Stringer: One Of The Good Guys
An old friend came to visit on Friday.
I haven't seen the Manhattan Borough President in quite sometime but a recent phone conversation and memories of previous interviews reminded me that I like the guy. Scott Stringer is progressive, fun-loving, thoughtful and one of the good guys in politics who really cares about the people and takes pride in the job he does.
When I first met him, he was a Manhattan Assemblyman - part of that inane body that travels to albany and fails the people. Scott cared, knew how ineffective the legislature was and really tried to change things. Like a lot of the good guys, Albany got the best of him and he found the best way to have a meaningful career in public service was to leave. Now that's my story - Scott wouldn't necessarily ascribe (on the record) to the Albany bashing that I do - but ask him.
Eight years ago, Scott ran for Public Advocate in a crowded and competitive field - he was an articulate and principled candidate. Then four years ago he ran for and was elected Borough President of Manhattan - that smaller borough to Queens' west, as I like to describe it to Scott.
Well after four or maybe eight years since he visited our office, I got a call from my old friend. The phone conversation went very much like this past Friday's interview.
"So Scott, you came all the way to Queens, to tell me you're running for Public Advocate?" I asked.
"No, Mike," he insisted, "I came all the way to Queens to tell you about my 'Go Green East Harlem Cookbook' and health initiative."
Yes we spent sometime talking about Scott's creative effort to improve the lot of one of the city's most health-challenged communities and yes, he gave me a copy of the cookbook which I'm bringing home to Lil to try Sweet Potatolicious (an offering by Marion Bell Metropolitan Hospital's Community Advisory Board's vice chair), Patsy's Pizzeria (whole wheat) Linguini with Clam Sauce, The 116th Street Block Association's Sancocho (spanish stew soup) and Rao's Restaurant's Almond Biscotti.
There are more - many, many more - each more exciting and according to Scott, healthier than the one before.
According to Stringer, East Harlem is one of the most unhealthy communities - judge it by childhood asthma, diabetes, obesity. So to address the problems, he put 100 people together to figure a way to improve the health and well being of the community. They addressed health, the development boom, green building protocol; brought in the asthma center, planted hundreds of trees. He asked restaurants for healthy recipes. Selling the books he uses the proceeds to give away thousands of books to the community.
Of significance is that Stringer has demonstrated that hard work, dedication and bringing positive forces to bear on underserved communities can make a difference. We explored using his experience in East Harlem as a laboratory for impacting communities throughout the city.
"We want to get this healthy protocol out to the other communities. The faces in this book could be the faces of so many communities. It's a new approach that could be replicated. Plus the recipes are pretty good," Scott told us with his impish smile.
But now that you've digested the cookbook idea, my recipe for the interview was a bit different. For each foray into health and foodstuff that Scott took, I came back to politics.
On the record, Scott, an individual who has performed impressively as Borough President, is not talking about his potential 2009 run for public advocate. However, in reality, it is clear, that although he has another term for which he could run the political math would in four years put this career public-servant in a term limited borough presidency and three citywide elected incumbents standing for reelection. He'd have no place to go. If the bright and capable Stringer wants to run citywide, now is his time.
So we challenged him on some of the City issues of the day and he responded.
On Christine Quinn and concealing budget money in the name of fictitious groups: "That was a totally inappropriate way of holding money. The practice is wrong and never should have been constructed. But the story is [still] unfolding. Let's see what happens, we don't have to pounce. [And] the speaker is one of the most honest people I know in government."
Congestion Pricing: "I don't know what's going to happen. It should be debated on the merits. We should [have] reinstate[d] the commuter tax. If we don't find a revenue source, then the city will choke and die. But I think it's ridiculous to ask people to get out of their cars and take a two hour commute so we must improve mass transit. Like school governance it's going to get revisited. So to me, this [congestion pricing] is bold and exciting."
Mike Bloomberg: "I think he's one of the great mayors."
Public Advocate: "I wouldn't run for a position unless I believed I could make a difference. The days of the Sunday press conference with no result is over. If you're going to raise an issue we need results. If you have a clear understanding of the office you can shape and mold it."
The three major issues facing the city: 1) Deal with housing crisis, the need to build the housing for the next generation of people. 2) We need a five-borough plan to keep pace with world cities in terms of transportation. 3) We must do better for our kids in education.
Although Scott worked hard to convince us that he has not made up his mind about a run for Public Advocate, we're going to keep our eye on him. We expect this bright, hard working caring public servant to, by summer's end, present his vision to a citywide forum.
And while we are looking for Scott Stringer's next political move, might we suggest, you check out his: Go Green East Harlem Cookbook. It's available at your favorite bookstore or online bookseller.
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Stringer’s Top Ten Take Out Tips
From Manhattan Beep Scott Stringer's The Go Green East
10. Eat your veggies. Order vegetable soup when you think
of it, especially in the winter months. It's a delicious
and healthy way to take your hunger away.
9. Deep fryers are your enemy. News flash: fried food
tastes good. But your body will be happier if you order
the steamed, broiled or grilled version instead.
8. Fish is your friend. Make fresh fish your "meat" portion
at some meals. Even though I love lox and rye, it's grilled
or broiled fish that is the best lower-fat alternative
to beef or pork.
7. Hooked on salads. Get in the habit of ordering salads
for your main course. For me tossed salad is lunch a few
times a week. Artichoke hearts, kidney beans, and egg
whites top my list of favorite healthy ingredients.
6. That's dressing on the side, please. It's the only
way to control how much you use.
5. Just say no to oversized portions. When it comes to
eating, too much of a good thing is . . . well, too much
of a good thing. Your mother's admonition notwithstanding,
there's no crime in failing to finish everything on your
plate -- or delivered by the takeout service. Save the
4. No shame in ordering off the light menu. Most Chinese
restaurants are seeing the light (it's green) and following
suit. Give it a try; you'll feel good in the morning.
3. Ask for the healthy stuff. Healthy is the most fashionable
style in town. Ask the person taking your phone order
which menu items are good for you. You'll likely learn
2. Water, water everywhere. New York City tap water is
the best. Drink your eight glasses a day.
1. Start Dialing. You won't find better takeout, or more
food choices, anywhere in the world. And it's just a phone
call away. Yet another thing I love about New York!
Not4Publication.com by Dom Nunziato