Saturday, November 9, 2013

Norm in The Wave: Rockaway Election Results Paint Tale of Two Cities

Published in The Wave, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013

Rockaway Election 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 supporters.

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?

Norm spews forth his venom daily at

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