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Results Paint Tale of Two Cities
By Norm Scott
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
There was some good news for Rockaway Democrats in the race
for City Council. Lew Simon almost kicked Erich Ulrich’s ass, losing by a few
points in the closest contest in the city. Will it be LEW TIME next time? Make
sure to read the excellent Wave editorial on this race. On to the mayoral race.
In the midst of the perception of a nation-wide tea-party
storm, an entire city rises up to overwhelmingly support a candidate so counter
to that trend as to change many of the political conversations around the
nation. At Governor Christie’s victory party when de Blasio’s image came on the
screen, there was an eruption of boos. In your faces, elephant-in-the-room
Political geeks like me love to check out post-election maps
for neighborhood voting patterns. Let’s take a look. With an unprecedented
50-point win by Bill de Blasio, the maps show a massive sea of de Blasio blue.
Wait. There are a few red Lhota pockets. Most of Staten Island, always strong ancient
Giulianni territory. Let’s see where else. I see some red at the bottom of the
map. Looks like a peninsula, the West End (Breezy, Belle Harbor, Rockaway Park)
jutting into the ocean and a tiny tip of the East End attached to the mainland:
LHOTA RED. From roughly the middle right out to that east end tip: DE BLASIO
BLUE. Holy Cow! I live in LHOTA territory. Did someone break into my house in
the middle of the night and move me to Staten Island?
What part of Lhota’s message did Rockaway west enders and
far east enders agree with? The Lhota ad that showed an older white woman on a
subway scared to death while a young black man sat in the background? Did “He’s
young and black – must be a criminal” resonate? That same young black man who
might be stopped and frisked numerous times in a Lhota administration?
I prefer to think that the pro-Lhota votes in storm damaged
areas like Staten Island and parts of Rockaway were due to the perception that
de Blasio’s very large agenda would overwhelm attention to Sandy recovery
efforts. The Wave took constant potshots at deB for not visiting Rockaway often
enough and hit home with that priceless milk carton photo of the missing deB,
which did seem to get his attention. The Wave post-election editorial, which I
assume was written by editor Kevin Boyle (I recognize his writing from bathroom
stalls), on Stop and Frisk (S&F):
“[Ulrich] was a big
proponent of Stop and Frisk and The Wave believes it’s a very nuanced issue
that demands sensitivity and understanding. You’re for Stop and Frisk? Just ask
yourself if you’d be okay being stopped regularly or even better if you’d be
okay with your teenage kids being frisked. Crime has plummeted and we’re scared
to death the de Blasio era will signal a return to the bad old days but it’s
not as simple as Stop and Frisk. A lot of the same people who love Stop and
Frisk want government out of their lives. Ok, well, the police are the
extension of our government so let’s keep that in mind.”
(Darn. I just used up 100 words. Maybe Kevin will give me a
bonus for quoting him.) Since the S&F controversy began early this year the
police department has cut S&F significantly, yet crime has dropped during
this time. Yet Bloomberg and Ray Kelly cry about how crime will rise without
S&F, a contradiction the press ignores. They can’t have it both ways
(unless they are hiding murdered bodies).
Paul King’s letter on S&F in the Nov. Wave made a great
point. “In America, citizens do not have
to show authorities their papers… according to the Bill of Rights, we should be
secure in our persons against unreasonable searches and seizures. This is a
fundamental right for all Americans. The fact that NYPD is searching almost
2,000 people every day is clear evidence that people’s rights are being
violated on a large scale.”
Rigid law and order folks are so willing to ignore basic
constitutional rights. In his letter, Paul King was critical of the emphasis on
race. I disagree. When such an overwhelming majority of the 2000 people stopped
are of one race that turns it into a civil rights issue. I do agree when King
says, “We all need the NYPD to do its job
well. If leaders and activists think they can win by pitting black against
white or all policemen against all minorities, then the rest of us lose.”
De Blasio is not anti-police and I hope he will support
police on the beat more than Bloomberg by providing resources for better
community policing where they won’t have to use S&F. Suspicious communities
will be more likely to accept workable solutions under him.
Bill de Blasio has the potential to unite, not divide. His
bi-racial family seems to have given hope that long-time racial wounds can be
healed. 96% of black people voted for a white Italian guy and over 50% rejected
Bill Thompson, the black candidate, in the primary.
De Blasio is not far enough left for me given his ties to
certain real estate and corporate interests and to the standard political
forces like the Clintons. So I don’t expect a lot but do hope for serious
changes in education policies. Which is what a column called “School Scope” it
all about, isn’t it?