Vallone a lone voice in Stop & Frisk debate
Oct 18, 2012 | 3039 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. has been fighting to maintain the current “Stop and Frisk” policy that has allowed the NYPD to protect the city in a time when we cannot afford to take safety lightly.

Stop and Frisk is controversial because nobody wants to be stopped. Nobody feels that they look suspicious. It is annoying and inconvenient to be stopped, and when my gym bag was inspected, it bothered me. But the policy works. Do we wish to never be inconvenienced, or do we want the police to be able to do their jobs?

Vallone is in the position where his opponents look like they are defending the people, whereas he is defending a policy. The policy, however, does benefit the people. If we look at every single stop and frisk moment, we can put together a scrapbook of bad stops…and that is what the opponents do.

This happens with every type of public policy. You want to increase taxes? Here is a small business that will be forced to shut its doors. You want to cut taxes? Here is a family that will be poorer because of it. You want to shut down a poorly performing school? Here is a teacher that everybody likes who is being wrongfully blamed.

Bad stops look bad because nobody wants an innocent person to be questioned. All of us would agree that senior citizens do not need this aggravation when they are stopped. But those cases are the exception, and they can be remedied. The process can be made better, but the policy – according to Commissioner Ray Kelly and the data – works.

So Vallone has to look like he is defending every overstep by the NYPD, when in fact, he is defending the policy, not implementation styles. Consider that there is a whole generation of New Yorkers that do not remember this city when the police were at odds with City Hall.

Many of our younger New Yorkers have only lived in the city’s renaissance period, and may not realize how quickly it can slip back. With record lows in crime in this city, it is easy to forget what crime looked like in the 1980s. We’ve gotten used to these comforting statistics, but that is no reason to get away from what works.

Queen Beep Race 2013

The race to replace Helen Marshall is going to be interesting once we get past this November. In a predominantly one-party city, it is inevitable that there will be some kerfuffle among Democratic candidates leading up to a primary. Some, like former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, have already dug in.

The Democrats are not short on potential candidates. The question will ultimately surface as to how important – and how necessary – this office is, regardless of how impressive the candidates might be.

Perhaps a strong GOP candidate will emerge, although running borough-wide is very hard for a Republican, even in a sometimes GOP-friendly borough like Queens.

Borough presidents are conduits for discretionary money. The idea is that a borough president is someone so glued to the community that he or she can best direct discretionary funding. The position is tailor made for a person that maximizes visibility in the community, which might be good for a candidate like Katz (or perhaps Peter Vallone, Jr.), who has held office for a long time.

The campaign, however, may be more about defining what the Office of the Borough President actually is. If it is a “make it your own” type of position, then that is a tough sell to the public as to why it exists. If the need for a borough president is to distribute discretionary money, why would the City Council members not be in a position to just do that themselves?



Big Crumbs

Last week Alaska Airlines ordered 50 new Boeing airplanes to join their fleet as they expand routes through the eastern corridor.

It’s the kind of sign you want to see as an economy recovers. Then there are signs that after a crushing recession, some may not have learned so much. Some businesses over-expand to a point where they water down their own customer base.

This may be happening with Crumbs bakery, which specializes in fancy cupcakes. Some of us like the high-end baked goods at Crumbs bakery - there is a location at the Queens Center Mall, as well as in Brooklyn Heights and throughout Manhattan. But is there a need for their cupcake expertise every 20 blocks in the city?

If the airline’s activity has proven to be a sign of a good economy on the horizon, Crumbs may have set itself up to be less of a niche shop, which was its strength. Crumbs no longer sells its own coffee, and has instead entered into a partnership with Starbucks. Yikes!

This reminds me of when, in 1973, Yankees owner Michael Burke was looking for a silent partner and someone suggested George Steinbrenner.

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