We the people: We need statesmanship, not demagoguery from our elected officials

Iran’s leader just announced “sanctions should be lifted completely on the very day of the deal” to limit his nuclear program is finalized. The statement reflects the importance of the sanctions which forced this radical state to the bargaining table. The U.S. should be in no hurry to lift the sanctions and approve a plan if it gives Iran the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.

Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has repeatedly attacked the negotiation process and described the framework now on the table as “a list of dangerous White House concessions.” He has no constructive suggestions but fired off a letter to the leader of Iran signed by 47 Republican senators that declared that a deal with the U.S. could be revoked “with the stroke of a pen.”

I prefer a national leader like the president of the United States to speak for the nation.  Cotton flippantly suggested that military action could be appropriate and stated, “There’s a whole range of military action … capable of providing to the commander in chief [options] to achieve our national strategic objectives.”

Senator Charles Schumer announced his reservations about any potential deal with the Revolutionary Islamic Republic but voiced concerns and worked with the government to assure an appropriate deal. Mr. Cotton represents irresponsible demagoguery from a political party that cannot or will not control its youngest senator.

It reminds us of the vital importance of electing responsible and experienced people to serve in Washington, D.C. The 11th Congressional District has a special election in less than three weeks. The people will select Vincent Gentile or Dan Donovan to replace disgraced Republican Michael Grimm who pled guilty to tax evasion charges.

In a debate, Mr. Gentile criticized Donovan’s record on prosecuting domestic violence defendants and the politics of the Republican Party in Congress. Vincent Gentile, Dan Donovan and Green Party candidate James Lane all participated in the debate. Mr. Lane succinctly stated, “I know a lot of Staten Islanders who are not happy.” That discontent is sparked by the criminal justice system in Staten Island and the divisiveness of the Republican Party, in general.

Mr. Gentile took Donovan to task for a divisive e-mail sent to voters. It associated all Democrats with the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton was spokesperson for the family of Eric Garner who died in police custody after an arrest for selling cigarettes. Sharpton criticized the way Donovan handled the grand jury presentation in the case. DA Donovan presented the case to a grand jury that returned no charges against the arresting officer.

The fund‑raising email packed a headline: “Al Sharpton is coming after Dan; we need your help!” A campaign spokesperson retorted “[I]t speaks volumes about the priorities of the … district attorney when he releases a 242‑word fund-raising email based upon complete fabrications but only 10 words when it came to Judge Garnett’s decision …”

Justice William Garnett denied the application to release the transcripts from the grand jury deliberations in the case. Donovan’s office called the decision “well‑reasoned” but it led to further protests and calls for measures to increase the transparency of the criminal justice system.


Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (D‑Brooklyn) announced he would introduce three bills to improve the criminal justice system. The bills provide increased discovery of evidence, videotaped custodial interrogations, and “double‑blind” witness identification to decrease incorrect eyewitness identification.

DA Thompson supports videotaped interrogations to prevent coerced confessions and intimidation or false allegations of intimidation. This legislation can reestablish trust between the community and the police and guarantee increased fairness in the criminal justice system. Our district needs a representative in Washington D.C. who can produce similar legislation.

A need to overhaul the criminal justice system was confirmed by the gruesome video of the murder of Walter Scott by a police officer, Michael Slager, in South Carolina. How a person sworn to uphold the law could shot down an unarmed suspect fleeing from a vehicle stop is beyond comprehension; however, it does highlight the need for action. Body cameras and dash cams in police cars could be helpful but the proposed bills in our State Assembly are where we should start.

Washington, D.C. has enough firebrand conservatives and Republican politicians beholden to the Republican Party. The regular working people of Staten Island and Brooklyn need a representative responsible to the people who will not just add volume to the voices of the John Boehners and Tom Cottons already there.

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