Monday, November 6, 2017

TWF 279: Evaluating the racism of Jack Martins' “New Neighbors” ad.

Greetings, Freeport and Long Island,

I don't often use this space to talk politics, and I refuse even now for The Weekly Freeporter as a no-longer-weekly blog to issue full-fledged endorsements. However, a recent scourge has emerged in Nassau County and it cannot go unanswered.

What you're about to see is the front page of the “New Neighbors” ad distributed by either supporters of Jack Martins, Republican candidate for County Executive in tomorrow's election, or Jack Martins' campaign, itself. As you should know, “supporters of” are very often just extensions of the campaign.

Once we look at this document, we're going to assess what it's 'trying' to say, and what it really suggests and why, as the title of this article suggests, it is a blatantly racist attempt to scare voters into voting against Laura Curran, the Democratic candidate in the race.

The "New Neighbors" ad; this particular photo comes courtesy of Adam Haber


Meet your new neighbors!”

First of all, let's evaluate the claim this ad makes. The ad opens with a suggestion that “Laura Curran will roll out the welcome mat for violent gangs like MS-13.” The photo at center is of these mean-faced gang members (who I've heard were probably actually filmed in a foreign country's jail, but I don't have proof of that just yet), dangerous criminals who are about to move in next door or across the street. Surely, that's a scary image, isn't it?! I mean, aren't these guys intimidating?

Is there a single shred of evidence offered to prove Curran wants to bring gang members into your neighborhood? No.

The ad suggests (without citing evidence) Larrau Curran works for “special interest groups” from New York City, and goes on to say, “These groups want to make Nassau County a sanctuary county for illegal immigrants and protect those convicted of violent crimes from deportation.” Okay. Once again, absolutely no evidence gets cited in this argument. Not a footnote to, say, a Newsday article which ran a quote from Curran.

I have asked people who support Mr. Martins on Twitter (and copied Mr. Martins' Twitter account in on the conversations) if they could provide any proof or quote of Curran's suggesting she is indeed guilty of what certainly sounds like a dangerous crime, the way they've put it. (Keep that last bit in mind.) Of course, none could actually prove Curran complicit in bringing gang members into Nassau County, but let's get at the real root of this problem.

I am calling this ad racist, along with proponents of it, and you deserve to know why.

Dog Whistles And Megaphones

During my search on Twitter to figure out an answer, I ran into a user named Christopher Shea (@CkeefeShea), among others. According to him, the “New Neighbors” ad was really about Laura Curran's beliefs on what's called “Sanctuary city,” or perhaps "Sanctuary county" status. This is a vague argument to begin with, but as an example of what that means, New York City won't let Immigration officers into their schools without a warrant. That, my friends, sounds reasonable from a Constitutional perspective, doesn't it? You're not allowed to just randomly sweep people up because you think they might have done something wrong (and immigration sweeps often net legal immigrants and US Citizens, so there's that to consider). You need a warrant for that. Period.

The implication, as this ad's producers would have you believe, is that Laura Curran wants to make Nassau into a “Sanctuary County,” and that this would by definition give gang members in MS-13 and other organizations a safe haven in our home.  To quote Mr. Shea, "Bottom line, sanctuary policies create safe havens for violent gangs like MS-13."  I have no reason to believe Mr. Shea doesn't truly believe this to be the case, but that only makes him at best a victim of race-baiting.

Okay. Deep breaths. We now understand their underlying argument.

Here's why it is inescapably racist:

MS-13 has become something of a 'dog whistle' on Long Island.  A 'dog whistle' is a type of political speech that might sound perfectly normal, but to those listening for the right cues it reinforces negative racial, ethnic, religious, or otherwise stereotypes.  The New Neighbors ad is a dog whistle aimed not just at White Supremacist terrorist groups, but really at anyone who is simply afraid or anxious about demographic trends showing America's changing face.  The picture and the wording suggests, “Hey, you see these really bad examples of an immigrant to this country? They're all like this.”   It is a stereotype of epic proportions, and a viciously negative one, at that. 

It would be as if the only popular image of Italian immigrants were those of La Familia, the deadly Mafia who would kill you if you didn't pay your protection money on time. That's a scary and even, to a limited extent, accurate perception of Italian-American history! Yes! We (for I am, in part, Italian-American) have had problems with organized crime in the “New Country” as well as the “Old Country).

It would be as if saying all German-Americans (for I am also German-American) are not to be trusted because Germany collapsed into fascism and Naziism in the 1930's and 40's.  We know that many Germans resisted the Nazis, even if it led to their demise.

It would be as if, wouldn't you know, that the Irish were regarded as stupid “Molly” and “Mick” characters that are still so prevalent that Notre Dame's mascot is indeed the “Fighting Irish,” who happens to look like a leprechaun. "No Irish Need Apply" was a popular slogan during the Industrial era and the Irish diaspora.  Police vans are sometimes called “Paddy Wagons” because so many “Paddys” (AKA Irishmen) were arrested for drunken brawling that, well...You get the impression. (P.S., I'm also Irish-American. I'm a mutt).

My point: By seizing on the scariest possible imagery to explain all illegal immigrants that would be protected by a “sanctuary” status in Nassau County (one that this image fails to prove is even on Curran's mind), the authors conclude that Laura Curran is “MS-13's choice for county executive.”

This conclusion, reinforced by what Martins supporters suggest is their own understanding of the ad, proves that it is indeed racist. When challenged on the connection between the image's negative stereotype of Hispanic-Americans and illegal immigrants alike, I heard pitiable answers: “Who cares if majority are Hispanic for freaking crying out loud. Deport all them!” said Craw (@CWForSheeze) with a tenuous grasp on grammar.

An Anti-Endorsement of Jack Martins

Martins has, according to all accounts I've seen, and from my own attempts to reach out to him via social media, hidden from this ad's fall-out in the most exceptionally cowardly way imaginable. He could have stood up and said, “No, I don't stand for this ad, I don't believe that all immigrants – even all of those not here legally – are criminals. Most of them are just trying to have a better life and are running away from things that you and I would probably want to run away from, too,” but saying something like that would take courage, of which Jack Martins has demonstrated none.

I do not use this publication to endorse candidates, but I will certainly Anti-Endorse Jack Martins. Vote for anyone but him, tomorrow. He's either too cowardly to confront his supporters' racism, or too racist to treat all Nassau residents fairly. Either one makes him an unqualified candidate to lead Nassau County in the 21st century.  Vote Democrat, vote Green, vote Libertarian - vote for anyone whose name isn't Jack Martins, because Jack Martins doesn't have the guts to confront this racism as you have, upon reading this.

Friday, August 25, 2017

TWF 278: Hurricane Harvey in Texas

Greetings friends,

It's been a while since I've posted here, but I wanted to reflect for a moment on Hurricane Sandy in light of Hurricane Harvey approaching Texas, today.  Back in 2012, The Weekly Freeporter was active in posting on Facebook and this site.  Since then, I've always taken an ear towards reporting severe weather.  Well, Harvey is a Category 4 storm.  That's no joke - it's stronger than Sandy was, although it lacks the Nor-Easter pushing back against it.

I would hope that all of Long Island united to lend some help to our friends in Texas.  We've been where they're about to be (and they, too, have suffered this in the past; look up the Galveston Hurricane), and we want to make sure support is given.  With that said, these eight congressmen shouldn't be asking for help for their areas, seeing as they voted against Sandy.  But, that's not on their constituents.

Here are some last-minute tips for those of you still in this disaster's path.


 - First off, get out if you're asked to get out; take your pets with you if you have to.
 - If you still have time and you can't get out, one idea is to run your tap-water now and fill up bathtubs, buckets, and the rest so you have clean drinking water.
 - Get your important documents together at home so you're prepared for the coming insurance trouble. Stay the heck inside; don't go out and get caught in a gale.
 - Charge your electronic devices - cell phones are not necessarily reliable communication for the first couple of days, if the power goes out to the tower, but you'll want to be able to check your network and once it's back up you'll want an emergency portable device if you wind up in an emergency shelter.
 - Get a "go bag" together if you have no other options.

Don't, above all else, sit around waiting. It's you versus nature at this point. Don't let nature win.

Monday, March 20, 2017

TWF 277: Village Mayoral and Board Elections on 3/21/2017 - Tomorrow!

Greetings, Freeport!

As you are no doubt aware, an election is brewing in Freeport, tomorrow, and boy is it a doozy!  Here's your usual The Weekly Freeporter does not endorse candidates within Freeport, and generally ever reminder.  I might make recommendations on other platforms or for outside-of-the-Village, but I don't do politics in Freeport.  My past reporting on both the Hardwick and Kennedy administrations may speak for themselves.

With that said, let's go in order of Rows:  Kennedy is in Row C, so he'll be last, and I believe Mr.  Hardwick has Row B, so we're gonna start with the only one on the list who hasn't been Mayor already, Stephen Drummond!

It's only fair I note that I'm not going to go into depth about the candidates for Trustee.  In many cases, either you know them (as with Mrs.  Pinyero, Mr.  Grossman, and Mr.  Ellerbe), or you don't (as with Mr.  Vargas and others).  While we've certainly seen times when "team" members don't vote with the Mayor they came to office with, in general they are likely to follow most of the same political lines as the mayor they're following.

Also, let's be real:  We all know there's a lot of vitriol in some of these candidacies.

Village of Freeport Mayoral Candidates, 3/21/2017

Row A:  Stephen Drummond.

Mr.  Drummond is certainly the wild-card in this race.  A former U.S. Marine who served as the Village Judge for Andrew Hardwick if I remember correctly, Drummond has clearly decided to strike out on his own.  He made an awesome campaign video that's worth checking out, but as far as policy I see, for starters, a lot of the "law and order" campaign one might expect from a former judge.

He has a plan to improve Freeport you can read at your leisure.  As a Recreation Center person, I like the sound of his plan to revitalize and improve the Recreation Center...But at the same time, if one of Freeport's major woes has been it's pocket book, he'd have to get a helluvalotta funding to do it.  Yet it appears controversy stirs over the number of religious figures he's asked to join him, which came up as far back as when Annette Dennis ran for Trustee.  After all, the argument went then as now - If you don't pay taxes, how do you get control over taxpayer money?

If this were a two-candidate race, I'd say Mr.  Drummond's odds could be very strong.  As it stands, I can't back that viewpoint because there's so much baggage here that it's just hard to imagine people avoiding polarization.


Row B:  Andrew Hardwick

Former Mayor Hardwick was defeated by one of his "Team Hardwick" deputies, Robert Kennedy, in the last Mayoral elections.  Has it been so long, Andrew?  While I always appreciated how direct he was with me during his tenure, he has since gone on to run for offices across Long Island, and I always expressed concern that he did not have a grasp on how public relations worked.

He is nigh-legendary for threatening to cancel the Freeport Nautical Mile Festival and for the "Garbage To Gold" scandal, and what I would have hoped to have heard from Mr.  Hardwick - and seen, through his supporters' actions and outreach - would have been a maturity in his approach.  He was, fairly or not, seen as combative and unwilling to listen; as it stands, there's been far too little outreach for me to understand if this is a serious bid to return to power, or a spiteful grasp at fame.

The hunter who chases two rabbits at the same time often loses sight of them both; I find myself asking what Andrew Hardwick wants to do.  I think his voters will, as well, because my experience in covering small-scale elections tells me to expect him to finish last or close to it.


Row C:  Robert Kennedy

Mayor Kennedy made a move the other day, one that impressed one decades-long resident in both its timing and its function:  That huge plot of land on Sunrise Highway next to the ancient but beautiful bank has been sold, or is being sold, or...Progress, am I right?  When Stop-And-Shop folded, Target came in.  The Nautical Mile Festival works about as well as it ever could; it's still far too reduced in relation to its legacy, but that's what people seem to want.

Is Mr.  Kennedy's tenure perfect?  I'd love to see him build a rock-climbing wall at the Rec, among other massive improvements in funding it would benefit from.  (I'd go into detail, but it'd be a conflict of interest.)  But it's certainly fair to say he is favored, mathematically, to win this race.  He faces divided opposition and presides over a time when factors far beyond him have led Freeport to feel like there's a time of recovery, while Mayor Hardwick's first term started with a national economic crisis and ended with a massive storm.

Perhaps fate was a bit unfair to Mr.  Hardwick, in retrospect, but one has to help oneself and Mr.  Kennedy sure took advantage of his opportunities.  I expect that - regardless of what you think about him or his opponents - Mr.  Kennedy will remain in the Mayor's office.


On Predictions...

Fact is, these predictions of mine:  A Kennedy 1st, Drummond 2nd, Hardwick 3rd outcome, are the predictions of an amateur who only hears what he hears and listens to what he listens to.  I have no horse in this race (I'm no longer in Freeport!), and I am simply reporting this because lately TWF has had a bit of a role to play in bringing up important events - and, I still have family and friends in the Port, and I'm not too far away or unwilling to help the community.

I could be wrong.  I very well might be!  In fact, this article will, as a matter of the Uncertainty Principle, shift the way the world turns.  If my article somehow helps drive voter turnout up, then that's a good thing.

Good luck to all candidates, but voters?  This is on you.  It always is.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

TWF 276: Upcoming Nor'Easter, Dedicating Bishop Frank Otha White Park at 3/13/2017 Board Meeting!

Greetings, Freeport!

I hope you're all bracing for the snow storm expected on Monday Night/Tuesday!  According to Accuweather, it's a Nor'Easter - no fun over the summer, really no fun over the winter - which, I am told, this still is!  They're talking 1-2 feet, give or take, complete with cold temperatures and lots of wind.  With that in mind, time for a "common repost" from this site (which, in fact, might get its own article in the immediate future)...

Refresher On Severe Weather Tips

Freeport, we've survived a lot worse than this storm guy (Sandy, anyone?).  However, this isn't a push-over, either.  Just yesterday we received a few inches of snow, plus a great deal of rain.  Make no mistake - This effects our water run-off technologies, in the form of storm drains.  If you're familiar with the Dunkin Donuts on Atlantic Avenue (My local favorite), you know how it is an unfortunate victim of this problem:  Heavy rain will clog up its drainage system.  Heavy rain plus cold temperatures could freeze it, along with other drains around town and even around Long Island.

In short:  Flooding is most definitely possible in any snowstorm.

More importantly, there will be a lot of snow, possibly in the 1-2 foot area.  Cars don't like this.  People can barely walk through it, with a lot of effort.  With that in mind, I want to refresh some of our infamous winter weather tips.  If you have a tip to put forward, let us know!  (Editorial note:  I have no idea what's up with this formatting.)

Try to stock up on anything you need before the snow gets heavy.  It goes without saying that if you can't drive safely, if you can't move well, then you are at risk of getting injured while walking around, or crashing your car if you risk driving.  I know it's kind of an old motif, but get your "bread and milk" now.
 - Keep your pets and beloved animals inside!!!  They won't be able to move through two feet of snow any better than you will, and if the temperature is cold out, they can get sick or even freeze to death.  Have some compassion.  If you can, put out a large styrofoam box/cooler/something, stuffed with a spare blanket or two, for local stray cats/animals to take shelter in; in these days, compassion is a must.  If you've got some spare pet food, put that out - staying warm burns calories.
 - Help your neighbors clear the snow from their sidewalks if you can.  If possible - and I mean unless you absolutely cannot - clear out a 3-feet circle around your nearby fire hydrants.  (via TJ Johnson.)  Make sure to dress warmly, wear sturdy and stable boots, and take your time shoveling!
 - If the power goes out, be careful with candles!  Nobody needs a fire!
 - Keep a cell phone handy; a battery-powered radio is a good idea, too.  If you need to report a non-life-threatening emergency, call the Nassau County line at 1-888-684-4274.  For medical emergencies ONLY, use 911.
 - Get your car off the road!  Park your cars in your driveway, if you can. (Via FFD member Robert Volpe).
 - Try to have cash available!  In the event that there is no electricity to run credit cards or operate ATMs, you'll want to have money around if you need to pay for anything.

 - Once the storm is over, call your friends to say hello and make sure they're alright!


Dedication Of Northeast Park to Bishop Frank Otha White

 - Hat Tip to Anthony J.  Miller!

I'll be honest - until today, I had never heard of the good Bishop.  Many of our parks in Freeport, such as John J.  Randall, are dedicated to various Freeport big-wigs, but none may have had the same sort of impact as Bishop White.  He passed on January 20th, 2017, after many years of service at the Church Of God In Christ (COGIC), serving mainly as a financial adviser to the church if I'm understanding the memoriam correctly.

Northeast Park is most definitely a legend among those familiar with the Recreation Department, and it's nestled right near the Meadowbrook.  Go check it out some time!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

TWF 275: Green Party Meeting at Freeport Memorial Library, Mon 2/27, 7:30 PM

Greetings, Freeport!

Just a quick event update for you all:  The Green Party of Nassau County will be meeting at the Freeport Memorial Library at 7:30 for it's regularly-scheduled membership meeting.  According to the applicable brief, upcoming elections and other activities are up for discussion.  If you're interested, kindly check them out!  The reason I post this is that you don't usually hear about these kind of meetings, and they especially don't often happen in Freeport!

For other parties, check out the Nassau County Democratic Party website and Facebook Page, as well as the Nassau County Republicans.  (If you're wondering; why, yes, I think both have crappy webpages and need to get a better online presence)

This is not an endorsement of the Green Party or any other party or candidate.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

TWF 274: Peter King and Lee Zeldin Afraid To Face Long Islanders

Greetings,

It should come as no surprise to you that this article will have a political slant.  In fact, it represents a very clear dis-endorsement the likes of which The Weekly Freeporter doesn't usually, you know, do. You'll notice I haven't even said a word about the upcoming Kennedy-Drummond-Hardwick race!  (P.S. The vote is on March 21, 2017, from 6AM-9PM; it's a month away, that's why I haven't written on it, yet)  I also no longer live in Freeport, as I have referred to several times in the past.  That is why I walked away from weekly publication of this venue and why I have only posted occasionally, mainly when something had a Long Island/State/National context.

You may either accept this political bend and read on, or shrug your shoulders and look away.  It will require a very direct call to action from you; you may read that call however you wish, and act however you feel is best.  One way or another, however, The Weekly Freeporter is indeed "The Media," and I have indeed been deemed an "Enemy Of The People" by the President of the United States of America; maybe I take that as some sort of sea change in American politics.  So, Here we go:

Republican Congressman Peter King represents the second Congressional District of New York.  This includes areas so close to Freeport as Levittown and Massapequa.  They're not quite our neighbors but we know them quite well, especially Massapequa's football team.  He's had very kind words to say about General Michael Flynn, who had to resign after lying to the Vice President about illegal ties with Russia; to the best of my knowledge he has not said whether the "Media" is the "enemy of the people."  Why, it's as if he's suddenly vanished!

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York.  It's further away, including large swaths of Suffolk County according to Ballotpedia.  His opinion on our handling of Russia was that Putin was taking advantage of Obama, yet he's quiet about Trump's Putinophilia.  To the best of my knowledge he has not said whether the "Media" is the "enemy of the people."

As reported today by the website Long Island Press, both men are cowards.

Peter King and Lee Zeldin


I'm sorry; I should be a bit more clear.  Both men plan to hide on the other side of a telephone when they do "town halls" because, I guess, they are just too afraid to look at their constituents.  From Louie Gohmert (who votes against background checks on gun sales, but too scared he'll be shot by an angry constituent) to "Little" Marco Rubio, Republicans have been avoiding town halls almost as if they'd have to actually suffer the consequences of their voting records.

All I'm asking is that if you have some time to kill, and that you're one of his constituents out in Suffolk, you...Well I was going to suggest you opt in to his phone call, but apparently it already happened.  Huh!  Quaint.  As for Peter King, Long Island Press' article doesn't mention when he'll have one - nor, for the record, when some of the Democratic representatives we have will be seen in public again, either.  (I must admit:  I attended a rally hosted by Kathleen Rice and Tom Suozzi.  They're engaged.  Very engaged.)

Here's the bottom line:

Both men, Peter King and Lee Zeldin, are unfit to represent Long Island.

I encourage anyone interested to explore how they might run against these two, because they are unwilling to face their constituents and thus unworthy of representing us to our nation.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

TWF 273: Winter Storm Niko, 2/9/2017 - Schools closed, BE SAFE

Friends,

Not much time to post (a longgg day, thanks in part to LIRR delays), but a few basic updates as we prepare for the first "real" storm of the year.

Freeport, most Long Island, and (yes) NYC schools are all closed in preparation for this event.  Check your district's webpage for specific information!

The Village's website contains instructions on how to ride this one out.  Among them, clear out any fire hydrants you might have and try if at all possible NOT to park on the streets so the plows can do their jobs.  Wear proper clothing, only drive if necessary, all of the good stuff.  Only call 911 for serious emergencies.

We've seen this kind of thing before, New Yorkers.  We'll see it through.