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Letters to the Editor

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Letter to the Editor: Bill Gaston on Congressman Eliot Engel PDF Print Email

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To the Editor:


May 16, 2018:  Last month, a gaudy flyer arrived in my mailbox from our Congressman, Eliot Engel, who is running for re-election this year, as he has every two years since he was first elected in 1988. In the flyer, Mr. Engel boasts of all the progressive legislation he has sponsored, on issues from health care and gun control to climate change and LGBT rights. On his busy laundry list of achievements, however, I noticed one curious omission:  foreign policy. 

Congressman Engel has carved out foreign policy as one of his areas of expertise, and he currently serves as the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Why would the Congressman leave out one of his signature areas of accomplishment? Facing a Democratic primary on June 26, does he think his constituents wouldn’t care? 

Prompted by that mailer, a troubling thought dawned on me: perhaps Congressman Engel doesn’t want his voters to know his record on foreign policy. Is that why he has kept them in the dark?  Keep in mind that if Democrats regain control of the House in 2018, Congressman Engel would likely become chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. What would that mean in terms of US foreign policy, especially as it affects the Middle East? With a combustible president like Donald Trump in the White House, surrounded by hawkish advisors, who really knows?

On Capitol Hill, however, Congressman Engel’s record is well known, and it is not one progressives should applaud. Over the course of 30 years, Engel has displayed an exuberant faith in the blessings of liberal interventionism. That doctrine--barely distinguishable from its failed cousin neoconservatism--has saddled us with costly and destructive misadventures in Iraq, endless belligerence when it comes to Iran, and reflexive support for Israel in its never-ending occupation of Palestinian lands, expansionist settlement policies, and human rights violations. 

Lest we forget, Congressman Engel supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002, widely considered the biggest foreign policy blunder of recent times. He also forcefully opposed President Obama’s 2015 JCPOA (the Iran deal), which president Trump rashly exited last week, to the consternation of our European allies, and which had successfully closed off all plausible paths to an Iranian nuclear weapon. On Syria, he has favored aggressive military action, even without Congressional authorization. On resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Congressman Engel pays lip service to a two-state solution. In practice, however, he has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for the hard-right agenda of AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.  IPAC opposed the JCPOA, supports settlements, and lobbies for billions of dollars annually from US taxpayers to strengthen Israel’s already enormous military-industrial advantage in the region. At a recent Bronxville Village meeting, the Congressman bragged to his constituents that he had attended the annual AIPAC meeting 31 years in a row. Is that something he should be proud of?

To return to my question, should voters care about Congressman Engel’s foreign policy track record? Should this potential chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee be held to account? Actually, Democratic Party voters in the 16th Congressional District may soon have a chance to answer those questions. In a month’s time, Congressman Engel will face a primary contest from two challengers--Derickson Lawrence from Mount Vernon and Jonathan Lewis from Scarsdale. While foreign policy concerns may take a back seat to taxes and health care in this upcoming primary, voters should not overlook Congressman Engel’s horrid foreign policy resume. It is a matter of public record, and immensely consequential.

Bill Gaston   


Editor's note:  MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.

 
Letter to the Editor: A. Corwin Frost on Upholding Spirit of Community PDF Print Email

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To the Editor:


May 9, 2018:  Mary Marvin's plea to “uphold the spirit of community that makes Bronxville special” deserves special notice and appreciation.

As a third-generation Bronxvillian (my grandfather Corwin moved here in 1917), Mayor Marvin's beautifully written piece captures what sets Bronxville apart. Following my family's tradition, I have spent the better part of 83 years in the community and have had the privilege of participating in countless boards and committees. 

Because of the caliber of other residents with whom I have served, it has always been both a pleasure and a valuable learning experience, marked by professionalism and solid values, and uncomplicated by partisanship.

I hope that others will continue in that tradition.

A. Corwin ("Corky") Frost
Former Chair of Bronxville Planning Board and Architectural Review Board


Editor's note:  MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.

 
Letter to the Editor: Rene Atayan on the Recent Village Election PDF Print Email

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To the Editor:


Apr. 11, 2018:  On March 20, an election took place that was remarkable in a number of ways. A judge’s seat was challenged for the first time in anyone’s historical memory, and turnout was historically high, as well. There has been much written over the last weeks, both attributable and anonymously. And as I personally have a policy of commenting with attribution, there are a few points that I’d like to publicly make. 

First, when I wrote in an email on Election Day afternoon that Indivisible Westchester was pouring thousands of dollars into the Bronxville judicial race, I believed it was true. Unprecedented and unexpected numbers of voters were streaming to the polls. Previously there had been chatter of Indivisible Westchester funding; prominent members of the group were active in the campaign, so I believed those were the reasons for the extraordinarily high voter turnout. If that was not the case, I certainly apologize. 

Second, Mr. Primps's family was suddenly put in a position of having to reluctantly, and unexpectedly, fund a campaign, which primarily consisted of printing palm cards. 

I requested donations for his campaign in the footer of limited emails--he did not ask me to do this. Campaign finance filings are due to the village in mid-April and will reflect expenditures and donations. They are expected to be quite modest and will be duly documented. 

The business of the village is such that a great deal is done on our behalf by village officials out of the spotlight. It takes great commitment, particularly as laws and regulations have become so complex. We have tried to keep a low profile and simply sought out and supported the individuals we feel can best serve our village. We do it without fanfare. 

Finally, because we are a small and tight-knit community, we would like to continue to be a place where people can come together to solve our problems, maintain the vibrancy of our community, AND agree to disagree in a civil fashion. This spirited past judicial election is a clarion call for all of us villagers to rededicate ourselves to those ideals. 

In the final analysis, we are all one Bronxville.

Rene Atayan

Editor's note:  Rene Atayan is chair of the Bronxville Republican Party.

Editor's note:  MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.

 
Letter to the Editor: Betsy Harding on Judicial Campaign Ethics PDF Print Email

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To the Editor:


Apr. 11, 2018:  Bronxville residents may be wondering why the village justice election held on March 20 is still causing so much controversy. Aside from the flaws in the mechanics of the election, the issues stem from an email sent by the Bronxville Republican chair to followers on the night of the election. This email violates rules governing judicial candidates and their campaigns that set a much higher standard of behavior than the rules for other candidates. Not only are the standards higher, the consequences of violating these rules are potentially much more severe.

The additional rules are set out in Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (22 NYCRR Part 100). Explanations and interpretations of these rules are contained in the Judicial Campaign Ethics Handbook, a 65-plus-page document issued by the New York State Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee. Anyone with patience can read the handbook online at https://www.nycourts.gov/reports/judicialcampaignethicshndbk.pdf. The rules are so exacting that all judicial candidates, other than those for village and town justice positions, are required to attend an education program on judicial campaign ethics.

The Republican chair's email has several problems. First, the email claimed that Indivisible Westchester "reportedly poured thousands into" Ms. Nordahl's campaign. While this might seem like a typical campaign falsehood designed to rev up "the base," in a judicial campaign it is a serious allegation particularly against a candidate who is self-funding and spending less than $1,000 on the campaign. The financial reporting requirements are different for such a candidate and accepting the alleged assistance, if it had happened, could lead to serious consequences.

Second, under the rules, judicial candidates and campaigns are not allowed to make false statements about opposing candidates. Campaign statements must be "consistent with the impartiality, integrity, independence and dignity of judicial office." To paraphrase the handbook, this means a judicial candidate and his campaign can't tell lies. The false statement in the email about participation in the election by Westchester Indivisible violates this rule.

Third, under the rules and for obvious reasons, judicial candidates whose campaigns accept contributions are not allowed to know who made the donations. These candidates must form a committee to receive the contributions, submit the required financial filings, and shield the candidate from any knowledge of who donated. The Republican chair's email asked that checks be made out to "Bill Primps for Village Justice" and mailed to Mr. Primps's home address. This is painfully wrong.

I am continuing to assume that Mr. Primps did not know about the email when it was sent out on his behalf. By now, he surely does know and can address the situation.

Betsy Harding

Editor's note:  Betsy Harding is chair of the Bronxville Democratic Party.

Editor's note:  MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.

 
Letter to the Editor: Ellen Blais of Greater Bronxville Indivisible on the Recent Village Election PDF Print Email

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To the Editor:


Apr. 11, 2018:  Just before the recent election for Bronxville village justice, the Bronxville Republican Party issued a statement to its members that read, in part, "Bill Primps is being severely challenged by Indivisible Westchester, who has reportedly poured thousands into what was supposed to be a village race."

Greater Bronxville Indivisible ("GBI"), would like to correct the record. Contrary to the Bronxville Republican Party's assertion, neither Indivisible Westchester nor any other Indivisible chapter played any role whatsoever in Bronxville’s recent village election. Indivisible Westchester, to which the Bronxville Republican Party’s statement referred, is based in Larchmont and is one of about 15 independent Indivisible chapters in Westchester County.

Although many Indivisible chapters are aligned with the Democratic party, Greater Bronxville Indivisible is not aligned with any party. Our goals are to promote civility and integrity in public discourse, to preserve civil liberties, and to pursue a progressive political agenda. In fact, many GBI members supported and voted for Bill Primps for village justice precisely because they believe that Bill embodies the values we seek to protect; others supported Natasha Nordahl for the same reason.

We wish Bill Primps the best of success in his newest leadership role in Bronxville. We also encourage voters to treat with healthy skepticism the unfounded and, in many cases, plainly false statements currently being proffered regarding the upcoming special election on April 24 and other elections.

Indivisible is a movement of more than 6,000 chapters across the country. Each Indivisible chapter is independent. We share in common a strong attachment to democratic values and a determination to protect those values through political action as outlined in the Indivisible Guide, an online pamphlet published soon after the 2016 election.

Ellen Blais 
Member, Steering Committee, Greater Bronxville Indivisible

Editor's note:  MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.

 
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