Common Sense: Speaking your mind

Newly elected Republican–Conservative Assemblymember Ron Castorina of Staten Island recently upset a number of African-American assemblymembers when, in speaking out in opposition to legislation that would expand abortion in New York State, he made note of the large numbers of abortions in their communities. They were so upset that many actually walked off the floor of the Assembly, probably resulting in the legislative body losing its quorum.

The facts Castorina referenced are well know and often cited in the often emotional debate on this issue. There have been 15 million abortions in the African-American community since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Martin Luther King’s niece Dr Alveda King has often made the same point and did come to the defense of Castorina. Minister Louis Farrakhan has raise the same concern. And even Jesse Jackson, until he flipped on almost all his positions in the early 1990s, expressed the same.

What seemed to upset these assemblymembers was the use of the word genocide. Harsh as it might sound, it was not an entirely unreasonable description. I guess these members simply could not accept Castorina so publicly and bluntly pointing it out.

Regardless, they had no right to walk out. The Assembly is a deliberative legislative body composed of individuals elected by the people. They debate issues. The members are supposed to remain in the chamber and debate.

These Democratic members instead attempted to shut Castorina down by requesting that he yield for questions. He refused, which is exactly what he should have done. At the conclusion of his remarks, they can ask questions and debate. That is how it is done. Walking out is a relegation of a member’s responsibility. In street terms, it is the equivalent of running away — a cowardly act to make one’s point.

Ron Castorina did a good job. He refused to buckle under to this outrageous display by these Democratic assemblymembers, and he presented excellent, well-documented arguments that need to be heard more often in the state legislature. For that I am grateful.

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The Republican and Conservative Parties are running mostly a full slate of candidates throughout Brooklyn for state Senate and state Assembly. And for the first time in many years, due to the leadership of new Republican Party Chair Ted Ghorra, most of the Republican candidates are cross-endorsed by the Conservative Party.Locally, the ticket is headed by State Senator Marty Golden (whom I serve as chief of staff) and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. State Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who sits with the Republican conference in Albany, has been cross-endorsed by the Republican and Conservative Parities, and Assemblymember Dov Hikind has once again been endorsed by the Conservative party.

Mikhail Usher will be facing off against the winner of the Democratic Party primary in the 46th Assembly District.

Interestingly, an eccentric Staten Island attorney named Richard Luthmann — who dresses up in a cape and crown and advocates trial by combat — is circulating a petition in the 64th AD to run as a Democrat against Nicole. He does not live in the Assembly District, which is a state constitutional requirement going back to the 1930s. As a practicing attorney, you would think that he would be familiar with this provision of the state Constitution, and as such should not be surprised when the Board of Elections automatically removes him from the ballot.

The Democratic Party in both Brooklyn and Staten Island for this reason and other reasons that have more to do with his odd behavior have refused to endorse him. It is quite understandable that they would not want to have a party activist circulate a petition that due to the admitted ineligibility of the candidate is essentially a fraud perpetrated against the voter who is asked to sign a legal document requesting that his name be placed on the ballot.

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