To the editor:
(re: “Biaggi needs another look at her Albany priority list,” Jan. 10)
I was an active supporter of Alessandra Biaggi’s state senate campaign. I am excited to see what she and the newly minted Democratic majority in the senate will achieve.
I am not, however, a supporter who will be shy about criticizing Sen. Biaggi or any other elected official with whom I may have a substantive disagreement.
I also appreciate that The Riverdale Press has a record of intelligent critical engagement with all elected officials representing the Northwest Bronx, and look forward to its critical examination of Sen. Biaggi. Sadly, in its Jan. 10 editorial, The Press sharply departed from its strong record by publishing inaccurate information and giving voice to unfounded criticism based on those factual errors.
The editorial cherry-picked one of Biaggi’s plans for proposed legislative action over many others and incorrectly labeled it “her first announced bill.” The author ignored Biaggi’s earlier well-publicized announcement of her plan to introduce a package of six bills focused on combating sexual harassment. I read about the announcement of those six bills in various media on Dec. 20.
What The Press editorial labels “her first announced bill” was first reported by Ken Lovett in The Daily News on Jan. 7.
Which came first? A simple search would have answered the question.
It also must be noted that the bill that the editorial demeans as unworthy of being Biaggi’s “first thing coming out of the gate” is actually a bill that will be introduced by her colleague from the Hudson Valley, Sen. James Skoufis. It is his bill. Biaggi is a co-sponsor.
Around the same time her co-sponsorship of Skoufis’ bill was made public, it also was reported that Biaggi had signed on to co-sponsor the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act. Getting these two bills passed was a centerpiece of Biaggi’s campaign, and they remain among her top priorities.
I’ve also seen reports in the press and social media of her co-sponsorship of many other bills, including the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, and a package of electoral reform bills.
Setting aside the editorial’s inaccurate statements about the timing and type of sponsorships, even more wrongheaded is its dismissal of the value and importance of the Skoufis bill, which will ban the use of “independence” or “independent” in the name of a political party. In fact, passage of this bill will be a very worthy step toward much-needed electoral and ethics reform.
The Independence Party is a cancer on our body politic that thrives on confusing New Yorkers. A survey of “members” of the party demonstrated that 85 percent of the enrollees thought they were registered as voters unaffiliated with any political party, as true independents. Those enrollees were, instead, unwittingly signing on to a party that has historical ties to a bizarre cult, and uses its power to exact corrupt patronage favors in state government.
I applaud Sen. Biaggi for signing on as a co-sponsor of this important bill early in her legislative career as well as the others central to her campaign.
It is regrettable that The Press did not choose a more worthy topic for a critical examination of Biaggi’s “coming out of the gate.” For example, The Press could have chosen to examine her well-publicized focus on resurrecting the moribund Ethics and Internal Governance Committee. During nearly a decade of Independent Democratic Conference/Republican control of the state senate, with corruption rampant and senators headed to prison, the committee met only twice.
As the new chair of the committee, she had made the bold promises for creating an active committee committed to accountability and ethical behavior. It will be impossible to deliver on those promises without making enemies in Albany, including some members of her own Democratic conference.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The package of bills focused on sexual harassment were introduced by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, a Queens Democrat. Sen. Alessandra Biaggi has pledged to introduce companion bills in the senate, according to published reports.