Volume 79, Number 45 | April 14 - 20, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Local to national, gains are hard to come by right now

By Keen Berger

Local, national, world — progress? Well, two out of three. But local — where I am elected as leader — is worst. To be honest, the world isn’t great either.

That leaves the nation. We have some New York heroes: Kirsten Gillibrand was one of the first two senators to call for reconciliation. (Chuck Schumer joined within a week.) And Congressmember Jerrold Nadler led the fight to get a decent healthcare bill through the House. Other national victories, thanks to our New Yorkers: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and “abstinence only” are on their way out.

Even immigration might be reformed. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detained local leader Jean Montrevil on Dec. 30. (Could there be a quota for the year? Did they assume we’d be drunk on New Year’s Eve?) It was an injustice apparent to most of us, especially to Montrevil’s U.S.-born wife and children. His lawyer said it would be a miracle if he were not deported within 48 hours, but as The Villager (and The New York Times) reported, thousands of people demanded, “Bring Jean Home,” and he is back with us. One victory, millions more needed.

That is the only local victory I helped achieve.

I see overcrowded schools, a hospital on the brink, valuable public space given for parked cars, promised-but-not-delivered voting machines, issues around dog runs, trees and parks. My co-leader Brad Hoylman and I have not given up. At least we are not in Albany. Poor state Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Deborah Glick. They haven’t given up either.

There are two local bright spots. Before 1929, trains sometimes mowed down pedestrians on 10th Ave. Then an elevated track saved lives and transported freight until 1980. Developers wanted the High Line demolished but our neighbors saved it, opening it to the public last spring. I walk it often, admiring plants and bemused that people sit in that large space at W. 17th St. and watch the traffic below on 10th Ave. My other joy: spring flowers on almost every bit of Village dirt.

Berger is Democratic district co-leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A


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