Common Sense: Advise and consent

It is really incredible that the Congress needed to go to such lengths to convince the president that it should have the right to review the nuclear fuel agreement with Iran. The United States Constitution gives the Senate an enormous role in all aspects of foreign policy. For the chief executive officer of our nation to use a loophole in international law to maneuver around the Senate is simply wrong.

Apparently, President Obama really holds the elected representatives of the people in very low regard. To disagree with him is if possible to be ignored by him. Fortunately, the Congress — which in a truly bipartisan fashion had serious concerns about the details of the agreement — was not willing to go along.

If this was an academic exercise, it would be proof that the American system of checks and balances really works.  Inasmuch as it concerns keeping potentially nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranians, it should be a relief to all Americans that the standoff between the president and Congress allowing for the review has been settled.

The agreement was a topic in the NY1/Staten Island Advance congressional debate between Dan Donovan and Vinnie Gentile. Gentile favors the agreement. Donovan does not.

Gentile argues that the reduction in centrifuges , the total quantity and overall quality of nuclear-making materials significantly reduce the ability of Iran to make nuclear weapons.

Donovan argues that it might take Iran a few months longer, but they  still will under this agreement  have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon and there is no dependable oversight and/or verification. He considers it a bad deal at best,  a dangerous action that will further destabilize the Middle East at  worse.

As an aside concerning the debate, Vinnie Gentile seemed to support all and every policy of President Obama. He even mentioned upon being asked that he supported Obama for president in the 2008 primary against Hillary Clinton. Donovan did not indicate who at this point he supports for the GOP Presidential nomination, but it was clear that he unlike Gentile disagrees with most of President Obama’s policies.

The special election for Congress is on Tuesday, May 5. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Every voter will receive a card in the mail indicating his or her polling place, but in almost every case it will be the same polling place used in the last election. Please remember to vote.


The city of New York is aggressively moving forward with efforts pushed by State Senator Marty Golden and other elected officials to deal  with the issue of illegal home conversion in Southwest Brooklyn and, in particular, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

Various agencies of the city government including Buildings, Housing  and Fire are meeting with a community-oriented task force that emerged out of a heavily attended meeting held recently in Dyker Heights. The task force consists of representatives of all elected officials and is led by Dyker Heights Civic Association President Fran Vella-Marrone and community activist Bob Cassara. Both Vella-Marrone and Cassara have worked diligently to bring this issue to the attention of city officials.

If you suspect an illegal conversions is taking place or has taken place and wish to complain, you should contact any one of your local elected officials. All are involved in this issue. Anonymous complaints will be investigated, but it is natural to expect that signed complaints will be taken more seriously.

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