Thursday, July 28, 2005

I have put together every unsigned New York Times editorial discussing a 2005 candidate for Manhattan Borough President (note: Brian Ellner has never been mentioned on the Editorial page of the Times).

Why have I taken the time to do this? Because I want your help predicting who is going to get the all-important Times endorsement.

Feel free to comment on any post, but keep them relatively clean and respectful.
Keith Wright

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The New York Times February 20, 2005 Sunday

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

February 20, 2005 Sunday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 14; Column 1; The City Weekly Desk; Pg. 11

LENGTH: 538 words

HEADLINE: That Pesky New York Nickel

BODY:

Until this year, most committee meetings for the New York State Legislature were gaveled open and closed in the blink of a chairman's eye. The sessions were often so brief that members barely had time to devour the bagels and coffee dutifully provided by the staff, much less the subject at hand. Not so these days in the new reform-minded Albany. In important new ways, the public has been invited to the table -- at least for now.

The Assembly Codes Committee meeting last week was an excellent example. The issue was reforming New York's bottle redemption law, and for once nobody knew in advance how the committee would vote on this vast improvement to a valuable state law.

The bill includes two very good ideas. One is to add bottles containing tea, water and fruit juice to the law, which now covers bottles holding beer and carbonated drinks. It makes no sense that a bottle that once held fizzy water can be redeemed for a nickel but a bottle that contained flat water cannot.

The second improvement involves serious money. Many redeemable bottles don't get returned to the store, and the nickel deposits that consumers paid stay with bottlers and distributors. Those nickels add up to about $100 million a year or maybe more. The new bill would take back those nickels for unredeemed containers and put the money to public use -- in recycling programs, for example.

Unsurprisingly, those who keep the nickels now do not want to give them up. Lobbyists for the soda, beer and grocery industries think this bill is, as one grumbled after the vote, "an abomination.''

Last Tuesday, in a long, narrow committee room, lobbyists from both sides hovered over the committee members. On one side were the men in dark, expensive suits. On the other side was a small army of environmentalists, bright bottle-bill stickers on their lapels. The clean-environment crowd clearly had the numbers. The suits had the clout -- campaign donations to be given or withheld.

As everyone watched breathlessly, all but six committee members voted to send the bill on to the next level, a success for the environmentalists. Two assemblymen said to be wavering, Kenneth P. Zebrowski of Rockland County and James Gary Pretlow of Westchester, decided in favor of the bill. Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright of Manhattan, who had also declared himself undecided, was among those who voted against it. Mr. Wright said later he was worried about the small stores that would have more redeemable bottles to deal with.

The bill offers relief to smaller businesses in several ways. It increases the handling fee that bottlers must pay to stores that accept recycled containers. It also offers incentives to communities to create redemption centers so consumers can bypass the grocery stores altogether. In New York City, stores near redemption centers could drastically limit the number of containers they accept.

As the lobbyists from both sides know all too well, this is only the first punch in a very long fight. But it will be a fair fight only if it's in the open, and openness is something new in Albany, especially when legislators are forced to make a public choice between a good cause and campaign donations.


The New York Times, April 27, 1996

Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

April 27, 1996, Saturday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 1; Page 22; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 390 words

HEADLINE: Ending Sexual Abuse in Prison

BODY:

The relationship between prison guards and the inmates they control clearly presents opportunities for abuse. That is why a proposed bill to criminalize all sex between guards and prisoners -- coercive or consensual -- deserves approval by New York's State Legislature.

Inmates depend on guards for the minimal comforts of prison life and, in some cases, their very survival. Guards provide food and safety, help insure that inmates receive proper medical attention and guarantee timely visits and packages from relatives. Women's rights advocates and others believe that as the number of female prisoners in state prisons has increased, largely because of mandatory drug-sentencing laws, guards have increasingly abused their position of power to demand sex from inmates.

A bill sponsored in the State Senate by Michael Nozzolio, an upstate Republican, and Catherine Abate, a New York City Democrat, and in the Assembly by Keith Wright, another city Democrat, would henceforth classify all sex between prison employees and inmates as rape.

Though male guards are most likely to take sexual advantage of female inmates, abusive relationships between guards and prisoners include homosexual as well as heterosexual liaisons. Nor are guards the only abusers. Some inmates use sex to demand special privileges and favors of guards. That can cause resentment among other prisoners and destabilize the prison environment. At present, the only deterrent is disciplinary action against a guard -- including dismissal or suspension -- or, in the case of a prisoner, transfer to another facility.

The legislation is supported by the State Department of Correctional Services, which runs the prisons. The correction officers' union would support the bill if it included an amendment that would guard against false accusations by making them a felony rather than a misdemeanor. But Ms. Abate, a former New York City Commissioner of Correction, resists the amendment, arguing that further penalties on inmates may increase their reluctance to come forward since many women already submit to sex as a "condition of confinement."

Prison officials in Connecticut and New Jersey report that laws in those states criminalizing sex between inmates and prison employees have been effective deterrents. New York would do well to follow suit.


The New York Times, January 20, 1996

Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company

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January 20, 1996, Saturday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 1; Page 22; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 568 words

HEADLINE: Harming Their Own City

BODY:

The New York State Legislature is normally a slow-moving body. But right now a special-interest bill sought by New York City's police and fire unions is flying through the Assembly and Senate. The measure could cost the city millions of dollars it can ill afford. Yet its own state legislators, in a shortsighted bow to the unions, are leading the fight to ram it into law.

The bill would give the power to resolve local police contract disputes to the state-run Public Employment Relations Board, which unions regard as more sympathetic than the city's own Office of Collective Bargaining. The city board is required to take into account the city's ability to pay for new wages and benefits, but the state's is not. Instead, the state board would compare the city's contract offers with those of neighboring jurisdictions, where police and firefighter salaries are higher.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has made no secret of its hope that by switching to the state board, it will win the juicier benefits awarded to officers in Long Island or Westchester County. In a world of unlimited resources, that might be a reasonable goal. But the city is desperately short of cash, and the Giuliani administration estimates this bill would spark a series of escalating demands from all the city unions that could eventually mean up to $200 million in additional labor costs.

At a time like this, when New York City is facing a series of multibillion-dollar shortfalls, it is incredible that the legislators are falling over one another in their eagerness to pass a bill that will divert more of its scarce resources to the cost of union contracts. "If the police are happy, crime rates go down," said Assemblyman Keith Wright, a Manhattan Democrat who is one of its sponsors.

Virtually all the sponsors of the bill are from New York City. They include Senator Guy Velella, a Bronx Republican, and Democratic Assembly members Joseph Lentol of Brooklyn, Joseph Crowley of Queens, Eric Vitaliano of Staten Island and Daniel Feldman of Brooklyn.

This willingness to do an end run around the collective bargaining process is one of the worst traits of the State Legislature, which is happy to please powerful lobbying groups like the police and firefighters by passing bills that the city will have to pay for. The Office of Collective Bargaining, which now arbitrates city contract disputes, was not forced down the unions' throat. It was established by a labor agreement. Now the unions feel they can get something better without giving up anything in return.

Everyone in New York knows that police officers and firefighters have a hard job. In return the city gives them its support, and salaries and benefits that are good enough to attract a horde of well-qualified applicants for every available opening. Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the city has devoted a disproportionate amount of its available funds to the police and fire departments.

Rank-and-file state legislators traditionally support anything their committee chairmen bring to the floor. If the measure comes up for a vote, it will pass. The Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno, who has no connection to the city, will not move to protect its interests in this matter. But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan should save his members from their worst failings by keeping the bill from ever coming up for consideration.


The New York Times, September 10, 1992

Copyright 1992 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

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September 10, 1992, Thursday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 22; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 594 words

HEADLINE: For Assembly: Manhattan, Queens

BODY:

Because of redistricting, New York voters will face an unusually large number of Democratic primary contests for the State Assembly on Tuesday. Here are our recommendations for Manhattan and Queens races in which the primary winner is all but guaranteed election in November.

MANHATTAN.

72d District. John Brian Murtaugh is a diligent and dedicated lawmaker who has earned a seventh term. He understands the ethnic complexities of his district and can stand up to pressure. Despite opposition from the Catholic Church and anti-abortion activists, he opposed a bill that would have impeded young women's access to abortion by requiring parental notification. He is opposed by William Alicea, a former housing official, who has electoral appeal, and Julio Hernandez, recently with the Mayor's office of Latino Affairs. But neither offers a compelling reason to unseat Mr. Murtaugh.

68th District. With 17 years in office, Angelo Del Toro is in a position to use his seniority to help his impoverished district but has not been notably effective. His pattern of favoring relatives and allies with state grants is disturbing. Either Nelson Antonio Denis or Bethsaida Colon-Diaz is preferable. Mr. Denis, a former editorial writer for El Diario/La Prensa, offers valid criticism of the Legislature and is well versed in education and economic development. Ms. Colon-Diaz, a former official with the city's Community Development Agency, has an impressive background in community and social work. In a close call, we recommend Mr. Denis.

70th District. In this crowded race, we enthusiastically endorse Peggy Shepard, a former state housing official who has a feel for the district and a command of issues. Helen Daniels, a social worker active in her neighborhood, and Keith Wright, a lawyer, offer great promise as future candidates.

QUEENS.

31st District. This race pits two appealing candidates, Gregory Meeks and Hulbert James. Mr. James, a former Dinkins administration official and longtime political activist, understands the political system and could be an effective legislator. But Mr. Meeks, a worker's compensation board official, has deeper roots in the district and reflects a better feel for its needs, and we prefer him.

33d District. Barbara Clark, seeking her fourth Assembly term, faces a challenge from Anna Thompson, head of a home care agency. As an advocate for her community, Ms. Clark can be so stubborn she has alienated other officials. We endorse Ms. Thompson, whose knowledge of health care issues and concern for her district could make her an effective lawmaker.

34th District. Ivan Lafayette, a legislator since 1977, is unusually serious about his job, serves full time and runs a solid community office. We recommend him over Michael Crowley, an insurance executive active in community affairs.

36th District. Denis Butler has compiled an unremarkable record during 16 years in office, but his opponent, the Democratic District leader Archie Mavromatis, does not make a convincing case for change. We prefer Mr. Butler, but with criticism for his offensive attempt to throw his opponent off the ballot.

38th District. The incumbent, Anthony Seminerio, has grown grouchy and rude in office, to the point of heckling Gov. Mario Cuomo. He cares for his constituents, but that does not excuse his willingness to obstruct legislation of citywide importance to achieve narrow local goals. We recommend his opponent, Frank Sansivieri Jr., a public school teacher with a strong background in civic activities.


Scott Stringer

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The New York Times October 3, 2004 Sunday

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

October 3, 2004 Sunday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 14WC; Column 1; Westchester Weekly Desk; Pg. 17

LENGTH: 605 words

HEADLINE: Hope and Reality in Albany

BODY:

It took a meteor to wipe out dinosaurs from the earth. Things are not so simple in Albany. While the near unthinkable occurred in the primary election, at least by New York standards, and three incumbents were ousted, the worst state legislature in the nation is far from evolving into a modern, progressive body. Now, however, some lawmakers are beginning to grasp the public's anger, and there are signs that steadily growing calls for reform are making an impact.

Three Democratic legislators in the Assembly are leading the effort to change the way business is done -- or more often, not done. As this campaign season moves into high gear, voters from both parties should demand to know where their own local candidates stand on these reforms. These three legislators deserve credit for trying. But we don't want to raise false hopes here. Real reform is not going to be quick or easy.

Scott Stringer of Manhattan has adopted the vast majority of the sound recommendations made in a report this summer by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Richard Brodsky, who represents Westchester County, would amend the State Constitution, eliminate gerrymandering and convert the Legislature to one house, among other reforms. Michael Gianaris of Queens would focus on fairer representation by taking away the power of the majority parties -- Republicans in the Senate, Democrats in the Assembly -- to draw district lines, a power that all but guarantees victory for incumbents. In 22 years, fewer than three dozen lawmakers have failed in their bid for re-election.

Some of Mr. Stringer's proposals would require the lawmakers to behave like members of a responsible legislature -- holding real public hearings on all important bills and actually showing up to vote. (Currently both the Assembly and Senate have convenient systems that allow members to check in once and be counted as voting yes on everything for the rest of the day -- even if they are on the golf course.) By rough count, 95 percent of bills are approved without floor debate, in both chambers. The committees, which are largely a joke, hold infrequent hearings and issue few reports. Procrastination is rampant, meaning that important bills are held until the final days, even hours, of legislative sessions, allowing no time for proper consideration. Mr. Stringer's ideas for more transparent behavior may look superficial, but they're important.

The real key to reform, however, lies in Mr. Gianaris's proposal to end the dismal system that perpetuates incumbents in both chambers. If voters want to end a system that allows each chamber to blame arcane parliamentary maneuvers in the other for the failure of important bills, they must pry the power to fix legislative district boundaries from party leaders.

All three of the lawmakers leading this reform drive have their eyes on higher elected office. That's not a bad thing, but we would hope that their efforts turn out to be more than just a perfunctory stab at the problems. In a sense, they are speaking for the state's voters, who have begun to see through the baloney that has encased Albany for so long. Rules reform -- once seen as too esoteric to capture the attention of outsiders -- is now moving to the top of the agendas of those who want to be among Albany's movers and shakers, in much the same way that issues like school funding did before.

The trick now is to turn words into action. That won't happen unless New Yorkers keep the heat on their representatives. Otherwise, they might have better luck checking the skies for meteors.


The New York Times September 4, 2001 Tuesday

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 4, 2001 Tuesday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 22

LENGTH: 623 words

HEADLINE: For Public Advocate: Betsy Gotbaum

BODY:

The job of public advocate of New York City tends to come in for a lot of sniping. The position has a vague mandate -- to "represent the consumers of city services" -- and a grab bag of seemingly unrelated responsibilities, from taking over if the mayor resigns to serving as an ex officio member of every City Council committee. The present occupant, Mark Green, turned the job into a platform for this year's mayoral campaign, and his departure has attracted a raft of candidates, some of whom may be hoping to follow in his footsteps.

The Democratic primary will choose the next public advocate, since there are no Republican candidates. The leading contenders in the race are two City Council members, Stephen DiBrienza and Kathryn Freed; Betsy Gotbaum, the former parks commissioner; Assemblyman Scott Stringer; and Norman Siegel, the former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Ms. Freed has been a fine member of the Council, but she does not have the breadth of some of the other candidates. Mr. Siegel would certainly be good at the part of the job that involves holding press conferences and criticizing city officials. But we believe this position requires more than experience filing lawsuits.

Mr. DiBrienza has the best credentials when it comes to championing the concerns of people who most need an advocate. As a member of the Council he concerned himself with social service issues, particularly problems relating to the homeless, people on welfare and poor children. He was one of the early stars of the new, empowered City Council that followed charter reform in the 1980's.

Unfortunately, he does not seem to have expanded his skills at oversight and negotiation since then. Mr. DiBrienza's investigations into delivery of services too often are limited to needling or even yelling at members of the Giuliani administration whom he hauls before committee hearings.

Mr. Stringer has been an excellent member of the Assembly, a difficult place to shine. He is one of the most promising of the city's next generation of political leaders. But his thoughtful, behind-the-scenes approach to problem solving might be better suited to a legislative career, perhaps in Congress.

Given the amorphous nature of the job, New Yorkers should pick a public advocate who is a self-starter and is capable of building programs and focusing public attention on the dustier corners of city government. Betsy Gotbaum best meets those criteria. As parks commissioner in the Dinkins administration, she was ingenious at finding ways to protect the parks and finance their programs at a time of terrible budget reductions. More recently, as president of the New-York Historical Society, she literally saved this city treasure from financial ruin, converting it into a cultural gem.

Ms. Gotbaum, who promises she is not planning to use the job to run for mayor, should help the next chief executive recast the charter to allow a speedy election in the case of the mayor leaving office unexpectedly. Right now, the dual requirements that the public advocate be a mayor-in-waiting as well as a champion of overlooked citizen-consumers make for an unrealistic job description.

She also vows to put her considerable energies behind such priorities as overseeing school construction and connecting people to their rightful public benefits, like health insurance programs for children and families. Those are projects that would help demonstrate that as public advocate she would not focus on her Manhattan base. In her work with the parks and the Historical Society she has always reached out to neighborhoods around the city, and we are confident she will do the same if she is elected. Our endorsement goes to Betsy Gotbaum.


The New York Times, May 19, 1998

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

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May 19, 1998, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 20; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 184 words

HEADLINE: Topics of The Times;

Help for Battered Women

BODY:

Under current New York State law, any person convicted of a violent crime is not eligible for work release. That usually makes sense, but exceptions could be made for battered women convicted of violent crimes without endangering society at large. Repeated abuse drives some women to assault or kill their abusers. Most of them have no prior criminal record and are unlikely to commit other crimes. They are therefore logical candidates for work-release programs that bridge the transition from prison to community life.

A bill in the State Legislature sponsored by Assemblyman Scott Stringer and Senator Serphin Maltese would give the Commissioner of Correctional Services authority to permit abused inmates to enter work release on a case-by-case basis. The Commissioner would have discretion to deny the privilege to anyone who has a history of violence or criminality unconnected to the abuse. Men who suffer from battered-spouse syndrome would also be eligible. Victims of domestic violence should pay for their crimes, but society also has an interest in giving them a hand in rehabilitation.


The New York Times, July 2, 1997

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July 2, 1997, Wednesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 22; Column 2; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 464 words

HEADLINE: Topics of The Times;

An Exception For Battered Women

BODY:

Violent offenders have not been allowed to participate in New York's prison work-release program since 1995, when Gov. George Pataki decided that too many violent criminals were committing new crimes while on furlough. Mr. Pataki was right to rein in the program, but his decision to exclude all those defined as violent offenders was too broad.

Among those barred from the program were battered women who retaliated against their tormentors. Advocates for these women think they deserve an exemption, and legislation now pending in Albany would give the state's corrections commissioner new powers to review their cases. The idea merits support from Mr. Pataki and the State Legislature.

Work release has been an important bridge between the confined, controlled atmosphere of prison and the resumption of life outside. Typically an inmate who is within a year or two of being considered for parole can participate in a work-release program with the approval of the State Commissioner of Correctional Services. Participants generally live in supervised residential facilities while they work or look for work, often with the assistance of nonprofit groups, church organizations, neighbors or friends.

For years the program was limited mainly to nonviolent offenders, but in the late 1980's officials opened it to violent offenders in an effort to ease overcrowding in state prisons. When several furloughed prisoners committed new crimes, Governor Pataki issued an executive order, later codified by the State Legislature, prohibiting anyone convicted of a violent crime from participating in work release. The new policy led to an impressive 60 percent reduction in the number of arrests of inmates on work release. But the policy also punished some offenders who were highly unlikely to commit further crimes.

Two New York City members of the State Legislature, the Republican Serphin Maltese in the Senate and the Democrat Scott Stringer in the Assembly, are sponsoring bills that would allow the corrections commissioner to grant work release to victims of domestic violence who were convicted of assaulting or even killing their abusers. There are no more than 100 of these women, according to the latest estimates. Not all would qualify for work release. The commissioner would have broad discretion to bar women with a history of violence or women who seem likely to cause more trouble.

While the statutory language is gender-neutral, victims of domestic abuse are overwhelmingly women, many of whom have no prior arrest record. Mr. Pataki and many state legislators have become more sensitive to the peculiar nature of domestic violence in recent years. It is now time to offer a second chance to victims whose only crime was to strike back in self-defense.


The New York Times, January 26, 1996

Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

January 26, 1996, Friday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 26; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 560 words

HEADLINE: Albany's Anti-City Vote

BODY:

New York City's budget problems are so severe that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is thinking about cutting the size of the police force. At the same time, however, the State Legislature is doing its best to make the Mayor's job harder by passing bills that would increase the cost of the city's police and fire departments. The Legislature could not have picked a more inopportune time to cater to special interests. Gov. George Pataki can do Mr. Giuliani a favor by using his veto pen.

Working with an uncharacteristic celerity this week, the State Senate and Assembly both passed a bill that could give some city unions an edge in winning higher salaries. The measure would give the state-run Public Employee Relations Board the power to resolve impasses in contract negotiations between the city and its police and fire unions. Currently the disputes are settled by the local Office of Collective Bargaining.

Under this office, city unions have not won the fat salary increases given to unions in the surrounding suburbs. As a result, officers in low-crime Westchester towns are paid more than those in the Bronx or Brooklyn. The lesson might be that the state board is too generous. Naturally, the city unions prefer to believe their board is too tough, and have lobbied for the switch.

Mr. Pataki, who vetoed a version of this bill last year, proposed a sensible compromise in December. Presently the state board compares each municipality's wage offers with salaries in surrounding towns. The Governor suggested the board also be directed to compare tax rates, the health of the local economy and a municipality's ability to pay for a new contract without hiking taxes.

The Legislature completely ignored his ideas, passing the bill in exactly the form the unions requested. The bill's supporters argued that any lawmaker who voted against the measure was not showing proper support for the city's brave officers and firefighters.

Only four members in each body dared to stand up against that specious position. The four Senators were Velmanette Montgomery of Brooklyn and Franz Leichter of Manhattan, both Democrats, and Robert DiCarlo of Brooklyn and Roy Goodman of Manhattan, Republicans. The Assembly members were James Brennan of Brooklyn and Deborah Glick and Scott Stringer of Manhattan, all Democrats, plus one Republican, John Ravitz of Manhattan.

The bill's strongest opponent is Mr. Giuliani, who has also been one of the most ardent defenders of the Police Department. But now Mr. Giuliani says he may propose reducing the department by 1,000 officers. This is a welcome change of heart for this administration, which has achieved new efficiency through the merger of the transit, housing and city police forces. The city may be able to cut the force even further if it replaces officers doing clerical duties with less expensive civilians.

But Mr. Giuliani's action should remind the unions, and the politicians, that as the cost of maintaining each police officer goes up, the number of officers the city can afford will drop.

The bill now goes to Mr. Pataki, who has been handed a tough political problem by the Republican-dominated State Senate. But if he is to have any credibility in the coming budget wars, he cannot begin the legislative session by imposing a new economic burden on the city. The bill must be vetoed.


The New York Times, September 1, 1989

Copyright 1989 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 1, 1989, Friday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 26, Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 530 words

HEADLINE: The City Council, Old and New: II

BODY:

Unusual weight attaches to the choice of City Council members in Manhattan, as in the other borough races discussed yesterday. The proposed City Charter would make the Council larger and stronger, and members elected this fall would become its nucleus. These are our choices for Manhattan contests (one partially in the Bronx) in the Sept. 12 tests (one partially in the Bronx) in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for which no serious general Democratic primary for which no serious general election challenges are in sight.

Third District: Carol Greitzer has made many contributions in 20 years on the Council, but lately her effectiveness has been limited. Tom Duane, a stockbroker and leader in the gay community, is a promising newcomer to politics, with interests ranging from zoning to tenants' rights. He could bring the district more energetic leadership, and we support him.

Fourth District: This West Side community could serve as a model for participatory democracy, with eight candidates fighting to succeed Ruth Messinger, who is running for borough president. Most could do the job, some could do it well and Ronnie Eldridge would do it best. ministrator and political leader, but shows a disturbing inclination to compromise her convictions in pursuit of support. Scott Stringer, who runs a state legislator's district office, sees the job through parochial eyes and hasn't yet learned how to balance local and citywide needs.

Jerry Goldfeder, an attorney, and Ethel Sheffer, consultant and former community board chairwould serve honorably. But Ms. Eldridge could would serve honorably. But Ms. Eldridge could serve with distinction. She has worked to improve child care and prisons and to help battered women. Her 30-year career in government and politics, city and state, promises much for the new Council -especially if Ms. Eldridge, sometimes given to weak follow-through, focuses her considerable energies.

Fifth District: In his nearly four years as a city legislator, Hilton Clark has failed to emerge as a leader of the Council or of his Harlem community. Of his two opponents, Virginia Fields, a social worker, and Wilbert Kirby, former member of the city Board of Corrections, the energetic Ms. Fields commands attention and our support.

Sixth District: The incumbent, Stanley Michels, who faces a lively challenge from Adriano Espailwho faces a lively challenge from Adriano Espaillat, continues after three terms to devote himself to the Council with unflagging interest. His energy and his sensitivity to his district's ethnic diversity recommend him for re-election. Mr. Espaillat, a coordinator with a city-funded bail reform agency, might make a promising candidate in the future, but would benefit from less rigidity and more seasoning.

Eighth District (Manhattan and the Bronx): Carolyn Maloney could be more effective, but has nonetheless provided caring representation for more than six years. Adam Clayton Powell 4th, an impressive newcomer, needs experience. William Perkins, deputy chief clerk in the Manhattan Board of Elections, instills no confidence that he would imcouraging Mr. Powell in his pursuit of a political career.

Bill Perkins

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The New York Times November 29, 2003 Saturday

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

November 29, 2003 Saturday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 14

LENGTH: 355 words

HEADLINE: A Lead Paint Law We Can Live With

BODY:

The way to a meaningful lead paint bill looks clearer now that the City Council has produced responsible legislation and the Bloomberg administration seems ready to work with it. Still, there is much to be done if the city is serious about helping to protect young children from lead poisoning.

The Council's proposal is a worthy effort to redeem its last performance on lead poisoning, a hazard that disproportionately affects black, Hispanic and Asian children in New York's poorer neighborhoods. That lead paint law, passed in 1999, was a disgrace. It failed to hold landlords accountable and did not identify one of the biggest threats -- lead dust particles that fly when tainted windows and doors are opened and closed. In what began as an uphill battle against real estate interests and even fellow members of the Council, Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem, took on the campaign to fix the law. His effort gained momentum when the state's Court of Appeals struck down the 1999 law last summer, and when advocates for lead poisoning victims persuaded the Council speaker, Gifford Miller, to help draft and usher through legislation.

Mostly silent on the sidelines through the process were Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his staff. That changed when the commissioners for health and housing praised the bill in Council hearings while voicing some concern over what will be required of city workers who must inspect homes for lead paint and the shortened time frames for landlords to remove the hazard. Thomas Frieden, the health commissioner, said he wants the age of protected children capped at under 6 years old, while the Council proposes under 7. Those are all matters that should be negotiated, and quickly.

With 38 of its 51 members as bill sponsors, the Council could push through a law without the mayor's support. But the measure deserves Mr. Bloomberg's backing, even if it is not perfect. It offers the best chance to remove a major source of a hazard that has damaged the brains and nerves of perhaps thousands of the youngest New Yorkers in the four years since their safety was compromised with a bad law.


The New York Times September 13, 2003 Saturday

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 13, 2003 Saturday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 12

LENGTH: 558 words

HEADLINE: The Plague of Lead Poisoning

BODY:

The federal goal to eliminate lead poisoning in children by 2010 seemed achievable when it was set in 1991. With bans on leaded gasoline and paint in place, progress has been made -- the number of cases detected has fallen by 50 percent. Still, hundreds of thousands of small children, most of them black, Hispanic and Asian, face one of the most preventable environmental hazards in the nation by simply breathing inside their homes.

Tests have shown that more than 400,000 children 1 to 5 years old have blood lead levels above that considered toxic by the Centers for Disease Control -- and that number would be much greater if the index was lowered, as many experts wish, and if more children were regularly tested. Most cases occur in large and mid-size cities where formerly good housing is deteriorating. When lead paint peels or is improperly removed, or even when it is scraped as a window is opened, it unleashes a dust fine enough to be both ubiquitous and undetected as children crawl on it and touch it. It takes very little ingested lead to damage the still-forming brains and nerves of children or fetuses, and such damage can lead to permanent and debilitating health and learning problems, like lower IQ's and retardation, and behavioral problems.

Where testing has been done, patterns emerge. In Chicago, one in three children tested positive for lead poisoning, mainly in poorer neighborhoods, causing the city to push for increased testing and education. Similar hot spots were found in Providence, Philadelphia and St. Louis. But for sheer density of risk, nothing compares with New York City because of its huge stock of older homes and a lead belt stretching across underserved poor, minority and immigrant communities in Brooklyn and Queens. New York was years ahead of the federal government in outlawing lead paint in 1960. But the city faltered four years ago, passing a law that failed to address the danger of lead dust. That law was struck down on a technicality in the courts this summer, leaving a void on an urgent issue.

A bill before the New York City Council -- sponsored by Bill Perkins, who represents parts of Harlem and the Upper East Side -- would go a long way to protect those most vulnerable by clearly labeling lead dust a health hazard. It also corrects a lapse in the previous law, which shielded landlords from liability. The new law would place the burden of fixing lead problems on building owners, who would have to act in a timely way, using trained workers. City officials say the bill is too expensive and goes too far, including its provision to increase the upper age range of monitored children to age 7, from age 6.

Gifford Miller, the Council speaker, has been criticized for not moving more quickly on the legislation, but he now appears to agree with much of what it seeks to accomplish and has offered improvements, like adding a focus on primary prevention. In New York's current fiscal squeeze, City Hall is right to worry about costs, but the mayor's economists also need to consider the long term. Lead poisoning does not typically kill. Instead it leaves a lifetime of expensive concerns -- like special schooling and medical care -- that society is left to absorb. This is a problem with a clear solution if those in government do the right thing now, while the goal is in sight.


The New York Times January 10, 2003 Friday

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

January 10, 2003 Friday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 22

LENGTH: 380 words

HEADLINE: Crime, False Confessions and Videotape

BODY:

By the time five teenage suspects gave the videotaped confessions that helped convict them in the 1989 rape of the Central Park jogger, they had been through hours of unrecorded interrogation. What led them to confess to a crime they apparently did not commit will never be known for certain. Far from a neat ending, the exoneration of the young men begs for reforming the way suspects are led to rehearsed statements of guilt.

According to the Innocence Project at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, 23 percent of the people who are exonerated after conviction turn out to have falsely confessed to the crime. Many of those confessions were taped and played as compelling evidence to a jury. As the jogger case and other reversals demonstrate, innocent people can be led into confessions. Their questioners -- wittingly or not -- also often provide them with details that would seem to be known only to the real criminal.

Beyond the injustice of punishing the wrong people, false admissions of guilt allow the real culprits to remain free to commit more crimes, as did Matias Reyes, who raped four other women, killing one of them, after he attacked the jogger in Central Park.

To minimize false confessions, the state of Minnesota started mandatory recording of interrogations eight years ago. Prosecutors and police at first protested, but now the chief prosecutor in the Minneapolis area calls the technique a valuable aid in convicting the guilty. Alaska mandates thorough videotaping, and Illinois may soon follow.

Despite the lessons of the jogger case, the office of the district attorney in Manhattan says that while expanded videotaping is being considered, the expense is a concern at a time of shrinking budgets. And the notion of changing procedures does not sit well with many in the Police Department.

A City Council member, Bill Perkins, is introducing a measure calling for full videotaping of police interrogations citywide. It would be better if the criminal justice system adopted the practice voluntarily, but there is no real excuse for not acting. By videotaping every minute of interrogations, the police would help protect themselves against charges of coercion, improve the integrity of confessions and plug a gaping hole in the system.


The New York Times, September 9, 1997

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 9, 1997, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 26; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 340 words

HEADLINE: New York City Primary Choices

BODY:

This list summarizes our recommendations for some of the most hotly contested Democratic primaries today in New York City. Poll hours in the city are 6 A.M. to 9 P.M.

Bronx

BOROUGH PRESIDENT

Fernando Ferrer

CITY COUNCIL

12th District (Co-op City and northeast Bronx): Lawrence Warden. 14th District (west Bronx): Adolfo Carrion Jr.

CIVIL COURT

First District (Woodlawn, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Throgs Neck, City Island, Soundview, Edgewater Park, Co-op City, Parkchester): Diane Renwick.

Brooklyn

CITY COUNCIL

35th District (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, part of Crown Heights): Errol Louis. 38th District (Sunset Park and parts of Park Slope, Red Hook and Boerum Hill): Angel Rodriguez. 41st District (parts of Brownsville, east Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill and Crown Heights): Salena Glenn. 42d District (East New York and parts of Brownsville, east Flatbush and Canarsie): Charles Barron. 45th District (Flatbush and parts of east Flatbush): Kendall Stewart. 47th District (Brighton Beach, Coney Island, parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Ocean Parkway): Adele Cohen.

CIVIL COURT

Karen Rothenberg

Manhattan

BOROUGH PRESIDENT

Virginia Fields

CITY COUNCIL

First District (Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, Battery Park, parts of the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village): Kathryn Freed. Second District (Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, the Lower East Side): Judy Rapfogel. Eighth District (East Harlem, Manhattan Valley, part of Mott Haven in the South Bronx): Philip Reed. Ninth District (Harlem, Morningside Heights, part of East Harlem and the Upper West Side): Bill Perkins. 10th District (Washington Heights, Inwood, part of Marble Hill in the Bronx): Guillermo Linares.

CIVIL COURT

Countywide: Rolando Acosta. First District (Greenwich Village, SoHo, Lower Manhattan and portions of the Lower East Side): Stuart Cohen.

Queens

CITY COUNCIL

20th District (Flushing, parts of Fresh Meadows and Whitestone): Pauline Chu.


The New York Times, September 2, 1997

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

View Related Topics

September 2, 1997, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 20; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 1221 words

HEADLINE: Manhattan Endorsements

BODY:

Primary elections will be held Tuesday, Sept. 9. This page will not endorse a mayoral candidate until the final vote in November. But many of the other races will be decided for practical purposes in next week's Democratic primaries. These are The Times's endorsements for some of the more competitive races in Manhattan.

Borough President

The two strongest candidates in this large field are City Councilwoman Virginia Fields of Harlem and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick of Greenwich Village. A longtime reformer, George Spitz, and John Clark Fager, a schools activist, are not close to winning. Antonio Pagan began his Council career with promise, but over the long haul he has shown himself unable to forge alliances or foster consensus. Adam Clayton Powell 4th, another Council member, is strong on the campaign trail but weak at delivering on the job.

Ms. Glick was the first openly gay member of the State Legislature, but she has proved to be far more than a one-issue politician. In a sea of mediocrity, she stands out as an effective and independent lawmaker. But back at home, she sometimes seems captive of a familiar New York mentality that meets any plan for change with endless reservations or calls for more public hearings. Ms. Glick voted against the important reform of the public school structure. She opposed the city's initiative to control porn shops and was for far too long an opponent of the much-needed Hudson River Park.

We prefer Ms. Fields, who is not as strong a legislator as Ms. Glick, but outstrips her as a consensus-builder. Ms. Fields has grown over her last four years in the Council. Community leaders praise her willingness to negotiate honestly and find common ground with her opponents. She has been helpful in the struggle to improve Harlem's faction-ridden school district. On the Council, she has worked hard on issues ranging from the Civilian Complaint Review Board to that bane of neighborhood life, delivery bicyclists on the sidewalk.

The borough president's office has been a job in search of a function since the City Charter revision. The title comes with a large staff, some discretionary funds for community projects and the power to appoint community boards and one member of the Board of Education. We hope Ms. Fields will keep her promise to use these tools to help improve the borough's schools, and that Ms. Glick continues her valuable work in Albany.

City Council

First District (Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, Battery Park, parts of the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village): The theme of this diverse district is expanding residential areas at war with freewheeling business districts. The incumbent Council member, Kathryn Freed, has made more than her share of enemies in her fights with Soho sidewalk art venders, Chinatown fish merchants and produce warehousers. Her opponents, Marie Dormuth and Jennifer Lim, claim that Ms. Freed is overly confrontational. They may be right, but we do not believe either of them would be as successful in managing the needs and conflicting demands of these crowded, contentious neighborhoods. We support the re-election of Ms. Freed, on the basis of her hard work and commitment to her district.

Second District (Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, Lower East Side): The two women waging the most active campaigns in this district come from opposite political poles. Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is imbued with the traditional networking and favor-trading skills of New York politics. The district leader Margarita Lopez is much more of an advocate, with an intense commitment to the needs of the most vulnerable residents of her community. Albert Fabozzi, a former community board chairman who helped lead the fight to restore Tompkins Square Park, does not appear to have the organizational base to challenge the other candidates. Ms. Lopez, a social worker, is an openly gay Hispanic whose energy and dedication would be an asset to this largely low-income Spanish-speaking district. But Ms. Rapfogel seems a better bet to deliver improved services the area desperately needs. We endorse Ms. Rapfogel in the hope that she will help stabilize a district often plagued by political factionalism.

Eighth District (East Harlem, Manhattan Valley, part of Mott Haven in the South Bronx): The five-person race to succeed Adam Clayon Powell 4th includes Federico Colon, Mr. Powell's chief of staff, Jorge Vidro-Ortiz, the chief counsel to State Senator Olga Mendez, and Philip Reed, a community activist who has organized H.I.V. care networks and youth programs in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Any of these three men would represent the district well. The district leader Wilma Sena, a teacher, has a history of community involvement in East Harlem, but questions about her residence have clouded her candidacy. The fifth candidate, the entertainer Edwin Marcial, is running far behind. Mr. Colon and Mr. Vidro-Ortiz are good candidates. We were particularly impressed by Mr. Colon's interest in economic development. But we endorse Mr. Reed for his strong history of public service and good judgment.

Ninth District (Harlem, Morningside Heights, part of East Harlem and the Upper West Side): The seat being vacated by Virginia Fields has drawn another crowd of candidates who can point with pride to their records of community involvement. Mary Sweeting, a tenant activist, has been of particular service to her fellow residents of northern Harlem. William Allen has roots that go deep in the district, and I. Ronnie Holly has put years of effort into building up his neighborhood Democratic club. Virginia Montague has a good understanding of the district, drawn from her experience as Ms. Fields's former chief of staff. But the candidate who appears to be by far the best qualified is Bill Perkins, a district leader who works for the State Assembly's Education Committee. Mr. Perkins says his top priority will be turning around the troubled schools in District 5, and he speaks with both passion and intelligence about his hopes for improving education in Harlem. Mr. Perkins, who has held patronage jobs controlled by the Democratic organization for a long time, will have to fight to prove he can be an independent city official. But his strengths include a political veteran's sophistication about how to get things done in the city.

10th District (Washington Heights, Inwood, part of Marble Hill in the Bronx): This page places a high value on the re-election of Guillermo Linares. Mr. Linares's seat is threatened solely because he cast the deciding vote in favor of the deal to develop a Pathmark supermarket in East Harlem. Mr. Linares had to choose between pandering to a bloc of influential campaign donors who own local grocery stores or supporting a project that would bring jobs, cheaper food prices and economic growth to his district. Mr. Linares chose the people over the campaign contributors. His main opponent, Roberto Lizardo, will have plenty of chances for public office in the future. Francesca Castellanos, an energetic grass-roots candidate, also shows promise. But if Mr. Linares is thrown out of office as a result of his principled stand, it will send the worst possible message to other city officials.


The New York Times, September 6, 1991

Copyright 1991 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 6, 1991, Friday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 22; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 679 words

HEADLINE: For City Council From Manhattan

BODY:

This year's City Council primary election in Manhattan and an adjoining section of the Bronx has attracted a number of capable candidates. Here are The Times's recommendations in those districts where winning the Democratic designation next Thursday will be tantamount to election.

First District: One prominent candidate, Margaret Chin, is vague and misleading about her background and her positions on issues. She refuses, for example, to clarify her past affiliation with the Communist Workers Party and other radical organizations. That's troubling because any candidate's record bears on judgment and character.

Our choice is Kathryn Freed, a lawyer who works for the State Assembly and is familiar with issues in this southern Manhattan district.

Second District: Miriam Friedlander, an 18-year veteran of the Council, provides caring constituent service but is not notably effective on the Council. Philip Howard, a lawyer who is active in his community and a trustee of the Municipal Art Society, has great potential but would benefit from more experience. Our preference is Antonio Pagan, head of a nonprofit housing development program. Though sometimes too supportive of development, Mr. Pagan takes a tough, sensible approach to problems in a district that includes the beleaguered Tompkins Square area.

Third District: Because the likely winner of this contest will be the Council's first openly gay member, the campaign's most prominent issue has unfortunately become who most genuinely represents the gay community. It should be who would most effectively serve the entire community. Both leading candidates in this district, which includes Chelsea and Greenwich Village, are capable. Thomas Duane, a former stockbroker recently on the City Comptroller's staff, has an admirable record of community service. But his failure to participate in the public campaign finance program is disappointing, as is his opposition to needed city incinerators.

Liz Abzug, an articulate lawyer with the State Urban Development Corporation, has a less accomplished record in the community but approaches issues thoughtfully and is particularly sensible about economic development and taxation. In a very close call, we recommend Ms. Abzug.

Seventh District: Three candidates are fighting to unseat Stanley Michels, a 13-year incumbent now running in a reshaped Upper Manhattan district. C. Vernon Mason, an intemperate lawyer known for preying on racial unrest, would be a destructive force. Peggy Shepard, who works in the state's housing division, shows substantial political promise. But we endorse Mr. Michels, a solid, dedicated lawmaker who, though noticeably less outspoken than he used to be, has earned re-election.

Eighth District: Of the eight candidates in this district in northern Manhattan and part of the Bronx, we prefer Philip Reed, the thoughtful director of an AIDS health project. Adam Clayton Powell, a lawyer, is neither forceful nor versed in key issues. William Del Toro, head of a nonprofit housing agency, speaks in vague generalities and shows little political independence. Nelson Antonio Denis, a lawyer, seems well qualified for a political future, but Mr. Reed stands out.

Ninth District: The incumbent, C. Virginia Fields, two years in office representing central Harlem, has been a disappointment. Particularly disconcerting is her failure to condemn divisive figures like Prof. Leonard Jeffries of City College, who has made anti-Semitic remarks. We endorse Regina Smith, an impressive business school graduate who heads a City Partnership housing program.

10th District: This new district in a largely Dominican section of upper Manhattan has attracted three impressive candidates: Maria Luna, an accountant active in the Democratic Party; Guillermo Linares, a teacher and community school board member, and Adriano Espaillat, a coordinator in the city's Criminal Justice Agency. All could serve well, but we prefer Mr. Espaillat for his energy and fervent aspirations for his community.


The New York Times, September 1, 1989

Copyright 1989 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 1, 1989, Friday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 26, Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 530 words

HEADLINE: The City Council, Old and New: II

BODY:

Unusual weight attaches to the choice of City Council members in Manhattan, as in the other borough races discussed yesterday. The proposed City Charter would make the Council larger and stronger, and members elected this fall would become its nucleus. These are our choices for Manhattan contests (one partially in the Bronx) in the Sept. 12 tests (one partially in the Bronx) in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for which no serious general Democratic primary for which no serious general election challenges are in sight.

Third District: Carol Greitzer has made many contributions in 20 years on the Council, but lately her effectiveness has been limited. Tom Duane, a stockbroker and leader in the gay community, is a promising newcomer to politics, with interests ranging from zoning to tenants' rights. He could bring the district more energetic leadership, and we support him.

Fourth District: This West Side community could serve as a model for participatory democracy, with eight candidates fighting to succeed Ruth Messinger, who is running for borough president. Most could do the job, some could do it well and Ronnie Eldridge would do it best. ministrator and political leader, but shows a disturbing inclination to compromise her convictions in pursuit of support. Scott Stringer, who runs a state legislator's district office, sees the job through parochial eyes and hasn't yet learned how to balance local and citywide needs.

Jerry Goldfeder, an attorney, and Ethel Sheffer, consultant and former community board chairwould serve honorably. But Ms. Eldridge could would serve honorably. But Ms. Eldridge could serve with distinction. She has worked to improve child care and prisons and to help battered women. Her 30-year career in government and politics, city and state, promises much for the new Council -especially if Ms. Eldridge, sometimes given to weak follow-through, focuses her considerable energies.

Fifth District: In his nearly four years as a city legislator, Hilton Clark has failed to emerge as a leader of the Council or of his Harlem community. Of his two opponents, Virginia Fields, a social worker, and Wilbert Kirby, former member of the city Board of Corrections, the energetic Ms. Fields commands attention and our support.

Sixth District: The incumbent, Stanley Michels, who faces a lively challenge from Adriano Espailwho faces a lively challenge from Adriano Espaillat, continues after three terms to devote himself to the Council with unflagging interest. His energy and his sensitivity to his district's ethnic diversity recommend him for re-election. Mr. Espaillat, a coordinator with a city-funded bail reform agency, might make a promising candidate in the future, but would benefit from less rigidity and more seasoning.

Eighth District (Manhattan and the Bronx): Carolyn Maloney could be more effective, but has nonetheless provided caring representation for more than six years. Adam Clayton Powell 4th, an impressive newcomer, needs experience. William Perkins, deputy chief clerk in the Manhattan Board of Elections, instills no confidence that he would imcouraging Mr. Powell in his pursuit of a political career.