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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.


Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.


Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.


Koch’s Place In History

The late New York City Mayor Ed Koch (1924-2013) once said that if all of the taxpayer money intended for the poor got to the poor, “the poor would be rich.”

That observation about the high cost of government-funded service- providers has resonance to this day and, thanks to Koch, a documentary directed by first-time filmmaker and former Merrick resident Neil Barsky, a new generation of New Yorkers will get to see Mayor Koch in his prime.

The 95-minute film began its theatrical release in New York City on Friday, Feb. 1, the same day Mayor Koch died at the age of 88. It opened on Long Island on Friday, Feb. 8 at Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre and, on Friday, Feb. 15, Koch will hit the big screen at Roslyn Cinemas and Malverne Cinema 4.

One thing that got lost in the tributes to the former Congressman, who first won election to the mayoralty in 1977, was that Koch was 65 years old when he left office in December 1989. David Dinkins ousted Koch in that year’s Democratic primary, and Dinkins went on to win the general election in 1989 against Rudy Giuliani.

Despite his electoral defeat after serving three terms at City Hall, Koch remained a highly visible figure on the public stage, with his endorsements still carrying weight long after he left public office. The most recent example I can think of is when Ed Koch avidly backed Robert Turner, the Republican nominee, in the special 2011 Queens/Brooklyn Congressional election held after Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned. Turner won for many reasons but Koch’s endorsement was one of them.

Koch is primarily about the New York City of the late 1970s and 1980s, an era when the city’s finances and its streets were in a constant state of turmoil. Th e 1977 mayoral election could be a film unto itself. New York Governor Hugh Carey wanted neither incumbent Mayor Abe Beame nor Bella Abzug, seen initially as Beame’s main rival, to hold City Hall’s top job.

This is why Carey recruited Mario Cuomo, then-New York State’s Secretary of State, to run for mayor. Th en-Rep. Koch was considered in early 1977 as a long shot to become Mayor Koch, but he prevailed in the Democratic primary, and then again in a two-candidate run-off against Cuomo, before emerging victorious in the general election. While all of this was going on in 1977, Son of Sam was in the midst of his murderous rampage before being arrested in August 1977, and a city-wide power outage that summer lasted for days, with criminals taking advantage of the situation by looting the city’s retail stores.

The Koch administration is widely credited with shoring up the city’s finances and making some headway in combating crime, even though a 2013 audience is sure to be shocked at the raucousness of the city’s governmental and political scene as it views the archival footage which is sprinkled throughout Barsky’s documentary.

For viewers wanting to read a darker view of the Koch years, I strongly recommend City For Sale, co-authored by the late Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett. It chronicles in great detail the municipal scandals that enveloped City Hall in Mayor Koch’s third term. The hero of City For Sale was then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani, who successfully prosecuted the higher profile thieves who had access to the city’s treasury in the 1980s. In a fi tting twist, Koch and Barrett, one-time combatants, would eventually agree they had little use for Mayor Giuliani.