Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sunday Afternoon Conversation With State Senator Daniel Squadron






A small group of  Brooklyn constituents gathered this past Sunday afternoon at Long Island College Hospital to take part in an open conversation with our State Senator Daniel Squadron.  Most residents were from Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, but Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, and the Columbia Waterfront were represented as well.
Senator Squadron, who was just elected for a second term, has planned such open conversations around his district in order to give people an opportunity to voice their concerns about legislature, reform in Albany and neighborhood issues. The senator obviously enjoyed the dialog and stated that it helps him to stay focused on what matters to his constituents. 
Senator Squadron started by giving a brief overview of his last two years in the Senate. He spoke about the budget crisis and the looming $9 Billion deficit, campaign finance reform, the political partisanship, as well as the cuts in subway and bus services by the MTA.  Answering questions about budget cuts,  Squadron is hoping that Andrew Cuomo, the governor elect, will take less of an across-the board approach than the previous administration. 
To increase revenues, Squadron would not be opposed to a sugar tax, which could potentially add as much as $1 billion to the state's coffers. "Sugar is not needed by anyone." he said.
From Albany, the conversation then turned to more community-based concerns. The first issue discussed was the proliferation of night life in brownstone Brooklyn and the lack of concern of the New York State Liquor Authority.  "The Liquor Authority is historically ineffective and corrupt" Squadron stated. But he is confident that the new chairman Dennis Rosen is serious about cleaning up the authority."
A Columbia Waterfront resident spoke about Resolution 414 , the 
implementation and enforcement of innovative environmental solutions for truck pollution related to the ports of New York and New Jersey. 

From residents of the Gowanus/ Carroll Gardens neighborhood came a request to ask the NY State Department Of Environmental Conservancy for a higher water quality classification for the Gowanus Canal, which would result in a more comprehensive level of water clean-up.
The last topic addressed was hydrofracking in New York State.  Hydrofracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water (with unknown chemicals) deep underground to shake loose capture natural gas, which is then piped away. State Senator Squadron was categorically opposed to hydrofracking in the New York State Watershed.

Open conversations with constituents should be a required by all of our electeds.  It fosters citizen engagement in politics and reminds our politicians that they have an obligation to fight for what matters to the residents in their districts.



Anonymous said...

I had other committments so I couldn't make this.

As the parent of two children in public schools one issue is of the most importance to me and that is the appointment of Cathie Black. Did Squadron discuss this at all? His silence has been deafening but I guess it is to be expected given his connections to the Bloomberg administration. Even if he could somehow rationalize the appointment it would be nice to at least no where he stands and why. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Joan Millman are both strongly opposed.
Wonder what all of those District 15 parents who zealously campaigned for him are thinking now.

Melissa Sarno said...

I couldn't help but laugh while looking at your third photo. Are people in our neighborhood really that angry!? ;-) I'm sure they were just interested and focused on what was being said but I found it interesting that everyone looks like they are in a terribly grave situation...

Katia said...

To Anon,
Someone mentioned the need for more middle schools and high schools in the district, which lead into a brief discussion about Cathie Black's appointment.
Squadron mentioned that he is in favor of mayoral control of the schools, but did say that we need to hear from Ms. Black herself to reach an informed decision about wether or not she is qualified to lead the Board of Ed.
Someone asked if we would consider hiring a businessperson to lead the NYC Fire Department...
Not a bad question at all.

Katia said...

Hi Melissa,
That is sooo funny. I just looked at the photo again and I know what you mean. Very serious, indeed.
Thanks for the chuckle.

Anonymous said...

The NY Liquor Authority corrupt? Really? Squadron is out of his element on that issue. They are certainly incompetent and understaffed, but significantly better than any Midwestern state. You want to see real liquor corruption, move to Chicago.

NY State employs approx 1/10th the number of agents as Texas with twice the number of licenses; and has fewer agents than New Mexico, with 30 times the number of licenses.

Spitzer tried to clean up big liquor and he got played like a fool. He gave Southern a huge leg up by falling for that phony candy coated violation crap. And he likely got his thank you letter in the newspaper from their competitors.

But it is ridiculous to assume that 20 or so individuals sitting in an office in Albany could possibly regulate the billions of dollars of booze that flow thru NY with the profits that booze gets in this state (it's an import hub for the nation).

Add up all the salesmen, warehouse workers, truck drivers, retail employees, restaurant employees, sommeliers, liquor execs, liquor producers, all trying to skirt the law or bring to its edges. It's 7,000 to 1. No matter how smart you are, it will never be perfect.

I've worked in liquor in six states--and even though there's plenty of rule breaking in NY--it is by far and away the least corrupt of any of them. Hands down, no contest.

I'm not saying the state deserves all the credit. It has become self regulating. You never know who's watching extra cases 'fall off the back of a truck,' who knows who, or who is going to work somewhere else next year for a different company.

The competition is working for the moment. And most of the shadiest deals are printed publicly in the BevMedia each month--liquor control's just too stupid to know how to read it.

Anonymous said...

Out of his element on liquor, what isn't he out of his element on? The only two items I can remember his involvement on in his first term was support of Bloomberg's 3rd term (an anger that it was not voted for when he was away during his honeymoon) and weakness on the Toll Bros. Gowanus pollution issue. Probably having a wife working for the Mayor made him weaker than he started.

Anonymous said...

looked like a big time drag.

i don't trust any of them.