Polanco Politics: Year-end Review

JC_Polanco-Screenshot_2015-12-29-10-36-05-1Polanco Politics: Year-end Review

by Juan Carlos Polanco, Esq., MBA

What an epic year in the political world.

Two of the three most powerful men in New York were convicted on several corruption charges and thrown out of Albany. And our very own Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie was elevated to lead the State Assembly making him one of the most powerful men in NY and first African American to hold the coveted and influential Speaker post.

Borough President Ruben Diaz drew a line in the sand on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan thus catapulting himself as a leading contender to potentially challenge Mayor de Blasio or solidifying at 2021 run. Bronx unemployment has been cut in half since Diaz became Borough President and development in the borough is at all-time high. Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars pouring into our borough make the borough president a formidable citywide figure.

One can only imagine what it will mean for us in the Bronx to have the Speaker of the Assembly, the leader of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Committee and the Mayor of NYC hailing from our once benighted borough. 

Mayor de Blasio continues to be a major disappointment. Seems like whenever he’s on time and decides to work on an issue it becomes a major crisis — and failure. Fortunately, at times, his failures are positives. For example, his attempt to help the Democrats win back the state senate. This may have been a failure for Bill but it was a win for New York. The last thing New York needs is a one party controlling the entire NYS government.

The municipal ID card program I argued against earlier this year is a failure and has been rejected by major city banks. Without a fully reliable background check like the one offered by Homeland Security, City-issued ID for undocumented persons is irresponsible and dangerous.

All five Borough Presidents have rejected the Mayor’s cornerstone housing rezoning plan and crime continues to soar in public housing developments.  Homelessness, now at historic levels, is a complete crisis. The mayor has been aloof while the city officials he placed in charge of dealing with homelessness have left his administration.

The Black Lives Matter and Justice League movements, formed after the killing of unarmed black people by police officers, has gained momentum and support nationwide from all demographics.  Unfortunately, murders in minority communities across the city are increasing and as elected officials demanded a thousand new cops to deal with thug violence spearheaded by criminal gangs.  Thugs also killed four police officers in the line of duty further exacerbating race, police and community relations. The Mayor’s performance — or lack thereof — in response  showed that he was in over his head.

Nationally, we have seen the Republican Party held hostage by the Know Nothing candidacy and campaign by Donald Trump. Trump has led state and national polls for most of the year and appears to be a juggernaut. Troublesomely, Trump has executed a divisive, hateful, xenophobic campaign that I fear will destroy the Republican Party nationally and drive us further into oblivion in New York City. The GOP’s leading candidate is pushing away potential voters and party members, including Latinos, Muslims, veterans, and women with his over-the-top rhetoric.

Lastly, our Puerto Rican family on La Isla del Encanto faces a major financial crisis. The $72 billion debt is a result of greed and fiscal mismanagement by island officials as well as an inept congressional delegation that fell asleep at the wheel. Decades of colonial exploitation, enormously expensive energy, federal minimum wage laws, and the loss of investment incentives have combined to a crisis that could destroy the Puerto Rican economy.

Interestingly, the same group of elected and appointed officials tasked with convincing Senate and House Republicans that Puerto Rico should receive bankruptcy protection and other restructuring assistance are the same ones who heaped praise on Puerto Rican terrorist, Oscar Lopez Rivera. They went from wearing a t-shirt praising the terrorist at the Puerto Rican Day parade and demanding his release from federal lockup to petitioning the very American government opposed by Lopez Rivera for help. Not exactly the right messengers to make the case.

A complete repudiation of Lopez Rivera along with his apology for killing Americans and disavowing of FALN would go a long way. The economic survival of Puerto Rico is ours to ensure. Perhaps, we will see a plan in the New Year that works for the benefit of Puerto Rico.

See you next year.

J.C. Polanco, Esq., MBA, teaches History, Latino Studies, Economic Development of the Dominican Republic and Caribbean at the City University of New York. Polanco is the NYC Director for the NY Assembly GOP, Republican contributor for Univision NY, appears regularly on NY1 Inside City Hall, Pura Politica and BronxNet.

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