Common Sense: Communities of Interest

As far back as 1982, when the Bay Ridge Community Council actively opposed — at hearings and in court actions — a Democratic-prepared state legislative New York State Assembly reapportionment that linked Bay Ridge with Coney Island, there was a concern that Bay Ridge and Coney Island simply had very little in common.

Then, in 1992, when the Democrats in the New York State Assembly voted to add a bit more of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights to a district that was heavily weighted towards Coney Island, the Bay Ridge Community Council on behalf of its many member organizations cried foul once again.

In 2002 and 2010, as bigger pieces of Dyker Heights and a bit more of Bay Ridge were once again attached to Coney Island during a Democratic State Assembly-orchestrated change, we complained. Each time, our cries were ignored.

As a result of incumbency, once someone has been elected, it usually is difficult to defeat him or her for re-election. On occasion, particularly when a seat opens up, you have the opportunity to send a message and bring about real change. As it should happen, there will be a special election for state Assembly in this gerrymandered district.

The final candidate line-up will be Pam Harris, a Democratic Coney Island community activist, vs. Lucretia Regina-Potter, a longtime Republican Conservative activist from the Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge piece of the district.

Harris had to work hard for the nomination. Even the local Bay Ridge Democrats were concerned about another Coney Island assemblymember. They made a valiant attempt to gain the nomination for Kate Cucco of Bay Ridge who was former Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny’s chief of staff.

For some in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, this election will be less about the specific candidates and more about a process that seems in this district always to leave Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights with the short end of the stick. It is something that concerns as many Democrats as Republicans, Conservatives and Independents.

It is about the continuing consequence of two very different communities with two very different sets of issues and demographics being linked by an extreme partisan political process. Clearly many will be a casting their vote to send a message that the Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights community’s voice needs to be heard and it might best come about during one of the rare opportunities when an open Assembly seat is up for election.

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I attended the Times Square Goes Gold for Pediatric Cancer event with Camille Loccisano, State Senator Marty Golden, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and Councilmember Vincent Gentile as well as many families and children. The event, in which the many lighted signs at the crossroads of the world turned gold at 8 p.m. to bring attention to pediatric cancer — is one of many September Pediatric Cancer events.

One of the highlights of the Times Square event was Party City presenting a check for $401,000

to Sloan Kettering’s pediatric cancer unit.

The bottom line, as Camille and other advocates have explained, is that although cancer research and treatment receive a great deal of funding overall, much more needs to be directed at pediatric cancers. All too many of the treatments and protocols are designed for adults. These treatments are not appropriate for children. And all too often pediatric cancers are more aggressive. So the need to focus much more attention and funding on pediatric cancer care is very real.

A very disappointing moment took place just before the event occurred. A topless woman (no paint) was parading around the area. Of course, in the city these days, going topless in Times Square has somehow become legally protected, so the police were not able to do anything.

Assemblymember Malliotakis actually got in touch with the mayor’s office to complain as this was happening. In any event, on her own, the topless woman disappeared into the crowd. But the fact that this occurred around the children was disturbing.


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