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The sad saga of Malcolm Smith and his fellow cohorts

Jonathan P Hicks | 6/13/2013, 12:53 p.m.
It's time to make youth unemployment the focus of our national attention

Also, what was sorely missing from that agreement with the Republicans was anything that might remotely serve the interests of Smith's working-class constituency in southeast Queens. The burning question here is, what on earth would make this man see himself as a viable candidate for mayor of New York? And on the Republican line?

In any event, chicanery and messiness is a longstanding feature of the behavior of people in all legislative bodies, but the folks in Albany seemed to have elevated them to an art form. What might well erode some of this political dirtiness would be a system of public financing of campaigns on the state level, similar to the system that is currently undertaken by candidates for public office in New York City. That would widen the number of people who could afford to run for office and, in doing so, open a door to candidates with higher ethical standards.

But the second solution--and this is a challenging one--is for people who run for public office to examine their motives in the first place. The citizens who officials like Smith and Stevenson represent need elected representatives who are passionate about providing jobs, greater access to health care and freedom from dehumanizing stops by New York City police officers.

As anyone who has read even a paragraph of the racial history of American politics knows, Black elected officials are destined to be highly scrutinized. These officials should have expected this and governed themselves by the needs of their constituents, rather than the desires of their pockets and egos.