Race in 15th SD Could Expose Issues in Political System
by Anthony Stasi
May 09, 2012 | 12106 views | 0 0 comments | 405 405 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is clear that now that Councilman Eric Ulrich has entered the race in New York’s 15th State Senate District this will be a close race in November.

Nobody can say that either candidate is unelectable because they have both been elected. State Senator Joseph Addabbo is a strong senator in the district, but unlike most districts in the state (and country for that matter), this is what scholars refer to as a marginal district – meaning it can go either for Democratic or Republicans.

Knowing something about these two candidates, I suspect much of the next five months will be heavy on issues and light on personal attacks. But this race may be more about Albany than about the two candidates, and this race could expose some of the fault lines in our political system.

Recently, National Public Radio’s Linton Weeks wrote about how Mitt Romney and Barack Obama had a great deal in common: that they are both pragmatists, they both look awkward in jeans, etc. That may be true, but the surrogates (supporters) of both men are not pragmatists. The Romney and Obama camps do not want any part of talk about the two men having things in common. This is where races – when close – can get ugly.

We rarely see campaigns like this locally because most seats are safe in New York City. The 15th Senate District, however, is a marginal district. This means that even though Ulrich and Addabbo are level-headed public office holders, they both have parties stationed in Albany that want that seat in November.

Expect some help from Albany on both sides in this race, but I expect that both of these men are going to focus on the issues, and this column will be all over it.

Last January, Governor Andrew Cuomo talked about the need for a public campaign financing system at the state level, which New York State does not currently have. After this race in the 15th we might have a stronger opinion about this, since we can expect there to be a lot of money spent here.

NFL and Responsibility

Years ago, during an interview at a television network, two young guys with which I was interviewing asked me what my absolute dream job was. I said if having my druthers, I would be the commissioner of Major League Baseball.

I could have lied and said something more attractive to their business, but that was my dream gig. Other than measuring contractual obligations and trying to expand the league, what have the major commissioners of our professional sports done to usher in responsibility?

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), has been probably the most active commissioner of all of the major professional sports. It is now time for Goodell to introduce exit counseling in the NFL.

Psychotherapy – or just therapy – is not the first place macho athletes run to when they need help. When retired All-Pro football great Junior Seau took his own life last week, it was a tragedy.

It was not the fault of the game or the league. But image lower-income people coming into millions of dollar and achieving fame in a violent sport, and then having it all come to a sudden halt in retirement. It may be an easy transition for many, but the league should encourage some kind of an exit strategy for those that need it.

Former senator Bill Bradley, the former Knicks Hall of Fame basketball great, once said that pro athletes die twice. That first death, the end of their career, is a bigger fall today than it was when Bradley retired. The volume in an athlete’s life gets turned down very low after they leave their sport.

The leagues make billions of dollars on this game, and it is time to introduce a smart policy that addresses this change. It may not have saved Seau, but there are many other former jocks that fall to drugs or alcoholism, become financially destitute, or worse. The NFL has a chance to step it up and offer players something their agents are not lobbying for: a helping hand.

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