Political speech is the most protected form of speech we have and one of the main reasons why the First Amendment exists in the first place. We have not just the right but the duty to criticize our government, to call for the political leaders to be ousted when we feel they no longer act in the interest of the people, to condemn the political careers of those we consider to be bad public servants.
This is a government for the people, and those elected and appointed to serve must recognize that their decisions will be challenged, that what some consider their misdeeds will be criticized and that they serve us at our pleasure – we have the power to install them, and we have the power to remove them.
This is our government, and the only way the people can continue to hold the reins is by speaking our minds in whatever form it may come – from standing on a soapbox on the corner to political blogs, and all ways in between – including political cartoons.
Cartoons have made some of the most venerated political criticism in history. The cartoon drawn for the St. Saviour’s rally in July may not reach that height, but it was political speech and must be protected. The reaction by the city to say they would refuse to work with the rally’s organizers until they got an apology was inappropriate and childish. People are going to take their lumps in public service; it is not all about benefits and a pension plan. You have work to do – our work.
Now stop complaining and get back to work.
The Mayor's Community Resistance Unit
Editorial from the Forum West:
For more than a year and a half, the Juniper Park Civic Association has been trying to work with the Mayor’s Community Assistance (now Affairs) Unit to save St. Saviour’s church and grounds in Maspeth. The group says they were told several times by Matt Gorton, former Queens CAU Director, that the mayor was not interested in helping them. Why he believed that he was capable of speaking on behalf of the mayor is something perplexing. But so is a commissioner sending a poorly worded and insulting letter in his defense to the largest civic association in the city with the mayor’s name at the top of the letterhead.
To our knowledge, Ms. Parvizi has never introduced herself to this particular civic organization or to any others in this readership zone. Someone who is fairly new to her job should take the time to understand the sentiments of her constituents and learn their needs before making accusations and demands the way that she did in her letter.
Matthew Gorton is no longer with the CAU, and this group welcomed the opportunity to work with the new Queens CAU Director, Jennifer Manley. Unfortunately, with her letter, the commissioner managed to taint this new relationship before it had even gotten started.
The former Queens CAU director so vigorously defended in her letter was demoted to a backroom position because he couldn’t handle working with the public. If she continues down the path he took, Ms. Parvizi may soon find herself with a similar one-way ticket to nowhere land.
Her predecessor, former CAU Commissioner Patrick Brennan, now works for the Parkside Group, the very lobbying firm that was hired to represent the St. Saviour’s developer. Could he have been working on their agenda before resigning his post with the mayor’s office, which is why this group is being given such a hard time with regards to St. Saviour’s?
Notice that in her letter, Ms. Parvizi didn’t say one word about St. Saviour’s, the trees that were cut down, the polluted environment or a new park for Maspeth. These were all the things that were topics at the rally. The sign getting all the attention two months after the fact was not.
Since his re-election the mayor has become a scarce visitor to the neighborhoods of western Queens that voted heavily in his favor. He has issued his typical aloof responses to the blackouts and flooding we experienced here. This latest infringement on public freedoms goes along with his agenda of silencing people, i.e. the proposed ban on photography on city streets and in the subway, the arrest of innocent bystanders during the Republican National Convention in 2004 and the ban on protests on the Great Lawn of Central Park.
It is clear that Ms. Parvizi is an inexperienced commissioner who no doubt was elevated to her position as a reward for her loyalty to the administration. She naturally is a cheerleader, because those in power only like to hire people who do what they are told without questioning their bosses’ motives or tactics. Therefore, ignoring pleas for help and attempting to squelch free speech must be official mayoral policy.
Perhaps instead of renaming the agency “the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit”, the former Community Assistance Unit would have been more appropriately renamed the “Mayor’s Community Resistance Unit.”