Weprin v. Turner: There’s A Difference In The 9th C.D.
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Tuesday, Sept. 13, is Primary Day in New York, but there are no primaries in Queens in this one off year in every four. However, due to vacancies created by resignations, there are three special elections being held on Primary Day.
Sadly, artful timing of resignations gave party leaders (critics would prefer the word “bosses”) the ability to bypass primaries and name their party’s candidates. It perpetuates the worst about politics today. It encourages cronyism, discounts ability and disrespects the will of the voters – the party members.
But politics is politics and especially in Queens, the Special Election is frequently the path to elected office. And in Queens specials, the Democratic Party, leader’s designation is tantamount to election. Huge registration advantages allow Democratic Party leaders to not only name their party’s choice, but know they are also naming the winner.
Not so quickly this time guys.
When party leaders take their registration advantage into account, they believe they can pick just about anyone.
And in two out of three Specials, the Dem will waltz to the finish line: Assembly candidates Phil Goldfeder in the 23rd and Mike Simanowitz in the 27th, both solid candidates, both Dem loyalists, both selected by party leaders and not party members, but will be victorious next Tuesday.
Now, in the most important Special Election, the 9th Congressional District to replace Anthony Weiner, a 3-to-1 registration advantage and a 20-point victory for Weiner last time out has turned into a horse race. This has happened in part because party leaders believed they could elect Mickey Mouse with such a large registration advantage.
|Mike Schenkler sees the difference between Bob Turner and David Weprin.
But when you’re out-campaigned, out-maneuvered and not as informed as your opponent, you wind up on the defensive. David Weprin has discovered this the hard way. He has seen the huge registration advantage and the 20-point spread erode to a six-point lead according to the polls (with a margin of error of + or – four points).
When party leaders value loyalty above all else, faux pas like the selection of Weprin can happen. He not only has been on the defensive but has been ducking debates and has shown a basic lack of mastery of what has happened on the Federal level. His campaign, although armed with twice the funds as his opponent Republican Bob Turner, has been a sorry string of excuses to date.
Why should anything else be expected? Weprin (this is David and not brother Mark – or for that matter, late-father Saul) has only been really tested once in his political career. After two terms as a Councilmember where he was Finance Chair (a gift from the Queens Democratic leadership which he downplayed in his recent interview with us, disclaiming any responsibility for the slush fund scandal imbedded in a budget examined and approved by his committee), Weprin ran citiwide for Comptroller. In a field of four, he finished a pathetic fourth with 10.7 percent of the vote.
The fact is, any of the other half dozen-plus candidates mentioned for the Democratic designation would have done better – much better, than a six point spread. While we expect Weprin to win by more than 6, middle class Queens and the rest of this nation needs candidates who espouse the values of the average American.
And yes, while Bob Turner is impressive and clearly more knowledgeable than Weprin, who had no idea of the National debt when asked by the Daily News and no understanding of Cap and Trade when asked by us. But Turner is as close to the Tea Party insanity as any candidate we’ve interviewed - perhaps ever. We like Turner personally but abolishing the Dept. of Education and not cutting the Dept. of Defense are his positions which are complemented by his belief that we must not increase the tax upon millionaires.
Yes my friends, there is a difference. David Weprin is a Democrat for the people and Bob Turner is a Republican Tea Party sympathizer for the rich.
And this paper clearly prefers the candidate who will look out for the little guy and that is why we endorsed David Weprin.
We would also like an end to backroom deals and boss-selected candidates without Primary elections. The Party would be healthier; government would be healthier and we all would be winners.
Follow me on Twitter @MSchenkler
Irene Drenches City, Winds Bluster, Nature Lends Hand
By HENRY STERN
In the wake of Irene, this column tends to view significant events, including natural disasters, in terms of their political effect, if any, and the competence of public agencies and officials in dealing with crisis.
In that regard the Bloomberg and Cuomo administrations did very well. It is possible that the Mayor’s good work was, in part, based on his determination to avoid another fiasco like the late-December blizzard in 2010, which was not anticipated and responded to promptly by city officials, some of whom were out of town. There is nothing wrong with the mayor’s learning from that experience, and in fact it is a credit to him that he did.
The city had the advantage of five days’ notice that Hurricane Irene was headed our way, and used the time wisely to make arrangements to deal with the approaching storm. The mass evacuation of nursing home residents turned out not to have been necessary, but anyone who remembers senior citizens drowning in their beds in New Orleans during Katrina did not want to see a repeat of that tragic scenario.
The death toll from Katrina was 1,836, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in the United States since the Johnstown, PA, flood in May 1889, where an estimated 2,200 people died, mostly by drowning. The worst natural disaster in United States history was the Galveston flood of September 1900, which killed an estimated 8,000 people. Outside of the country, the Haitian earthquake of January 2010 resulted in 316,000 deaths.
As of this writing, just one death in New York City has been attributed to the storm, which is the result of good luck, sound planning and fine work by first responders. The men and women who worked to achieve this result deserve praise for their efforts. We hope they suffer no after effects from their work.
Mayor Bloomberg had periodic press conferences to report on developments, which is what Mayor Giuliani did after the 9-11 terror attack. Governor Cuomo called out 2,000 National Guard troops, deployed them in flooded areas, visited upstate counties, praised local officials and showed himself to be deeply involved, with the State Operations coordinating the state’s response, where flash floods upstate endangered lives, with people trapped in motels by rising waters.
Even President Obama got into the act, speaking live about federal assistance in the disaster area, and how all levels of government were working together. He also mentioned ways people could prepare for impending hurricanes. It was somewhat reassuring to know that he cared about us New Yorkers.
In another first for natural disasters, we received e-mails all day from miscellaneous elected officials, district leaders, city council members and even one aspirant to a Queens Assembly seat, advising their constituents on how to deal with the winds and the flood. These messages were harmless, and might even be helpful if one had no other source of information as to what to do in the event of a hurricane, or were watching TV for the first time.
We defend the city from accusations of over-reacting, which were implicit in some questions from skeptics in the press. For the next hurricane, we can do fewer evacuations, but it is important periodically to test emergency management situations, and Irene was an excellent occasion to find out what works and what doesn’t.
We should use the natural disasters that God sends us to learn all we can as to how to deal with them and minimize the loss of life and property. It is not wrong for a disaster to be a test of public officials, they are elected in part to protect us. A crisis gives them the chance to show what they can or cannot do.
President Bush looking out the window of Air Force One flying over New Orleans after Katrina six years ago was not a helpful image and his words on the ground to his FEMA chief, “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie,” reverberated to his discomfort. It is remarkable what the elected class has learned since then.
We wish that hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and forest fires do not threaten our State. If they do come, we depend on our public officials to lead our response. There is also a great deal that individuals can do, and they should be more prepared for disasters than they are today.
We have lived for over a half century under the threat of weapons of mass destruction. With nuclear proliferation under way, with unstable regimes in some countries, and others led by psychotics, the world is a dangerous place, whether or not it is warming (and it probably is). The more people can do to provide practical protection for themselves and their families, the better their outcome may turn out to be, as my mother used to say, “if anything happens.”