Common Sense: States’ rights

Regardless of your position on same-sex marriage, I think the Supreme Court would have been wise to leave it up to the states.  I am not a lawyer, let alone a legal scholar, but I think we as a nation in general are moving further and further away from a recognition that the United States is a mosaic of states with varying interests, priorities and concerns.

As we approach the Fourth of July, we should be reminded of the uniqueness and value of a blending of sovereign states under one federal umbrella.  The founders of our nation understood the divisions and the importance of protecting the unique structure.


With the Fourth of July just days away, I think it is worth mentioning that celebrating our nation’s independence by breaking the law through the use of illegal and often dangerous fireworks is a bad idea.  Some might remember the tragedy in Bay Ridge some years ago when a couple died in a house fire as a result of a bottle rocket igniting a fire in a very dry patch of roof.  Each year, we read and hear of countless injuries from fireworks.

There are numerous excellent professional fireworks displays in our area on the Fourth.  Of course, the big one is sponsored by Macy’s, but there are many others.  Enjoy one of them with your family.

The Fourth should also not simply be about barbecues and fireworks.  It should be about honoring our nation’s independence.  Thus, it’s the perfect time to discuss with a young person the ideals and principles that our country was founded upon and that make our nation the greatest in the world.

And do fly your American flag this Fourth and throughout the summer. I see fewer and fewer flying in our community, which makes me sad.  In the days following 9/11, it seemed like every street had dozens and the avenues were lined with the Stars and Stripes.  We should not need a national tragedy to have reason to fly the symbol of our nation.


My friend John Murtagh, who served as a city councilmember in the city of Yonkers for many years, noted that the New York City Council released its annual list of grants from councilmembers.  At $50 million, the list includes a $4 million item identified as follows:

“Speaker’s initiative to address citywide needs for a series of services that fill small gaps throughout the city.”

He comments sarcastically, “No risk of waste or abuse there, that’s for sure.”  It’s funny but sadly true. The City Council’s member items have led to incredible abuses over the years, with several councilmembers going to jail. Many checks and balances have been added, but abuses have continued and many grants in recent years have been called into question.

The state legislature essentially discontinued member items several years ago as a result of abuses that occurred.  With allocations such as the one referenced above — which may be no more than $4 million to benefit political friends — maybe the council should consider following the lead of the Legislature on this issue.

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