We the People: When thieves fall out, honest men come into their own

The despicable details of the mayoral race bribery scheme may contain a silver lining. We finally have some bipartisan cooperation between politicians in New York City! Who would have thought a few thousand dollars would prompt Democrats and Republicans to agree on a candidate for mayor in this November’s election.

State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), former majority leader of the State Senate, allegedly tried to pay off Republican Party bosses to get his name on the ballot as the GOP candidate for mayor. Smith, City Councilmember Dan Halloran (R-Queens), Bronx County Republican Party Chairperson Joseph Savino, Queens County Republican Vice Chairperson Vincent Tabone and others were arrested for conspiring to give Smith a shot at City Hall.

A cooperating witness provided evidence of bribery and collusion to employ an obscure Election Law rule which would let party officials put a nonparty candidate on their ballot for their party. The federal prosecutors have enough information to prosecute a case of double dealing so foul it would make Boss Tweed blush.

The alleged conspirators face long jail sentences if convicted. They are charged with a conspiracy to take bribes from Smith in exchange for an endorsement to place Smith on the GOP ballot for mayor in November.

The casual attitude and ease with which these politicians who promised to serve the people joined the conspiracy gives us all good reason to worry about the extent of corruption and unethical behavior in government. It is comforting to know that, when properly motivated, Democrats and Republicans will work together.

Kudos to Mr. Bharara, the federal prosecutor, for pursuing these crimes against public integrity. A loud and clear message that this betrayal of the public trust will not be tolerated must be made.

In Connecticut, state legislators gave the nation an example of the dedication and hard work that public servants may provide to the people. The elected officials in Hartford worked past midnight in order to hammer out the details of a new state regulation on firearms which includes mandatory background checks for purchasers and a limit on magazine capacities for semiautomatic weapons.

This is a reminder that elected officials can truly be leaders when motivated and the Newtown massacre may provide sufficient motivation across the nation to pass similar laws.

President Obama is working hard to galvanize the outrage, inspired by the Newtown tragedy, that the majority of Americans feel right now. Most Americans feel that this is the time to enact consistent and sensible firearm regulations on a federal level in order to keep all Americans safe.

NRA supporters oppose all proposed changes in the law no matter what change is contemplated. This knee jerk reaction to change is expressed by a complaint that any proposed law is ineffectual and it will not address the safety concerns expressed adequately. The naysayers constantly oppose change but provide no answer themselves to the problem presented.

The issue of traffic regulation and pedestrian safety is an important one. In the debate, some unreasonable persons oppose any proposed change while other unreasonable persons propose change merely to satisfy a desire to make it. What our community needs is a consistent and sensible plan to change the present infrastructure to increase safety for pedestrians in Bay Ridge. Another pedestrian death on 86th Street is a powerful argument that something needs to be done now.

The placement of speed cameras at strategic locations along problem streets in the community would be an ideal solution to speeding and reckless driving in Bay Ridge. State Senator Golden and Assemblymember Malliotakis must listen to the voice of the people and resurrect the speed camera bill in Albany and adjust it for adoption in Bay Ridge right now.

The tired answer that we need absolute proof before we enact any change is a too clever political maneuver unworthy of the question at hand. The time is now. We need action now.

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