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Saturday’s Times Square shooting may mark a crossroads for NYC

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Saturday’s Times Square shooting may mark a crossroads for NYC

Last year in New York City, murders rose 45 percent and shootings 97 percent, numbers that have continued to rise in 2021. But New Yorkers don’t need statistics to understand that the city’s descent into chaos is accelerating. Saturday’s brazen shooting in Times Square — in which three innocent bystanders were shot, including a 4-year-old girl — may well mark a crossroads.

During New York’s bad old days, the Crossroads of the World and its pornographic theaters attracted “an unsavory and increasingly criminal crowd,” as William J. Stern, former head of the Urban Development Corporation, observed. “By the eighties, things got worse still, with an amazing 2,300 crimes on the block in 1984 alone, 20 percent of them serious felonies such as murder or rape,” he noted. Times Square’s situation suggested a city spinning out of control.

The condition of Times Square today similarly reveals the city’s social, moral and civic health. The president of the Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, understands this. In 2016, he explained that “the area then — and has always been — representative of what was working or not working in New York City as a whole. . . . Throughout New York City, crime was a huge issue that was making people stay away, and . . . that overshadowed everything else.” Thus, he reasoned, “Times Square was this symbol of whether the government had either the will or the capacity to make a city safe.”

Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s commitment to tame Times Square helped Gotham restore civic normalcy. Giuliani brought Disney in to take over and renovate the New Amsterdam Theatre, which “led to the resurrection of 42nd Street and Times Square,” in the words of The New York Times.

Giuliani also targeted smut shops for legal assault in court and had his NYPD proactively arrest quality-of-life offenders: drug dealers, junkies, pimps, prostitutes, hustlers, thieves and con artists. What followed was the revitalization of Times Square — and New York’s rebirth as the safest big city in America.

New York’s reversal of fortune is no accident. Mayor Bill de Blasio cites the pandemic and closed schools as excuses for the rise in violent crime. He conveniently overlooks four culprits: catch-and-release bail reform; the abandoning of broken-windows policing; the elimination of plainclothes anti-crime units that spent their nights hunting illegal gun carriers; and the movement to “defund” the police.

Proactive police officers have no incentive to respond to non-emergency crimes when the mayor has told them to stand down, when they know perps will be swiftly released and when they worry their faces could be the next ones plastered on screens across the country if an arrest goes wrong.

Which brings us back to Saturday’s shooting. We should be grateful for the heroic police officers who responded, including Alyssa Vogel, who ran nonstop with the 4-year-old victim to the ambulance. The alleged shooter was identified as Farrakhan Muhammad, a 31-year-old CD-pushing pest with a long arrest record who intended to shoot his brother.

When New York City had a quality-of-life policing regime, CD peddlers who crossed the line from protected First Amendment activity to misdemeanor “aggravated harassment” were routinely arrested and removed from Times Square and possibly locked away. But we live in a different city now.

In 1975, the Council for Public Safety issued an infamous pamphlet titled: “Welcome to Fear City: A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York.” It advised tourists, among other things, to stay off the streets after 6 p.m., protect their property and safeguard their handbags and “never ride the subway for any reason whatsoever.”

The city is still better off than in 1975 — but that’s far from the standard to which a great city should aspire. De Blasio has assured New Yorkers that “we’re not going back to the bad old days when there was so much violence in this city.” Three innocents shot in Times Square over the weekend might have a different view.

Craig Trainor is a criminal-defense and civil-rights attorney in New York. Adapted from City Journal.

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Opinion

Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

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Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

When President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last fall, hysterical Democrats declared millions of Americans would lose health coverage with her vote against ObamaCare — and immediately started talking about packing a court they called hopelessly divided.

Two big Supreme Court decisions last week proved reality turned out to be nothing like Dems’ fever dreams.

In a 7-2 decision in California v. Texas, the high court rejected a Republican bid to invalidate ObamaCare — and Barrett was not one of the two dissenters. It ruled that Texas and 17 other GOP-led states didn’t have standing to challenge the law’s individual mandate. The Trump administration had taken their side, while 20 Democratic-run states including New York and California, along with the Dem-controlled House of Representatives, took the other. Only Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented to the majority opinion the liberal Stephen Breyer authored.

How could this be? Last year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared, “Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will be the end of the Affordable Care Act.” In her opening statement at Barrett’s confirmation hearing, then-Sen. Kamala Harris held up a picture of an 11-year-old constituent and accused Republicans of trying “to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take away health care from millions of people during a deadly pandemic.”

Democrats boycotted the final committee vote, filling their seats instead with posters of ObamaCare recipients, implying a vote for Barrett would put those lives at risk.

During the whole childish circus, they insisted Trump had picked Barrett and sped up her confirmation just so she’d be seated in time to hear arguments in the case and dismantle the law. They didn’t bother to look at her record and examine her judicial philosophy — they assumed this well-qualified woman would be the president’s puppet.

In the second important decision, Fulton v. Philadelphia, the court ruled unanimously that the city violated the Constitution’s free exercise clause by suspending Catholic Social Services’ contract because the group wouldn’t certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Yes, all nine justices ruled in favor of religious freedom — putting paid to Democratic complaints the court is out of balance with too many conservatives. It’s far from the only unanimous decision already this term, either. Every justice signed on to decisions written by Gorsuch, Breyer, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, with two of the cases involving immigration issues.

That people of varying political stripes can agree on the law shouldn’t come as a surprise. Supreme Court justices take their jobs seriously — which is more than you can say for Democrats charged with helping choose them.

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Opinion

New book takes lessons on aging from our seniorcelebs

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New book takes lessons on aging from our seniorcelebs

Age should bring wisdom

Joe Boredom and Nancy Pelousy made age the new “in.”

So now comes Steven Petrow, of the Washington Post’s “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old: A Highly Judgmental, Unapologetically Honest Accounting of All the Things Our Elders Are Doing Wrong.” The title’s longer than the Kensington Press book, which claims studios love golden vets with silver hair.

Jean Smart (70 in September) is in HBO’s something or other, Jane Fonda (83), Ellen Burstyn (88), Liam Neeson (69), Helen Mirren (75), Morgan Freeman (84), Harrison Ford (78). Alan Arkin, 87 co-emoting with Michael Douglas (77 in September).

The book says to trade kitsch for kvetch. And go outside your same antique circle since inter-generational friendships improve well-being. Color your hair? Uh-uh. Inky black roots telegraphs “I’m desperate!” Only give it a shot if your colorist is as good as Diane Sawyer’s.

And forget your chorus of aches and pains. Limit health talk to one single cocktail.

Creaking along: Dolly Parton, 75; Patti Smith, 74; Bruce Springsteen, 72 come September; Mark Harmon, 70, Sept. 2; Jill Biden, 70; Martha Stewart, 80 in August; Mitt Romney, 74; Chuck Grassley, 87; Mitch McConnell, 79. Oy, Mitch.

And for all of us on our next birthday, maybe a colonoscopy.

I spy . . . Madge

Where you were last week, I don’t know. Where Madonna was, I know. She was enjoying Immersive Van Gogh at Pier 36 . . . I also know about Bette Midler. “The Rose,” a tale of the high price of fame, which starred her as a self-destructive rocker (and got her an Oscar nom), is being remade starring Cynthia Erivo.

Welcome to New York City

Arizona’s Sen. Kyrsten Sinema dropped into NYC and dug in at the W hotel in Union Square. She had a broken foot. She wanted room service. Due to COVID the front desk said no. Along with our usual friendly warmth, they told her to order out . . . The Olympic games start next month. Biden’s iffy on attending in person. Right now the White House leans to NO — maybe because Biden himself leans . . . Chuck Schumer received five pairs of Father’s Day socks courtesy of his toddler grandson. With zero going on in the Senate, pay attention to Chuck’s ankles. He’ll be flashing them this week.

Film fiasco

The film “The Fortress 2” just wrapped filming in Puerto Rico. The elements were not kind to the cast of Bruce Willis, Shannen Doherty, “Desperate Housewives” Jesse Metcalfe and producer Randall Emmett, who’s about to marry Lala Kent of “Vanderpump Rules.” It was intermittent power outages on set and at their hotels. To make up for it, Noel Ashman, also celebrating his upcoming film “Baby and Max,” also celebrating a birthday, is also giving them a party Thursday at Noir.

Stray thoughts

One thought: Topping our historic year is our coming New York City election. Seems that for many voters it’s maybe not everyone’s pick — it’s not who we really really love — it’s dredging down to who we dislike the least. . . . And a comment from one of our top NY restaurateurs: “They’re not spending like they used to. It’s different. They’re cheaper.”


From a weary dad: “When I finally get taken to my heavenly rest, I want my ashes scattered over Bloomingdale’s. This way, maybe I could be sure that at least twice a week my daughter will visit me.”

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — June 21, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — June 21, 2021

The Issue: Mayor de Blasio’s lack of response to rising crime and disorder in Washington Square Park.

Mayor de Blasio abandoned the city during his failed run for president, making him “the national idiot” (“DeB ‘didn’t see a problem’!?!” June 18).

The clueless progressive has abandoned the city again by failing to acknowledge the worst crime crisis since the 1970s or to do anything to protect the people who pay his and his wife’s hefty salaries.

Kathryn Donnelly

Queens

As a native New Yorker who did not flee the crime waves and lower quality of life during the 1970s-1990s, I’m am reconsidering (“Bloodshed, Bedlam & Clueless Blas,” Editorial, June 15).

Another criminal rampage beset Washington Square Park recently, ending in 14 shootings, two knifings, vicious assaults, attacks on businesses and more, as the NYPD was held at bay.

Mayor de Blasio’s answer to the depravity that went on in the park? A “natural” resolution will work things out, whatever that may mean.

If we had a choice between a natural resolution against the high crime rate or allowing the NYPD to do their job, I’ll choose the NYPD.

J. Marie Norris

Brooklyn

Our mayor has decided to turn a blind eye to the problem.

A curfew was suppose to be in place a week or two ago, but our mayor is holding the NYPD from performing its duties.

It is no longer safe to walk through the park or even around it after the sun is down. Assaults, drug use and loud music make it total mayhem there — a Sodom and Gomorrah at night, all because the mayor refuses to acknowledge the out-of-control situation.

What’s it going to take before he wakes up?

Joseph Comperchio

Brooklyn

So the residents around Washington Square Park are upset by the disorder? What did they expect?

They helped elect government officials who enacted no-bail reform, emptied half of Rikers Island, disbanded the anti-crime units and removed limited liability for the police.

Then there are prosecutors who will not prosecute and judges who are soft on criminals.

On top of that, the residents helped elect a doofus mayor — not once but twice.

Gary Layton

Interlaken, NJ

The Issue: A city-backed program that will give $1,250 per month to young homeless people.

A program backed by the city plans to give $1,250 a month to the homeless (“Young NYC homeless people to get $1,250 each month in city-backed study,” June 18).

The intentions are certainly noble, but here’s the problem: The homeless population in New York City has a very high percentage of drug addicts.

Where exactly do these fools think this money will be spent — on school supplies? Are you kidding me? Which genius came up with this idea?

Drug addicts will always spend any and all available cash on drugs. Period. That’s the nature of the desperation that addiction brings with it.

The recipients will not be held accountable for where the money is spent. It doesn’t take a genius to realize the disaster this program will be.

Norman Gold

West Hempstead

Now a city-backed program will give young homeless people $1,250 per month to spend as they wish — more brilliant social engineering by the left.

Most homeless people have serious personality disorders, and no amount of money will get them off the street. We need homes and halfway homes — if you can get the homeless to actually stay in them.

Lloyd Zimet

Stuyvesant

The Issue: A city-backed program that will give $1,250 per month to young homeless people.

A program backed by the city plans to give $1,250 a month to the homeless (“Cash for young on streets,” June 19).

The intentions are certainly noble, but here’s the problem: The homeless population in New York City has a very high percentage of drug addicts.

Where exactly do these fools think this money will be spent — on school supplies? Are you kidding me? Which genius came up with this idea?

Drug addicts will always spend any and all available cash on drugs. Period. That’s the nature of the desperation that addiction brings with it.

The recipients will not be held accountable for where the money is spent. It doesn’t take a genius to realize the disaster this program will be.

Norman Gold

West Hempstead

Now a city-backed program will give young homeless people $1,250 per month to spend as they wish — more brilliant social engineering by the left.

Most homeless people have serious personality disorders, and no amount of money will get them off the street. We need homes and halfway homes — if you can get the homeless to actually stay in them.

Lloyd Zimet

Stuyvesant

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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