Break From Politics,
Thank You Henry!
Stern is one of our City’s treasures. He served as Park’s Dept.
commissioner for some fifteen years under both Democratic and Republican
Mayors. He was a City Councilman for nine years — the only one ever
elected on the Liberal line. He is an attorney with an analytical view
towards City government. He’s independent — amazingly so! He’s
single-handedly renamed almost 10,000 of our City’s movers and shakers.
He’s eccentric and an awful lot of fun. He’s very bright; writes very
well and tackles those topics that this political scribe often thinks
top: Captain Gil
with Maryland Capitol in background; Annapolis draw bridge up;
Allison, Lil, Carole, & Debbie; no different than steering a
Allison watches a huge
tanker; Gilligan’s crew
had nothing on us.
by Mike Schenkler
while I spent a three-day weekend sailing in Maryland, Henry penned a
column to fill my space. He selected four topics and has educated us all
on each of them and shared his take on these four major governmental
spent the time with Lil and Allison aboard the good ship “Infinity”
sailing the Chesapeake with my sister Carole, brother-in-law Gil and niece
Debbie — the sailing side of our clan.
trip down and back, the good food, the hours on the water and time
visiting Annapolis, Maryland’s quaint Capital - left no time for column
a big “thank you” to Henry.
big thanx to Carole and Gil who gave me almost three entire days without
work — I can’t remember the last time.
to my regular readers, some advice: we all deserve a break. If I can spend
a three-day weekend without politics, news and business, you too can take
a break, relax and enjoy. That’s what summer is for.
VICTORY FOR GAYS;
BUDGET POSTPONES REALITY;
SCHOOLS TO GAIN FUNDING;
AQUI NO SE HABLA INGLES.
last several days have seen important decisions by the Federal, State and
City governments with respect to human rights and education.
the Supreme Court held that the states could no longer punish private,
consensual, non-commercial sex between adults, no matter what the gender
of the parties or how they fulfill themselves or their partners.
the New York State Court of Appeals invalidated the State’s current
system of financing public education. Schools are often funded by property
taxes, with rich districts having more money to spend than poor ones.
Therefore it is believed that their students receive a superior
education. The Court gave the State a year to find a better solution
to the problem.
the Mayor and Speaker agreed on a City budget. It provides some
spending increases, anticipates a substantial budget gap in 2004, and
counts on an improving economy to reduce the deficit.
the Mayor and Chancellor seem to have abandoned their efforts to abolish
social promotion and bilingual education, systems which, along with
special education, have left in their wake hundreds of thousands of
children, aged out of the school system, unable to read or write in the
Supreme Court decision is of remarkable and historic importance and June
26, 2003 will be known as a red-letter day, particularly in the years it
falls on a Sunday — the day of the gay rights parade. (The first
such year is 2005.) The decision is in fact an expression of social
values, as Justice Scalia points out grimly in his dissent. The
Constitution, of course, does not mention sodomy, but its preamble states
as one purpose “to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our
posterity.” Definitions of “liberty” change with
succeeding generations. When the Constitution was ratified in June
1788, human slavery was an accepted practice. The times, they are a
is particularly satisfying that the opinion was written by Justice Anthony
Kennedy, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, and concurred in by
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, another Reagan selection. Their
decision reflects a massive change in public feeling over the years, not a
left-wing conspiracy. Remember, this is the same Court that decided Bush
v. Gore in 2000.
New York State Court of Appeals decision on a 10-year-old case is meant to
break a legislative logjam, where arguments of greed and self-interest
have been cloaked in principle. It makes sense for the judges to step in
to require the legislature to re-examine educational financing, as many
states have already done. The Court wisely gave New York a year to
reform; let’s see what the triumvirs who rule us (Pataki, Silver, Bruno)
come up with.
city budget for fiscal 2004 marks another year of spending every penny you
have or intend to borrow, and taking pride in that. The Mayor raised his
own budget by $90 million to gain credit for restorations the Council
would have made anyway. In “negotiations” the Council added
another $115 million, but why worry? If the money is there, it will
be spent, if not, the budget will be reduced mid-year, as has happened in
each of the last five years.
States Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts, who served on the Court from
1930 to 1945, said that a Supreme Court decision was like “a restricted
railroad ticket, good for this day and train only.” That statement
is even more applicable to New York City budgets, which are often mere
expressions of optimism and goodwill, intended to gratify or, at least,
of the weaknesses of this administration is its inability to find cost
savings other than by service reductions, or if they do find them, not
announcing them for people to savor.
years ago, the position of Deputy Mayor — City Administrator was created
under Mayor Wagner, pursuant to the Cahill charter. The office
withered in the Lindsay administration, and was subsequently swallowed by
the Bureau of the Budget. This is a task that the Independent
Budget Office could usefully perform; it would save the City far more than
the IBO’s own $2.7 million budget.
education news is even drearier; retreat on social promotions, abandonment
of immersion (an important part of candidate Bloomberg’s educational
program defined as teaching in the language of the country in which you
live, or another country if you know your own language and want to visit
there). There are as yet no major moves in special education, which covers
children with physical and emotional problems. Social promotions,
bilingualism (133,000 students) and special education (120,000 students)
are three sacred cows that conceal massive failure.
Chancellor has been tough on the United Federation of Teachers for playing
the race card and rushing into court. Randi Weingarten’s harsh
allegations did not result in her members’ inclusion in the restoration
pressure groups, acting more privately, have more purposefully preserved
their profitable public pastures of privilege and self.
Chancellor Joel Klein, education has had more wholesome structural change
than any other agency.
Perhaps the Department of Education has temporarily exhausted its
capacity for initiative, doesn’t want to bite off more than it can chew,
or is under the influence of the $245,000 deputy for instruction, whose
resume is long because her tenure in each city is short. Klein is
able, dedicated and a fine lawyer. However, we expect the most from those
who have done the most, because we know they are capable of doing even
Stern can be reached at: starquest.nycivic.org
Memphis Belle Legacy Alive On The Fourth
He is far grayer than he was in the
famous photo taken “somewhere in England” some 60 years ago, but there
is no mistaking the smile on Bob Morgan’s face.
In 1943 he was the pilot of the famous
Memphis Belle — the B-17 that defied the odds and completed 25 missions
over Nazi occupied Europe in the face of murderous fire from the Luftwaffe.
The photo shows he and his crew grinning from ear to ear with the
knowledge that they have beaten the Germans and flown their last European
The Memphis Belle soars
through the sky in 2003.
Over a half-century later, he still has
the easy going charm of a North Carolinian. This Fourth of July holiday
weekend he will be far north of the Mason-Dixon line, standing beside a
B-17 in the markings of the Memphis Belle at the American Airpower Museum
at Republic Airport at Farmingdale, Long Island.
In a manner far stronger than any
internet web site, he represents a living link to our nation’s heritage
that must be understood by the next generation of Americans.
His journey to the New York metro area
is being sponsored by Blumenfeld Development Corp., a well respected
development company that owns the Bulova Corporate Center in Queens and
other well known commercial spaces. BDG’s vice president, Brad
Blumenfeld, was asked why they are underwriting Bob Morgan’s trip in a
B-17 to our city. Blumenfeld responded, “Fourth of July fireworks
are great but they don’t tell enough of our American story. Before the
colors fade, Mr. Morgan’s generation still has lessons for us and they
need to be heard. We wanted to create that forum and this is an enormously
Climbing into the B-17 behind Morgan,
you begin to realize just how basic these aircraft were.
After participating in
25 missions against the Nazis
in World War II, the crew of
the Memphis Belle proudly stood near their plane.
Built with 1935 technology, it would not
evolve into a war machine for years. Nineteen-year-old boys were the crew
members for the Flying Fortresses and they were asked to confront German
fighters in unarmored aircraft while flying at 30,000 feet.
While two movies about the survival of
the Memphis Belle have been produced, it is difficult to understand the
heroism of its crew until you meet Morgan and conduct a personal walk
through of the “Fort.”
Blumenfeld and his company are on to
You can now find history on cable
24-hours a day and yet until you come face to face with your heritage,
there is something missing in our understanding of what is required to
protect our nation and preserve our democracy.
Not surprisingly, Morgan considers
himself an honorary New Yorker. “After the attacks of Sept. 11, I
don’t know of anyone who isn’t proud to call himself ‘a New
Yorker.’ You were placed on the front line of our nation’s war against
terrorism and demonstrated acts of heroism that have become an indelible
part of our history.”
Morgan should know something about
After 25 missions against the Luftwaffe
he went to the Pacific where he flew untried B-29’s against the Japanese
before coming home to start life as a civilian.
I urge you to make the time
to look into the face of our American heritage this long Fourth of July
weekend when the “Memphis Belle” and the pilot who flew her visits the
American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport. It will bring new meaning to
your holiday celebration.
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@queenspress.com