Making Lemonade With Mayor Restucci

Former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin (Left), City of Sunnyside Mayor Jim Restucci (Center), Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (Right)

Old saying–if you’ve got lemons, make lemonade.

Sunnyside’s new mayor, Jim Restucci, has plenty of lemons; a city with exploding gang and crime problems.

But Restucci, an ambitious young politician, also has a tremendous chance to make lemonade by leading the charge to run the gangs out of town and lower crime rates.

There is no better way to jump-start a state-wide or even national political career than being a mayor who cleans up a mess.

Look no further than Sarah Palin who started as a small city mayor and ended up as a U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate in a span of 10 years. If she had failed to get her city in Alaska reorganized, she would be a footnote in local history, not a force in national politics.

In the big leagues, Rudy Giuliani rode the same horse.

Restucci could emerge from the present crisis as a “minor league Rudy Giuliani.” There are worse reputations.

There are nay sayers who would point out that Restucci was a member of the last city council. A council of which Bob McCord, a large Sunnyside landowner says: “They slept while the gangs took over the city.”

Many of us made mistakes that contributed to the crime wave. Example–at Parkland Mobile Park we got tired of rewiring our fences in an attempt to keep the gangs out. I told the maintenance man to let them transit the park. How did that work out?

A disaster to the extent that when it became clear we had to take back our neighborhood, the maintenance man was afraid to rewire for fear of retaliation.

The fences are now rewired, flood lit, covered by security cameras, and additional signage has been posted.

The lesson is, with criminals, you can not back down. You can not fight crime the easy way. There is no easy way.

Restucci as Mayor has more power than as a councilman. He gets to set the agenda. And fighting crime has to be at the top of the agenda.

The most critical decision the mayor and council will make is hiring a new city manager. If they hire a crime buster, Sunnyside is likely saved, and the sky is the limit for Jim Restucci’s political career.

There is some good news for the mayor if he chooses to launch a major attack on crime. First, a majority of council will likely support a tough crime policy, although there will be some foot draggers. Second, the city budget is in good shape and there is no financial reason not to spend whatever is necessary to clean up Sunnyside. Third, Sunnyside has a good police force, they are just short-staffed and replacements are slow in materializing.

To sum up, Restucci has most of the tools at hand to do the job. Hiring the right city manager is the missing piece. If crime goes down, Restucci will become a formidable political force.

Colin Powell’s Endorsement

What can I say about Colin Powell’s endorsement of “The One” that has not already been said?  Fans of “The One” were pleasantly surprised, and Republicans were shocked.  In the last couple of days we have heard talking heads on the news give their impressions, and also talkers on the radio giving their takes as well.  So why I am doing a blog entry on this?  Well, it’s personal to me, and it’s my blog, so I get to do what I want!  :)

When I was still in high school, the first Gulf War erupted in its full, what is now considered brief, fury.  Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait; Saudi Arabia was presumed to be his next target.  Much of the world’s supply of oil was up for grabs.  The oil-rich, militarily-weak, regimes of the Persian Gulf region could not defend themselves against the threat.  Action was needed to preserve stability.  The U.S. military was called upon to go into action.

Daily press briefings throughout the buildup occurred.  After hostilities between Allied Forces and Iraqis started, the briefings continued.  The chief commander in the field was Norman Schwarzkopf.  The chief commander back at the Pentagon was Colin Powell.  General Powell was on my TV quite a bit in those days.  I developed a healthy amount of respect for him, which continues to this day.  I read his book that was released after his retirement from the military.  I followed his career in the George W. Bush administration.  I watched him carry the water for a new invasion of Iraq.  I saw his briefing to the U.N. (now as Secretary of State).  I saw later, much of the information he presented was based on faulty intelligence.  My perception is that Colin Powell has not forgotten this incident either.  He wants to redeem himself for the sake of history.

From what tidbits I have heard here and there over the years as a consumer of news, it appears Colin Powell was quite upset about being used in this way to promote a war.  A war, which many believe, Powell never really agreed with; but nevertheless, while as a loyal cabinet member, had to act to support the administration to the best of his ability.  It is clear to all, that something caused friction between Powell and other members of the administration, because after two years as Secretary of State, he retired again.  This is one of the things that makes you go: hmmmm.

Powell has always been a moderate.  He favors affirmative action, is pro-choice, and has somewhat liberal views on sex education and distribution of condoms.  Religiously, he is an Episcopalian.  This is something he has in common with George H.W. Bush, under whom he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I mention this, because in his endorsement, Powell mentioned he was not comfortable with the prospect of more conservative justices being appointed to the Supreme Court.  If you are old enough to remember the elder Bush as President, you will also remember his appointment of David Souter to the Supreme Court.  David Souter is also an Episcopalian and not exactly a conservative on the bench.  George H.W. Bush also appointed Clarence Thomas (who attended an Episcopal church at the time; but later went back to the Roman Catholic Church he grew up in).  However, the overall balance of conservative vs. liberal justices was not significantly altered during that administration.

It has been rumored that G.H.W. Bush has been extremely disappointed in his son’s prosecution of the war in Iraq.  This rumor has credence, because the elder Bush ceased all hostilities once our forces had pushed Iraq out of Kuwait.  He did not want to invade Iraq, and even had our forces withdraw from Iraqi territory they had seized as they pushed north through Kuwait.  Contrast this attitude with the current administration, which is trying to wage wars on two fronts, simultaneously, with a vastly smaller military.  It is my belief, that Powell still holds a grudge about being overruled on the decision to go into Iraq.

During the campaign, two lead candidates emerged.  John McCain, who Colin Powell has known for many years, and “The One”.  John McCain was raised Episcopalian, and remained in that church for many years.  He, like Powell, has had a reputation as a moderate in the Republican Party.  However, in recent years, the Episcopal Church has careened off the road, taking a hard left towards a long political cliff no candidate for President could survive.  Perhaps because of this, McCain, as we have only learned in the last year, is now Baptist.  To help shore up his base, McCain picked Sarah Palin as his V.P.  She is from the right wing evangelical part of the Republican Party.  This apparently, is a wedge driving Powell apart from McCain.  He expressed criticism of the choice of Palin.  Powell has long had a dislike for evangelicals, and I think this has created some discomfort on his part with the Republican Party.  Which brings me back again, to the war in Iraq.  Some of the biggest supporters of the war are evangelical Republicans, who believe our combat troops’ mission is part of God’s Plan.  For those that believe that, no logic or reason can be applied to change their minds on the issue.  They have their minds quite made up, thank you very much.  McCain’s biggest issue where he has differentiated himself from “The One”, is on the war in Iraq.  The McCain/Palin ticket is very much in the same place as the right wing evangelical partisans on this.

Powell, is also a very shrewd man.  He wants to redeem himself, and McCain is behind in the polls with less than a month to go before the election.  “The One”, like McCain, rejected his church for taking a hard left turn off the road (although his church followed black liberation theology, instead of a more general liberal theology that grips the Episcopal church).  However, in the last year, “The One” has not made any announcement of what, if any church, he attends.  He only came to be religious while working with African-American churches as a community organizer.  He has tried to distance himself from religious extremism since getting his party’s nomination.  In terms of spirituality, “The One” is now more moderate than McCain.

It needs to be mentioned, although he denies it, I do believe that race is at least a factor in Powell’s endorsement.

Politically, religiously, spiritually, he sees himself as disconnected from the Republican Party.  He believes that McCain is no longer moderate enough.  He probably has come to resent Palin’s conservative evangelical background, which he most likely associates with those beating the war drum loudest in the current administration.  “The One” has taken a lead in the polls, and Powell believes he will govern in a more moderate fashion, which is more comfortable to him, given his views.  Also, if he is to redeem himself, he needs to do something to get the next President to call on him for his service again.  By choosing to endorse the candidate he sees as the eventual winner, he may just get the chance.

To see the article and video of the endorsement, go Here

She’s Ronald Reagan in a Dress!

She’s Ronald Reagan in a dress!  That’s what one person said about Sarah Palin after watching her speech last night.  Listening to the Judge from Fox News be very critical of Governor Palin, I expected him to say something negative about her speech this morning.  However, when I turned on my Sirius radio, he stated that “She hit the Home Run of home runs with her speech!”

In case you missed it, or want to watch it again, watch it here: