Serious Politics: Three Stooges, Handcuffs And Nazis
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Follow me on Twitter @QueensTribune
A political cartoon was sent to me by my old friend Jerry Kaniuk, but we don’t know the source nor the talent who created it. I’ve passed it on by email but publishing law suggests I can’t reprint it here.
A little boy says to father: “Dad, I’m considering a career in organized crime.”
Father responds: “Government or Private Sector?”
Now the fact that in the actual cartoon the word organized was spelled organised, suggests it comes from England or another place that speaks and writes the Queen’s English.
But the message rings true at home, right here in New York.
And sometimes, all the words and all the preaching can’t deliver the message as well as a simple political cartoon.
Both Henry Stern, my friend, columnist and New York City elder, and my friend and talented cartoonist Dom Nunziato selected the same subject below.
Do Henry’s almost 800 words or Dom’s almost 9 square inch cartoon deliver the message more effectively?
I wish I could draw.
I also wish that I could get Dom’s Three Stooges to go back into the backroom and release a detailed analysis comparing all of the Aqueduct bids and companies, along with a rationale as to why the selection made was best for the people of the community and State.
The Governor’s downright stupidity in summoning Floyd Flake to a meeting that seems to be about political support in the upcoming election, just days after awarding the company he is affiliated with this mega-contract in secrecy, stands as another illustration why David Paterson’s career as an elected official is over.
The Albany culture of corruption is bred in the backroom deals. Transparency was so sadly lacking that Newsday commented: “The only person who could be excited about this deal is the Queens district attorney.”
And the beat goes on . . .
EDUCATE DON’T PUNISH
Regular readers know that in a prior life I was an educator. I worked in the NYC school system for 15 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal – most of it in Special Ed.
I have recently commented in print that the present administration is the first in more than 40 years to stop the terrible decline I have witnessed in our school system.
However, last week was a bad week for our school system and the children it serves.
Alexa Gonzales, a 12-year-old girl at a Queens Middle School was arrested for doodling on her desk with green erasable marker. The school called the police who took the poor 12-year-old out in handcuffs.
The principal, Marilyn Grant, according to published reports, points her finger at “agency policy” and defended the assistant principal calling the police.
My god, the girl was taken out of the school in handcuffs and the Principal is defending it and is still in charge of our children. That’s the crime here.
Somewhere I read that the cops said in the future they are going to use Velcro handcuffs.
Should we be happy?
The Principal, the Assistant Principal (he was just following orders), whoever released a policy that allowed such outrageous interpretation, the maker of the police policy mandating handcuffs metal or Velcro – they’re the ones who have crossed the line here.
And fitting with their justice system, they each should be drawn and quartered!
Just one day later, a Staten Island Principal nearly suspended a 9-year-old boy for playing with an action figure which had a 2" gun.
While the Department of Education has not stood by these absurd acts by their incompetent school personnel, and have used the word “mistake” to describe some of the actions, we wonder what is driving today’s principals that have taken really non-threatening situations in a learning environment and applied the severest punitive actions imaginable?
Finally, we are pleased that Mark -- I mean David -- Weprin won Tuesday’s Special Electon for the 24th Assembly seat.
We have apologized that our endorsement of him was accidentally omitted from last week’s Trib.
In the last days of the race, Weprin mailed a piece of literature containing a swastika and tried connecting it to words uttered by his opponent in an attempt to instill fear into some of the voters.
Now we have been known to create some pretty controversial and hard hitting campaign material and recognize politics is a rough and tumble sport.
However, we think Weprin stepped over the line. We did not see the piece until after we went to press last week or we would have commented then.
Freidrich, for his part, not only flipped flopped on the Marriage Equality issue but did so in successive interviews by me.
The Special Election is over. It was ugly.
I love the political game.
Michael Schenkler can be reached via this contact form.
Aqueduct Deal Fails the Nose Test; Scandal Unfolds
By HENRY STERN
The State of New York is plagued by a corrupt and dysfunctional legislature, which complements an inept and vacillating executive chamber. The damage done by Eliot Spitzer’s intemperate conduct of public affairs, before his Mayflower tryst provided an excuse to remove him, continues to this day. His carelessly chosen successor, designated solely for diversity, has muddled through one embarrassment after another, from the choice of a United States Senator and the surrender to the legislature on last year’s budget to an array of contradictory statements on public issues, some coming within days of each other.
This week, we appear to have hit a new low, with the governor’s approval of a video-lottery terminal installation for Aqueduct race track. The proposed deal was denounced by both the Daily News and the Post in unusually sharp editorials. We quote, first the News, whose editorial appeared under the headline, BAD SMELL AT AQUEDUCT.
“The men who misrule Albany have plumbed new depths of public-be-damned irresponsibility in their flagrantly scandalous plan to bring back casino-style gambling to Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.
“Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic boss John Sampson picked a company to run thousands of slot machines at the decrepit raceway in dead-of-night secrecy that reeks of favoritism and fixes.
“Stunningly, not even Friday’s choice of Aqueduct Entertainment Group as the winning bid was straightforward. Silver immediately put conditions on his okay, hinting that AEG was not the highest bidder and had a crook on its payroll.
“That and the company’s inside connections to Sampson and Senate President Malcolm Smith strongly suggested it was rigged from the get-go.
“Making matters worse, Paterson quickly approached a key player at AEG — influential minister and former Congressman Floyd Flake — to solicit his political support in the coming election.
“This doesn’t even come close to the standards of competitive bidding and good government. The public can have no faith that this was a real effort, on the merits, to identify the best outfit to install and operate 4,500 video slots at Aqueduct.
“This is a scandal wrapped around an outrage.”
The Post was equally unsparing in its disapproval of the transaction. Its editorial, was titled THE FETID AQUEDUCT DEAL.
"Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver read Gov. Paterson the riot act yesterday about that dubious video-lottery-terminals deal he struck for Aqueduct race track. Good for Silver."
“The deal — which would grant politically connected Aqueduct Entertainment Group the right to install and operate the terminals, rejecting competing bids from five other investors — stinks even by New York’s low-rent standards.
“The Post reported Sunday about what appears to be a tax-subsidized slush fund, called New Directions Local Development Corp., run by State Senate President Malcolm Smith, Rep. Gregory Meeks and others — many with ties to the AEG deal.
“One player, former Congressman Rev. Floyd Flake, seems to be at the center of both the New Directions operation and the AEG bid for the video terminals.
“Surely hearings should be held before any deal goes forward, if only because this entire sordid process evolved in secrecy; it’s crying for sunlight.
“Yesterday [Wednesday] Paterson tried again to complain that everything about the AEG arrangement is kosher. ‘I myself did not have a preference’ about which bid won, he said Tuesday. ‘I was trying to break the deadlock.’
“Right. Silver’s letter says point-blank that Paterson ‘called me to personally and strongly recommend’ AEG.
“Until this fetid deal is bathed in sunlight, it mustn’t go anywhere. It’s that simple.”
The two editorials are vehement and persuasive. The Flake-AEG bid was not compared with the five others in any objective manner. There is no documentation of the process by which the governor and his allies selected the Flake group. It is transparent (in its older usage) that the choice was politically motivated, based on Paterson’s desire for Flake’s support, which would be critical for his candidacy for re-election, if he proceeds to the primary. Politics is the more honorable motive for the governor’s action. There is no evidence of any other consideration.
We keep thinking of the line from Jaws 2, (1978): “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”
The version that is appropriate in 2010 is: “Just when you thought New York State public officials could not get any lower.”
We observe that both the News and the Post used nasal imagery to describe the Aqueduct transaction. The headline on this column reflects that theme. The words flagrant and fragrant have different meanings, but this very raw deal encompasses both.
Give it up, guys, before you have to explain it all to a grand jury.