This is going to be the kind of holiday season when you're really going to be glad you've got family and friends to be thankful for. Let's face it, when you count your blessings this year the first thing that springs to mind is not going to be the New York state legislature.
But let's give it a shot. On the New York front, I'm thankful for ...
Governor David Paterson. Didn't expect that one right out of the gate, did you? He's leaving soon, so maybe that makes me feel nostalgic. But for all the bumbling, the messes, the false starts, we could have done worse when it comes to an accidental governor. He had the right instincts about the budget. He understood the legislature, and even if he couldn't actually handle them, he kept them from making things any worse. Having said all this, I'm also thankful Paterson won't be the governor any more.
Andrew Cuomo. The jury is so very out. But for now, let's just be thankful he's not Carl Paladino.
The subway station at 96th and Broadway. Fixing it up seemed to take about a decade of traffic tie ups. And the renovations didn't even solve the main problem, which is the lack of space on the platform. But I've got to admit it looks pretty nice.
Geoffrey Canada and all the charter schools. They are not the answer to the problems of public education. But in New York City, quite a few of them work very well, providing students with a better education than they might have had otherwise, thanks to visionaries like Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, and the many donors who support these efforts.
The public school teachers who do not work in charter schools. No donors come and give them rooms full of the best possible supplies and text books. Often, they buy what they can for the kids with their own money. Their jobs require intensive work, often carry huge stress, and the pay is still only so-so, especially for the newbies. Talk about heroes.
The Ground Zero settlement. I'm thankful the people whose health was compromised by their work at Ground Zero after the terrorist attack have finally got a court settlement that will help those who are now disabled support themselves and their families. I'm particularly grateful that the construction workers, who've been the unsung victims, will be getting some help. I just wish it was more, and that the federal bill to make it more would finally get passed in Congress.
Jed Rakoff This federal judge has been an avenging angel for ordinary Americans who lost billions of dollars in the financial meltdown. The Bank of America purchased ailing Merrill Lynch without telling its shareholders that executives of the tottering brokerage were paid $3.6 billion in bonuses. Rakoff stepped in after the SEC gave the bank a tap on the wrist in the form of a $33 million fine. Rakoff sent shockwaves through Wall Street by rejecting the deal, saying it lacked the "most elementary notions of justice and morality." (The judge reluctantly signed off on a revised $150 million settlement earlier this year.)
Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) and Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) are gone gone gone from the state Senate. Kicked out by the voters. Democracy works! Of course, besides creating total chaos in Albany with their ever-shifting allegiances, one of them beat the heck out of his girlfriend and another charged his state-funded non-profit for everything from salaries for his relatives to sushi deliveries. The sushi went to his house, which was in the suburbs, not his district. But I'm still thankful for this evidence that there are some things you can't get away with, even in New York.
On the same note, see: guilty plea by Hank Morris, aide to disgraced former comptroller Alan Hevesi and possible retrial of Joe Bruno, former state Senate Majority Leader.
Finally, let's give thanks for Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Village, Rockefeller Center, ticker tape parades, the Bronx Zoo, home delivery of almost anything imaginable, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Broadway, Times Square, ethnic restaurants ... well, you get the idea ... Happy Thanksgiving.