Between homelessness, classroom disorder and rising crime, it might seem like there is plenty for the City Council to do. But instead of dealing with such humdrum matters, the council’s tackling the threat of nuclear war — by reaffirming New York’s status as a nuclear weapons-free zone, and setting up a commission to oversee compliance with that directive.
A hearing this week took on nuclear disarmament directly. Danny Dromm sponsored legislation to create an “advisory committee to examine nuclear disarmament and issues related to recognizing and reaffirming New York City as a nuclear-weapons-free zone.” This, in a city that has zero nuclear weapons — or even military bases.
Many New Yorkers may not know, but will surely be relieved to learn, that the city has banned the “production, transport, storage, placement or deployment of nuclear weapons” since the passage of a resolution in April 1983, at the height of the Reagan-era “No Nukes” movement.
The hearing quickly ran into difficulty when Commissioner Penny Abeywardena, though agreeing with the peacenik principle, insisted that the responsibility didn’t fall under the ambit of her office, which is focused on relations with the United Nations — mostly, public relations and handling parking-ticket complaints from scofflaw consulates.
“The presence of nuclear weapons in New York City,” she clarified, “is not an international issue.” Moreover, since the deployment and use of nuclear weapons is a federal matter, “cities do not have jurisdiction or involvement in this decision-making process.”
Look out Kim Jong Un!