Friday, July 17, 2015





            In the unlikely event you have been on vacation on a remote island somewhere, you may have missed one of the top media stories that have occupied front pages in this country. Just in case, Rachel Dolezal is the subject at hand. She is accused of denying her white heritage while claiming to be Black. That, in itself, may cause eyebrows to raise, but the realization she presided as president of the Spokane branch of the NAACP for several years and maintained a part-time position as an African studies instructor has resulted in seismic readings on the Rector Scale. Be that as it may, Rachel has resigned her position as president and has lost her position as instructor. In addition, she is being investigated by the city Ethics Commission to determine if she lied about her race on her application to Spokane’s police oversight board. OVER THE TOP? Stay with me on this.

            Rachel’s coming out party was initiated by her parents, who after several years of estrangement decided it time to expose their daughter. Obviously, things were not comfortable at home. The “why” to that question remains unanswered. But Rachel Dolezar must face the challenges that await her. “The furor has touched off national debate over racial identity and divided the NAACP,” as reported by Newsday. In addendum, a spokesman for the NAACP has admitted leadership positions within the organization do not require a person be Black. The drama continues.

            When quizzed on NBC’s “Today” show, Rachel described the discussion about her as “viciously inhumane.” When asked about her race, she said, “I identify as Black.” Case closed? Not yet. Kitara Johnson, a NAACP member who presents herself as a dissenter of Dolezar, successfully organized a petition asking for the resignation. Apparently, things are not that comfortable within the NAACP.

            Oddly enough, how one defines their place on earth, gender, race or otherwise, has become the object of public opinion. In an amazing coincidence, the timing of this episode could not have been more appropriate. Caitlyn Jenner? Simultaneously, the international community is confronted with a decision that’s not theirs to make. Upon further observation, trans-racial episodes are not unique. The more common agenda is known as “passing,” when a person of color passes himself/herself off as White. When exposed, this condition is usually looked upon as unacceptable by both Blacks and Whites. However, the motivation is usually not questioned. Quality of life historically favors White. It was precisely this imbalance that motivated the journalist, John Howard Griffin, to experiment in the 1950’s. His book, Black Like Me, became a riveting example of black life in the deep South as experienced by a white man who chemically changed his complexion and became Black. As might be expected, his work received mixed reviews despite a NY Times Best Seller listing.

            Perhaps the case of Rachel Dolezar does create a dilemma when compared with the American posture. This may be the source of her parents’ discomfort. They suggest she suffers a sort of mental imbalance to pursue her life in this manner. After all, what white person would normally trade their Caucasian heritage to become Black? The greater question is: Where do we go from here?

            Kareem Abdul-Jabbar does an excellent tongue in cheek analogue by making his confession. “I’ve decided to come out with the truth … Although I’ve been claiming to be 7’2” for many decades; the truth is that I’m really 5’8”.” He then proceeds to suggest Rachel get a pass for her “white lie” in light of the positive advocacy she is credited for. Bottom line:  Has this ‘white lie” damaged your quality of life?

Saturday, May 23, 2015





            For the loyal followers that held their breath since my last post, I apologize. I will not prolong the pain with excuses. Instead, I will stay true to What’s Up with a bit of information. The saying goes: You learn something every day.

            Recently, thanks to the Associated Press reporter, Michael Hill and Newsday, a special honor was announced on behalf of General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. The name is familiar to some, but I suspect obscure to many. Benjamin Davis entered West Point in 1932 as its only black cadet. My learning experience was discovering he was shunned for the next four years by fellow cadets under the auspices of the academy. He roomed alone, ate alone and no one befriended him. He labelled himself “an invisible man.” To quote reporter Hill, “Now, more than a decade after his death, the academy that allowed Davis to be ostracized is honoring him.” The honor: a new cadet barracks under construction among the impressive buildings of the U.S. Military Academy will be named for him. This honor is usually reserved for such graduates named Eisenhower and MacArthur.

            The belated honor is in recognition of two historical facts – West Point’s blemished record of racial endorsement and Davis’ unblemished resume that includes commanding the all-black 332nd Fighter Group known as the Red Tails, not to mention the first black general of the Air Force. The Air Force became the first of the services to fully integrate. Benjamin Davis retired in 1970 as a three star general. In 1998, he was awarded a fourth star by President Bill Clinton.

            Colonel Ty Seidule, the head of West Point’s history department and of the naming committee, acknowledges Davis as one of its greatest graduates. He also goes further to acknowledge, “This is not West Point at its finest hour … This is a chance for West Point to recognize one of its finest.”



            My loyal following will recall a previous post titled, An Afternoon with Dan Levin. The sad news is Dan passed away recently at the ripe young age of 101 years. The fact that Dan was born in Russia in 1913 and served as a Marine sergeant/ combat correspondent during World War ll, and was among the last living survivors of the battle for Iwo Jima, appears to go un-noticed in the media. I am still searching for an obituary.


            In response to my faithful audience, my second book, Twelve Fifteen, has been released. It is an adult suspense novel guaranteed to keep you on edge (I promise). Additional information is at your fingertips:





We strolled one midday afternoon,

Sun with unrelenting glare

Between the Eucalyptus and bananas

Black, White, Asian, Latino

Infections from birth on hold

Washed by fear.


How sweet the smell

Herb left in haste

Maybe closure will be made today

No matter, there’s always tomorrow

Believe you must

To greet sunrise.


Yesterday, we joked in ignorant pride

History exchanged like baseball cards

Values of my tree

Shortcomings of yours

Pick and choose

Who will say goodbye?


            Sunset’s beauty stolen by hostility

Closure arrives

One with each other,

Pray for another sunrise

Emerald green runs a new color


Sunday, December 15, 2013



            Okay, I’m guilty. My Blogs are few and far between, but I do have an excuse. Between the media and social networks clogging air-space, the sub-liminal battle to have a life of my own is increasingly difficult. I know I’m not alone in this battle. Some may consider this very same Blog an example of social media intrusion. My defense:  sparse presentations.

            The topic, This Time, is befitting the holiday season. Recently, I revisited one of my root sources of adolescence and young adulthood – Harlem USA. For those of you who beat me to it, you’ll understand my surprise. The new 125th Street, which is really an avenue but no one ever called it that, is testament to gentrification and resulting businesses it attracts. The streets I once walked bear little resemblance to what I remember, as well as the faces encountered during my visit. The heart of Harlem has become a veritable United Nations that is composed of tourists and, to my great surprise, white folk who have taken residency. My destination served as perfect example.

            The Red Rooster restaurant is an icon of Harlem The location I remember from my younger days has changed, but the radiance of staff and patrons remains the same. First, I recommend reservations, particularly during the holiday season. Even with pre-planning, be prepared to spend time at the bar where my wife and I were treated to courtesy appetizers. The menu is not over-bearing, but carefully crafted by an executive chef to excel on the palette. Choice of appetizers serves to alert diners what’s in store. Take your choice:  Fried Chicken & Waffle, Oysters Rockefeller, Sweet Potato Soup, Smoke Trout, The Goat, and Caribbean Bacon. My birthday guest, Brandy, chose the Market Green Salad, which she felt compelled to share, while I negotiated the Crab Cocktail (and also shared).

            Entrees followed suit with unique character. My wife, the mermaid, could not resist the Fish & Grits (red grouper, crayfish grits, chorizo aioli, black kale @ $30). I, on the other hand, went for Helga’s Meatballs ($23), a not so simple mixture of lingouberries, braised green cabbage and mashed potatoes. Bottom line: Doggie Bags were not an issue, sorry Aries (my dog). A popular favorite with veteran customers was the Red Line Burger ($19), pimento cheese, bacon, melted onions, parmesan fries on a pretzel bun. As implied at the beginning, nothing at The Red Rooster is ordinary, including the live music that began at 7 pm during our visit. You’ll find Red Rooster at 310 Lennox Ave, NYC (between 125th & 126th). Phone: 212-792-9001.


            Now for the That. Will the real Steve Bellone please stand up? The County Executive of Suffolk came into office on a platform of more efficient government, and somewhere in the rhetoric, a more transparent one. After two years on the job, the jury is still out. Despite the usual Republican critics, many of Bellone’s Democratic colleagues have taken issue with some of his practices. As stated in Newsday, Steve’s (excuse the familiarity) disregard for procedure has followed him from his hometown of Babylon to the county level. Obviously, Steve is a gambler. He managed to get out of town (Babylon) before a negative audit report surfaced indicating budgets were not structurally sound due to overestimated revenues. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) were ignored, in addition to questionable inter-fund transfers. A career politician may consider this business as usual, and wish to be in a position to do the same. After all, the town audit found no malfeasance or criminal conduct. Makes one wonder – why bother?

            Suffolk County Executive Bellone may have won the roll of the dice for the moment. His Ends Justifies the Means approach to government has been a friend indeed. Decisions made in his home district may have proved beneficial to taxpayers, i.e. a series of 17 transfers from the residential garbage district fund to the town’s general fund to purchase property for the town’s Wyandanch Rising revitalization project equaling $28 million. The process required approval by town board resolution, repayment by the end of the fiscal year with interest. Those conditions were not met at the time, but were subsequently met according to town officials.  The domino effect to taxpayers reflected a savings exceeding $3 million. Fans of Jackie Gleason may recall – A mere bag of shells!

            Perhaps, County Executive Steve Bellone needs to be reminded of the double standard. Note, the jury is still out.  Appointments made during his administration are under continuous scrutiny.  The county executive doesn’t disguise the value of patronage. On this, he may be more transparent than elected colleagues of the same level. Caution looms:  Are the appointments commiserate with qualifications? Case in point: Newly elected Suffolk County Legislator, Monica Martinez.  Monica was not appointed but elected.  This demonstrates a new avenue of patronage. Her road to success was endorsed and significantly financed by “behind the scene” supporters against seasoned incumbent, Rick Montano, a Democrat and critic of several Bellone practices.

            From the beginning of her campaign, Monica Martinez stated her intention to flaunt a newly enacted county law prohibiting “double dipping” by public employees in the event of election to public office. Accordingly, she declared her plan to keep her position as assistant principal in the Brentwood School District at $117,000 per year in addition to $98,260 per year as legislator. By all rules of logic, that admission should have ended Monica’s political future. Not so fast.

            Through support from the county executive’s office and influential family business connections, Monica wins election, but must now face a tough decision before being sworn in January. The law remains on the books, clearly stated with cloudy exemptions. Teachers in public schools or colleges are exempt, but not administrators. Ms. Martinez is an administrator. Case closed, almost. County Executive Steve Bellone further adds his support to the newly elected legislator by his attempt to amend the law regarding exemptions. Before you become completely nauseated by this sequence, help is on the way.

            Within hours of this post, the county Board of Ethics has responded to the petition of Monica Martinez. The original law is upheld and Ms. Martinez is forbidden from maintaining both positions at the expense of students and parents within the district of Brentwood and the taxpayers of Suffolk County. She immediately applies for a leave of absence from her assistant principal position. Simultaneously, Executive Bellone recants on his amendment plans. This predictable decision should send a message to the county executive: Time has come to seek advice beyond the club house. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, July 11, 2013





                Is it me, or is it me? Does anyone remember that just a few years ago the hot debate around town centered on the fate of gambling in New York State: Downstate, represented by Long Island, verses Upstate, with the Catskill region leading as adversary. Native American victories on casino establishments in the northwest of the state served as an enigma to a state legislature anxious to share in uncollected revenues.

                ACT ONE, Scene One:  The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut, under Federal recognition, uses its legal authority to establish a gambling operation that attracts foreign entrepreneurs eager for profit ventures.

                ACT ONE, Scene Two: The Mohegan Tribal Nation follows in quick pursuit and within a stone’s throw of their Pequot neighbors, also garnishing large revenues.

                ACT TWO, Scene One:  In historical sequence, Native American Nations that bear the names of several upstate cities in New York State are quietly attempting to duplicate the Connecticut experiment.

                ACT TWO, Scene Two: Millions in untapped potential state revenues.


                Obviously, my historical scenario is abbreviated. As an example, the Foxwoods Casino was founded in 1986 as a bingo hall. The casino was financed by Lim Goh Tong, a Chinese Malaysian who founded the only legal casino in Malaysia. He died in 2007. In 1992, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, the casino’s owner, added table games, followed by slot machines in 1993. But, so much for history.

Fast forward to 2007.  Foxwoods Casino agrees to pay 25 percent of their slot revenue to the state of Connecticut, a sum that amounts to $200 million per year. In the year ending 2008, Foxwoods’ 6300 slots handle more than $9.1 billion. Despite twenty years of petitions by our Catskill neighbors for legal entry into the gaming business, the New York legislature kept a deft ear to their cause. Suddenly, the light bulb goes on! Casinos by the names of Turning Stone, Akwesasne Mohawk, Seneca Gaming and Seneca Niagra are now functioning and looking for expansion. And guess what? They are all under Native American control! Unlike the Pilgrim settlers of our country, this movement occurred under the radar of our elected representatives.

When one considers this two decade evolution, the question becomes: What was the spark that ignited Albany legislators, spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which led to a re-alignment of priorities and the expansion of gambling? The answer is two-fold: a statewide demand for new revenue and the inevitable Shinnecock entry into the gaming world. The not so subtle maneuver of the governor to facilitate an 11th hour bill in the Assembly speaks poorly for transparency. However, the bill does speak directly to the state constitution which will require amendment.

Have you heard this before? “Revenue to our counties means one thing: We won’t have to raise property taxes.” Out of the mouth of Assemb. Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square). Believe that and I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. His shield for such a statement was based on the promise of 1,000 video slot machines each for Nassau and Suffolk counties. When it comes to the gaming industry, we have no shortage of corruption and mismanagement; one case in point, the debacle to select a company to run video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack.  Let us not forget the original premise for the New York Lottery system – dedicated funds for the state education system. By all accounts, no school district in our state should be facing budget cuts with jackpots in the millions. Bottom line, it’s all about the money. Or is it?

As the dice rolls across the table, a new gamer is about to come to town. The Shinnecock Tribal Nation has called Long Island its home long before the Pilgrims. Their reservation rest on the most valuable real estate in the state. Because of that assessment, neighbors have consistently resisted any Shinnecock advancement toward federal or state recognition. That battle has been won by the Shinnecock, but the war continues. Albany’s new threat: Downstate entry into the gaming business by another Native American presence. The slogan, Follow the Money, now becomes Get There First. Albany’s reaction: the race is on! (Pun intended).

A reality in New York State, like neighboring states throughout the country, is a need for new sources of revenue. How and where these sources are collected require more than a midnight escapade with people of questionable integrity. I like to gamble just like the other guy. The suspense, excitement and occasional win (miss those ringing slots) are irresistible. Just don’t put the casino in my neighborhood.

Friday, May 10, 2013





            Now that the smoke has settled from the mirrors advanced by band wagon politicians, the real victims of our violent culture are left to confront their personal loss in solitude. That doesn’t mean they will be forgotten. They simply will be replaced by more pressing headlines and kept in abatement until the next senseless atrocity. Senseless is the key word. Legislation has yet to be written that would inhibit the mentally unstable.

            That said, we are now confronted with the issue gun control advocates considered a “slam dunk.” Background Checks was considered the point assault that would issue in a new level of gun ownership restriction. On its surface, Background Checks looked like a good compromising platform in an acidic debate that resembled a tug of war. Both sides had their merits and miss-steps. However, it was the gun control camp with media support that became proponents of the “Ninety Percent” endorsement. As holder of an accounting degree and business management graduate degree, I am familiar with the game of statistics. Immediately, the red flag goes up at ninety percent. Why not go for the whole pie and say One Hundred Percent? Both numbers are equally ludicrous.  I challenge any statistician to show me anything of which ninety percent of Americans will find consensus. Even the horror of September 11, 2001 left Americans trapped in a culture of preconception. Who to blame? Assassins from the Soviet Union? A mysterious Al-Queda? A next door neighbor?

            Let’s, for a moment, assume the Ninety Percent is a valid number. Who would compose that percentile? The answer, of course, is ninety percent of law-abiding citizens who would past the test with flying colors. A convicted felon submitting to a background check would obviously be among the mentally unstable. Statistics are no more than numbers left to be messaged. Example: Two opposing attorneys face a pool of potential jurors. Each samples the pool for the candidate that will be favorable to his/her argument. After sorting and dismissal, a jury is selected. The attorney who did his/her homework will probably win. Taking this concept further, it is only fair to inquire the size and location of the “Ninety Percent.” Rural America has a history of accepting the literal interpretation of the Second Amendment and a reluctance to disarm themselves. Unlike their urban cousins, law enforcement is normally miles away in a crisis situation. Ironically, crime rates are “statistically” higher in the urban arena. So much for statistics.

            Moving on, we are now confronted with should have, would have, could have scenarios.  Obama should have persuaded more democrats to vote in favor of the White House. A more denigrating attack on special interest would have the desired effect on the Senate. The posturing of the Second Amendment as obsolete could have resulted in more converts to the cause. Bottom line: the sound bites remind me of the fallow cries of a spoiled child after being denied his candy.

            Back to reality, I find it difficult to believe a senator would knowingly end his/her career by voting against his/her constituency. Special Interest is an extension of that constituency. It’s called “target marketing.”  Gun-control advocates failed to recognize Background Checks was not the sole reason for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s failure. Deeper concerns contributed to the outcome. Growing numbers of Americans perceive the government as dysfunctional. A much larger number of citizens (Ninety Percent?) reject government intrusion into their homes. And freedom of choice is worth dying for. Exploiting the pain of victims and their families by parading them on TV became another example of indiscretion. When will the advocates of gun-control stop shooting themselves in the foot? Pun intended.
A picture worth a thousand words.

Saturday, February 16, 2013




            Guns, guns, guns – it’s all the rage by anti-gun advocates, inner city victims of crime, and of course, the media. Of the most vocal and influential of pro-gun advocates, we have the National Rifle Association (NRA), an organization that boasts as its flag a protector of our Second Amendment rights. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, any proclamation should be enclosed in an atmosphere of reason.

            Recently, it was reported by Newsday (Feb 2, 2013) [NRA lists anti-gun groups, celebs]. The fact that the NRA notes the list was posted Sept 17, 2012 raises the question as to why Newsday decided to report it now. Nevertheless, the list is newsworthy. It names a variety of individuals, celebrities, organizations and corporations the NRA has deemed anti-gun, to include a multitude of religious groups. While some of these individuals/celebrities, corporations and religious groups have actively postured as anti-gun; the NRA’s uncompromising litmus test has defaulted by including many avid supporters of pro-gun rights.  

One case in point is the classification of ex-game show host Bob Barker as anti-gun. The fact that the octogenarian sleeps with a .38-caliber pistol next to his bed, shoots skeet and donated to the group’s choice of president, Republican Mitt Romney, evidently didn’t come up on the radar. By its own extension the NRA has positioned itself in opposition to wide segments of American society, to include the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, the National Association of School Psychologists, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (its first president – Martin Luther King Jr.), the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church, to name a few. Worry not if you are a member of the Democratic Party; you are at the top of the list.

As a member of the NRA for forty years, I can honestly say, “Move over Bob.” The paranoia emanating from the NRA comes from the top, and if you listen carefully, you’ll notice it matches the chorus from the opposition. The atmosphere of reason has vanished. As president of a rifle & pistol club, I am proud to have witnessed a membership with diversified interests, ranging from target shooting, competitive trap & skeet, to hunting. None of our members would ever hunt with a semi-automatic assault weapon. Some of us actually cheat occasionally and go fishing. Some of us vote Democratic. With all its resources, how can the leadership of the NRA fail to recognize its own constituency?
I don’t plan to give up my membership because of misguided leadership. Alienation of a vast segment of American society is not a proper course to secure the Second Amendment. On the contrary, it serves to divide and dilute the true purpose of the amendment. I’ve been good to the great outdoors, and the great outdoors have been good to me. The ghost of Charlton Heston is alive and well.  In these difficult times, I do hope the NRA will be able to recruit what’s left of the Southern Christians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Democrats. By contrast, neither Mayor Michael Bloomberg nor his pro-gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, made the list. Go Figure!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012




In light of recent criticism of our regional jewel of news reporting, Newsday, I find it only proper to share three of my opinion submissions that failed to make the cut. Admittedly, volume may have played a part, but I cannot dismiss the weight of subject matter. I share this with you, my reading public, to decide for yourselves. Enjoy!



Regarding “Obama’s Message: Don’t quit” News, Sept. 8], I look forward to the Newsday publication listing the school districts that banned the president’s motivational speech dedicated to the children of our nation.  Among the 56 districts open for business on that day, let those that censured the president bare their embarrassment.

The White House preview of the speech effectively removed suspicion of any political agenda, while receiving endorsements from former first lady Laura Bush and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.  The message: Don’t quit, is a call to our youth to take responsibility for their future while respecting their parents, teachers and mentors in an environment that’s not always friendly. Evidently, there are some custodians of our children’s education who did not get the message. Using the manufactured threat of politics to hide personal bias, these elected symbols of authority committed the ultimate political sin.  They used our children as political ponds. How dare them!



How often has a parent gloated over an accomplishment by his/her child?  Whether it be a goal scored on the soccer field, touchdown in full armor, academic honors at graduation, not to mention the college commencement film that will last forever as proof of economic sacrifice; on such occasions, parents do not hesitate at taking credit for the accolades afforded their offspring.  This is part of living the good life, celebrating our progeny while investing in hopes of a future destined to survive us.  Commendations to all.

As parents, do we perform in like manner when choices our children exercise are less than admirable?  This is a question growing at fever pace with the advent of front page hate crimes perpetrated by our young.   Unfortunately, many a young person is made aware early the real world is fractured, commonly the result of a fractured family.  That in itself does not provide a “get out of jail free” card, either to the young person or the parent.  Of course there is the other picture, the intact social unit with mother and father present. With due respect, this idyllic life style does not guarantee the yellow brick road. 

Insult to injury; let us not forget the sin of omission, otherwise known as denial.  This is the plateau on which too many parents, social pundits, and elected officials find refuge.  Interestingly, if the district attorney’s office proves correct, many indicted youth offenders are less intrigued with this refuge.  They willingly attest to the scenario of the charges.  We of the parent and grandparent generations will probably find that astonishing; not for their honesty, but for the audacity to throw their actions in the face of authority.  Not to the credit of our legal system, the recent codification of a hate crime deserving its own level of punitive retribution is testament to a history of jurisprudence denial.  Crimes of hate date back to the book of Genesis. 

What is the foundation for this de facto recognition?  After a century of activism and martyrdom for the advancement of civil and human rights, America has matured in its admission of racial and ethnic atrocities of man against his neighbor.

Hate is not born but acquired.  From the womb we are all a blank canvass, pure in the sight of our Creator and in any court in these United States.  Respect for self and fellow man is taught and learned by example.  The gravity of the fruit from the tree may be simplistic, but proverbs themselves are born from example. School begins at home. For too many neighbors school is out.  Their children are no longer children.  For good or bad, they will be judged accordingly. 

Perhaps gloating at our progeny is an exercise at looking in the mirror.  If we employ the tools of honesty, integrity, and self-assuredness, then we should be happy at what we see.




If and when this letter is published, the decision regarding the occupant of the Oval Office will have been made. Unfortunately, it won’t alter the journalistic damage emanating from Newsday’s presidential endorsement (Editorial, Nov. 5). It is generally understood the business of a newspaper is to sell newspapers; but, it is expected to do so with responsible journalism.

The tepid endorsement of Mitt Romney was riddled with disclaimers sufficient to endorse his opponent, Barack Obama. Additionally, Newsday’s version of “tale of success” does not accurately match the former governor’s record, particularly in Massachusetts. This reflects a disconnect between its reporting sources and editorial perspective. The final insult is the utilization of Mr. Romney’s deficiencies as reason for endorsement (wavering positions and unspecified plans for solving the nation’s problems).

It comes as no surprise the repercussions were overwhelmingly negative and may lead to cancelled subscriptions. On a positive note, I was pleased to be reassured that perceptive readers still exist in our region and the ghost of Alicia Patterson, Newsday’s founder, is alive and well. I look forward to the restoration of a paper we once held in high standing.