Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York's newspapers: You From New York? You’re First on Trump’s Revenge List
The New York Times
Fresh from his impeachment acquittal by Senate Republicans, President Trump has shifted into payback mode.
In his combative State of the Union address Tuesday, Mr. Trump launched a broadside against one of his favorite targets: “sanctuary cities,” those jurisdictions that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.
“In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed,” Mr. Trump claimed, falsely, speaking of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He singled out New York and California for particular contempt, spinning nightmarish tales of violent crimes he attributed to those states’ liberal immigration laws. And he touted legislation that would allow the victims of crimes committed by certain foreign nationals to sue sanctuary cities and states.
For those familiar with the president’s anti-immigrant musings, it was a familiar refrain. But this time, he was not content merely to engage in fearmongering. Mr. Trump was in the mood to punish those who would defy him.
On Wednesday, the administration announced that, for the time being, it would no longer allow residents of New York State to enroll (or re-enroll) in various Trusted Traveler Programs overseen by Customs and Border Protection, which allow preapproved individuals expedited passage through airport security and immigration.
In a letter to top officials at New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, said the move was in response to a 2019 state law enabling undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Proponents of the so-called Green Light Law, which was hotly debated, argued for it on both humanitarian and public safety grounds, noting that similar laws adopted by other states had resulted in a reduction in hit-and-run accidents and an increase in the number of insured drivers. As a protective measure, the law also contains a provision that blocks federal immigration agents from retrieving information from the D.M.V.’s databases without a court order.
It does not bar federal officials from demanding identification, photos, passport data and interviews from applicants for Global Entry and other security programs for travelers.
This impediment to Mr. Trump’s deportation vision was too much for the administration to bear.
Barring access to these critical records, Mr. Wolf warned, undermines “ICE’s objective of protecting the people of New York from menacing threats to national security and public safety.” He said that New York’s lack of cooperation hinders federal agents’ ability to confirm whether an individual applying for Trusted Traveler Programs membership is eligible for its benefits. As a result, he concluded, his department had no choice but to “take immediate action.”
“Seek immediate political retribution” would have been the more honest phraseology.
Mr. Wolf’s security claims were met with skepticism, and some mockery, by the president’s critics.
“This is just irrational in the sense that sanctuary policies in no way, shape or form affect D.H.S.’s ability to vet people for Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs,” John Sandweg, a head of ICE under the Obama administration, told CNN, warning that the move would “politicize the department in a way that’s going to undermine its mission moving forward.”
New York officials expressed outrage. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an outspoken Trump antagonist, described it as “extortion.”
On Thursday, New York’s attorney general, Leticia James, issued a blistering statement. “Despite President Trump’s attempt to punish New Yorkers for passing its own laws and standing up to his xenophobic policies, New York will not back down,” she declared, vowing to defend New York laws against the president’s vindictive actions. “New Yorkers will not be targeted or bullied by an authoritarian thug,” Ms. James said.
The administration’s decision will immediately affect an estimated 80,000 travelers whose applications were in process. By year’s end, as many as 200,000 people could be cut from the program as their memberships expire.
New York’s driver’s license law is far from unique. More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have similar measures on the books. There’s no word yet on whether the president also plans to move against those jurisdictions.
If he did, it would be in line with his well-established pattern of seeking to penalize jurisdictions that displease and defy him. In 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to withhold law enforcement funds from sanctuary cities. Last July, a federal appeals court upheld the Department of Justice’s decision to base community policing grants in part on cities’ cooperation with immigration authorities. In 2018, the Justice Department sued California over its “sanctuary state” laws.
This battle goes well beyond immigration. Among other efforts, in September, the Environmental Protection Agency moved to rescind a longstanding federal waiver allowing California to set its own auto emissions standards. That same week, the president ordered the agency to cite San Francisco for environmental violations caused by its homeless crisis. He also discussed with aides the possibility of sending in federal authorities to clear the homeless population from the streets of Los Angeles and herding them into government-backed facilities.
There can be little doubt that this latest move by the Department of Homeland Security was political. Mr. Wolf announced it on Fox News Wednesday, in an interview with Tucker Carlson, a vocal proponent of Mr. Trump’s harsh anti-immigration positions.
When it comes to political retribution, the president is a man of conviction.
Save our city: Why it’s so hard to run a small business in NYC
New York Post
On Sunday, we asked readers to share their “Save Our City” thoughts. The owner of the Douglaston Deli in Queens answered our call with an e-mail describing the real problems that hit business owners like him hard.
“The state and city governments have totally failed us, whether it’s the outrageously high minimum wage or the nonstop oversight from government agencies (that) like to impose new rules and regulations on what seems like a daily basis,” Matthew Walters writes.
Jessica Walker, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, has one idea for a solution: require City Council legislation to include economic-impact statements, revealing a proposed new law’s cost to the businesses it hits. Asking small-business owners how they’ll be affected would be a good practice, too.
Deli owner Walters cites the bureaucratic hell owners face to get licenses from the city, its high taxes and a recent spike in “shoplifting” — thanks, perhaps, to bail reform.
“Every year, we have to pay $280 for our food license. Every three years, we pay $360 for our liquor license,” he writes. And it’s getting worse: A new fee, for the city to manage paid family leave, “costs us almost $500 a year as it is based on employees. The more employees you have, the more you pay. Another job-killing mandate.”
Oh, and after the $15 minimum wage took effect, all his vendors wrote to say they were raising their prices to cover the extra labor costs.
He also warns against renewing licenses by mail: “The last time we renewed our food license, I sent the renewal through the mail with the check and all the paperwork. They said they never got it. We ended up getting a fine and had to do it in person.”
That fine alone, “including a 2 percent fee they charge when using a debit card online,” was $115. And that same day, “we got hit with a sanitation fine for putting our garbage out too early,” for about $125.
Rubbing salt in the wound: “Instead of a warning they just slapped a fine on our door. Didn’t even bother walking it into the store to tell us.”
A de Blasio administration report notes the importance of small businesses: “Of the approximately 220,000 businesses located in the city, 98 percent are small (fewer than 100 employees), and 89 percent are very small (fewer than 20 employees).” These businesses employ “nearly half” of Gotham’s workforce, and they tend to grow far faster than larger ones.
“Given the importance of small businesses to our economy,” the report notes, it’s “critical” to “create an environment where it is easy for small businesses to open, operate and grow.” Walters would surely agree — and beg Team de Blasio to heed its own words.
Dealing with city bureaucrats is near-impossible, adds Walters: “It’s very difficult to get straight answers.” The city is constantly changing its rules, and it requires new licenses and other documents periodically. Completing much of the paperwork, he said, is “harder than trying to get a mortgage.” Fixing a recent problem with his liquor license cost a whole day at the agency, and “God forbid you forget a document and have to make a return trip!”
As for the minimum wage, he notes that if you add up all the time he and his partner put in, they themselves probably don’t make $15 an hour — but now they must pay a 20-year-old student that much, though he lives with parents who pay most of his expenses.
That wage hike, by the way, has led the deli to slice workers’ hours — which the owners make up by putting in more time themselves.
Tom Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, suggests lawmakers themselves be forced to spend time working at small businesses before taking office to get a sense of what owners face.
Matthew Walters insists that, no matter what the city does, “us small mom-and-pop business owners will continue serving you with a smile.”
But if Mayor de Blasio is really concerned with “fairness,” adds Grech, the least he can do is talk to the owners.
Hopefully The Other States Can Learn From The Process In Iowa
Patience, urged Republican Party officials in Iowa earlier this week. Give the Democrats time to ensure results of political party caucuses on nominees for president are reported accurately.
Give GOP officials credit for adopting a “there but for the grace of God go I” policy. But mistakes made by the Iowa Democratic Party leadership are a virtual how-not-to-do regarding important processes in politics.
For many years, Iowans have held the distinction of being a bellwether state in presidential election years. Their town-meeting style caucus system of naming favorites for both the Democrat and Republican presidential nominations is watched closely by many, as an indicator of how well candidates will do later in the year.
But after Iowans caucused on Monday, the rest of the nation waited, and waited, and waited some more for results involving Democratic candidates. State party officials were able to release only partial results by Tuesday night.
What went wrong? A new, high-tech system used to tally and report results of the caucuses simply did not work.
How was that possible? Was the system not provided by a reliable company, then tested and retested to ensure it functioned well?
Obviously not. In fact, Iowa Democrat leaders picked what The Associated Press termed “a little-known startup company” to supply the “app.” Then, the firm’s name was kept secret, as amazing as that may seem. It turns out the company is named Shadow Inc., and it includes some people who worked in previous Democratic presidential campaigns. Did political factors outweigh prudence in selecting the firm?
It was learned this week that the new technology was rushed to the point that many of the people who needed to use it at 1,678 precinct caucuses throughout Iowa were not trained adequately. Some reportedly decided not to use the “app.”
At a time when suspicion regarding the mechanics of selecting presidents is high, failure of the Iowa Democratic Party experiment does not bode well for increasing confidence. Hopefully, those involved in the process in other states will learn from Iowa. At least, they can reflect, the fiasco occurred early in the process.
Presidential primary schedule defies common sense
The Auburn Citizen
It's hard to describe what transpired in the Iowa Democratic primary caucuses last week as anything better than a disaster. From the technological and logistical results reporting debacle to the underwhelming turnout, it was a discouraging start to the presidential primary season.
Democrats will have to get their acts together as the next handful of primaries take place, but when the dust settles from this year's contentious presidential election, we hope the Iowa story gets a thorough examination. And we hope the result of that is a radical restructuring of how we choose major party presidential candidates in this country.
It seems that the primary justification for putting these two small states first for decades is tradition. It's likely that money plays an equal or bigger role. Both states have essentially built presidential primary industries within their borders, with political consultants and lobbyists setting up shop to take advantage of the extra attention candidates give these states.
But the goal of the presidential primary process should be to pick the candidate best qualified to be the nominee. It defies logic to put so much power into the hands of so few people to set the tone for the rest of the nation.
To get a sense of how small Iowa's caucuses are in terms of real democratic participation, compare turnouts of this year's presidential primary with the 2018 mid-term election right here in central New York.
After more than a year of intense national media attention from candidates and the media, roughly 208,000 Iowans took part in last weeks caucuses from both major parties. Two years earlier in New York's 24th Congressional District, about 260,000 cast ballots. That's 25% more people taking part in one upstate New York congressional election compared with an entire state's presidential primary.
With that said, we're not arguing that Iowa and other small states shouldn't have a loud voice in the primary process. But the volume they currently enjoy needs to be adjusted.
One suggestion that's been floated is to establish a series of regional primary dates. It would be sort of like having four or five "Super Tuesday" votes, and it would accomplish two things. First, we'd see candidates getting out to many more states in the months leading up to voting time. Second, it would produce broader results that better reflect the enormous level of demographic and political diversity that exists in the United States.
Traditions can be great. This one, though, needs to end.
More deadly than coronavirus
Adirondack Daily Enterprise
So … getting more worried by the day about the coronavirus epidemic center in China? As of Tuesday, officials were reporting more than 1,000 deaths among the approximately 43,000 patients with the disease on the Chinese mainland, plus more than 460 confirmed cases and two deaths in other countries.
Indeed, a few cases of panic have been reported. In one case, a man reportedly collapsed and died while bystanders, believing him to have been Chinese, refused to go to his aid. On some college campuses, Asian students are being shunned by others afraid of getting sick.
What if we were to tell you of an even worse outbreak — one the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says may have claimed as many as 10,000 American lives during the past several months?
What if we were to add that there is a very real chance you may come down with the disease, because about 26 million other people in this country have?
Pretty scary, eh?
We’re talking about common influenza.
CDC analysts say the flu kills as many as 36,000 Americans every year, on average — though it is important to note that some scientists question the agency’s statistics. They point out that the CDC number is for flu-related fatalities, some of which may be by pneumonia not resulting from flu.
Still, any way you look at it, common flu is a greater danger than the strain of coronavirus now in the news.
The difference, of course, is that there is no vaccine to guard against the new coronavirus strain. On the other hand, commonly available vaccines can provide at least some protection against the flu.
Still haven’t gotten that flu shot? You may want to get one.