By Jim Fouratt
Glad to be back at WestView News. Pandemic and family issues got in the way. So let’s dive into today’s topics:
Elections: Local: The biggest bombshell is how the Congressional and State Senate district maps have been redrawn. Background: The arrogance of the Democratic Machine, long in place in Albany at a leadership level, made a bold decision to attempt to gerrymander the district maps to advantage Democrats over Republicans. They thought they could get away with it. But they were caught! Sadly, this proves that not only Republicans use the tactics of gerrymandering to take advantage of voters. Shameful! Well, it blew up in their faces. The Court threw out their maps and appointed a neutral commission that created a new and now Court-approved district map. Strong ramifications locally!
The map has created a new Congressional district (10). It starts on 14th Street and runs across to Brooklyn, including Park Slope. Already de Blasio and Brad Hoylman have announced they are running, and a good number of local politicians, including Carlina Rivera, are circling. Above 14th Street, the unexpected has happened. Yes, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are now running against each other. The Democratic Machine’s arrogance has created an opportunity for Republicans to be elected. And forced two progressive seats to become one. Congress and State Senate primary races will now take place in August. All other primary races remain the same on June 28. NOTE: The last day to register to vote is June 3rd, online or postmarked June 3rd or in person. Absentee voting is 7 days before June 28th. For all primary races except the Congressional and State Senate, which will take place on August 3rd.
One race I am watching closely: Assembly District 66. Longtime Assemblymember Deborah Glick is being challenged by up-and-coming progressive Ryder Kessler. The openly gay Ryder has won the Working Families Parties endorsement. Check WestView News online for updates on this race. I suggest that a single issue should not be criteria in voting. Gender, race, sexual orientation etc. are important but the entire political history of any candidate should be the criteria for voting.
ABORTION RIGHTS: When Donald Trump, in selecting candidates for the Supreme Court publicly stated that a candidate’s position on Roe vs Wade was a strong litmus test in making his choices, he succeeded in placing three new Justices who were known historically to want to reverse a woman’s right to choose. Upturning a federal law that guaranteed a woman’s right to control her own body and choose whether to abort a fetus or not has been a federal law for over 50 years. A law that protected a woman’s right to choose. The Supreme Court ruling is expected in June. The shocking leak of Justice Scalia’s defense of ending this right has caused a tsunami of reaction and nationwide a movement of opposition to the Supreme Court changing the protections of a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. I have attended and spoken at rallies sponsored by riseup4abortionsrights.org. The success of their student walkouts over the month of May has mobilized young people to publicly challenge political leaders and demand the Supreme Court refuse to roll back protection of a woman’s right to choose. The question has been publicly raised by these rallies about the separation of Church and State in the decision-making of the Supreme Court. Washington Square and Union Square have been free speech rally points. I support the demand that the Supreme Court refuse to overturn Roe vs Wade because I know that in truth it will affect my ability as a gay man to control my body and make choices regarding marriage for same-sex couples and the creation of family, including the right to raise children. Also on the Supreme Court’s agenda is a challenge to New York’s gun laws. We have the best gun laws in the US. Given Trump’s appointments, we might lose them. Please support publicly expanding the Court.
SHEDS: Controversy over the continuation of the sheds allowed by the City government regarding dining has had articles in WestView in opposition to the sheds. I think a wider discussion is in order. It is clear to me that the restaurant sheds which allow outdoor dining have been a necessary step for the economic survival of restaurants in the city and especially in the communities served by WestView News during the Covid pandemic. What has not been given voice in the rhetoric of those who want the sheds shutdown permanently is not only the reality of an ongoing presence of variants of the Covid virus but also the hundreds of jobs saved by the employment of workers at all levels of the restaurant industry. From managers, kitchen employees, wait-staff to buspeople. Workers’ families were able to survive, and many more restaurants were able to stay in business as many were forced to close. I supported the City Council’s actions to keep restaurants open during the Pandemic. But it is now time to look at what we learned and correct any mistakes made in the middle of a pandemic. I admit to a bias of making streets safer and that includes the reduction of as much fossil fuel as possible. The failure of enforcement of the rules established to make streets safe from the explosion of these retirement sheds is critical if they, as I hope, can remain. I will give but one example: I Iive near Perry St and Greenwich Ave. I ride Citi-Bikes and find it dangerous on a bike, or walking, to see oncoming traffic at the corner of Perry St and Greenwich Ave. The sheds as built do not allow me to see oncoming traffic without putting myself at risk. This must change if the sheds are to remain. I know that Councilpersons Erik Bottcher and Gail Brewer, the former Borough President, have been hard at work in closed meetings addressing this and other issues raised by people wanting to shut them all down and only have sidewalk service for restaurants year-round. I believe the sheds in general should be removed between June 1st and October 1st.
MAYOR ADAMS: I attended a speech by Mayor Adams at Cooper Union. It was a public conversation between former US Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara and Mayor Adams. I was hoping some of the questions I have about Mayor Adams’ administration would be addressed. Particularly his relationship with the Police Union leadership. We had an example of this in the previous administration when Mayor de Blasio caved in to the demands of the Union after examples of public disrespect to the Mayor by high level police leadership. I also wanted to know what actions he has taken concerning another example of these public servants believing that they are above the law: I am referring to the fact that some police ignored City policies regarding Federal, State and City Covid policies concerning vaccination and mask wearing. The demand that some police had the right to ignore City policies regarding Federal, State and City Covid policies revaccination and mask wearing. A number of police officers publicly refused to be vaccinated and/or wear masks in violation of police orders from superiors. I also hoped that his appointment of publicly knownn homophobic men to Mayoral committees would be addressed. These questions were not asked during the hour I listened to the conversation between the two men. But what did happen was quite disruptive in a public hall known for its defense of freedom of speech. An hour in, shouts erupted from the audience calling Mayor Adams the “black Giuliani.’’ The loudest shouts came from a man and a woman seemingly of African American descent. They were critical of his history of being too close to real estate operators and the police department. While some voices in the hall called out for their removal they left voluntarily when asked to by Cooper Union staff. The Q&A never continued, and the event ended with Mayor Adams quickly leaving the hall. We are watching closely the policy actions of the new Mayor and will continue to alert you.
COVID: I believe Mayor Adams’ actions against the predicted surge due to the new Omicron variant to be irresponsible. He has made a political choice of putting economic recovery over health concerns. His behavior has confused the public and created two classes of city residents in a health crisis. People over 50 or with pre-existing conditions are separated from the general population. If the Mayor believes that the virus is highly infectious and airborne, why does he not mandate wearing a mask where social distancing is impossible? Common sense and medical information would see that this is the correct behavior. The MTA continues to mandate that masks must be worn on public transportation. But the enforcement is quite different: I have observed that some white adult males and some millennials feel they are not at risk. They refuse to wear masks on public transportation in defiance of the regulation.
I have not heard any public service announcements broadcast on subways, buses, or trains or in stations I have been in that remind people that wearing a mask is still mandatory to ride public transportation.
Mask wearing where social distancing is impossible becomes extremely important in preventing infection. I am surprised to hear that some people do not realize that even a mild case of Covid can have long-term effects on the body, including the devastating “long Covid” complications. Vaccination and mask-wearing are healthy signs of a community caring for each other. Rather than an example of a selfish, self-righteous political “freedom of choice” refusal to respect rules in place during a health pandemic. Yes, I know that wearing a mask is a pain in the ass. Still, it matters to keep everyone Covid free at any age.