Wednesday, August 01, 2007


"In politics, absurdity is not a handicap."
-Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)

After the dust has started to settle in Albany we find that the Prosecutor as Governor is no longer the fair-haired warrior who will right the wrongs for New Yorkers. Last year, the SoHo Journal, wrote an article in support of Tom Suozzi for Governor. There was criticism for that - not the least of which pointed out that Spitzer was going to win and being on the winning team is key to political survival.

But, as Jim McManus, the respected leader (McManus Midtown Democratic Club) once pointed out, winning is not everything - even in politics. What is most important is integrity and fidelity. At lunch, McManus told Spitzer - when he was asked for his support - "Eliot, I'm supporting Tom Suozzi. This is a race for Governor but you're a prosecutor."

Spitzer was not happy and basically told McManus that he was going to win big even without his support.

But, McManus knew that Spitzer, like Aeschylus, had his head in the clouds and was not really a man of the people. He was, and is, at heart a bully and a prosecutor.

Joe Bruno has taught him a lesson. A very expensive and likely, a terminal political lesson. The degree to which this lesson will contribute to the end of his political career will be played out in the months and possibly years to come. Who could have imagined that anyone would be sympathetic to Joe Bruno? But, here we are.

Of course, how this plays out should be instructive.

Giuliani is calling for a Special Prosecutor and thinks that Cuomo might just be the right guy. Cuomo, of course, would love to be Governor, and it would seem quite plausible for him to step further into the limelight.

Giuliani, a Presidential hopeful, is actually getting some sympathy from Democrats in New York for tiptoeing around the issue without verbally nailing Spitzer. While Police and Firefighters don't buy the hero routine over 9/11, Giuliani might actually hit a nail on the head with the Bully and his abuse of power.

No one, of course, believes that Spitzer didn't know what going on. The idea that his "Haldeman and Erlichman" told him nothing about what they were doing - is ludicrous on its face - with a politician who bragged about his micromanagement style.

We are left with what threatens to be a political witch-hunt and a Mexican standoff - while the important matters of appointments and funding goes begging. The HRPT for example, is just one agency that Board Chair appointment is being held up by the prior Bruno/Sptizer antagonism. Many think that Spitzer did not do his homework on political appointments but the fact of the matter is that Bruno was holding them up.

We now have a Governor consumed with his political survival and who knows when these necessary slots will be filled. Even more disturbing - would we really want the positions to be filled by Spitzer's people?

The unpopular Business Committee of Community Board #2 has been the focus of its new Chair, Brad Hoylman - who has acted quickly after hearing from some of his Board members.

The application for a new bar/restaurant/burlesque location on Kenmare Street ("forty deuce on kenmare") was approved by the Business Committee and slipped through the Full Board. This occurred despite the fact that several Asian community members appeared in prior meetings to protest the excessive number of liquor licensed establishments - arguably 30 in a radius of 500 feet. Normally, this would automatically trigger a "500 foot rule hearing" required by the Padavan Law.

Sensing that the Board, previously under the control of Maria Derr and her anti-community, pro-bar Board Chairmanship - was being perpetuated by this decision - Hoylman decided to take action.

The matter is now being reviewed by a group of Board members in conjunction with the Borough President's Office.

Questions as to the wisdom of retaining Ray Lee as Chair of this committee - someone who was an associate of Bob Rinaolo, Phil Mouquinho, Roscia Sanz, Judy Paul and Lisa Canistraci - bar owners who often voted as a bloc with other supporters when a liquor license was being proposed - is being questioned by the community.

The cozy relationship between those Business committee members who also enjoyed Chamber of Commerce membership and consequent business respect for being able to be helpful to applicants - while no impropriety is being suggested - is not a good situation.

Hoylman has made a good start and will hopefully balance business interests with the demands of the community.

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