Judge Peter Vallone is good for the system
by Anthony Stas
Oct 21, 2015 | 5589 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In November, Peter Vallone, Jr., the former chair of the City Council's Public Safety Committee, will be headed to the Civil Court bench. It is a position that for most intents and purposes fits him.

His passion for criminal justice - civil court justices sometimes wind up in criminal court - is a good fit. What is less of a comfortable fit is that Vallone enjoys being a very visible public policy maker. This is a skill-set that he has to leave at the metal-detected door come January.

Vallone’s recent position in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office had him overseeing corrections policy, which along with being a lawyer and councilman, rounded out his experience as a crimefighter. For this, the city may be better served with him in criminal court.

If you’re someone who purposely uses the wrong trash receptacle or you are Dodger second baseman Chase Utley, you know that Peter Vallone likes letting you know what he thinks. This, instead of his experience, has been the focus of his nomination journey.

His response to his online persona is simply that as chair of the Public Safety Committee, every hearing started on time and people of all opinions had a chance to speak. In other words, he leans on his sense of fairness.

What may be most important to the city, however, is that there is a lack of pragmatic thinkers in the justice system, and Vallone would add a sense of balance. As for his Twitter activity, justice needs to be fair, but nobody ever said it had to be unimaginative.

NYC’s Way Around So-So SAT Scores

In the last year, the average SAT score for New York City students moved up slightly, which is really a plus. The No Child Left Behind Act was an attempt to improve performance on standardized test scores, and it was nationally panned for putting strategy over learning. Now that NCLB is basically history, what do we do to address test scores?

Whether these tests actually give a true measure of a student’s aptitude is not the issue. The exam process is not going away, and without an effort to address it, where does it leave the good student that does not do well on standardized tests? Great college students have trouble getting into law school because of this as well.

If education policy is going to focus less on these exams, maybe there can be a way to offer weekend classes on these exams throughout the year. If standardized exams are a must for students to get into college, prep courses should be free.

Low-income parents do not have the money to send their kids to elite prep courses, but there is no reason for those courses to be privatized anyway. If the exams are necessary, young college graduates can work off some debt by drilling down on standardized math and reading comprehension and teaching prep courses on Saturdays. If the city does this in spring and fall months, where less air conditioning and heating is needed, it may not cost that much.

The one thing these exams show us is that all groups, rich and poor, despise them. But as long as they are here, we have to approach them differently.

Thank You

I want to once again thank this paper and the readership for allowing me to write this column since 2008. In that time, we explored two presidential elections, alternative energy policy, relevant sports issues, and especially the local politics and policymaking we care about so much.

I cannot list everyone that I am grateful to, but I do want to mention Walter Sanchez, Tammy Sanchez, Shane Miller, Councilman Eric Ulrich, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Jr., Peter Vallone (Jr. and Sr.), Comptroller Bill Thompson, friends Bart and John Haggerty, Tom and Mike Long, Michael O’Kane, State Senator Frank Padavan, James McClelland, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Herb Stupp, State Senator Serph Maltese, and the readers, such as Frank V. in Rockaway.

I may not have always written what you expected, but you always gave me the time of day. As a writer, I got to see how central this paper is to the Queens community, and it was a hard decision to give up the column at this time. I thank you for your friendship.
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