Tom Allon: A Citizen Candidate For Mayor
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Last Thursday, I spent the morning with the New York City political Don Quixote.
Now I’m not trying to offend; Don Quixote has always been a hero of mine. He was different, not part of the broken system and a creative thinker – unlike anyone else. His adventures — tilting at windmills — were a bold attempt to right society’s wrongs.
Remember the story of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha?
Alonso Quijano, the protagonist of the novel, is a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, living in a section of La Mancha with his niece and housekeeper.
Tom Allon, the protagonist of this story, is a parent, an educator and a publisher of community newspapers, probably nearing fifty, and lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and three kids.
While mostly a rational man of sound reason, reading romances, or books of chivalry, in excess has had a profound effect on Quijano, leading to the distortion of his perception. In essence, he believes every word of these books of chivalry to be true. Otherwise, his wits, in regards to everything other than chivalry, are intact.
While mostly a rational man of sound reason, reading the news, and following city politics, in excess, has had a profound effect on Allon, leading to the distortion of his perception. In essence, he believes he is able to fix what is wrong with New York City government. Otherwise, his wits, in regards to everything other than government and politics, are intact.
Quijano decides to go out as a knight-errant in search of adventure.
Tom decides to set out as a candidate for New York City Mayor.
|Old Friends: Mike Schenkler & Tom Allon
For the record, Tom is bright, creative and of sound mind. Tom and I have also been good friends for the past two decades. In 1990, when I became president of News Communications, a publically traded media company, Tom became the vice president. We spent the better part of the next decade together, growing and supervising the community newspaper group throughout metropolitan New York. Lil and I attended his wedding; he was at my son Lee’s Bar Mitzvah and my 50th birthday party. Tom is family.
I know Tom Allon well, and when he sets out tilting at windmills, those windmills better look out.
Elsewhere in this paper, you’ll read a report on the interview with Tom. What you find here is my brief analysis as to why Tom Allon is a perfect choice for Mayor of New York City.
“I’m the only person who is not a career politician. People are sick of career politicians,” Tom, who runs a big, small business, told us.
Yes, he is as tuned into the city and its people and neighborhoods as anyone, but he is not one of those “elected officials,” who have spent the past number of years catering to and selling their soul to special interests.
Big money and professional vote delivery operations have elevated lobbyists, big business and unions to a partnership with government – a partnership which is clearly not in the best interest of the people.
When the people evaluate the performance of their elected officials, the bottom keeps getting lower. Congress is at a 10% approval rating; the dysfunctional State Legislature is attempting to push through an undemocratic, self-serving redistricting; and we’ve lost track of the number of times that member item scandals have damaged the City Council.
No, our government stars don’t come from government. As a matter of fact neither have our past two Mayors. Rudy Giuliani was a federal prosecutor and Mike Bloomberg, a media entrepreneur.
Career politicians, for the most part, don’t listen to the people. The special interests, the big bucks and the political machines have their ears.
Tom is a former teacher, a parent, who has education on top of his priority list. He has helped create two new city high schools. Tom is a businessman; I’ve watched him as CEO build the largest hyper local media company in the tri-state area – he had a good teacher.
Tom knows how to listen and think and act.
Public financing of campaigns in the city, has to some degree, leveled the playing field. One need not come from within the system to run a competitive election.
Read our interview on page 4 with Tom.
And as 2013 gets closer, learn to differentiate between the career politicians and the citizen who wants to serve.
Tom Allon is in this for the long run and the career politicians and windmills better watch out.
Can Government Pay For Services People Want?
By HENRY STERN
One recurring problem in government is the shortage of funds needed to meet reasonable demands for services by the public.
This situation occurs for a number of reasons. One, when payment is made by a third party demand for services increases substantially; the more that is provided, the greater the level of expectation for additional services. These demands, although costly, are not inherently unreasonable. But the question is where to draw the line?
At what level does one provide or discontinue treatment for autism, spectrum disorders, dialysis or other serious medical conditions? To what level of existence is it ethical to condemn the patient because either he is uninsured or has exhausted his benefits?
It may also be asked, how can society support the steady increase in heath costs which is far above the GNP? Even if 90 percent of the waste or inefficiency were eliminated, wouldn’t society be engaged in a game of desperate catch-up with the rapid advances in medical science, which greatly increase our life-span without adequately addressing the complications that arise from advanced age? The conquest of certain disorders has led to an increase in death rates from other causes.
Ultimately, the bottom line is that sooner or later everyone dies. One might live for ten years on a respirator, but that does not answer the questions: who turns it on, who turns it off, whose consent is required and what is the quality of life? That is why people, although blessed with good faith intentions and capability, often move away from the field of medicine to pursue other endeavors after early participation.
When I visit pediatric wards, I am struck by the relative cheer of the patients and staff even though some children are suffering from terrible diseases. The situation New York City faces is similar to the problems of many other cities. Unless health care becomes a recognized reimbursable right, the situation becomes more serious over the years to come. This is not a question of wrong-doing by one group of individuals, although there are professional parasites that prey on people’s fears for their own private profit. If you care for an elderly or disabled person, you know the steady toll it takes on the rest of us (or, as the politically correct, now refer to the majority somewhat dismissively, the temporarily able-bodied).
When Sarah Palin sounded what became a national alarm on “death panels”, which she falsely said would empower federal bureaucrats to determine the life or death of every American by their authority to prioritize medical care, she struck a sensitive chord, which becomes more important to people as they grow older and begin to feel the ravages of physical and mental deterioration.
Behind many big lies, there may be a small truth. The fact that decisions on life or death may be made in part by unrelated professionals, rather than family members, alarmed not only the Tea Party crowd, but other conservatives who believed that they would have the last word as to whether they and their elderly parents continued to live in comfort and dignity. For how long should lives be extended by increasingly artificial means and substitute organs? How should we take into account the nature and the consequences of age-related illness, the possibility, if any, of recovery, and the depth of the pockets of the afflicted and their putative heirs?
Even though in fact the survivors’ and dependents’ choices would be severely limited by the same market forces they extol in principle, it is part of American exceptionalism to believe that we can do whatever we really want to do.
Many people’s views on issues of health are heavily influenced by the amount of physical and emotional pain they are enduring. Also, since people’s pain thresholds are believed to differ widely, it is difficult to set standards for human suffering. The role of government in measuring or postponing the death of particular individuals is an area which requires both better monitoring and sound judgment. The religious or philosophical views of the person dying should also be given more credence and respect than they receive today, where seniors are often infantilized by their caretakers and hospital staff.
Speaking only for myself, I want to determine when my life should end, rather than leaving the issue to strangers who may have economic interests which conflict with my wishes and those of my family. Some day American society will advance to the level when my wife and I will receive the same consideration that we gave our dog Boomer in 2004.