Today’s news:

Saying ‘No’ Is Not Enough

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is incensed the city budget will include the elimination of a CUNY scholarship fund created by his father 13 years ago.

He noted the scholarship had gone from $1,240 in 2008 to only $500 last year and will be possibly nothing next year. He is also upset about the closing of an after-school program in East Elmhurst.

Parents can choose to put children in an alternative school, but these are often too far from home. Vallone believes Queens is taking the brunt of the city’s cuts.

The mayor and the city agencies must come up with a balanced budget. If Vallone wants to challenge a spending cut, he has to offer an alternative means to increase revenues or reduce spending. There is not a cut that will not be seen as “unfair and unacceptable” to some Council member.

Last week, in the wake of the failed car bomb in Times Square, the mayor reversed plans to cut the police force. While this will be covered in part by unexpected revenues, jobs and services will have to be cut somewhere else.

No politician ever lost votes by protesting budget cuts. But in these difficult times, protesting politicians should be asked to show where money will come from to protect pet projects.

Just saying “no” is not enough.

Gerrymandered to ‘Oblivion’

New York’s political parties have seen redistricting as an opportunity to solidify and expand their political power. Generations of politicians have engaged in ruthless, cynical gerrymandering. But until now they pretended to have respect for the principles of democracy.

That changed last week when state Senate President Malcolm Smith told a meeting of Democratic legislators that he intended to redistrict Republicans into “oblivion.”

We agree with former Mayor Ed Koch: for Smith to say that was “stupid.” Koch believes an independent commission should be formed to redistrict the state’s legislative lines.

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris and Sen. David Valesky, both Democrats, have introduced a bill calling for the creation of an independent commission. We believe voters would support this legislation.

We call on Queens state legislators to make it clear whether or not they vote in favor of reform.

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