Common Sense: The great debate

The Bay Ridge Community Council’s debate between District Attorney Dan Donovan and Councilmember Vincent Gentile produced little in the way of fireworks unless you consider the interaction of some of the members of the audience. As with any debate, there were a number of people present who were passionate in their views and quite willing to express their enthusiasm.

Donovan — who is well known and popular on Staten Island — used his opening remarks to introduce himself to the Brooklyn part of the district which is approximately a third overall. Gentile used the opportunity to talk about his record.

Not surprisingly, the themes of the debate flowed from the opening remarks, with Donovan going after Gentile for voting to raise taxes and his support of Bill de Blasio and his policies. Donovan argued that Gentile would carry this progressive agenda to Washington with support for President Obama and Nancy Pelosi.

Gentile did not deny that he voted to raise taxes, but said he had good reasons. Gentile then questioned Donovan’s tenure as district attorney. Donovan was quick to defend, arguing that his office has a very high conviction rate and the public likely feels he is doing a good job considering that they re-elected him several times in landslides.

The Q and A was long – probably too long. It went on for an hour and 15 minutes. And, in fact, the debate — when you take into account opening and closing statements — went on for almost an hour and three quarters, which is also too long for a single candidate event.

There were, however, a number of excellent questions covering a variety of areas ranging from foreign policy (Donovan summed up his position as America First on all foreign policy issues) to Social Security (they both are committed to protecting it) and Obamacare (Gentile is all in; Donovan has a number of reservations), and many other important topics.

There was also a Green Party candidate who would happily tax and regulate citizens into poverty. He played an important role in prolonging the evening.

The election will be held on Tuesday, May 5. Needless to say, the election of a member of Congress is a big deal. Cast an informed vote by first learning about the candidates and where they stand on the issues. The race is being closely watched by the local, city and even national media, so obtaining information will not be difficult.

So, mark Tuesday, May 5 on your calendars to vote at your regular polling place during normal polling hours, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Governor Cuomo’s move to ban non- essential state travel to Indiana because of the state’s adoption of the Religious Freedoms’ Restoration Act was nothing more than grandstanding. I completely agree with Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and Republican State Chairperson Ed Cox who suggested that if Cuomo was really concerned about discrimination, he would cancel his business promotion trip to Cuba which has a most abysmal record on human rights.

I think it is worth noting that the act was passed into law by a duly elected state legislature and signed into law by a democratically elected governor. It was very obvious that the intent was to protect the right to exercise one’s religion freely and not to discriminate.

As soon as the media jumped all over the law, Indiana Governor Pence immediately moved to end any potential confusion, which the state has done. You would think Cuomo’s pants were on fire in his hasty attempt to get as much political mileage out of this non-issue before it disappeared from the nightly news.

It would be far better if we lived in a society in which you did not need special legislation to insure the unobstructed practice of religion. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case.

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