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Don’t give up on our party now!

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Don't give up on our party now!

In recent days, New York City’s Republican, independent and unaffiliated voters have received an offer they can’t refuse: become Democrats. A new political entity named Be Counted NYC has launched a citywide effort it claims is meant to give political minorities a say in the upcoming mayoral election — and perhaps elect more moderate Democrats who can help New York “get back on track.”

As a lifelong, active and proud city Republican, I urge my fellow GOPers to tear up those pre-filled voter-registration forms they’ve received in the mail. Tear them up and throw them out.

Just think about how different life in the city would be if the GOP had given up on New York in the early 1990s. If instead of doubling down on a then-defeated Rudy Giuliani, Republicans had settled for electing the Democrat that would do the least harm.

What would the annual homicide rate be today? What would Times Square look like? How often would we have to argue with squeegee men harassing us on the roads?

Be Counted NYC may mean well. It may truly believe that there’s no hope for a Republican mayor in New York City — and that voting in Democratic primaries is the only option left to save us from radical progressive leadership. Its members forget, however, that in the 1980s and early ’90s, the prospects for a Republican mayoral candidate were bleak. The last Republican mayor at that point was (liberal) John Lindsay, elected in 1965.

Rather than wave the white flag, Republicans went to work establishing broad coalitions, advancing bold ideas for reform and communicating a promising vision for the city. And despite losing in 1989, Republicans stuck with it and, with the help of my home borough of Staten Island, won the mayoralty in 1993. And then four more consecutive mayoral contests.

In a city where registered Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, voters have consistently turned to GOP candidates to lead New York out of a crisis. In each Republican mayoral victory, New Yorkers put partisanship aside to elect a capable crisis manager at a critical time.

New York is once again spiraling toward disaster as a global pandemic exacerbates the damage done by Mayor de Blasio’s failed leadership. Violent crime is surging, street homelessness has spun out of control, residents have been fleeing, and the city’s fiscal outlook is grim. The next mayoral administration will inherit a city on the brink.

This moment screams for the return of steady-handed Republican leadership. Though the chances of a citywide GOP victory seem slim this year, it is absolutely essential that the party offer an alternative vision for city governance. Moreover, that vision must address conditions at the community level, in all 51 City Council districts.

Successful Republican campaigns were able to cut through the ideological noise to get right to the everyday issues that mattered to New Yorkers. They focused on job creation, excellence in public schools, quality-of-life policing, fiscal responsibility and government inefficiency and waste.

With the city once more at a crossroads, that approach can again upend Democratic dominance. Most important, it will inspire a new wave of Republican leaders across the city.

I remember when, at 10, I attended my first political event: a rally on Staten Island headlined by Giuliani as he sought his final term. It was the movement at the time, driven by core Republican principles, that helped inspire my career in public service and active 12-year membership in the party’s county committee.

And contrary to Be Counted’s implied claim that the GOP in NYC is dead, the most recent voter-registration effort in my borough resulted in a record-setting 100,000-plus registered Republican voters.

New York Republicans must reject the defeatist “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach. Settling for the least harmful or least radical Democratic candidate may be enough to win an election, but it won’t turn the city around. Instead, with one-party rule firmly secured, New York will just look more like the countless cities Democratic leadership has failed.

Now more than ever, Republicans should stay strong — and stay Republican.

David Carr (R) is a candidate for the 50th Council District on Staten Island, chief of staff to Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo and a former vice chairman of the Staten Island GOP.

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Opinion

Biden’s ‘infrastructure’ plan wages war on the suburban dream

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Biden’s ‘infrastructure’ plan wages war on the suburban dream

If you saved your money and bought a house in the suburbs, your investment and lifestyle may soon come under attack. The single biggest item in President Biden’s “infrastructure” bill, now being negotiated with Congress, is $213 billion he claims will be used to increase affordable housing. 

What he really wants is to put the federal government in charge of local zoning and to install apartment buildings throughout single-family-home neighborhoods.   

That $213 billion is nearly twice the spending on roads and bridges. It would change towns everywhere and, for many families, torpedo the American Dream of a house with a patch of lawn.

The Biden plan’s backers are hypocrites. Biden himself owns a four-acre lakefront home in upscale Greenville, Del., where there is absolutely no public housing, affordable housing or rentals that accept housing vouchers. And don’t expect any to be built next door to the Bidens.

Biden has always had a passion for stately homes and swanky addresses, even buying a 10,000-square-foot mansion that once belonged to the DuPont family, of 19th-century gunpowder wealth. Not exactly the sort of housing setup you’d associate with “Scranton Joe.”

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, meanwhile, own a $5 million gated home on a street of expensive single-family homes in Brentwood, Calif. That’s privilege.  

These politicians love single-family zoning and exclusivity for themselves, but not for the rest of us. When Biden was vice president, Team Obama launched its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing program in 2015 to ensure that every neighborhood includes housing for low-income buyers and renters and public transportation. Now, as president, Biden would massively expand such efforts.

The United States has a housing shortage. But the answer isn’t to have Washington, DC, strong-arming local decision-makers. That’s what Biden’s plan does. The bill creates a gigantic pot of taxpayer funds to hand out to towns that surrender self-rule. 

That’s a mistake. Local control is vital. Towns can take into account the availability of public transportation, school capacity and proximity to employment. Uncle Sam has no clue.

Advocates for federal control argue that if anyone can afford a neighborhood, everyone should be able to afford it. That means locating apartment clusters even way out on country roads. Bus routes and bus shelters would have to be built. Roads would have to be widened to accommodate traffic, and sewers and water lines would be needed. Say goodbye to country living.

Advocates for abolishing zoning mock suburbanites for worrying about home values. But for most people, their home is their biggest investment, and they waited years to afford it.

Local control allows them to be part of the solution. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is pushing to end single-family zoning, while her opponents warn that increasing density would strain schools and transportation and require cutting down the “tree canopy” over the city’s older neighborhoods. Atlantans will decide.  

Other communities are building in-town housing for young working people and seniors, while allowing homeowners to build accessory apartments for extended family or renters. The point is this: Washington doesn’t need to put its big thumb on the scales.  

Biden’s proposals to make housing affordable are laughable. He calls for “putting union building-trade workers to work” to “save families money.” Right, as if mandating union-only labor has ever been a money saver.

Biden is also proposing a first-time home buyer’s tax credit of up to $15,000 that buyers can receive when they purchase, rather than when they file taxes. Paying people to buy homes will push up housing prices, the same way federal college aid and loans have pushed up tuitions. Federal interventions have a way of backfiring.

Biden’s plan won’t expand the American Dream — but kill it.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.

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If AP really didn’t know it shared space with Hamas, why trust its reporting?

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If AP really didn’t know it shared space with Hamas, why trust its reporting?

After an Israeli airstrike Saturday destroyed a high-rise office tower on the Gaza Strip, the Associated Press, which had offices there for 15 years, complained, claiming it had no idea the building was also home to Hamas.

If it’s true that AP was so unaware — and the evidence suggests it’s unlikely — how can anyone trust its reporting in the region?

The Israeli military ordered the 12-story al-Jalaa Tower, which hosts AP and Al Jazeera offices, evacuated an hour before the strike, saying it was being used by Hamas military intelligence. For a week, tensions between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, have been at their highest since their 2014 conflict, with Hamas raining thousands of rockets into residential areas of the Jewish state.

Israel later shared some intelligence with the United States. “We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a source close to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told the Jerusalem Post. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

Of course, we’ve known for years that, as the Israel Defense Forces put it, Hamas “intentionally locates its military assets in the hearts of civil populations,” even “hiding behind” media outlets and “using them as human shields.”

And AP knew that well, according to one account. “When Hamas’ leaders surveyed their assets before this summer’s round of fighting, they knew that among those assets was the international press. The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby — and the AP wouldn’t report it,” says a 2014 Atlantic piece by Matti Friedman. Hamas militants would regularly “burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff — and the AP wouldn’t report it.”

It seems that what AP doesn’t know — and doesn’t report — always favors Hamas over those the group terrorizes.

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NYC’s homeless problem fails the most vulnerable and endangers us all

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NYC's homeless problem fails the most vulnerable and endangers us all

Rarely a day goes by without some violent attack in Gotham. After a while, the headlines can easily blend into each other, lulling us into complacency. But it’s important to dig into the details to understand the government failures at work.

Consider the heinous assault against an elderly Asian-American woman in Times Square in March. The alleged perpetrator, Brandon Elliott, kicked the woman in the stomach and then stomped on her head repeatedly. The 38-year-old Elliott had been paroled after spending 19 years in prison for murdering his mother.

And where was Elliot released to after spending almost two decades behind bars? A mental-health institution? Into the care of family? No, he was released to a Four Points by Sheraton hotel, which serves as a homeless shelter, a few blocks from where Elliot would allegedly commit his hateful crime.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks refuse to acknowledge it, but our city’s homeless policies aren’t working. The city fails both the homeless, who need our assistance, and taxpayers, who expect safe streets.

Yet Banks, especially, refuses to be held accountable. During a recent hearing, I asked him how many faith-based shelters had been opened in the Big Apple, since these settings can often be of tremendous value to taxpayers and homeless alike, fostering the kind of community support the homeless need to return to self-sufficiency. It was a straightforward question, not a “gotcha.” But even this mild query was too much for Banks.

When he refused to answer, I asked again and followed up with a question about the prior ZIP codes of residents who entered the homeless shelter in my district. Banks blew up at me and erupted into a bizarre tirade.

Homelessness is big business in New York, and under Banks and de Blasio, business has boomed. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness in the city has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression. The cost of the city’s shelter network has ballooned in tandem, to $2 billion.

Early in his administration, the mayor dismissed claims of a homelessness crisis.  Yet eventually, it couldn’t be denied. Even so, bureaucratic mismanagement plagued a Department of Homeless Services struggling to respond: Contracts to services providers couldn’t get approved by the city comptroller’s office, with some contracts never even being sent. Conditions in shelters were appalling for women and children.

Following the resignations of a deputy mayor and DHS commissioner in 2015, Banks became the chief of de Blasio’s doomed homelessness policy. Things didn’t improve.

Banks’ lack of interest in holding operating companies accountable for broken promises, like security and cleanliness, kept shelters dangerous. Many homeless New Yorkers would rather take their chances on the street.

The crisis snowballed, as Banks ignored mental-health issues and perpetuated the myth that every homeless individual is just “down on their luck.” But research shows that at least half of the homeless have some mental illness. New York City also has a prison-to-shelter pipeline that goes unaddressed.

Research from Stephen Eide at the Manhattan Institute reveals that 3,500 ex-offenders were released directly from prison into the shelter system in 2018. Other experts have testified that more than 40 percent of parolees are released into a shelter. As the recent attacks show, the pipeline too often leads, in the end, to more crime.

Acknowledging the mental-health crisis means using Kendra’s Law, which places the severely mentally ill in court-mandated treatment. Separating the mentally ill from the economically homeless would allow the city to provide better services in a safer environment. Services are needed to get these individuals on a path to self-sufficiency.

Banks made it hard to work with his agencies. For years, I tried to get data from him on the shelter in my district. Understanding which neighborhoods shelter residents were living in before moving into a shelter could help us allocate resources to prevent homelessness in the first place and then implement community-based solutions for those who become homeless.

Research has shown that community bonds are important in assisting individuals back to self-sufficiency. That is why I support faith-based shelters for community residents who find themselves homeless. New Yorkers experiencing homelessness should be sheltered with safety and dignity. But thanks to Banks’ embrace of the warehouse shelter model and the shelter-industrial complex, there’s no financial incentive to decrease homelessness or make shelters safer.

The next administration must do better.

Robert Holden represents the 30th District, covering parts of Queens, in the City Council.

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