Editorials from around New York

July 5, 2018

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:


The Albany Times Union on the U.S. border crisis.

July 5

America turns today, as it does every year on July 5, from celebrating our inalienable rights to the less glamorous work of safeguarding them.

Those rights — among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — are very much threatened on America’s side of the U.S.-Mexico border today. Not by illegal immigrants, crime gangs and other boogeymen President Donald Trump and anti-immigrant factions have used to scare citizens into supporting Mr. Trump’s costly vanity wall. They’re threatened by a government that is seeking to subvert and suspend them under the guise of national security and the efficiency that comes from not having to deal with such inconveniences as the rule of law and due process.

Yes, even noncitizens entering this country, legally or illegally, have rights, a fact Mr. Trump surely must know but chooses to ignore. And in his flailing for a simple solution to the admittedly complex issue of illegal immigration, he has only made the mess worse.

First came a zero-tolerance policy on illegal border crossings, resulting in the arrests and detention of even people seeking asylum and the separation of children from their parents. Facing a national backlash, Mr. Trump backed down somewhat, ordering the separation of families stopped. But his zero-tolerance policy remains, leaving the challenge of what to do with all the people the government is arresting.

Mr. Trump, who apparently fancies himself a big-ideas executive who can’t be bothered with the complexities of governing a nation, hit upon one of his typically “simple” solutions — skip the courts, forget due process, and just send people back. And just last week, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency decided to no longer bring detained immigrants from jail to court for hearings, but handle cases by video.

The answer to this country’s illegal immigration problem is not to ignore the laws that help keep us a free nation — that not just punish criminals but restrain government from treating people the very way Mr. Trump seeks to. Nor is the answer to keep politicizing this issue with the false and incendiary claim that Democrats favor open borders and gang violence.

The solution is for Congress to do its job — to address immigration, legal and illegal, in a comprehensive way, from increasing border security to charting a path to citizenship for the many illegal immigrants who have lived honest, productive lives here to reforming visa rules and even to looking at what America can do to help stabilize the parts of the world from which people are fleeing.

The solution, too, lies in bipartisan compromise — not the false compromise House Republicans couldn’t even achieve among themselves, but one that has Republicans and Democrats solve this issue in spite of a far-right GOP wing and a president whose only interest seems to be in continuing to stoke the anti-immigrant flames for political gain.

The answer, in short, lies in living up to America’s ideals, every day of the year. That’s not simple. It’s hard work. But it’s what freedom really looks like.

Online: https://bit.ly/2zd2i9T


The Auburn Citizen on the Cayuga Nation land trust plan.

July 5

Much is unknown about the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York’s recently renewed application to have local properties taken into federal trust. Aside from a couple of perfunctory letters from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs telling Cayuga and Seneca county officials that the process is moving forward, new information is scarce.

We scoured the BIA’s website and found no recent details. The agency delayed returning multiple phone calls or emails from The Citizen seeking answers on why this application was suddenly resurrected after several years of being dormant. When we finally did hear back, they had no new information to provide except to say the application was being processed. There’s no information coming out about what’s next and how soon a decision could be made, either.

What we can find, though, is the official BIA website created a decade ago to keep the public informed on the land-into-trust review process. Check it out at www.cayuganationtrust.net, where you’ll see that the most recent update was made Oct. 12, 2010.

And that brings us to the biggest reason why the BIA must not approve this application in its current form, whatever that form may be. It’s based on a review process and a final environmental impact statement that’s severely outdated and, in some respects, now blatantly inaccurate.

Here’s just a few of examples of what’s not in the documentation that the BIA appears to still be using:

. The village of Seneca Falls no longer exists. It was officially dissolved in the time that has elapsed since the BIA final review document was issued.

. A linchpin of the Cayuga Nation operation, it’s gambling business, now faces significantly more competition. New casinos, including Seneca County’s del Lago just a few miles away, have opened under the state’s gambling expansion program.

. The Cayuga Nation is planning to establish a police force that could arrest native Americans and send them to a jail in Pennsylvania. There was no mention of this development in the original application.

The Cayuga Nation has taken another step in establishing its own judicial system, as federal representative Clint Halftown and his council hav.

This truly should be an easy decision, but given the BIA’s history, no one should trust the agency will do the right thing. That right thing would be to reject this application.

An approval at this point would create a damaged tax base — especially in Springport and Union Springs — a business playing field that would be officially made even more unfair, and a confusing public safety and law enforcement landscape.

We urge our federal representatives, who have already tried to buy more time with limited success, to quickly and unequivocally make public demands that the BIA reject the Cayugas’ application. ...

Online: https://bit.ly/2NxbhWG


Newsday on the damaging effects of seawalls along Long Island’s shores.

Long Islanders have a romance with their coast. For many of us, it’s why we live here.

We enjoy quiet walks on the beach. We watch our children frolic in the surf. We cast from shore for stripers and blues. We revel in the solitude of early mornings, the escapism of lazy afternoons and the magical sunsets as evening descends.

It’s been a wonderful relationship.

But our coastal policies cannot be romantic. Not if we want to protect the coast we love. Not after the damage we’ve seen inflicted by storms. Not with the threat we know is posed by constantly rising seas.

In protecting our coastline, and ourselves, we must be clear-eyed in our vision, rigorous in our analysis, and in thrall to facts, not feelings. That’s not easy, but it is necessary.

The region has been wrestling with this problem more overtly since superstorm Sandy’s ravages in 2012. And we continue to refuse to learn. We’ve built too close to the water’s edge. We refuse to admit that nature always wins this battle in the end and that waging war in one place can lead to damage somewhere else.

The latest case in point is efforts by homeowners in Nissequogue Village to build seawalls at the base of the bluffs below their homes on Long Island Sound. But it’s not only them. Seawalls, bulkheads, revetments and groins made of rock, concrete, timber and huge sandbags have been cropping up all over Long Island, from the North Fork to North Haven to Nissequogue, where roughly a dozen oceanfront properties are armored.

This is madness.

In trying to fix the coastline in one place, these structures do tremendous damage. Natural coastlines absorb the energy of waves, especially storm waves that deposit sand farther inland and strengthen natural barriers. But waves reflect off seawalls, accelerating erosion in front of the structure — as in March, when nor’easters exposed the sand-bag “dune” protecting downtown Montauk. The loss of beach is troubling. It limits the spit of beach the public is entitled to access on the water side of the mean high-water mark. It also destroys habitat for horseshoe crabs and shorebirds. And by interrupting the natural flow of sand along the coast, hard structures also erode beaches to the sides. That’s a problem in Nissequogue, where a barrier beach to the east that protects Stony Brook Harbor is losing sand because of seawalls and bulkheads built by homeowners.

Federal and state law dating decades is clear on this. “Natural protective feature areas” — the term for the vast majority of Long Island’s coast — must be preserved and strengthened. Development in many of these areas is supposed to be prohibited. It is never supposed to increase hazards elsewhere. And when homes are threatened, the first option is to move them out of harm’s way. In other words, retreat. That’s what enlightened leaders in East Hampton Town are exploring now to ensure Montauk’s survival. It’s what state officials and elected leaders in towns and villages across Long Island need to do, too.

Online: https://nwsdy.li/2u8w8q7


The New York Times on Mexico’s incoming president.

One hopes that Mexico’s elimination by Brazil from the World Cup soccer tournament on the day after he was elected president will not prove to be a bad omen for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist who rode a wave of popular outrage over Mexico’s corruption and violence to a landslide victory. But the prospects of a populist who makes as many promises as AMLO, as the president-elect is commonly known, are even harder to predict than a tournament as filled with surprises as this World Cup.

Why he won is not the mystery. Killings are at record levels, corruption scandals are ceaseless and nearly half the population lives in poverty. Like populists elsewhere around the world (and also north of Mexico’s border), Mr. López Obrador promised a break with the past. So voters not only denied the presidency to the two mainstream parties that have dominated Mexican politics for two decades, they also gave Mr. López Obrador a likely majority in Parliament.

That means Mr. López Obrador, the 64-year-old former mayor of Mexico City, has considerable leverage from the outset. But to do what? Here is where things become more complicated. “Only I can fix corruption,” Mr. López Obrador declared in his campaign, but he offered few details. He promised a broad range of social programs, including a public-works program to employ 2.3 million young people and higher pensions for the old, but at the same time he has insisted he will not raise taxes, proposing to fund the programs with billions of pesos to be saved by cutting corruption and waste. Perhaps.

Equally unclear is how Mr. López Obrador intends to curb Mexico’s endemic violence. A decade ago, the government deployed the military against the powerful drug cartels, yet more homicides were reported in May than in any single month since the government began the current record-keeping system two decades ago, and 2017 was the deadliest year.

Then there’s the mystery of Mr. López Obrador himself, a complex politician who defies stereotypes. He can be leftist ideologue and pragmatist, populist and fiscal conservative; he shares a leftist aversion to the North American Free Trade Agreement but has pledged to continue the current government’s negotiations.

One major test of his approach will be his handling of oil exploration. He has said he will review contracts awarded to international companies and to respect those that are clean. But then the question is whether he would hand the rights back to the state-run oil company, Pemex, which has a long history of corruption and inefficiency.

Conservatives in the United States have raised alarms about a radical leftist in the mold of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez who will send swarms of migrants across the border. Mr. López Obrador’s pledges to upend the status quo have also led to inevitable comparisons to President Trump — with whom the Mexican shares a thin skin and irritation at critical news media. Yet unlike Mr. Chávez and Mr. Trump, the president-elect is a lifelong politician with firm faith in democracy and demonstrated pragmatism in his five years as Mexico City’s mayor. And Mexico is not the oil-rich petrostate Venezuela was.

One thing is certain: Mexico’s relations with the United States will not improve. Mr. Trump is despised in Mexico for all the obvious reasons, and though Mr. López Obrador said he would seek “respectful and cooperative” relations with the United States, he is keenly aware that his predecessor’s efforts to forge positive relations with Mr. Trump ended in his humiliation. And though Mr. Trump tweeted congratulations and followed up with a phone call to Mr. López Obrador on his victory, Mr. Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway promptly supplied the blather about building a wall and having Mexico pay for it.

If there is a danger for the United States in Mr. López Obrador’s election, it is not that he will move his country radically leftward, but that he will fail to meet the high expectations he has raised. His predecessors promised many of the same things he has but ended up managing crises, not ending them. The predecessors, however, were from established parties; to their promises, Mr. López Obrador has appended the populist promise of profound transformation.

If the Trump administration chooses to make life difficult for him, it will only deepen Mexico’s problems and increase the power of the drug cartels and the despair driving people to head north. It is in Mexico’s best interest, and therefore in America’s, that the new president succeed.

Online: https://nyti.ms/2KSLxWl


The Post-Star on the Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting.

June 30

Ironically, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, had the most succinct, most important thing to say in the aftermath of the murder Thursday of five journalists at the Annapolis Capital Gazette.

“A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American,” she wrote in a tweet.

That is exactly right. Journalists — like schoolteachers and like members of Congress, who have also been targeted by disturbed men with guns — perform a critical function in our democracy.

We agree with Thomas Jefferson, who, talking about the “force of public opinion” and the importance of giving it expression, said, “The only security of all is in a free press.”

We rely on our public democratic institutions — the courts, the police, the elected representatives, the executive heads of government — to run our country according to its values and its Constitution. But we rely on the private press to expose corruption within those institutions.

Others across the country also issued statements of grief and support:

“This shooting is a tragic reminder that reporters — both in the field and in the newsroom — are at risk for violence from a variety of sources. Journalism is a dangerous job filled with risks that can turn lethal with little notice. We call on those who use hateful rhetoric to criticize, intimidate and incite violence against journalists for their own political gain to pause and reflect on the damage they do to human beings, their families and their communities.”

— Andrea Edney, President of the National Press Club

“We are proud to stand with them as journalists today. Their efforts and dedication while dealing with the death of five colleagues was, and is, courageous. Freedom of the press and our position as watchdog to the community are more important now than ever. It allows everyone to know that they have someone looking out for them.”

— John Bednarowski, president of Associated Press Sports Editors

“We are horrified and devastated and we deeply mourn the tragic and unimaginable loss of Rob, Gerald, John, Wendi and Rebecca. We honor their humanity, their work, their selfless public service and now, with utter sadness, their sacrifice in pursuit of our collective mission, values and purpose.

“May we also convey our respect and admiration for the courageous, deeply moving and inspirational example you have all shown by, somehow, carrying on that mission and serving your readers in the midst of such personal loss and horror.”

— The New York State Associated Press Association in a letter to the newspaper’s employees

The paper itself on its editorial page Friday made a powerful statement, printing a mostly blank page with a few sentences near the bottom.

“Today, we are speechless,” the statement began.

It listed the names of the five journalists who were murdered. Then it said this: “Tomorrow, this page will return to its steady purpose of offering our readers informed opinion about the world around them, that they be better citizens.”

To anyone surprised that the newspaper’s employees managed to keep working through this horrific event, one of the reporters, Chase Cook, summed up their attitude: “Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow,” he said.

That is an attitude among journalists — the news will be reported, even in the face of bullets — that should make every American proud.

An attack on journalists is an attack on every American, and we hope, as the country goes forward from this terrible event, that every American takes that to heart.

Online: https://bit.ly/2lUHsT7


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