Sorry, I Can’t Resist: Weiner No Longer Cocky
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I’d love to utilize the near-tragic situation of Congressman Anthony Weiner to get some chuckles – and I’m sure I will occasionally veer from my serious message – but from the time the news of Weinergate first broke to this moment, there are serious consequences for our nation wrapped up in this small Congressional member and his inappropriate adventures.
First, a disclosure. I’ve known Anthony Weiner since he was a Brooklyn Councilman running to succeed Chuck Schumer in his Brooklyn-Queens congressional seat some 13 years ago. I’ve interviewed him several times; sat and talked to him one-on-one a small handful of times and entertained him (and a couple of hundred other friends) at the Trib Holiday party. I found on most occasions that we would spar – a good-natured intellectual challenging about small degrees of difference.
I always enjoyed the time I spent with Anthony but never really developed a friendship as I have with others who have been in the political game for a long time.
Secondly, his brother’s restaurant Almond, in Bridgehampton is one of my favorite places to dine. If supporting Anthony through this crisis would get me a table without a rezzy in the summer, I may be able to be bought. And if bro Jason brings back the Saturday night five-course tasting menu, I’m in.
Finally, all I want for Anthony and our country is justice and equality. I want standards that apply to him to apply to Charlie Rangel and every other member of Congress.
|Congressman Anthony Weiner and Trib Publisher Mike Schenkler during better times for Weiner.
Photo by Ira Cohen
I do not want to see the puritanical roots of this nation in the far-off Midwest dictate to my County, my City that you can’t deviate slightly from acceptable sexual mores or sexual behavior without resigning, but criminal misconduct doesn’t rise to the same heights. At the moment, Carl Kruger, a corrupt indicted State Senator, sits in office. As I recall, popular U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, who represented a poor working class district in Chicago from 1958 to 1995 and served 13 years as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, was allowed to remain in office although he resigned his chairmanship, while under Federal indictment on mail fraud charges. Rosty lost his seat when the voters refused to reelect him.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, my friend Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee chair Steve Israel of Long Island, and Democratic National chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in a coordinated effort have called for Weiner’s resignation – for the wrong reasons. Their concern is not good government. Their concern is that the Republicans will utilize Anthony’s insane online conduct and contrast it with the quick resignation of upstate bare-chested emailing Congressman Chris Lee to point out that the Democrats do not hold their members (excuse me) to the same standards as the Republicans.
Now, I am not defending or condoning Anthony’s behavior. I condemn it. However, this aberrant behavior is a personal failing and as long as it is not criminal, he should and can remain in office. Ultimately, his constituents should make the decision.
His district should not be the target of the map-drawers when the anti-good-government political redistricting process takes place.
Anthony should be given the time to heal himself and his family, seek therapy, all while he gets back to work. He should be allowed to continue his impressive fight for those things progressives of this nation believe in.
And his party should not buckle under the pressure of the right wing of the Republican Party, but should stand up and demand: let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Damn, if we were getting rid of every imperfect member of Congress (especially those who lied about their imperfection), Joe Crowley would find the halls of the Capitol a very lonely place.
On the advice front, my position has not changed and I wish I had written this and Anthony read it when the story first broke. I now offer Anthony the following advice – I wish he could have taken it before the lying began.
Anthony should acknowledge his personal failings, explain sexting as an addiction – an illness, and obtain professional help. Yes, Anthony has an ego that has prevented him from resorting to the “illness” explanation. But come on — putting a likely Mayoralty in jeopardy for a couple of online thrills is a sickness.
Admit it. Get treatment. Rebuild the confidence of your wife. And heal yourself.
Our nation is a very forgiving lot. Bill Clinton is still our idol.
I returned Saturday night, after writing this column, from a day out and dinner at Almond, to find that Anthony had asked for a short leave to seek professional treatment to become “a better husband and healthier person.”
He’s on the right road.
Now, Anthony, can you get me that table at Almond?
Resorts World: The Right Partner for Queens
By Rev. Dr. CALVIN RICE
Our communities here have been devastated by unemployment and home foreclosures. The abandoned storefronts and crowded employment services centers are constant reminders of Queens’ harsh economic climate. At a time when our residents are facing such tremendous economic peril, we need all the help we can get, particularly when we have seen few indications that our economic situation is changing for the better.
Therefore when someone makes the decision to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in our community like Resorts World Casino New York has done, we should be fair and considerate; even when it goes against our personal ideology, political and religious beliefs.
Throughout the years I’ve watched numerous developers promise to fairly distribute jobs to local minority and women workers, only to be disappointed when all that talk failed to amount to any real action. Thankfully, the same cannot be said about Resorts World.
I say this because on a recent site visit I saw firsthand the reality of their commitment to subcontracting Minority Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE’s) and having a diverse staff at the facility. In fact, when Resorts World claims that 25% of subcontracts or MWBE’s and that minorities and women make up more than half of the work force for the project it matches what I saw as I walked the site and spoke with countless men and women of African descent in particular.
If Resorts World’s commitment to diversity in its construction workforce is any indication of what its permanent staff will be like, I am very confident that the chronic unemployment and lack of economic fortune that has plagued us for so long will start to wane. With the 1,150 permanent positions that will be available at the facility, and the countless spillover jobs that will be created in the community as a result of Resorts World’s arrival, this is a project with economic benefits that will stretch far beyond the grounds of the Aqueduct Racetrack. And, this is a project that is presenting economic opportunities that we would be ill-advised to overlook.
As a community, we have to meet this type of commitment with a cooperative spirit, sending a message to others contemplating making the type of investment Resorts World has that Queens is open for business, and that we have the talent pool right here in South Queens to make any venture successful. The Resorts World project can be the model project, leading the way for others such as the Delta project, the continued revitalization of Downtown Jamaica, the Sutphin Boulevard project and the arrival of another accredited college, Technical Career Institute (TCI).
To be clear, as the pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in Queens and a leader in the NYS Progressive Baptist Convention I do not in any way support gambling because I have seen some of the negative effects it has had on some who become obsessed with greed and lose their life savings.
Our great challenge will be to gain the benefits of employment, and enjoy the family friendly aspects of the project such as the dining and entertainment features that have been carefully isolated from the casino which is in the center of the facility and leave the gaming which is the profitability of the project to the tourist and those who can best afford it.
Resorts World has informed me that they are working with the New York Council on Problem Gambling to train their staff on problem gambling, and to provide assistance for anyone with a gambling problem.
Rev. Dr. Calvin Rice is pastor at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens and the First Vice President of the New York State Progressive Baptist Convention.