Common Sense: Week of September 13


I recently received a newsletter from Congressmember Michael Grimm in which he reminds us, that 30 years ago, then-candidate Ronald Reagan asked the crucial question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Now 30 years later, this has once again become an often-asked question in the presidential race. Congressmember Grimm and many others would tell you that, after four years of President Obama, our economy is a mess, gas prices are through the roof, and millions of Americans remain unemployed.

They would say that the national debt has reached $16-plus trillion, putting into serious jeopardy any long-term recovery and mortgaging our children’s future.

The Democrats last week at their convention wanted you to think differently. The problem for them is a combination of facts and feelings. The facts point to an America in decline. And many Americans feel that our nation has declined over the past four years.

When facts and feelings are running against you in an election cycle, you are in trouble, regardless of the scripted events designed to turn things around. This is the challenge of the Obama campaign. No matter what they say, every American has a member or two of their extended families unemployed and maybe losing hope. No matter what they say, anyone with a car feels the pinch at the pump. No matter what they say, parents worry about the enormous debt their children and grandchildren will need to pay.

This is not to suggest that Romney has all the answers. It is simply to suggest that President Obama had his chance and now someone new deserves one.

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The first published draft of the new City Council lines seem to do a good job of keeping communities of interest intact throughout Brooklyn. The 51 districts citywide, which run on or about 160,000 each in population, are for the most part compact and contiguous, which is a basic tenet of a fair reapportionment.

The city, to its credit, has been operating off guidelines a fairly balanced commission representing various interests utilizes to create the districts. The reforms that the state intends to put into place the next time they do re-apportionment in 2020 will most likely use some of the elements the city has successfully used since the 1990 re-apportionment.

The City Council still has the final vote on accepting or rejecting the proposal of the City Redistricting Commission. However, in practice, the process is about as independent as you get in New York State.

One local change of note is that no districts for the first time in many years come over to Brooklyn from Staten island. Now Staten Island, which has grown in population, will have a total of three full districts. The Council district that currently links the boroughs is held by James Oddo, who will be running for Staten Island borough president. The area in Brooklyn essentially will be filled in by the district presently held by Vincent Gentile.

Jerry Kassar is the chairperson of the Kings County Conservative Party. He is a longtime community activist who has served as an officer or member of many organizations. He works for the state of New York.

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