Sanity Fair

Anonymous Critics of Mark Muhammad are Wrong-Headed

Mark Muhammad is a respected member of this community and is in a good position to deal with the issue of race.

Thirty-five years ago, when Mark Muhammad was a student at Henninger High School, the president of the Syracuse City School Board was a Roman Catholic priest.



End of Slavery Didn’t End Different Experiences for Whites, Blacks

Americans of different races still see the country they love so differently.

Sometimes when Le Moyne College history professor Doug Egerton is writing about the 19th century, he feels like his material could fit into today’s headlines.



By the Letter of the Law

State Sen. John DeFrancisco’s decision to take a payout is especially egregious, for a number of reasons.

A few years back, state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) took the common sense approach toward pensions: A pension is for retirees.



Changes Lie Ahead in 2015

It would be easy to call 2014 a difficult year.

My friend Walt Shepperd, when he used to share this space with the late Karen DeCrow in alternate issues of the New Times, lamented on the difficulty of keeping time in 14 day increments.



Local Cuban Immigrants Hope to Help Families Left Behind

Local Cuban Immigrants have plenty of passion to go around

A friend told me that the lobby of the Cooperative Federal Credit Union, where she works, is usually full of Cuban-born Syracusans on Fridays. So last week, just two days after President Barack Obama announced the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba and a series of measures designed to increase economic ties and travel between the two Cold War enemies, I thought that would be a good place to go to take the pulse of the community.



Michael Vick Must Be So Confused

Don’t Pretend U.S. Doesn’t Torture

It’s great to have Dick Cheney back. I so enjoyed his brutal honesty and curled lip as he referred as a “bunch of crap” to the report on CIA torture issued by the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is much more pleasing than the voices of supposedly “reasonable” men and women who seek nuance and end up obscuring hideous truths.



Coach Uses F-Word in Book

Worth the read.

I’m not giving anyone the George W. Bush biography of his father for Christmas this year, but for my oldest son I did pick up the book that Jim Boeheim wrote with Jack McCallum.



Tear Down the Walls in our Segregated Community

Our scars may appear to come from self- inflicted wounds

Ferguson burns while Syracuse smolders. A young man takes two bullets on West Beard, arrives at Upstate in critical condition. A young mother is buried after being shot in Kirk Park. A 17-year-old boy walking on South Avenue is shot nine times Thanksgiving weekend, and, miraculously, is expected to live. Our scars may appear to come from self- inflicted wounds, but take another look. The reaction to the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict should tell us this if nothing else: It is not just about the cops. What is most striking is the persistent divide: black/white, rich/poor, county/city. How we react to issues near and far is, in large part, due to which side of those lines we find ourselves sitting on. We are, according to a recent report by CNY Fair Housing, among the most segregated communities in the nation. This is not news. It is the best-known fact that most of us ignore every single day. We shrug, as if segregation were a law of nature rather than the product of social policies and market forces that we have chosen to allow to run free. Listen to Sally Santangelo, of CNY Fair Housing: “This compounding of segregation and economic isolation that I think is really hurting our community.” She goes on to say that if you give her the address of a child, she can predict, with a slim margin of error, the race and probably the eventual success or failure of that child. That does not sound like the land of opportunity. It sounds like apartheid. Who decides that it is acceptable for more than half the children in one corner of our community to fail to graduate high school while others await their AP scores and college financial aid packages? Who decides that a black man’s life is worth less than the life of a white man? Bear with me. Sometimes we have to stare straight into the face of despair to find reason to hope. The poor will always be among us, but if we let the free market call all the shots, they will be increasingly herded into an ever-shrinking and ever more dangerous and hopeless corner of our town. Mixed-income communities thrive and the children in mixed-income communities climb ladders that kids surrounded by poverty don’t know exist. How do we reverse this process of apartheid and rebuild communities where professionals and working people and poor folks live close enough to shop together, worship together, attend the same soccer or football games? Let’s look at the fine print in the Fair Housing Report. Tucked inside its list of recommendations is this one: We need to consider a countywide school system. And what, you might ask, does that have to do with housing and poverty? Everything. Just a few days after CNY Fair Housing released its study, Mayor Stephanie Miner revealed her wish list for the “Syracuse billion,” a proposal of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At the top of her list: water mains that won’t break. Down at the bottom, just because it costs so (relatively) few dollars ($10 million, to be precise) was this: Fully fund the Say Yes promise. Think about what Onondaga County would look like if we put these two pieces together. The mayor has said for years that creating a countywide district might be a good idea, but she is a politician and said the idea has no traction. If Say Yes were fully funded, and people believed in the idea, it could give the idea the traction it needs. What if the Say Yes endowment were fully funded? What if the Syracuse City School District were merged with the rest of the county? Struggling middle-class families in the suburbs and struggling poor families in the city might find what they thus far lack: a common cause. We pay lip service every day to the fact that we are a community but, in reality, most people outside the urban core don’t see themselves as having much of a stake in what happens to the city’s youth. This is not a social problem that we can solve through charity. Take every backpack in every store in every mall in the county and stuff it with books and pencils and Cliff bars, and you still would have the same demographics that condemn poor kids to substandard education. Meanwhile, we grow further apart, retreat behind our walls, one side growing more and more enraged while the other grows more fearful. Someone needs to start tearing down those walls.



Todo es Culpa de Obama

Immigration, Afghanistan, Benghazi

Todo es culpa de Obama. Todo.



You Get What You Pay For

How ’bout that raise?

Just a day after the elections, I’m sitting in my editor’s office and in walks our esteemed publisher. The publisher is a well-known conservative Republican. The editor describes himself as a proud liberal Democrat, and I prefer to be known as an unaffiliated radical; I’ve always been taught that in our system, political parties stand for only one thing — winning elections — and that is not a principle I care to sign on to.