Readers comments 6-17-16
City staff are the pacesetters
Peter Weinberger, the publisher of the COURIER, is misinformed as to the cause of slow pace, as he sees it, of the Mayor’s Police Facility Ad Hoc Committee.
It is not my place to defend the committee, but the sand in the gears slowing the committee’s work is city staff, not the attendance of the committee members.
At the first meeting of the committee last January, Chair Mark Sterba wanted to set an every-two-week schedule, but City Manager Tony Ramos would not agree and as a result the second meeting wasn’t scheduled for almost seven weeks to accommodate staff.
Similarly, on April 20, Mr. Ramos needed all of May and more to get his ducks in a row, and the most recent meeting did not take place until June. Of the 20 weeks or so since the first meeting, delays by Mr. Ramos account for 12 or 13 of them.
More than half the “slow movement of the committee” that Mr. Weinberger complains about is due to the leisurely four-day-work week attitude of the city workers and leadership.
It seems unlikely that a measure could be brought by the August deadline for the November ballot and, with the November ballot likely crowded with other tax increase measures, it might be just as well from the proponents’ point of view.
Ludd A. Trozpek
Trump and the Mafia
Donald Trump brags about how much money he has but, for very good reasons, he does not discuss the business partners who helped him make that money. Some were known Mafia bosses.
Despite his self-celebrated, deal-making genius, Mr. Trump paid double the market value for the property on which he built his Atlantic City casino (Trump Plaza).
The seller was Salvatore Testa, a Philadelphia mobster and son of Philadelphia’s earlier mob boss Philip “Chicken Man” Testa. Overpaying for mob property is an easy and legal way to obtain mob cooperation.
According to the New Jersey State Commission’s 1986 report on organized crime, Mr. Trump’s Atlantic City gambling casino was built with the help of construction companies controlled by Philadelphia mobsters Nicademo “Little Nicky” Scarfo and his nephew Phillip “Crazy Phil” Leonetti.
Now back in Manhattan, Mr. Trump hired S&A Construction to build condominiums in Trump Tower. S&A Construction was controlled by Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, and Paul Castellano, the don of New York’s Gambino crime syndicate.
Writing in 1992, long before candidate Trump emerged, investigative journalist Wayne Barnett told CNN that Donald Trump had “extraordinarily extensive” ties with the Mafia. Mr. Barrett is the author of Trump: The Deals and Downfall. Summarizing Mr. Barrett’s evidence, reporter David Johnson wrote, “Donald Trump has done business with major organized-crime figures and performed favors for their associates.”
If someone owns and operates gambling casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a mob-controlled town and industry, that person more or less has to do business with racketeers. But one does not have to like or imitate them. If you like gangster movies, as I do, you will notice that Mr. Trump’s violence, crudity and misogyny come straight out of the gangster culture there represented. No need now to wonder about the astonishing similarity. Early in his career, the mob helped Donald Trump make money (and vice-versa), he admired racketeers and he assimilated their culture.
The web address of Mr. Frates’ article on Trump’s Mafia ties is www.cnn.com/ 2015/07/31/politics/trump-mob-mafia. Wayne Barrett’s hardcover book, Trump: the Deals and the Downfall, is for sale by Amazon.com for $79. The current issue of Politico has assembled a battery of five biographers of Mr. Trump, one of whom is Mr. Barrett. See www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/donald-trump.
The war at home
When one of my former students—a quiet, studious student who I helped create a beautiful self-portrait—was killed by gunshot at a party in Ontario in 2008; when Congressmember Gabby Giffords, honored alum of a college in my hometown, was shot in Tucson in 2011; when my daughter told me that her friend went up to Isla Vista and the friend he was staying with was shot the weekend that six died and 14 were injured in 2014; when a friend talked about the hours and minutes waiting for an “all-clear” phone call from her daughter who lives across the street from a shooting incident at an out of state university in 2015; when two of the daughters of caregivers at my mom’s facility work where the San Bernardino shooting took place in 2015; when two friends who have daughters attending UCLA post on Facebook that they were waiting for word on the shootings 11 days ago…it’s time, America, to look at our gun policies. There just aren’t that many degrees of separation any more. It feels like war.
Pamela Casey Nagler
For people in Orlando
and across the country
The Pulse night club was known
as an LGBTQ safe haven
a community center
a place of awareness and support
a site of love and dancing
built by Barbara Poma
after her brother
died of AIDS
On Sunday morning
June 12 it became a place
of massacre murder injury
pain outrage disbelief
The sweaty bloody bodies
of forty-nine people
mostly Latinos dead
more than fifty more
with grievous wounds
In a national atmosphere
of bigotry and discrimination
against gay and transgender
Impelled by rage
and whatever conflicted motives
an Afghan American man
and prejudiced against
used his AR-15
to massacre gay brothers and sisters
The wars of hate crimes
have no special geography anymore
they ransack our tranquil towns
invade our children’s schools
fill our elders with anxiety
Violence challenges all of us
to remember our foundations
and recommit ourselves
to a just and loving society
Is there any safe haven
anymore for any of us?
Silent too long our nation
tolerates weapons and conflict
racism sexism homophobia
poverty and indifference
Budgets and policies
domestic and international
support wars at home and abroad
that undermine the existence
of democracy and peace
There is no safe haven
for people in the Middle East
in Asia Africa Europe
in Latin America
No safe place in our own churches
theaters schools night clubs streets
All beset with the threat
and reality of targeted violence
infiltrating every level of our lives
Safety for all means
no hate speech no guns no drones
We must become safe havens
for all our neighbors
In a time of hate and terror
there is nowhere to turn
but to ourselves
and all who will join us
to transform this broken world
Building loving community
is to create and to be
the Safe Havens
we and our brothers and sisters
are looking for
What nation are we?
We were all shocked, horrified and disgusted by the terrible mass murder in Orlando this weekend.
It didn’t take long for politicians and pundits, Internet bloggers and trolls to weigh in, and their responses were often predictably disappointing.
For those looking to validate their partisan positions there was plenty of “ammunition” for all sides. But many factors of this and other acts of homegrown terrorism, including domestic radicalization, homophobia, mental illness, anger management, religious extremism, ideological intransigence and yes, easy access to guns are all part of the problem, and to begin the path toward a solution we must not leave any subject off the table.
We need more than anecdotes, glib slogans and divisive rhetoric. We need more than thoughts and prayers. They are not working. We need action. Reasonable, practical actions, based on fact and verifiable data rather than propaganda.
Propaganda may persuade some but does not help us understand the real issues or find solutions for complicated and existential issues.
This is a public health issue and should be treated as such. So let us end the ban on government gun violence research.
We are the only advanced nation on Earth that experiences this level of gun violence. We must decide what kind of nation we will be, rather than let the forces of hatred and ignorance decide for us.
In these difficult times I find inspiration in the words of forgiveness, reconciliation and love, spoken by Robert Kennedy in his impromptu comments delivered to a black audience in Indianapolis, announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King.
“In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in… You can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge… Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love. What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another…”
There were riots in most every major American city in the aftermath of Mr. King’s assassination, but not in Indianapolis.