There are many solid arguments against the recent move by the New York City Council to erase 700,000 quality-of-life warrants and to downgrade future offenses from low level misdemeanors to violations punishable by a fine. One of the more important reasons, but one that is getting minimal attention, is the loss of the Police Department’s ability to run checks for outstanding warrants on those who are simply issued tickets vs. being arrested with bench appearances expected.
Consistent with the broken windows theory of policing comes the argument that strong attention to quality-of-life issues results in an overall reduction in crime and an improvement in the quality of life through the stabilization of communities that suffer from a variety of urban blights.
We do not hear much these days about neighborhood preservation and stabilization, but they were two often repeated phrases in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The misdemeanor arrests that were made for quality-of-life crimes such as urinating in public gave the police the ability to run further checks. Often unanswered warrants would show up during the check and what had begun as a seemingly minor incident resulted in a more sinister figure being put behind bars.
So I think you can assume that the city will become less appealing as we adopt new polices that most anything goes. I believe the city will also be a bit more dangerous as another tool the police used to assist them in identifying criminals is taken away.
And then, of course, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is suggesting that we look at the possibility of closing the Riker’s Island jail. I guess in her world you would not need prisons because very few things would be illegal. She retires from local public office at the end of next year. She has talked about running for office in her native Puerto Rico.
I hope she is not attempting to create a platform to run for office in Puerto Rico on the backs of New Yorkers. Her ideas are opposed by many New Yorkers. The fact that the City Council adopts them reflects more on the nature of the Council and the powers of the speaker as opposed to what is acceptable to many New Yorkers. And, in reality, very few New Yorkers participate in elections for any local elected officials, which only makes it worse.
As a case in point, I would question if most residents of Councilmemberan Vincent Gentile’s council district — which consists of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst — support his vote to raise his salary by 32 percent, and his support for most of Mayor de Blasio and Speaker’s Viverito’s proposals like the ones mentioned above. But it all does make sense when his office does not deny a published story that he is lobbying the mayor heavily for a judgeship or that as a result of his support of Mark-Viverito in a contested election for Speaker, he was appointed to a leadership position in the Council.
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Larry Morrish will be missed. A friend of mine, a friend of many, he was so unique as a community personality, it is safe to say that no one else will ever truly be able to fill his role.
I actually knew Larry for most of my life. Way back then he was helping to run BRAVO. I was at his wedding –- like half the neighborhood — and took his lead on many community projects.
I was there on the Fort Hamilton garrison parade field when the Defense Department presented him with its highest civilian award for many, many years of selfless service on behalf of the men and women of the military.
The Brooklyn Conservative Party, which I chair, once gave him an award in the name of Ronald Reagan for volunteer service
He lived around the corner from Senator Golden’s district office, so in recent years I ran into him and his little dog most every day. He always had something going on and equally something interesting to say.
May my friend Larry Morrish Rest In Peace!