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Comment on Padavan deplorable

Was it sour grapes or hubris that gave rise to the coarse partisan comments of Shams Tarek, the communications director for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, who was quoted in the May 14 TimesLedger story “Dems criticize Padavan’s support”?

Tarek, a former chief of staff to City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows), who narrowly lost a state Senate election bid to Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose), offered a vitriolic rebuke to Padavan for writing a letter to the sentencing judge in the case of disgraced former Democratic Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin.

The letter did not ask for leniency, but asserted that Padavan and McLaughlin worked on legislation together in the state Capitol. In an attempt to link Padavan with the misdeeds of McLaughlin, Tarek wrote, “It seems that Senator Padavan’s campaign slogan that ‘Nobody cares like Frank’ is especially true if you’re a corrupt politician who steals money from little kids.”

How much deeper into the political morass can we sink? Tarek’s remark epitomizes the sort of mudslinging tactics that sour many people in politics.

To impugn the reputation of Padavan by implying a connection with the deplorable conduct of McLaughlin is repugnant and a stretch, even for a political operative like Tarek. Civility in politics is scarce enough, and the poisoned tone set by Tarek does nothing to elevate the discourse. His method of “communication” seems to be vituperation and represents everything wrong with politics today.

In 2006, I wrote about the blatant conflict of interest of McLaughlin, who at the time also served as president of the city Central Labor Council. Party officials were not troubled by that behavior nor are they troubled by the behavior of former Council colleague Hiram Monserrate, who is on trial for allegedly slashing his girlfriend’s face in an injury requiring more than 20 stitches, judging by their complete silence on this matter.

Tarek’s transparently phony outrage about Padavan’s letter serves to increase voter cynicism about politics−as−usual and its sliding scale of ethical standards that seem to appear and disappear at will. This makes it harder for Council candidates like myself, who do not subscribe to this type of political partisanship, to connect with those now turned−off voters.

Bob Friedrich

City Council Candidate


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