Grace Meng: Making History And Friends
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
How often do we get to be a part of history in the making?
Next Tuesday, June 26, about a quarter of the Democrats in Queens, will have the opportunity to, for the second time in four years, take part in an historic election.
As one who marched on civil rights picket lines during his college days and beyond and recognized the reality of racism in our nation, the thought of a Black President in the White House was merely a very distant dream – not one that was going to be realized in my lifetime.
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 smashed barriers I never believed I’d see toppled. Our nation has come a long way, and true equality, though still an elusive dream, was much closer to reality.
For those of us who recognized it, entering that voting booth – yes way back in ’08, we actually had lever machines and booths with curtains – and voting for a black man to be president was not only casting our vote for the best man, but casting our vote to accelerate history. We not only believed in Obama, but we believed America had come of age and it was time to make a statement that skin color was not an impediment in this great nation of ours.
We were privileged to participate in this historic chapter in the book of America.
We are here once again, just four years later.
In the County of Queens, the most multicultural county on Earth, in the melting pot of New York, we can again not only vote for the most qualified candidate, but once again reinforce our belief that the American dream is alive and well and is prospering right here in Queens County.
New York City, New York State, the entire east coast of the United States has never sent a person of Asian origin to the United States Congress. On the face of it, it is a fact that is both shocking as well as indicative of the institutional gerrymandering that had been done for years to divide minority communities. The system and the every-ten-year redistricting has always slanted the playing field against all minorities.
While the 15th Amendment prohibiting denying one the right to vote on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude was enacted in 1870, it was not until 50 years later that women were granted the right to vote with the enactment of the 19th amendment in 1920. And then, another 51 years until 1971 for the voting age to become 18.
In 1964 the poll tax was abolished with the passage of the 24th Amendment, eliminating another major obstacle to minority (and poor) voting.
|GARY ACEKRMAN ENDORSES GRACE MENG: Retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman, who grew up in Pomonok and Electchester, selected the site outside of the Pomonok Library and Senior Center to endorse Grace Meng to succeed him in Congress.
So we’ve provided for equality of voting rights and still find many obstacles like a politicized redistricting preventing many Americans from participating equally in the elusive dream.
That brings us back to the current election.
Grace Meng, a bright American women, who was born here 36 years ago, the child of parents who immigrated here from China to find a better home and to raise their family, is a candidate to replace Gary Ackerman in Congress.
Grace Meng, who graduated from Cardoza, Yeshiva Law School and became a public interest attorney before being elected to the New York State Assembly, is on the verge of becoming the first Asian elected to Congress from the East Coast and the first woman from Queens since Gerry Ferraro.
Grace Meng, in the opinion of this paper and this writer, is clearly the class of the field – the most qualified candidate by far is on the verge of helping us all come another step closer to realizing the American Dream.
The New York Times has endorsed her; Gary Ackerman has endorsed her; the UFT and all five of the Democratic Candidates for Mayor have endorsed her; just about every major elected leader in Queens have endorsed Grace Meng for Congress.
She stands for the right things and she knows how to get things done. As I wrote last week, she is a woman of elegance and grace.
For those Democrats living in the new 6th Congressional District, Primary Day, next Tuesday, June 26 will be the second time in four years to be a part of history in the making.
You can vote for the most qualified candidate, Grace Meng, and at the same time cast a vote reaffirming the American Dream.
White Named Parks Commissioner
By HENRY STERN
The resignation of Adrian Benepe as Parks Commissioner and the appointment by Mayor Bloomberg of Veronica M. White as his successor may indicate a new attitude by City Hall as to what a parks commissioner should be.
White is the founding Executive Director of the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), established by Mayor Bloomberg in 2006 to implement innovative ways to reduce poverty in New York City. The CEO works with City agencies to design and implement evidence-based initiatives aimed at poverty reduction.
The position held by Robert Moses from 1934 to 1960, once one of the most powerful in city government, will, presumably for the next 16 months, be held by someone whose experience is unrelated to parks. With relatively little time remaining in the administration and an anticipated exodus next year of those who are able to find jobs on their own, it will be difficult to design, fund and implement new programs.
The city’s parks have thrived in the last ten years, due to the commitment of Mayor Bloomberg to minimize the effect of budget reductions and the appointment to the agency of dozen of competent professionals. A great deal of the good and the new in this administration has come from Parks & Recreation. It would be a shame to see this energy, zeal and momentum dissipate even before the election.
Ms. White’s credentials indicate competence and achievement. She would probably do well in a large number of positions, based on her record in fighting poverty through evaluating the work of other agencies. Her specific background in parks in comparable to that of Ms. Catherine Black, who was appointed Schools Chancellor on Jan. 3, 2011, and served until April 27, 2011, when she resigned. Her tenure was not regarded as successful.
We share the hope that Ms. White will be more effective in parks than Ms. Black turned out to be in schools. We do wonder, however, if there were competent managers in Parks, some of whom Mayor Bloomberg has selected for his own administration, why they should not have been considered. The choice of commissioners is, however, a mayoral prerogative.