George Washington took the presidential oath of office in Lower Manhattan in 1789, but he didn’t spend much time here; the country’s nascent government soon moved to Philadelphia. Maybe if he had stuck around longer, people in this city would have taken closer to heart his later warning against foreign entanglements.
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.
We’ve had a bunch of them lately involving prominent New Yorkers, though they are not exactly what Washington had in mind.
For starters, there is Jay H. Walder, subway-and-bus pro and chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. A mere two years into his six-year contract, he announced out of the blue that he would take his talents to Hong Kong.
There, he will run a system of subways and commuter lines that is a lot shinier than ours. He will also earn sacks of money (though his present $350,000-a-year salary, perks not included, is hardly shabby). As entanglements go, Hong Kong is not bad. It’s an exciting city.
From the moment he took over the transportation authority in 2009, Mr. Walder was dealt a wretched fiscal hand. He played those cards as well as could be expected, and his departure is a loss.
That said, New Yorkers have every reason to feel left in the lurch. A search for a new transit chief must begin pretty much from scratch. Who knows what we will wind up with? While some past authority chairmen were transit professionals, others were merely cronies of the governors who appointed them.
On Wednesday, Mr. Walder and his team announced their financial plan for next year. Things are looking more or less O.K., they said, but they kept their fingers crossed. The chairman cautioned that the proposals represented “a fragile stability for the organization.” He might also have used “fragile stability” for the situation he himself has created by taking the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby road to Hong Kong.
Foreign entanglements and former Mayor Edward I. Koch often go hand in hand, especially when it comes to Israel. Mr. Koch doesn’t like President Obama’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not one bit. To register his disapproval, he injected himself the other day into the special election for the Queens-Brooklyn Congressional seat that Anthony D. Weiner forfeited.
Though nominally a Democrat, Mr. Koch endorsed the Republican candidate, Bob Turner. Make that, he endorsed yet another Republican. It’s become a habit with him.
By electing Mr. Turner over the Democrat, David I. Weprin, voters in that district would somehow “send a message” to Mr. Obama that they are most unhappy with him over Israel. So ran the former mayor’s logic.
Any talk of sending a message reminds me of Samuel Goldwyn and his scorn for screenwriters who larded their scripts with social significance: “If you want to send a message,” he said, “send it by Western Union.” That, of course, was long before Western Union ended its telegram operation in 2006.
Mr. Koch coupled his support of Mr. Turner with a denunciation of Republican leaders in Washington as “scoundrels” in the struggle over the federal debt ceiling. Let’s see: Vote for a guy whose election will do right by a foreign country even though it will strengthen those who you say are hurting this country. Hmm.
We’ll end with the foreign entanglements of Marty Markowitz, the voluble borough president of Brooklyn.
The other day, he was fined a nosebleed-inducing $20,000 by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board. His wife, Jamie Markowitz, had flown free with him on trips to Turkey and the Netherlands, including a 2009 journey to develop Brooklyn’s relations with a Turkish city, Izmir. No good, the board said. The freebies for the wife amounted to an ethical violation.
The borough president fumed — did we mention he was voluble? — and called the decision unjust. But he said he would pay the fine.
Mr. Markowitz routinely sprinkles his sentences with Yiddishisms familiar to New Yorkers. Now he knows, though the lesson is rough, that the way to Izmir is vey iz mir — woe is me.
For more local news from The Times, including what appears to be favoritism at play in a bid to run an immigration prison in New Jersey, a federal judge may allow family members of 9/11 victims to sue United Airlines for “terror damages,” and Nafissatou Diallo’s lawyer said that taped conversations prove his client never considered extorting money from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, see the N.Y./Region Section.
Here’s what City Room is reading in other papers and blogs this morning.
Nine police officers have been subpoenaed, possibly for a federal grand jury investigation of leaks of vital information about a failed plot to bomb the subway system. [Daily News]
Divorce filings are up 12 percent since New York State adopted no-fault separations last October. [New York Post]
Raymond W. Kelly, who is both the police commissioner and a potential candidate for mayor, revealed that 46 police officers had died of cancer that he thinks is linked to their service on 9/11 in response to a report that denied a connection between the disease and the event. [Wall Street Journal, Daily News]
The New York Police Department is still tossing internal documents into public trash cans in front of the Manhattan South Task Force station house near Times Square. [Animal New York] (Also see The Daily News.)
A Utica, N.Y., man wanted for domestic violence and harassment wrote, “Catch me if you can, I’m in Brooklyn,” on his Facebook page. Utica police officers complied. [Daily News]
A former Secret Service agent was arrested on charges that he tried to carry an illegal gun onto a flight leaving La Guardia Airport. [New York Post]
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development arrested three Flatbush landlords on charges that they failed to comply with court orders or appear in court. [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]
On the basis of DNA evidence, police officers in Florida arrested a man in the shooting of a vacationing New York police detective. [New York Post]
How to turn your apartment into a bed and breakfast, and why doing so may be unwise. [Brokelyn, Gawker]
A year after the city instituted a system of letter grades for restaurants, the vast majority received A’s. [Wall Street Journal]
A Long Island animal shelter is caring for a swan that was shot with an arrow and a turtle with a nail hammered into its shell. The authorities are looking for whoever is responsible. [Daily News]
An informal study by HopStop.com indicates that there may be more fans of the Yankees than the Mets living in Queens. [Daily News]
Many may well agree that Brooklyn/hipster trend stories have become predictable, dull, and pointless. [Gawker]
Two vacant Kings County Hospital Center buildings are going to be turned into moderately priced housing. [The Real Deal]