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31st December

First Published in The New York Sun, December 31, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

Time Magazine has its widely copied “Person of the Year” award, this year expanded, deservedly, to the entire military. I have decided to establish my own honor, to be given to the person (or persons) who has had the least impact on us. This year, that honor goes to the New York City Council. 

    This is the legislative body that our great former parks commissioner,Henry Stern,compared (unfavorably) with a rubber stamp. “At least a rubber stamp leaves an impression,” he observed. 
    The council has quickly become one of the nation’s least productive legislative bodies, under the leadership of its insipid Speaker, Gifford Miller.They are quick to promote every politically correct,pandering project that one can conceive of. In fact, they’ve managed to come up with a few that I can hardly believe any rational person could conjure up. 

    At first,I was skeptical about their latest initiative, the potty parity law.Yes, our municipal legislative body is greatly concerned about the inequity in the number of men’s and women’s lavatory stalls. This vast societal problem has led to unfortunate situations in places such as movie theaters where men sail in and glide out in short order, as their wives and girlfriends wait on interminable lines for the chance to accomplish the same task. Many on the council would like to mandate that women get twice as many toilet fixtures as men. 

    When I first heard of this,as soon as I finished laughing hysterically, I began to think that maybe this isn’t such a bad idea. Anytime that our City Council spends on trivia is time that isn’t spent doing serious damage in other areas. After all, the council is poised to override Mayor Bloomberg’s highly appropriate veto of the ludicrous lead paint law that they passed earlier this month. That bill is a Christmas present for trial lawyers and, as the mayor persuasively argues, could result in any number of negative unintended consequences. 

    Why, asks the mayor, would anyone want to rehabilitate older housing with the possibility of onerous legal and rehabilitative burdens being imposed on them? And since the proposed law kicks in only on apartments in which young children live, why would landlords seek out tenants with children? If it comes to a choice between the family whose child may take a liking to chewing on the woodwork, or renting to singles or older couples, why wouldn’t a landlord play it safe and keep the families with children out? 

    Mr. Bloomberg rightly points out the simple fact that lead poisoning is a rapidly disappearing condition. So much so that under the standards for lead poisoning in place until 1970, only five children in all of New York City in the year 2000 were lead poisoned. So where do we get the figure of thousands of poisoned children that is so cavalierly bandied about? By lowering the definition of lead poisoning to ridiculous levels. 

    Under today’s standard of “concern” (widely used by advocates and the press as synonymous with “poisoned”), virtually every man, woman, and child in the city right through the 1970s would be considered afflicted today. As I have pointed out in several previous columns on this subject,concern over this disappearing affliction is kept alive by trial lawyers, pandering politicos, and a cadre of political radicals. 

    Most prominent among the radicals is a talented medical doctor who practices a special brand of political science. His name is John F. Rosen, and he is the director of the Division of Environmental Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Rosen chaired the 1991 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel responsible for lowering the threshold to the current level, and as low as this is, he wants to lower it even more. Each time the bar is lowered, the potential for lawsuits vastly increases. I can only speculate what motivates him. 

    So I urge the council not to overturn Mr. Bloomberg’s veto. Why waste your time on fighting Dr. Rosen’s loony left-wing war when there’s a bigger battle to fight? Millions of women are waiting on lines in grave distress outside of ladies’ rooms from Co-op City to Tottenville. Don’t let them suffer a minute longer.

© 2003 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

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