Today’s news:

Editorial: For the record

In the long and difficult days after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, Gov. George Pataki stood side by side with Mayor Giuliani at countless podiums on hundreds of occasions. Together they reassured a terrified city that everything humanly possible was being done to help New York recover from the worst assault on U.S. soil this nation has ever experienced.

Even those who do not count themselves as fans of the governor or the former mayor or any Republican for that matter will concede that these two men — along with a host of city, state and federal officials — demonstrated outstanding leadership when we needed it the most. Like most New Yorkers, we were shocked when Andrew Cuomo, the son of one of the state’s greatest governors and a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, chose to attack Pataki’s performance during the crisis.

Andrew accused the governor of doing nothing more than holding the mayor’s coat. At first we thought it was just a slip of the tongue, the kind of thing that can happen in a political campaign. But Andrew has chosen to stand by his rather stupid comments. This calls into question his character and his own ability to lead.

First and foremost, Andrew is wrong on the facts. The governor and his staff have done an outstanding job. There were times when the governor and mayor might have clashed. Instead, they presented a united front and were able to comfort millions of New Yorkers while encouraging the thousands of rescue workers.

But more than that, Andrew was wrong to exploit the World Trade Center disaster for his own political purpose. Andrew owes the governor and the city an apology.

    

Editorial: Tears for Anna

Anna Rodriguez lived alone in a first-floor apartment on a quiet street in College Point. It is a street where people feel safe and no one was particularly concerned that an elderly woman lived by herself.

Anna was 84 on the day that a heartless young punk pulled out a screen, climbed through her window, stabbed her 13 times with a butterfly knife and left her to die a terrifying lonely death. Police estimate that Anna was dead for three days before her body was found.

For this horrendous crime, Christopher Rodriguez — no relation — was sentenced last week to 25 years to life in prison. He will be 52 when the time comes for his first parole hearing. Had he done this crime in Texas or Florida, he would be headed to death row. We question why the district attorney did not pursue a charge of first-degree murder, which would have mandated a sentence of life without parole.

According to the prosecutor, Christopher mistakenly blamed Anna for having his parents kicked out of the building. He also robbed her. Anna’s neighbors say Christopher and his accomplice couldn’t have gotten much.

No one is to blame for what happened that day except for the two men who will spend the better part of the rest of their lives in prison. But Anna’s sad death must send a chill down the spines of all of those who are uncomfortable with a society where the elderly — often of their own volition — live their senior years in isolation.

How many of our elderly live alone and go for days, even weeks, without human contact? How many Annas are out there who could lie dead in their apartments for days without anyone noticing?

There is an Anna in every neighborhood. Society needs to find ways to make sure that its senior citizens have a support system, whether it be Meals on Wheels, a visiting nurse or just a caring neighbor who checks in on a daily basis. Everyone deserves at least that much.

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