By Bob Friedrich
Many of New York’s working-class citizens feel forgotten and betrayed by a mayor and City Council not interested in their daily struggles to make ends meet, but instead obsess over preventing deportation of illegal immigrants who have been arrested or convicted of various crimes.
DWI, identity theft, Social Security fraud, assault, using stolen or forged documents all used to be considered serious crimes but are now seen as minor nuisances by city leaders. This is the price we pay for being a “sanctuary city,” where these types of crimes by illegal immigrants are ignored in order to protect them from deportation.
At the same time, law-abiding citizens are left behind as crime in their neighborhoods rises, property taxes explode, college‑ready high school graduation rates dip to abysmal levels, and a degradation of neighborhood quality of life trends in the wrong direction. Even those climbing up the economic ladder and living in city housing are treated as second-class citizens.
NYCHA’s failed and incompetent slumlord management style continues to wreak havoc over its managed housing projects. Its negligent tactics would have put any other landlord behind bars. The litany of scandal and incompetence is well documented. NYCHA’s lead-paint scandal has affected the health of hundreds of children, its tenants freeze in the winter with massive boiler failures while its senior and disabled population suffer repeated elevator outages.
NYCHA’s scandalous repair program where repairs are never made yet marked as “Completed” so that NYCHA officials can show improved repair statistics, is part of the litany of incompetency reported almost daily in the city media. Instead of improving these horrific conditions and making public housing safer, Mayor Bill de Blasio seems fixated on preventing deportation of criminal illegal aliens.
Not to be outdone by de Blasio’s failure to focus on its citizens, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week pardoned seven illegal aliens to protect them from impending deportation. Their “minor criminal convictions,” according to the governor, include assault, larceny, possession of stolen property, identity theft, and sale of a controlled substance.
Would the governor pardon you or me if convicted of similar crimes? Of course not. Thousands of Americans served sentences in New York jails for similar crimes and have never been pardoned or even considered for one.
Being a citizen is not a politically expedient characteristic for a pardon by the governor. This obsession to protect those who have committed crimes from deportation while ignoring the plight of those who have conducted their lives crime-free is an outrageous breach of duty by elected officials and they should be held accountable.
In 2014, Cuomo awarded free college education to prison inmates. This program went far beyond the normal GED High School graduation certificate program found in many prisons. Think about that next time you stress over paying for your own kid’s college tuition.
Most recently, Cuomo granted conditional clemency to tens of thousands of convicted New York state felons in order to restore their voting rights. He has now ordered state parole board officers to give “high priority attention” to registering ex-convicts to vote and has galvanized this policy through executive order.
Cuomo’s new Parole Board appointees are now granting parole to those convicted of the most heinous crimes and putting them back on the streets. In April, it was a cop killer who ambushed and killed two NYPD cops in Harlem decades ago. PBA President Pat Lynch says that slaying a cop is “the type of evil you don’t put aside.”
In June, the Parole Board again granted parole to a killer who viciously machine-gunned down a 30‑year‑old Bronx assistant district attorney years ago who was picking up coffee and donuts. And today under consideration for parole is a mother who admitted to smothering three of her children, and possibly many others who died under suspicious circumstances while in her care.
In the absence of an infinite pot of money, politicians must prioritize limited resources and should focus on their constituent voters. Unfortunately, they have decided against the average “Joe” who is working each day to make ends meet. “Joe” has no time to be out in the street protesting the “outrage of the day.”
Regrettably for “Joe,” with each protest du jour, more policies are engineered by New York’s elected officials who seem to show utter contempt for average folks like him.
Bob Friedrich is President of Glen Oaks Village, a Civic Leader and former NYC Council Candidate.