There are just not enough active members of a community that understand the issues in their communities. The long-time community board members that we hear from often are those who are plugged in.
They are not all good at the policy work, nor are they always effective. However, when people take a voluntary position and do it for a long time, they do develop a kind of professionalism that is not easy to replace.
We have term limits on council members, but we would be better to leave the community board structure the way it is for now.
With issues like public housing and education on the table constantly in Queens, there is a risk in losing experience and expertise. In this case, we want a more established group of people.
Anti-Looting Bill Would Make a Statement
The council members who are supporting stronger legislation to punish looters (Eric Ulrich, Vincent Ignizio, and Steven Matteo) are on the right page.
As was mentioned in this column a week ago, we are now living in a time of heightened risks for natural disasters. Communities are just more vulnerable to extreme weather.
Penalties may not end the awful prospect of looting homes and businesses, but it is at least a way to take a preemptive measure against this type of crime. There should be more support from the council and there is no reason for this to appear to be partisan legislation.
Tightening the penalties for looting is not a statement on economic class, race, or anything else. It is not a targeted effort to penalize a particular area of the city. It is, by and large, a way to avoid crime.
There may be a temptation to steal property in an emergency situation, and upping the penalties is a way to even out the temptation. When businesses get looted, communities suffer - all communities. Even if this legislation were seen as symbolic, it would still be worth a look.
Nolan Seeks Speakership
Last week, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan announced her intentions to seek the speakership of the Assembly. The fourth paragraph of Nolan’s press release states: “If elected Speaker of the New York State Assembly, I will listen to the members of the Democratic Majority Conference with respect and dedication.”
This is really an intra-party election, and the leader for now is Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie.
The speaker of the Assembly is a powerful position in our state, as we know from the last two speakers. What the party would want in a speaker is someone who is excellent in dealing with the detail-oriented aspects of complex legislation.
Sheldon Silver, with all we know about him, was very sharp when it came to legislation. He did not need to punt that work to staffers.
The members of the Assembly are going to want someone who is responsive. These party contests tell us more about how well a member builds relationships than they do about success within a small district.