A.G. Eric Schneiderman: Conservatives are trying to 'rig the game'
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Health and hospitals, libraries and economic justice were topics of concern at state Senator Daniel Squadron’s sixth annual 26th District Community Convention on Sunday.
The event brings together hundreds of the Senator’s constituents from the oddly-shaped district, which includes neighborhoods lining the western Brooklyn waterfront, lower Manhattan and Governor’s Island.
Aides took notes of residents’ concerns about more than a dozen topics broken down into separate discussion groups. Sen. Squadron says their comments will help shape his agenda for the coming year.
On the topic of health and hospitals, a large and engaged group demanded that Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill remain open as a full service hospital. They raised the alarm about the removal of equipment by SUNY, which is in the process of closing the hospital before a new operator can take over, and objected to an upcoming ambulance diversion.
The ambulance diversion “really has me distressed,” said one Brooklyn resident. “The traffic on Atlantic, Flatbush and the Brooklyn Bridge prohibits emergency health care,” she said.
Residents also asked Sen. Squadron to help a potential incoming operator at LICH, Brooklyn Health Partners, obtain a temporary operating license. Dr. Don Berman, an intensive care doctor at LICH, told the Brooklyn Eagle, “We look to our legislative leaders at the state and federal level to help implement and facilitate an immediate plan to keep LICH’s doors open and health care viable,” for Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Red Hook and other neighborhoods.
A Manhattan resident, mourning the loss of St. Vincent’s, urged Brooklyn residents to “stay and fight for LICH! We’ve lost the only ER on the Lower East Side. Now it’s just a clinic, and you can only go there if you have Medicaid.”
Eric Schneiderman Keynotes
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman delivered the keynote address at the convention, touching on topics of justice, the economy and political representation on the state and local level.
Among other pressures, conservatives are trying to “rig the game” politically and economically, he said. “Conservatives know they can’t win a fair fight, so they are making it harder to register and vote. New York State has the 44th worst voting record of any state.” He called for universal registration. “If we can move from 35 percent to 85 percent voting, conservatives will never take the state back.”
He said his office is working to reverse Citizens United, a Supreme Court ruling that allows unfettered political spending by corporations in elections, and also on the issue of economic inequality. “We figured out that inequality is the biggest problem in the U.S. today. It will ruin the economy and lives. This is not the world I want my grandchildren to grow up in.”
Schneiderman recounted a comment by Elizabeth Warren in 2011. “They’re trying to rewrite history and deny their responsibility, as if the crash was a natural disaster like an earthquake,” she told him.
Sen. Squadron reiterated the need for citizens to push for change. “The Convention is a reminder that speaking up and getting involved is worth it,” he said. He cited a passage from Dr.Seuss’ story, “Yertle the Turtle” – where the turtle king forces his turtle subjects into a stack -- as a parable to remind people to speak out.
“Little Mack, the turtle at the bottom, said, ‘We, too, should have a voice.’ But Mack’s voice was ignored,” Squadron said. “It’s a familiar feeling for all of us, being under tremendous pressure” from issues like housing, schools, libraries, heath. “It’s really tough to be heard up and down the stack. Money drowns out anything else.”
Events like his convention are meant to give people down at the bottom of the stack a voice, he said. While “I don’t take on every issue raised,” he said, “It’s a big part of setting my priorities. “
After the official program, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined the awards ceremony, during which Sen. Squadron recognized work by community groups, including members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) for their work in keeping LICH open.
Attending on behalf of the LICH coalition were Vera Johnson, Jeannie Segall, May Ng, Maribel Agosto, Dr. Donald Berman and Eric Smith.