Archive for January 2014

Mayor de Blasio eschews civility – By George J. Marlin

January 24, 2014

The following appears in the January 17-23, 2014 issue of the Long Island Business News:

The inauguration of Bill de Blasio as New York’s 109th mayor was more a dump-fest on outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg than a leftist love-fest.

Sanitation Department Chaplain Fred Lucas, in his “prayer,” referred to the city Bloomberg had managed for 12 years as a “plantation.” Newly installed Public Advocate Letitia James accused Bloomberg’s policies of leaving many people voiceless.

Harry Belefonte, a wealthy entertainer who holds himself up as a social commentator, complained that Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policing policies resulted in a “community divided” and promised de Blasio would “fix our deeply Dickensian justice system.”

As for de Blasio’s inaugural address, former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonon summed it up best: “What was absent in Mr. de Blasio’s remarks was a kind of civic courtesy or grace. The kind that seeks to unite and build from shared strength, the kind that doesn’t demonize. Instead, from our new mayor we got the snotty sound of ‘us vs. them,’ of zero sum politics.”

When asked about the Bloomberg dump-fest, de Blasio indicated he was not at all disturbed by any of the harsh comments.

“The individuals, the clerics who gave remarks … I respect each and every one of them and their right to say that which they feel is appropriate,” he said. “I am very comfortable with everyone’s remarks.”

The rude behavior of the inaugural event speakers and de Blasio’s reaction didn’t surprise me, because progressive politicians have historically been sore winners. These would-be “managers of the collective life” believe they are entitled to hold public office. They view themselves as exceptional persons and expect people to submit to their notions of the “good society.” For them, “government by the people” has been merely a slogan to humor the masses.

The nation’s leading progressive “sore winner” has been President Barack Obama. Shortly after taking office in 2009, the man who was to be a uniter and the post-partisan president abruptly shut down an exchange of ideas with Republican leaders by announcing, “I won the election.”

Political columnist Jed Bobbin concluded the central aspect of Obama’s bipartisanship scam is that opponents must “let him set the terms of the debate and adopt his theory of government in order to be ‘bipartisan’.”

And so it is with “progressive” Bill de Blasio.

During the campaign, he stated he wanted to raise city income taxes on the rich 1 percent to finance a universal pre-K school program. However, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed additional state aid to finance the program in lieu of raising taxes, de Blasio dismissed Cuomo’s approach. The mayor said he wanted to raise income taxes on everyone earning over $500,000 annually even if Albany paid for 100 percent of pre-K education. “We believe it’s the right thing to do,” he declared.

Instead of agreeing to a reasonable compromise, de Blasio sticks it to the governor because he is an anointed one who knows best and people should be submissive to his ideological vision of how the city should be managed.

Civility is not part of the progressive politicians’ creed. That’s why the noted historian Richard Hofstadter called them “totalitarian liberals” who employ illiberal means to achieve so-called liberal reforms. These authoritarians of the left, according to Hofstadter, often embrace “hatred as a form of creed” in pursuit of their goals.

De Blasio and friends set such a tone on Jan. 1. Expect them to impose their ideological formulas on New Yorkers regardless of the consequences – and don’t be surprised if they drive the city into the fiscal abyss, just as the progressives did last time they controlled City Hall, during the John Lindsay years.

Cuomo to Catholics: You’re Not Welcome in NY – By George J. Marlin

January 20, 2014

This article I wrote appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on January 19, 2014.

Public Corruption Commission a dud – By George J. Marlin

January 7, 2014

The following appears in the January 3-9, 2014 issue of the Long Island Business News:

Governor Andrew Cuomo has created more commissions to examine controversial issues than any New York chief executive in recent decades.

His prime motive for employing this approach to governing: It gives the impression that “objective” outsiders have given a “seal of approval” to public policy plans the governor has already decided.

An example of such a wired report is the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption’s report released Dec. 2.

The Moreland Act, passed at the behest of Gov. Charles Evans Hughes in 1906, has had a rich history. It vests in the governor broad unilateral power to create an investigative commission – with authority to issue subpoenas and take testimony – to document corruption, fraud or wrongdoing by public figures.

In the 1970s, Gov. Hugh Carey empanelled Moreland Commissions that successfully investigated the operations of nursing home facilities and the Urban Development Corp., which had defaulted on tax-exempt bonded debt.

To ensure honest reports that detailed the ugly reality of a given scandal and made serious reform proposals, governors appointed panels of renowned “wise men” who were above partisan politics. This was not the case, however, in the Public Corruption Commission. Cuomo appointed a bunch of elected district attorneys from around the state – politicians who raise campaign money, mostly from fellow lawyers.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who has been serving as co-chairwoman of the commission, has proved why it was a bad decision to appoint elected officials. She was criticized on Dec. 18 by Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs for not filing criminal witness-tampering or other election law charges against former Police Commissioner Thomas Dale and others involved with the campaigns of County Executive Edward Mangano and former Freeport Mayor Nassau Hardwick.

The essence of Jacobs’ complaint is that the DA’s decision was a political decision, not a sound legal one. He has demanded a federal investigation while other political wags have called for the Public Corruption Commission to investigate its own co-chair.

The preliminary commission report issued in early December summarizes the obvious: “An epidemic of public corruption has infected the state.” The commission boasts that it has performed “robust” and “aggressive” investigations utilizing a “leading investigative and risk analytics consulting firm to integrate vast datasets using a unique and versatile data analytics tool originally developed for use in the counter-terrorism context,” but it didn’t really turn up anything new or startling. And its panacea for eliminating corruption is, not surprisingly, identical to the governor’s position: public financing of campaigns, lower campaign contributions and limited campaign accounts.

Forcing taxpayers to pay for political campaigns is absurd. As New York City pols have proved, the introduction of publicly financed campaigns does not halt corruption.

Some city pols scam public financing rules, raising $6 in public money for or every $1 raised in small donations, generating tens of thousands of matching dollars – not to win an election, but to pay salaries of cronies and relatives on their campaign payrolls.

Politicians throughout New York have reached corrupt lows because of a warped definition of ethics.

Campaign finance reforms will not curtail public corruption. That end will require spiritual and cultural reforms that change the moral compass of many politicians.