quick-thinking, pleasant, sincere and most of all, a straight shooter.
Unlike too many politicians, he tells it like it is – on the record.
he’s a bit cautious with his words. When it came to the commuter tax
repeal – a dreadful political deal that Scarborough and a batch of his
downstate Democratic colleagues supported – he chose his words with
care, detailing the same excuses for voting for it that his leader
Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver used when he ramrodded the effort.
& Michael Schenkler
mentioned that there was a State and City surplus at the time of the vote,
and said, “[The Democrats] felt it was a difficult issue, but we felt we
needed to protect the Democratic majority in the Assembly. . . . We felt
it was the lesser of two evils.”
despite defending the vote (which cost the City some $2 billion and
counting), he admitted, “In retrospect I’m sorry I voted for it.”
And although he did admit that Silver pushed the Dems, he made sure to
add, “There was a logic to it.”
he’s careful, but the man who says he “loves” his job is basically
honest and straightforward.
example, he came right out and just about declared his candidacy for
Queens Borough President after Helen Marshall leaves the post.
said, “I would love to [run]. I did put my name up when Claire Shulman
was term-limited out.” Although he said he wouldn’t run against Helen
Marshall and had heard that “she’s preparing to run again,” he has
his sights fixed on that seat when she leaves, and said, “I certainly
want to move ahead.”
way to speed up the process of moving forward is becoming a district
leader, and he said, “That’s something I would look at.” Currently,
former Councilman Archie Spigner holds the district leader seat he would
be eligible for, but when Spigner retires, Scarborough said, “I could be
next in line. We’ll see.”
his current position, he admits, “There’s frustration in Albany,”
and when asked whether the system works, he responded quickly and bluntly,
“No, it doesn’t work.” He added, “It’s a dysfunctional system. I
think it’s a sad commentary that we haven’t been able to come
called the budget’s April deadline “unrealistic,” and said the
Legislature’s record of not passing an on-time budget in 18 years is its
said the process “needs fixing,” and said the “blame can go all
around” for the Legislature not addressing the State’s deficit until
said he doesn’t feel stonewalled when introducing legislation in the
Assembly, and noted, “Every piece of legislation that I have seriously
pushed and gone through the process with, has gotten passed. There have
been no roadblocks from Shelly [Silver].” He admitted, however, that
when it comes to Albany group participation, “It’s certainly not as
much as it should be.”
also said the Legislature’s poor image comes from the media’s refusal
to cover anything positive, and insisted, “Those things that catch the
public’s attention are when a politician is caught with his hand in
somebody else’s pocket . . . I believe most [elected officials] that I
see are not corrupt. Most that I see got into this business to make a
difference, to be helpful.”
That’s why he got into politics, he said, as a member of
Community School Board 28 and the Guy Brewer Democratic Club. Those
positions led to a job as District Manager of Community Board 12. He ran
for office in 1994 against Cynthia Jenkins – an oddball incumbent who
was not well liked by Democratic Party insiders. In fact, Scarborough was
able to beat the incumbent because County (the Dem Organization) knocked
her off the ballot for fraud.
that what County’s planning to do this year against oddball Councilman
Allan Jennings?” I asked. Bill doesn’t know, but said, “I would not
be surprised if ‘someone’ challenged his petitions.”
Scarborough’s successor with Board 12, Yvonne Reddick, be the one
challenging Jennings? “I keep hearing she’s running,” Scarborough
said, admitting he hasn’t spoken to her about it.
he likes Reddick, and said he heard that Jennings has “burned a number
of bridges on the City Council and the [Dem] Party,” he said, “I
don’t think [Jennings] is going to be easy to beat.”
called Congressman Greg Meeks the political leader of the community and
mentioned that he holds meetings with the Southeast Queens delegation to
“hash things out” every once in a while. Of the Southeast Queens
political community effort, he mentioned that many of the elected leaders
work effectively together, but admitted that State Senator Ada Smith and
Assemblywoman Vivian Cook are sort of on their own. He said, “I get
along well with both of them.”
tried to get an invite to one of those Southeast Queens political
get-togethers and Scarborough, ever the diplomat, said, “Call Greg
Scarborough said he’s focusing on education issues and opposes the
Mayor’s plan for education. He doesn’t think the City should have kept
the old horrific system, but doesn’t think combining districts is the
way to fix what’s broken. He said he believes the structure and
personnel needed fixing, but not the districts themselves. He said, “I
think we threw the baby out with the bathwater.”
we watch leadership of Southeast Queens evolve in the post-Congressman
Floyd Flake era, several leaders have been emerging. Scarborough named
Meeks and had high hopes for Councilman Leroy Comrie, as well as others.
this modest, well-spoken public servant has come a long way
himself since that commuter tax vote and the next time there is a
real horserace for Queens Borough President, look for William Scarborough
rounding the first bend.
it was a pleasure meeting you.
to see you again soon — maybe at one of those meetings with Greg . . . .
to this column
Learning Process Of School Change
upset in Community School District 26.
I’m not looking to pick a fight with the mob-like gang that descended on
and ran last week’s meeting sponsored by Community Board 11 and the
District 26 President’s Council on the changes to the City’s
even understand that residents in the City’s best school district want
to hold on to what they’ve got. They fear change threatens their
educational level, property values and their insular community.
some degree they’re right.
to get the answers to fair questions, there must be dialogue. Shouting,
rudeness and limiting the speaking time of a patient, knowledgeable and
caring Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott demonstrates not concern for resolution
but the woeful obstructionist mentality that divides people and delays
City’s school system has failed our City’s children – for far too
many years. Change is needed — no one can doubt that.
comes a forceful, visionary Mayor ready to tackle the education crisis and
make the tough decisions. He brilliantly negotiates control of the system
and begins the process of change.
is a skilled — perhaps brilliant — manager whose ability will be
tested at this most difficult task. But he has accepted the challenge and
we applaud him for it.
expect, as his process of change moves forth, Mayor Bloomberg and his team
will seek input from all of NYC’s people.
dialogue will be important to the final outcome.
I fear many of the members of the gang in School District 26 do not want a
dialogue. I fear they might be willing to try to prevent the City from
serving all the children in order to build their own fortress.
is a big and wonderfully diverse City. District 26 is part of it. Change
is occurring. Using their intellect and voice to provide constructive
input into the process may serve as the best learning example for their
children in what a democratic society is all about.
challenge District 26 to help the Mayor achieve the best for all our
children, including theirs.
Visit From Joe Lieberman
Lieberman & Michael Schenkler
Lieberman came to town earlier this month on his quest for the Democratic
Party’s nomination for the Presidency.
a small informal gathering, Lieberman supported the Bush war position with
Iraq, but was critical of the administration’s first year and its half
failure to establish goodwill in the world community by sitting down and
discussing the issues that mattered to them.
is one of nine Dems seeking the Democratic nomination for president and he
referred to the field as the “party’s own baseball team.”
visit was his first step to build goodwill among party decision makers and
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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