It must be an election year for New York State lawmakers. Otherwise they wouldn’t be as vocal and as visible as they’ve been in the last few months.
The Canarsie Courier’s editorial office has recently been receiving an increasing number of press releases from state representatives. We regularly receive press announcements and news about state legislation all year round, but it seems to intensify when there’s an election on the horizon.
It’s also quite evident there’s an election in November because legislation of all sorts is popping up to get voters’ attention and, of course, support seven months from now.
Albany legislators should be more worried about finalizing the state budget by the April 1 deadline - something they haven’t managed to achieve in eighteen years - instead of wasting time concocting superfluous legislation.
One item that is especially galling is recent legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Assembly to make September 11 an official state holiday. Thankfully, wiser heads prevailed in the State Senate, which passed a bill appropriately making the date a "Day of Remembrance."
It’s perfectly logical and fitting to honor the victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, but does it really have to be a state holiday? Flags should annually fly at half-mast in their memory. Perhaps there should be an official statewide moment of silence. But for crissakes we don’t need to turn the memory of that devastating day into a three-day weekend or a 24-hour holiday that’s going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno estimated the cost between $20-$25 million, but Democrat Assembly Speaker Joseph Bruno said that estimate was excessive. Governor Pataki has yet to announce his intentions when the bill crosses his desk for signing.
Helene Weinstein, who represents the 41st Assembly District that covers Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and several other communities west of Canarsie, co-sponsored the holiday law. In a statement announcing her support, she stated, "The tragic events...touched our hearts and lives...but none were more impacted than the people of New York State."
A nice sentiment, but hardly a worthy rationale for establishing a holiday.
Did Assembly Democrats poll constituents or ask anyone’s advice before they passed such a knee-jerk idea? I doubt it.
Traditionally, Democrats have always supported unions, as well as 9-to-5 and civil service workers. What better way to garner support in an election year than guaranteeing them another paid holiday?
Perhaps the best way to deal with this issue is to put it on the November ballot as a referendum, proposition or something. Let the voters have a voice. I’m inclined to believe they would rather support a Day of Remembrance than a state holiday.
In this week’s "What’s Your Opinion" question (see page 2) a random sampling of four Canarsie residents rejected the idea of September 11 becoming a state holiday.
On the other hand, a recent nationwide CNN/USA Today poll found an even split (48% yes; 48% no) on whether the day should be a national holiday.
No Congressional bills have been introduced to create a national holiday, nor has the White House indicated it would initiate such an idea.
I recently asked a couple of Brooklyn firefighters if they thought that day should be a holiday. Without hesitation, they gave the notion emphatic thumbs down.
Essentially, I don’t want to see that day transformed into a convenient excuse for merchants and business owners to stage "towering" sales at malls and shopping centers. It would be more sensible for everyone to just take some time every September 11 to remember those who died and sacrificed that terrible day.
The families and friends of the thousands of victims already have that day’s catastrophic events firmly etched in their hearts and minds. They don’t need - and presumably don’t want - a specific day to be reminded of their tragic loss.