Queens Pols Speak; 'Leave Bill Alone' – QNS.com

Queens Pols Speak; ‘Leave Bill Alone’

The Queens Courier took a poll of our pols — putting our elected representatives on the record as to their opinion about Congress’ vote to proceed with the impeachment process of President Bill Clinton.
This is only the third time in the history of our nation that this process has been authorized. The Queens Courier feels that the citizens of our Borough deserve to know where their elected representatives stand on this historic issue.
Here are the results of our survey. All elected officials from our Borough were faxed a simple form for them to check off their support or opposition to the actions of the Judiciary Committee in proceeding with the impeachment process; "oppose" or "support" was all we asked.
We also invited the elected officials to add comments if they desired. The results are printed here. This survey was conducted over a ten day period. Those who failed to respond* had adequate time to voice their view. It is significant that all who responded opposed impeaching the President (while at the same time chiding the President on his personal behavior). It is also significant that not one Republican legislator responded.
Following are the responses to our questionnaire. (Party affiliation is listed in parenthesis.)
Public Advocate (D) Mark Green — OPPOSE
"The Public Advocate believes that the President’s actions were clearly wrong — but do not add up to an impeachable offense.
The country and New York would be better served by a Congress more interested in real health care reform, tobacco legislation that protects kids and campaign finance improvements — all issues that this Congress failed on."
City Comptroller (D) Alan Hevesi — OPPOSE
"The President’s behavior was inappropriate, but he should not be impeached. During Watergate, the Judiciary Committee lawyers concluded that impeachment should be reserved only for illegal acts that relate to the Constitutional powers and responsibilities of the Presidency. Illegal acts that are covered by criminal law should be handled through the courts. For example, the Judiciary Committee lawyers found that Nixon violated the income tax law, but they did not include that in the impeachment charges. Removing a president elected by the people is an extremely serious matter. Impeachment should be reserved for what the Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." Clinton’s actions were improper, but they did not meet that high standard."
Borough President (D) Claire Shulman
"I am opposed to open-ended investigations. They are fishing expeditions. Our country needs a fully functioning President and Congress to deal with the complex financial and international problems confronting us daily."
District Attorney (D-R-L-C-I) Richard Brown — DECLINED TO COMMENT
U.S. House of Representatives
(D-L) Gary Ackerman (5th District)
"Before voting on the impeachment inquiry last week, I took to the House floor where I suggested that when the House of Representatives adjourns, "it does so to Salem, a quaint village in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts whose history beckons us thence." It was an appropriate way to compare the day’s events on the House floor to the colonial witch trials because the day was nothing but partisan politics at its worse.
I made the statement after House Speaker Newt Gingrich refused to allow reasonable debate in the impeachment resolution. He only allowed the full House to debate the measure for a mere two hours — not even half the time that was allowed for renaming Washington’s National Airport to President Ronald Reagan Airport. The Republicans allowed seven hours of debate for what? In essence, Speaker Gingrich maintained that the Impeachment of a Democratic President is not as important as the naming of an airport after a Republican President. by the way, I voted for that bill to rename the airport.
This was clearly an abuse of power. To permit seven hours of debate for such minor issues as the renaming of an airport and three hours last week to name two post offices but only two hours debate for the impeachment probe, clearly the most important vote in our careers, was outrageous. It is vital that every member of the House express his or her own view on matter so we can hear all of the arguments before we cast this most important vote. To impose a gag rule, is a disservice to the nation regardless of where popular opinion stands.
During my service in Washington, I have seen many things twisted and bent. But to try and distort the Constitution so that one political party (regardless of which one) can gain political advantage, raise money off of the issue and fund their campaigns off the issue is really a disgrace, a disservice and a discrediting to the reasons that people run for public office. Newt Gingrich wants to string this out. But it is time to end it now. It has gone on for far too long."
(D) Nita Lowey (18th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Carolyn Maloney (14th District) — OPPOSE
"An impeachable offense, in the view of constitutional scholars, is an action which seriously interferes with our government’s process and corrupts our democracy.
I believe the President’s actions were distasteful. I believe the President acted unwisely. And I believe the President was insensitive to his family and his friends, in regards to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
‘In poor taste,’ ‘unwise,’ and ‘insensitive’ are hardly terms which suggest an interference with the process at the highest level of government. The President’s poor behavior certainly did nothing to distort the democratic process. Therefore, I do not believe the President should be impeached.
However, I do believe it’s important for the congress to explore all the facts. Today I will cast my vote in favor of the Democratic Impeachment Inquiry Resolution.
The Democratic alternative to the Republican resolution is focused, fair, deliberate, and expeditious. It offers a sensible way to proceed, by first determining standards for impeachment, then by setting a timetable. The American people have asked that this unpleasantness be ended as quickly as possible. We would like to act on that request.
This is a difficult, and sad time for our country. I hope we can proceed in a manner that is respectful of each member of this Congress, the President, his family and every American who is watching the process unfold."
(D) Tom Manton (7th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Gregory Meeks (6th District) — OPPOSE
(D) Chuck Schumer (9th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Nydia Velazquez (12th District) — NO RESPONSE
City Council
(R-C) Michael Abel (19th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D-L) Julia Harrison (20th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Karen Koslowitz (29th District)
"I feel what President Clinton did was absolutely wrong and he should be censured, but not impeached."
(D-L) Sheldon Leffler (23rd District) — OPPOSE
(D-L) Helen Marshall (21st District) — OPPOSE
(D-L) Walter McCaffrey (26th District) — OPPOSE
(R-C) Thomas Ognibene (30th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Morton Povman (24th District) — OPPOSE
"I support a proceeding limited to the issues raised by the Starr report to be concluded by Dec. 31, 1998."
(D-L) John Sabini (25th District) — OPPOSE
"The lion’s share of the improper actions that the President has admitted to occurred well after the Special Prosecutor commenced his work. Where’s Whitewater? Where’s Travelgate? Where’s Filegate? If all Starr has is lying in a civil deposition, he should give up his Sherlock Holmes outfit and head for Pepperdine. The right-wing financed effort to overturn the results of the last two Presidential elections looks like a coup de etat fought with legal briefs instead of pistols. There have been enough investigations. Reprimand the President and let’s move on."
(D-L) Archie Spigner (27th District) — OPPOSE
(R-C) Alfonso Stabile (32nd District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Peter Vallone (Speaker, 22nd District) — OPPOSE
"I think it’s time someone stood up for President Clinton and stood up to all the Republicans who are trying to tear him down. I don’t understand why they want to destroy a man who’s done so much for New York — from Headstart to health care, from college grants to economic development. How Al D’Amato, George Pataki and the Republicans are determined to bring the President down — even if it means hurting our country. Censure the President if necessary."
(D-L) Juanita Watkins (31st District) — OPPOSE
"I feel that the Starr Report and disclosures have turned into a pornographic witch hunt. The public has been inundated with more and more unnecessary details of this nightmare than we need to know. We can’t even shield our children because the media has had a feeding frenzy with all of the intimate and gory details.
The president’s behavior was wrong, disgraceful and distasteful, but it has not reached the level of impeachable offenses. His personal life and behavior is a shameful mess. Maybe we should brand him with a large "A." However, his public performance as a President of the United States has brought us numerous years of sustained prosperity. He has been an active mediator and negotiator in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, war-torn Africa and the former Yugoslavia.
At this time, we should support him as President, and leave his private life just that, private."
(R-C-RTL) Serphin Maltese (15th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) George Onorato (14th District)
With the information Ken Starr has given already, "Let’s get it over with."
(R-C) Frank Padavan (11th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D-L) Ada Smith (12th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D-L) Leonard Stavisky (16th District) — OPPOSE
"What the President did was wrong and indefensible and he should be punished. However, the federal government is without a budget. We need an infusion of federal funds to hire additional teachers and upgrade crumbling schools. Problems with health care and Social Security need to be addressed. People are being slaughtered in Kosovo. With all of these issues facing our nation, his disgraceful behavior pales before the important issues facing our country and the world. President clinton should be censured or reprimanded but not removed from office."
(D) Jeffrion Aubry (35th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Denis Butler (36th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Ann-Margaret Carrozza (26th District)
"Based on my knowledge of the evidence presented thus far, I agree with the position taken by former President Gerald Ford in his recent New York Times Op-Ed piece. President Clinton’s behavior in the Monica Lewinsky matter merits a strong personal censure by the Congress, delivered to the President, in person, in the well of the House of Representatives. I hope that this can be accomplished quickly and that we can all move forward and put this sad chapter in our nation’s history behind us."
(D) Barbara Clark (33rd District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Vivian Cook (32nd District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Joseph Crowley (30th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Pauline Cummings (31st District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Ivan Lafayette (34th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Nettie Mayersohn (27th District) — OPPOSE
"I don’t think in all our history, there has been this kind of exposure of a president on an issue as irrelevant as the Monica Lewinsky saga. Obviously, no one is prepared to defend the president’s actions; he acted foolishly and irresponsibly. But in the final analysis, it was a private personal affair, and the American public, according to all polls, has had enough of the scandal and would like it to go away.
One of the short-term penalties of making the Lewinsky affair the important issue in this election year campaign is that it has been a complete distraction. Candidates are not being asked the tough question on issues. Reporters aren’t dogging candidates with questions about the growing number of people in this country who don’t have health insurance. Or what would a candidate propose to do about the severe shortage of decent, affordable housing?
But it is the long term consequences that I am most concerned with. Are we seeing the beginning of a new phenomenon — that when one party has enough votes to sustain an impeachment, members of Congress will feel empowered to set up investigatory bodies to create the grounds for such impeachment? That is something we have never had to deal with before — but I would hope that responsible members of Congress will give some serious thought to the very grave, far-reaching consequences of what is now taking place in Washington."
(D) Brian McLaughlin (25th District) — OPPOSE
(D) Catherine Nolan (37th District) — OPPOSE
(D-L) Audrey Pheffer (23rd District) — OPPOSE
(D) William Scarborough (29th District) — OPPOSE
"I oppose the House of Representatives’ decision to open this inquiry. While I do not condone the President’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, this was private behavior, and however immoral it may be, it in no way constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors" as set forth by the founding fathers. Ken Starr has spent $40 million and four years looking into every aspect of the President’s public and private life and the result is an impeachment procedure about consensual sex. Furthermore, the whole spectacle of Linda Tripp’s wiretapping, being led to Starr through ultra-conservative lawyers (who sought to hide their involvement) working on the Paula Jones case smells of a clear plan to entrap the President into committee perjury in the Jones deposition. In the words of Rep. Wexler of Florida, "Is this where we want to lower the bar for the removal of future Presidents?"
(D) Anthony Seminerio (38th District) — NO RESPONSE
(D) Mark Weprin (24th District) — OPPOSE
"While I find the President’s behavior abhorrent, I do not believe that lying to cover up an affair rises to the level of impeachment."

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