Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Pope's Passing

The death today of John Paul II ends an era that began before my first birthday--many have known no other pope. In the news coverage of John Paul's decline and death, it has shown pictures of the pope with many world leaders. It is worth mentioning that none could match this pope (or possibly any pope) in the area of moral authority and leadership. He is the only figure in world politics which humbles a head of state---that is power. The image of even a hunched and ailing Pope John Paul II with President George Bush, showed the president dwarfed by the ill man seated next to him--dwarfed in stature and moral power, and personal courage. Who would have stacked up? Not Clinton, maybe FDR, maybe Lincoln. The point is, few can sit next to a President of the United States and make him look small and weak, but that was just the impression I got when I saw the picture of President Bush and the late Pontiff.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The West Wing: Whats Gonna Happen?

The one show on TV that I always try and watch is The West Wing (NBC, Wednesdays at 9). Even though it can't match the brilliant and poignant writing of the first three seasons with Aaron Sorkin at the helm, it still beats the hell out of most of the other crap on TV. I could give a rat's ass what Jessica Simpson and her inbecile pretty-boy husband do all day. The baseball season doesn't start until next week, and I've watched every "Seinfeld" re-run a million times anyway. So I'm left with "West Wing" which is building up to the season finale next week, where we'll know who the Democratic nominee is, Gary Cole, who plays Russel, the sitting VP under Bartlet, Jimmyt Smits, who plays Texas Congressman Matt Santos, or the ex-veep John Hoynes, played by "Otter" Tim Matheson. The betting is its going to be Santos (Smits), mainly beause he has his picture in the credits of the show and the other two do not, plus, he is presidential. Smits does a good job playing a good guy, someone you'd be proud to have as your Prez. The initial attraction to the show for alot of people, I think, was that our real politcs were so dirty it didn't seem like there were any role models amongst our national leaders, "West Wing" offered a glimpse of a, sadly fictional, White House, where you had virtuous people, led by Martin Sheen's Bartlet, who were trying to do the right thing despite political influences and other pressures. That attraction is still there for me, which is why I keep watching.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Step Forward for the Stadium

The Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority today approved the bid made by the New York Jets to build a stadium on the site of the West Side Railyards. This is a gigantic step forward for the Stadium proposal and for New York's dwindling Olympic hopes. Hurdles remain, but the momentum is with the mayor and the governor who are behind this proposal. Speaker Silver and Senator Bruno still have a veto over this project, through their votes on the Public Authorities Control Board, but since the project has come this far, it is now unlikely that either one would outright block the project from going forward. A more likely scenario is that the speaker and/or the Senator will seek some concessions from the governor and mayor in other areas before giving the nod to the stadium, the Jets, and possibly, the Olympics.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Has Hell Frozen Over?

My beloved home town, Albany, is not known for producing on-time state budgets. In fact, there has not been an on time budget since 1984, for math students like me--thats 21 years. But this year, in a reaction to voter anger which actually resulted in some incumbents losing their jobs, the governor, speaker,and Senator Bruno have gotten together and pushed for an on-time budget this year. There is still time for something to go wrong (Friday is the start if the new fiscal year) but an on time budget would be welcome, and it illustrates a larger point--voter anger, when their is action along with it--gets results.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Way to Go NYC! Hybrid Buses on the Way....

The City Department of Transportation has announced today that they plan on purchasing 500 additional hybrid buses for use in the city in an ongoing effort to phase out the diesel buses in use for the last 50 years. Anyone walking on the streets in New York has undoubtedly seen these buses already in use, and soon we'll be seeing more of them--and we all can breathe a little easier. This continued effort, along with the city and state indoor smoking bans in businesses and government buildings means that every day the average New Yorker is breathing in substantially less poullutants than they used to.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Sky is Blue? Build the Stadium!

Getting anything done in New York City requires exceptional persistence, power, and lots of luck. It has been said that if someone says the sky is blue, some New Yorker would give you an argument that it isn't. Right now an effort is underway to build a stadium for the NY Jets to play, and that would host the Olympics in New York in 2012. I hope they build it, and not just because I think it would be cool to get the Olympics, and to have a large outdoor sports venue back in Manhattan after the Polo Grounds left so long ago. I support it because New York is about the big project. I support it because I really hate the people who oppose it. They are a bunch of NIMBY cry babies who have always cropped up when progress is knocking at the door. To show I'm not a hypocrite when it comes to NIMBY-ism, I would support the proposed refuse transfer station at 91st street, very close to where I live on 83rd, and on the East River running path I use frequently. There are always a segment of people in New York who are cynical and like to oppose for the sake of opposing, and they get some opportunistic politician to side with them, and suddenly, progress is halted. One thing seems clear, a gleaming, environmentally and aestheticly pleasing stadium would be better that the blighted space that currently inhabits what is known as the West Side Railyards.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

30 Years is way too long

Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan District Attorney, has been in office since the late 1970s. By all accounts he has been an effective prosecutor, handling high profile cases with skill, and presiding over a transformation in New York from a forbidding, crime infested city, to a relatively safe and much cleaner New York. While currently he is in good health, he has served long enough in his position and should step aside in favor of a fresh face. Even after conceding that Morgenthau is a good DA, every agency and organization could benefit from a change in leadership. Leslie Crocker Snyder, the ex-Judge who is challenging Morganthau in the Democratic primary for DA this year is an eminently qualified successor to the long-serving DA. She was a tough-on-crime judge in Manhattan Supreme Court, and would be the first woman in the job if elected DA.