You’d think that with last September’s unprecedented terrorist attack on New York City, which killed thousands, flattened the economy and spread fear throughout the country, the Bush administration would not choose this moment to cut back on funding for the New York Police Department. Nevertheless, that is just what the White House proposes to do, in the form of cuts to a federal program called Community Oriented Policing Services, which helps local police departments hire new officers. If the administration has its way, New York could be prevented from adding 2,000 new cops over the next six years. At a time when the President is grabbing headlines with a flashy new $37 billion Department of Homeland Security, it is ironic-and more than a little troubling-that he sees nothing amiss in stripping the country’s most threatened city of its first line of defense against terror.
For who else but the men and women of the NYPD can New Yorkers truly depend on to thwart terrorist activity? The news has been filled with revelations of how bureaucrats at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation bungled information which, if properly handled, could have perhaps prevented the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Under the guidance of Rudolph Giuliani and now Michael Bloomberg, New York’s police force has stunned the world by bringing crime down to levels not seen since the 1960’s, and bringing a sense of safety and order to the streets. As perhaps the world’s No. 1 target for terrorists, New York cannot afford to lose even one police officer-never mind 2,000. When the Bush administration issues a terror alert for the Brooklyn Bridge or Statue of Liberty, New Yorkers rely on the NYPD to investigate and take appropriate measures.
As the city continues to recover from last September, it’s also essential that crime be kept low. Safe streets mean residents will stay put, college graduates will move in, and tourists will come visit. America has an interest in seeing New York prosper economically; the resilience of New Yorkers has shown the world that America cannot be easily dispirited or defeated.
For George Bush and his administration to even consider reducing the city’s Police Department is outrageous, offensive-and indeed, unpatriotic.
Puerto Rican Day Parade: An East Side Trashathon
Garbage thrown into the street and sidewalks, grown men urinating against apartment buildings, arrests for sexual abuse and disorderly conduct-such was the scene last Sunday at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which has become an annual trashathon of the Upper East Side and an embarrassment to the city. What should be an occasion for pride offers instead a spectacle of bad manners and lawless disregard for the area through which the parade passes. By noon, Fifth Avenue and Central Park -two of New York’s showcase attractions-resembled a garbage heap. Each year it’s clear that parade-goers regard the route as a fine place to throw one’s trash, and not as a family neighborhood.
The damage done to the East Side is compounded by the damage done to the city’s image. Two years ago, the parade achieved international notoriety when 50 women were sexually assaulted by a gang of men, much of it captured on videotape that was played on television news programs around the world. It is hard to imagine that any other major city, after such a revolting display of public criminality, would allow the parade to continue the following year. But New York, hostage to a politically correct climate, did so last year-albeit with 6,000 police officers lining the route. This year again, a small army in blue kept watch -at considerable taxpayer expense-and the 52 summonses issued last Sunday, including three for sexual abuse, represent a small fraction of the number which could have been issued, had many cops not chosen to allow disorderly conduct to go unpunished. City officials, wary of causing a stir, continue to be complicit in denying the degree to which the parade’s true purpose-to honor the heritage and achievements of New York’s citizens of Puerto Rican descent-is annually overshadowed by the trashing of a large slice of Manhattan.
There is no reason why the parade cannot be both safe and respectful of the neighborhood near the parade. Surely a parade that reflects the dignity of the majority of the parade-goers can be achieved. Otherwise the parade should be canceled, or relocated to an area where it would reinforce the existing community and benefit local businesses.
The Black Course
The U.S. Open is being played this week at a course many New Yorkers know and love, in a masochistic kind of way. The famous bunker-laden Black Course at Bethpage State Park is playing host to the best golfers in the world-most of whom have never laid eyes on the course.
That’s because Bethpage is a public facility. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Duval and all the others are used to playing in more rarefied settings, particularly when a major title is at stake. When you think of major golf tournaments in the New York area, you think of courses like Winged Foot in Westchester County, Shinnecock on Long Island and Baltustrol in the wilds of New Jersey. They are among the most famous-and most elite-private clubs in the nation, and they are part of pro golf’s major-tournament circuit.
Humble Bethpage, where anybody can play the Black Course for $31 during the week or $39 on weekends, very likely will show the golfing elite that a public course can offer a world-class challenge. With its elevated greens and great, sandy craters, Bethpage figures to test the patience and skills of Mr. Woods & Co.
Congratulations are in order for David Fay, the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association, who had the radical idea of bringing the Open to a public course, and to Governor George Pataki and his parks commissioner, Bernadette Castro, who seized the opportunity and made sure that the state got out of the way as the USGA poured money into improvements.
You might not want to play the Super Bowl in Central Park, or the U.S. Open Tennis Championship at Forest Hills High School. But Bethpage Black will show the golf world that you truly can play a major title on a public facility.