SAM (“Serve America Movement”) is ready to roll-up its sleeves

Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves and getting ready to get to work.

Little noticed in the post Election Day cacophony of political punditry was the emergence of a new third party in these United States. The “Serve America Movement” or SAM garnered enough votes to secure an official ballot position for the next four years in New York State. Now it must roll up its sleeves and do the hard work of being a viable alternative to the two major parties.

Tired of politics as usual, Stephanie Miner and Michael Volpe, two mayors from two different parties audaciously stepped up to take on the “political status quo” in New York. Running under the SAM banner, Stephanie and Mike offered a different way forward. They were two mayors working together across the partisan divide to address the real problems facing real people – things they confronted everyday as mayors. They spoke about health care, educational reform, infrastructure improvements, criminal justice reform and a corrupt political system in the Big Apple that has become rotten to the core.… Continue reading

Is it time for a real third party?

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We all know the problem. Our politics are broken. We have become more divided than ever. We have become too tribal in our politics. You are either Democrat or Republican, Red State or Blue State, Pro-Trump or part of the Resistance. Civil discourse is gone. Compromise is viewed as weakness. Common cause has given way to self-interest.

Like many of you, I am looking for a better way. A call to our “higher angels” as Abraham Lincoln once said. For those of you who have read my blog, you know I have left the Republican Party and have gone independent. In the last Presidential election my vote was for “Neither”. I have been in the wilderness looking for a new path. (How is that for hyper-linking to my past blogs? Read them later if you want, but let’s continue on).

Here in New York, we have an Election Day coming soon and we don’t have much of a choice. But we … Continue reading

Two paths…or maybe three

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I met an interesting woman in the woods last week. This may be a strange way to start my story, but it started as a routine meeting. She was an insurance adjuster and she was inspecting a boarded up building on some property my family owns in northern Westchester that we someday hope to redevelop. She needed to make sure the building was properly secured from trespassers – mostly local kids, hunters and some people who ride their ATVs across our vacant land. I knew she had come from a long way because when we arranged the meeting she said it would take her an hour and half to get there. She had come down from the border of Dutchess and Orange Counties in upstate NY.

As we walked up to the old stone house, I told her that we had planned to redevelop the property several years ago, but the economy changed for the plan we had intended and we were working on a Continue reading

Reflections on America

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Sometimes in order to understand how good we have it in this country you need to get away.

Last week I travelled to Mexico to build houses for the poor in the dusty hills of Tecate, Mexico. It was no Club Med – in fact it was called “Club Dust” and we built houses for poor families that were living in houses made from loading skids stuffed with cardboard. We take a lot for granted in America.

Club Dust was founded by Ray Meltvedt, a Californian “bro” who works by day as a Senior VP for Landsberg, a national packaging company, but is a missionary in his soul by calling at all other times. Ray and his volunteers cross the border every month to serve God’s people in need. I was introduced to Ray by our mutual friend Jim Killoran, Executive Director of Westchester Habitat for Humanity. It is a chance to put your faith into action and lift your mind, body and spirit while … Continue reading

Revolution

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“You say you want a revolution, … we all want to change the world…”                                                                                               Revolution, The Beatles

Revolution. Change. We are told every election “This is a change election”. President Obama promised us “Change You Can Believe In”. Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”. Hillary was hoping to make us “Stronger Together”. And Bernie Sanders called us to “Feel the Bern” in a people’s movement. But where are we heading?

When I was in high school, my teachers at Iona Prep would hold “mini-courses” during the doldrums of early March. It was a few days away from learning Physics, Calculus, English, and History to open our minds and let the faculty spread their wings a little. You could take a two day course in Yoga, Poetry, Disco Dancing, or some other alternative learning experience. Faculty and students alike enjoyed the break. One mini-course I took was called “The Lyrics of the Beatles” and it was taught by one of our hippy-dippy English teachers. We … Continue reading

Miss Kosovo

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Miss Kosovo made an appearance in Westchester. It was not a public appearance, There were no sparkling evening gowns, no silk sashes and no diamond tiaras. The TV cameras were not there, the photographers’ cameras did not flash and there were no runways to walk down. Just a 22 year old girl from Kosovo with an American Dream.

Mirjeta Shala came to Mamaroneck for a retirement party for a woman she did not know. Her fiancé, Rory, works for my family’s real estate company. They live humbly on the Upper East Side in a tiny apartment which Rory looks after as the building superintendent. They are expecting a baby in a few months. They are hoping to build a life together in New York. By the way, they are both Muslim.

Rory is also from Kosovo. He is part of a family of 5 brothers that came to New York after serving in the Kosovo Army during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia during … Continue reading

Putin the Pundit

PutinWelcome to the new Red Scare. The charge is that Putin and the Russians hacked our emails and that changed the results of our elections. I am still having a problem understanding how he did it – not the hacking, the changing the results of our elections.

Certainly we should all be concerned that the Russians are hacking our emails. I would assume we are trying to hack theirs, as well as wiretapping and surveillance and the like. Isn’t part of our national defense trying to find out what the other guys are up to? In fact in recent days there is ample evidence that it has been going on both ways between the US and Russia. So much for state secrets.

But back to changing our election results. After the election, our U.S. intelligence community releases a report that the Russians had hacked the emails of the DNC and it had an effect on our elections. But it didn’t say how. The report assured … Continue reading

A Rich Man

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We elected a rich man as our President. Or did we?

Several years ago when I was a prosecutor in the Westchester DA’s office I had a friend named Bill Fleming. Bill was a smart and principled Irishman in the old mold. He liked to read and was thoughtful and poetic. We were both assigned to fight crime in Mount Vernon and he was my branch chief. Mount Vernon in the 90s, a city on the border of the Bronx, could be a tough and depressing place – drugs, violence, and domestic violence were a daily part of life. 

Bill used to tell me about his father. With a twinkle in his eye and a touch of the Irish poet, Bill would say, “My father was a civil servant. He never had a lot of money and we lived in a cramped apartment in the Bronx with 5 kids. He was the richest man I ever knew”. I did not know his dad, but I … Continue reading

The Heart and Soul of America

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America has voted. Every 4 years we do. We have just elected a President that not many expected. It was a strange election cycle for sure.

During the campaign, each side claimed the mantle of knowing “our American values” and that the other side did not share them. But what are those values?

The morning after the election, I posted the following:

Announcement: Old rules apply

Work hard to get ahead. Make something, sell something, own something, provide a service. If you succeed, congratulations. If you fail, try again … this is America. No crying, no whining, no marching, no safe rooms.

Good news – we are all equal. Bad news – we are all equal.  We can always do better. So go out there and make something of yourself. America will survive.

Now I have to go to work.

Many responded positively to the message. 

We do have some shared American values. America is the land of opportunity. If you work hard, you can Continue reading

Neither

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Dear Millennials,

I am sorry you had to see that. The Second Presidential Debate was hardly presidential. No talk of the future, just mudslinging about the past. It made us all cringe.

This year’s Presidential Election has been like no other in my memory.  We have two flawed candidates that over 60% of voters believe are not trustworthy. Most voters wish there was another choice.

Recently I decided to de-register from the Republican Party after the nomination of Donald Trump at its convention.  As Ronald Reagan famously said of his former allegiance to the Democratic Party, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, it left me”. That’s how I feel about the Republican Party under Donald Trump.

My article “Going Independent” (below) received many nods of concurrence from moderate Republicans who were not for the Donald, but could never vote for Hillary; many expressions of support from Democratic friends who were relieved that I was not for the Donald; and many independents who said welcome to … Continue reading