11/15/2012 03:29 pm ET Updated Jan 15, 2013

The Broken Windows of Politics

One of the main reasons we saw violent crime recede dramatically in New York in the 1990s was because the city police adopted the "broken windows" theory of policing.

This revolutionary idea, advanced first by Harvard Professor James Q. Wilson, maintained that small symbols of crime and disorder, like broken windows in city buildings, illustrates a lack of order and policing that then leaves the door wide open for more violent crime.

So, put in practice by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a crackdown on subway fare beaters and "squeegee men," those who forcibly tried to clean people's car windows and were seen as menacing by some, was the first step in attacking crime.

It worked.

We need the political equivalent of "broken windows" policing in how we treat our elected leaders in New York.

Corruption and crime has become cancerous in our body politic in New York in the last decade. People like Carl Krueger, Miguel Martinez, Pedro Espada and Larry Seabrook have actually gone (or will soon go) to jail for crimes they committed while in office.

But we have not gone far enough. We have a man in Brooklyn, the former county leader, who will walk the halls of New York State's legislature in the coming weeks and months, who is an alleged sexual predator.

So much evidence of Vito Lopez's bad behavior has emerged that his Democratic leader, Sheldon Silver, thought it wise to spend taxpayer dollars to settle two of these cases with former employees.

Yet, still, this man continues in office, representing a large Brooklyn community, free to harass female employees again. And despite ongoing investigations into his behavior, his male -- and female -- colleagues look the other way and do not ask for his full resignation as an elected leader.

What kind of example are our leaders setting for the rest of society? Why doesn't Governor Andrew Cuomo push for Lopez's ouster? Why don't smart women in the Assembly like Cathy Nolan, Deobrah Glick and Linda Rosenthal insist that Lopez resign?

Because we have an incumbent protection program rather than a "broken windows" theory of politics.

And this is one of the main reasons we have political dysfunction, low voter turnout and a lack of respect for our elected officials.

The windows are broken in New York State's Assembly. Vito Lopez must go.


Tom Allon is a 2013 Republican and Liberal Party-backed candidate for Mayor of New York City.


Follow Tom's campaign on Twitter: @TomAllon4Mayor and Facebook.