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Op-ed: How to end the senseless bloodshed in the five boroughs

James Solano was described by his family and friends as “energetic” — a young man who always had his mind on the future. He was heavily involved in a local after-school program, and was widely beloved by his counselors. On Dec. 23 of last year, just two days before Christmas, he was shot in the neck and killed outside a bodega in Morrisania. He was just a few blocks from his home. James was more than a statistic. He had a unique life, and his entire family and community has been left devastated by his untimely death. But his senseless murder was part of a disturbing…

Op-ed: Is Bay Ridge really a Republican stronghold?

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, enter the “red mirage.” The phrase was coined before election night this year to remind people that Republican candidates across the country could gain a lead that would later evaporate after mail-in ballots were counted. And that is exactly what happened, including in my neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Now that the foggy mirage of Republican victories in Brooklyn has lifted with state Sen. Andrew Gounardes …

Opinion: Thoughts on avoiding austerity

Hello Brooklyn Paper readers, My name is Mike Racioppo, and while you might remember me from articles such as “Community  Board Leaders Urge Speaker To Reinstate Funding For Vocal New York” or “Man launches furious tirade against board members over Citi Bike,” this is my premier column for the paper. This opening was an attempt at emulating Troy McClure, and to be clear, I wasn’t the person angry about Citi Bike, nor is that the focus of my column. My paying job is as District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6, but unless stated otherwise, I’m not…

Op-ed: Mother Nature has run out of patience. It’s time to act on outer borough storm resiliency

Mother Nature does not care about the ongoing pandemic, or the economic devastation it has wreaked on our City budget. In case any New Yorker doubted that, Tropical Storm Isaias set them straight. The intense winds forced bridges and railways to shut down, while knocking down thousands of trees that crashed into cars, homes, and power lines. According to Con Edison, Isaias created the second-worst storm outage in its history, trailing only Superstorm Sandy in its impact. For those of us in the outer boroughs, it was déjà vu all over again.  While more than 130,000 Con Edison customers lost power due to Isaias, less than 100 of those customers…

Op-ed: Hunger remains a problem for New Yorkers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sadly, hunger in New York City is not a new problem.  Sky high rent prices, stubbornly low wages, and the high cost of living in one of the richest cities in the world means that many New Yorkers have to sacrifice on food to pay for rent and other basic necessities.   At the beginning of this Council’s session in 2018, 40 percent of providers said they didn’t have enough food to meet demand. This was well before COVID and at a time of economic prosperity in our city.  The problems back then were two-fold. The nonprofits that operated these programs needed money to serve those…

Opinion: Why should taxpayers balance the Democrats’ books?

Taxpayers around the country should not have to bail out Democrat-led state and local governments, including New York, for their failed policies. Yet, this was the main priority of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and what caused the stalemate over another round of coronavirus relief legislation in Congress last week. Think about it — why should taxpayers from around the country be forced to balance the books of those areas that have enacted fiscally irresponsible policies for years, and pay for the ongoing repairs caused by rioters allowed to inflict their chaos by Democratic mayors and governors?  Until these officials implement some fiscal sanity and allow law enforcement to do their …

Opinion: The double standards of our Democrats

In recent weeks, we have seen the clear hypocrisy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. King Cuomo has continued his war on our small businesses that are trying to stay afloat with this pandemic. On July 30, the governor proudly announced more violations that his state Liquor Authority issued to bars and restaurants for violating his edicts related to the novel coronavirus. We must remember that many of these businesses are owned by our neighbors and friends. They have done all they can to survive this ordeal. At first, they were ordered to close. Eventually…

Opinion: ‘Dumb money’ investments are wrecking New York City

In just a bit I’ll continue last week’s column about global warming and transportation and mobility startups. Next week, I’ll be back to writing about the Brooklyn Democratic Party. But first I want to touch on coronavirus and New York state. Seven weeks ago, I wrote a column called, “Coronavirus is coming back to New York City.” Since then, unlike most of America, we have so far kept new cases low. We are testing over 60,000 people a day and currently getting only a 1 percent positive rate, so we are doing almost as well as South…

Op-ed: Don’t let Trump count New York out in the 2020 Census

Even as New Yorkers fight the COVID pandemic, another battle looms — making sure that we’re treated fairly in the 2020 Census. What’s at stake? For starters, billions of dollars in federal aid for health, education, social services and more. The census will also affect the power of our votes in future elections — determining how many congressional seats New York State gets and where the lines are drawn around our state and local legislative districts. Now, more than ever, the census really counts …

Opinion: Leave the politics out of our National Pastime

After September 11, 2001, Major League Baseball returned to New York City and united the country after deadly terrorist attacks. Now, after a four-month delay due to the pandemic, baseball has returned. However, rather than uniting us again during a time of adversity, it has added to the divisiveness in our country. Most Americans look to baseball, or any sport, as an opportunity to root for their favorite team with fellow fans. During those few hours of watching a game, we put on hold family and work problems, and even differences in politics. Not anymore — and my sense is interest in many sports will decline as a result. Indeed, although I…

Opinion: Coronavirus and climate change

The coronavirus pandemic is a rather good analogy for global climate change, because it’s a global thing you can’t see that will kill millions, there are clear ways to alter our lives to prevent it, and there are millions of people intent on not changing their lifestyle at all and denying reality about how it works. It’s not a good analogy because solving climate change will take decades and mostly impacts our youngest, while coronavirus is an immediate threat which targets the elderly most severely. But differences are why you have analogies. Like climate change, some places…

Opinion: Fourth of July messages offer stark contrast for 2020 elections

There were two messages on the Fourth of July that highlight the choice voters have in November. One was, “We believe that our children should be taught to love their country, honor their history, and respect our great American flag. We stand tall, we stand proud, and we only kneel to Almighty God.” The other was, “Black people have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized and terrorized by America for centuries, and are expected to join your …

Opinion: This year’s budget was a weird one

New York City passed its budget this week, as it does every June 30. This year was rather different than most, though. It was the first budget in more than a decade that decreased spending from the previous year, due to the massive contraction of our economy from the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the first city budget to occur in this new era of widespread anti-police sentiment. These factors have created a very strange budget that seems to me the most opaque in several years. The NYPD’s budget was cut for the first time in a very …

Opinion: Vito Bruno knows we can’t go back to the ‘bad old days’

Last week, Curtis Sliwa, popular New York City radio host and founder of the legendary civilian crime fighting group the Guardian Angels, stood in front of the 95th street station in Bay Ridge to endorse Republican Vito Bruno for the 22nd State Senate District, which covers a large area of southern Brooklyn. This seat was previously held by Republican Marty Golden from 2003 until 2018, when Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes won by a narrow victory. Significantly, Sliwa, who currently leads the NYC Urban Reform GOP Coalition, supported Gounardes in the last election …

Opinion: For some, protests are just an excuse for chaos

Over the past week we have seen riots and crime — not just peaceful protests — in response to the killing of George Floyd. To be clear, the officer who held his knee on Floyd’s neck and killed him was rightfully charged with murder. Unfortunately, some have taken this tragic event as license to unleash chaos on our streets by burning down and looting stores, destroying public property, and attacking police. Perhaps even worse, most Democratic elected officials have instinctively blamed our police officers for these …

Opinion: It’s time to open the Big Apple

It’s time to open the Big Apple — and the country — again. Of course, many of my Democratic friends will demonize this as prioritizing the economy over public health. However, these two are related, and there is a middle ground. The current U.S. unemployment is 14.7 percent, a number not seen since the Great Depression. Economic experts say this can surge to over 20 percent over the next several weeks if we keep the country closed for business. These are not just statistics, these are people’s lives. For every business that is closed, there are countless New Yorkers and Americans that are not getting …

Opinion: Local, regional and national governance has failed us

The very worst part of the pandemic in New York state appears to be past, and parts of upstate are beginning to slowly reopen. New York has recorded more than 20,000 deaths from coronavirus, the most of any sub-national region on the planet. We appear to have had nearly as many deaths as Italy or Spain, the previous epicenters which each have substantially more than double our population. Over 80,000 Americans have died and that number will keep…

Opinion: Quarantine and the ‘third quarter effect’

Lately I’ve been thinking about the ruts and obsessions people find themselves in. Here at this paper, my conservative counterpart’s columns are almost always about law and order, whereas mine seem to be about powerlessness and isolation. Studies of astronauts in orbit or scientists isolated in Antarctica have identified what they call a “third quarter effect.” At the beginning of a long-term mission, participants are anxious yet excited, then they move on to depression and boredom, then, normally shortly after the halfway point, they become aggressive and irritable. We are embarked upon an …

Opinion: Getting by with a little help from your friends

Up until this point, all of my columns have been complain-y and depressing, offering few positive solutions. It should be clear by now that our governments are failing us. They have been failing us for a long time. My column two weeks ago referred to the notion that Mitch McConnell will keep screwing with the rest of the country, and that was before he started trying to literally bankrupt the Blue states. Donald Trump and, to a far lesser but still galling extent, …

Opinion: Pandemic or not, criminals must face consequences

Most Democrats still don’t get it. If criminals know there are no real consequences for their actions, they will be more emboldened, and more innocent New Yorkers will suffer. Just last week, several mom and pop businesses on Third Avenue in Councilman Justin Brannan’s Bay Ridge district were burglarized. With their loss of revenue from the pandemic, these store owners have enough to worry about without having to deal with thieves. Rather than calling for a tougher response to criminals taking advantage of the pandemic to …

Opinion: The latest tragic casualty of the coronavirus outbreak is democracy

A very long three weeks ago, I wrote that while social distancing is necessary right now, it will damage the communal social life essential to democracy. It appears that I gravely understated matters. Democracy, small business, and worker rights are under extreme threat right now, and we have lost most of the tools traditionally used to fix the problems. On Monday, March 30, Hungary’s parliament voted to give prime minister Viktor Orbán dictatorial powers, using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse. Hungary had been heading in that direction for a while, but now there is rule by Orbán’s decree…

Opinion: Releasing inmates during a time of crisis is a terrible idea

When all five of the city’s district attorneys, who are all fellow Democrats, say that the mayor’s initiative of releasing inmates from Rikers Island is dangerous, we should listen to them. This week, the top prosecutors in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx united to strongly condemn Mayor de Blasio on this matter. They said, “We want to make clear that the categories of those proposed for release have, in some instances, included individuals who pose a high risk to public safety.” They concluded with this zinger: “We should not have to make release decisions that we know will put communities at risk.” As the quintessential example of …

Opinion: Most Dems do not stand with disabled New Yorkers

Adrian Edwards-Smith is the Director of Advocacy for the Disabled NYC.  We take it for granted that senior, student, and veteran New Yorkers are entitled access to most cultural establishments — including cinemas, museums, stage productions, etc — either for free, or at significantly discounted rates. The ability for any person, regardless of financial hardship, or physical disability, to enrich themselves intellectually and culturally is a hallmark of a progressive, civil society, and we in the United States naturally regard these modest concessions…

Opinion: Max Rose’s post office Cabrini tribute is a sham!

What do you think of our postal service? For most, the response would be pretty negative and include some choice words that can’t be printed here. However, in a cynical attempt to pander to the Italian-American community and Catholics in his district, Congressman Max Rose has proposed renaming the Dyker Heights Post Office after Mother Cabrini. A saint should be revered and not relegated to having their name slapped on an aging and architecturally bland federal building. To add insult to injury, this proposal seems to have been made for purely political purposes. For background, this all began when the She Built NYC Initiative was created in 2018 to erect public monuments or statues to honor women’s history. There was an open call for nominations…