This column originally appeared in Brooklyn Paper on June 23, 2007
I’ve gotten to know the mind of the man (and gal) on the street in the Heights pretty well since I started publishing the Brooklyn Heights Blog almost a year ago. Our neighbors are smart, quick witted, proud and a little skeptical. Since I’ve been accused of having many of the same attributes, I’ve contemplated something that would have seemed preposterous when I lived in Manhattan — running for public office.
Before you start to get misty over my zeal for serving the public, let me make one thing perfectly clear about my motivation: I’m downright gobsmacked by the sheer wackiness of some of the folks representing us. Seems like every time I’ve pick up the paper recently at least one of our representatives is doing something odd. Heck, if they can do it why can’t I?
Now I’m sure that state Sen. Marty Connor is fine upstanding member of the community. He’s served us for two decades in Albany, which is admirable — if only for the fact that our state capital is an armpit of a town. But it’s a little weird that he was recently featured in the New York Times complaining about the lack of nightlife up there.
“There’s no ‘everybody place’ [to hang out] anymore,” he told the Times. Really? As one of the posters on my blog reminded the good senator: “There’s still one ‘everybody place.’ It’s called the state Senate Chamber.”
And did Connor really have to go to the mattresses over the vote to name a state vegetable, too?
According to a report in the Albany Times Union, Connor protested a motion by Sen. Michael Nozzolio (R–Seneca Falls) to make corn the “state vegetable.” Why did Connor object? Because, of course, corn is a grain, not a veggie! That led to a hissyfit by upstate teacher Linda Townsend, whose high school civics class came up with the corn recommendation.
But where was Marty when a bill was introduced in this year’s legislative session asking to let medical doctors care for “orangutans, gorillas, chimps and other great apes”? Perhaps he was out looking for a nightspot with Dr. Zaius?
Yes, there are serious issues to be dealt with in government to be sure, but isn’t it time for someone like us to be part of government again? I’d even promise that if elected, I’d only stay in office one term.
“No you won’t,” my pal Howie Greene told me. Howie, now a real-estate agent, worked in government back in the 1980s in the borough president’s office and as an aide in the state Senate. He warned me, “You’ll be so drunk with power, you won’t be able to give it up. I’ve seen it too many times.”
Then he gave me a lecture about the long that hours officials put in and all the constituents they need to talk to everyday just to keep our democracy going. And then I wasn’t so smug anymore. Just when I was discounting my political ambitions, Howie added one more thing that changed my mind again: “By the way,” he said, “you could totally win.”