Kruger: A Case for More Competitive Races
by Anthony Stasi
Mar 15, 2011 | 7411 views | 0 0 comments | 193 193 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The idea of nonpartisan primaries in city elections was heartily shot down in 2003, a year when it should have never been put on the ballot since only partisans vote in slow election years. The mayor has considered re-introducing the idea, especially since the Citizen’s Union has changed its opinion and now supports the idea.

In light of the controversy with State Senator Carl Kruger, perhaps we would be right to re-examine the idea of an election system that might make the process more competitive and open to challengers. Kruger is not a citywide elected official, and neither was Hiram Monserrate at the time of his domestic abuse investigation, but the idea of changing the primary system would make incumbents less protected.

Kruger was never going to lose to a Republican challenger, but he may have fallen to a fellow Democrat if that could actually happen in a general election. Term limits and a nonpartisan system would at least make politicians have to run based on their performance and not on their party label. The year 2012 is the perfect time for the mayor to introduce nonpartisan elections.

The discomfort with Albany will still be in the minds of New Yorkers and the mayor has time to explain the policy to an electorate that will actually be voting in 2012, as opposed to the poor turnout in 2003.

Nonpartisan elections will not change Albany, but it could help New York City. If the proposal received 30 percent in 2003, it would have a much better chance to reach the mid-forties a year from now, and 2012 is the mayor’s last real chance to change election policy in New York City.

The Perpetual Orange

January 21, 2007. That is the last time that St. John’s defeated the Syracuse Orange, but that was the old St. John’s basketball program - the one that was a shadow of the once-legendary program.

“Let’s go, Orange,” a man yelled out on Friday as he stepped in front of me at Madison Square Garden. Syracuse is a basketball machine that has been a dominant force in the Big East since 1975, when they made their first Final Four appearance.

The thing that makes a program like Syracuse a safer bet than a team like St. John’s is only the consistency in their coaching. Syracuse, who lost to the University of Connecticut only moments before this column was written, has Jim Boeheim as its coach. With a winning percentage hovering around .740, Boeheim can easily silence critics.

What critics would the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA history have to prove wrong? Not many, but his style of coaching is what causes other great college coaches to scratch their heads. Former Kentucky (and now current Louisville) coach Rick Pitino mentions how he could never coach with Boeheim’s laid-back and hands-off approach to managing young athletes. 
We know how a Bobby Knight threatens players to motivate them. Pitino gets to know his players on a deeply personal level. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski almost doesn’t need an “in” with his players, he gets the best talent and he is completely respected.

But Boeheim has been around since 1975, was an assistant coach at Syracuse before that, and a Syracuse player before that. He is the Orange - a team that plays in a league with the most ridiculously named basketball teams (see Hoyas).

St. John’s has made it back to playing exciting basketball. The coaching is different and the energy is a little different from the program’s 1980s heyday. In the 1980s, St. John’s had the consistent coaching in Lou Carnesecca.

But St. John’s was once a commuter school, which meant that the players were also local. We knew Chris Mullin and Walter Berry. Now, St. John’s can draw players from any place, and that is a little different, but the magic of St. John’s is almost back, and it will take a defeat of Syracuse at some point to make that official.

TSA Scanners

The General Accountability Office (GAO) is the federal office that analyzes costs of programs and budgets. Recently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated that private screeners were 13 percent more costly than federal screeners.

The screeners have come under scrutiny because many people think they are a little too much of an invasion of privacy and are too revealing. After a re-analysis, the TSA has said that private screeners are only 3 percent more costly than the current federal mechanisms.

Traveling to the Caribbean this week, I was asked to stand in front of a scanner. Never have I written about this issue because it seemed small, and now I know that it is small. The entire process of standing in front of these scanners takes less than 20 seconds most of the time.

Whether airports choose a cheaper machine or not is also not a point of interest to me. In a best case scenario, the TSA might find dangerous materials on passengers. In a worst case scenario, it's a little uncomfortable for all parties.

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