In mere days the nation will be out looking to vote in their choice of Presidential candidate. On that same day there are a multitude of other decisions that will be decided as well. Various referendums and local and state officials will gain, maintain, or lose their positions. While I tend to not be as directly involved in local elections outside of where I live, I was born and raised in the Bronx – so I have a vested interest.
As those who have looked at my bio are aware, I went to Evander Childs High School. It was a decent public high school, with books older than I was at the time, and I have fond memories of the place. Evander has been closed and in its place (literally) there will now be 4 separate high schools. As stupid as that decision may sound it is what has happened. But in May 2008 there was a final reunion of all alumni.
The final reunion gathered hundreds of teachers and students going back as far as the 1930’s. It was impressive to see all the successes that all had spent time at this one local Bronx institution on learning. Also at the event was Carl E. Heastie, NY State Assemblyman
Assemblyman Heastie is up for re-election, his district is the 83rd and his local office is at
1351 East Gun Hill Road
Bronx, NY 10469
I met Assemblyman Heastie at the event, and after a short discussion we set up a plan to see if I could interview him. It would be good for his election hopes, and I’m never reluctant for good publicity as well. So I started to do my homework.
Elected in 2000, Assemblyman Heastie
is a member of the Democratic State Committee and was Chair of County Elections Committee of the Bronx Democratic Party from 1996 – 2000. He is a member of the NAACP (Williamsbridge), did not go to Evander but did go to public school, did go to Stonybrook College for his B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Baruch College for his M.B.A.
Assemblyman Heastie is a native New Yorker, and like many people in the Bronx a Democrat. He grew up within years and miles of me. He was not rich, and he is involved in the community. He sits on Aging, Housing, Labor, and Small Business committees. He is highly involved in education and is directly involved and leads in creating new schools.
Learning all this I was very interested in interviewing Assemblyman Heastie. I tried to contact him within a week of the Evander reunion. After 3 attempts I let it go. A month later Assemblyman Heastie had his office contact me in reply.
This was mid- to late June. The office of Assemblyman Heastie informed me of their interest in having the interview. They were excited in the fact that I have an international presence, and that my political comments are followed by enough people to fill a small city. I asked at this point if they had read any of my blog posts, which I learned they had not. I suggested that they do so, and we arranged a date for the interview – 2 days later – which had to be via phone since Assemblyman Heastie was too busy to meet with me in person (I was willing to go to the Bronx to interview him in person).
A bonus I noted was the fact that not only would this interview appear in my blogs, but I had the ability to include it on one of the biggest blogs in the world (in the top 5,000 out of 55 million at the time – 1800blogger.com
– ranked higher now) as well as several blogs related to the subject. I also planned to release a press release to ensure maximum exposure.
The next day I was contacted by the office and told that they were very excited by the chance to be interviewed by me. They were
“...looking forward to express on a national basis the support Assemblyman Heastie has for Senator Obama”
In addition Assemblyman Heastie wanted to highlight his work on education. I had no problem with this and stated that I was willing and eager to allow him to discuss the issues he supported. I again repeated the fact, that I have stated many times to every person I have interviewed or discussed the matter with, that I would provide them the opportunity to review (but not alter) the final interview 24 hours prior to publishing – factually incorrect data would be corrected in this manner (ie. typos or incorrect transcription). I also stated, as is my policy, that any additions, clarifications, or expansion of points they might wish to include would be posted as well, verbatim.
Thus, as with all my interviewees, they had the opportunity to discuss even more any issue that Assemblyman Heastie felt was important to his constituents and the nation. That could be his support of Senator Obama, need for funding and reform of Bronx schools and education on a national level, and/or even cheerleading the Democratic Party. Whatever he wished, I would have published verbatim.
Again the office of Assemblyman Heastie expressed interest and eagerness. Then they failed to contact me.
I contacted them 3 more times up to the end of July. Each time I was not allowed to speak with the staff in charge of the scheduling that I had previously spoken to. Each time I was told to leave a message. Each time I received no follow-up, or any form of information explaining why Assemblyman Heastie had abandoned our scheduled interview.
Now I am not vindictive. I’m a grown man and I can take a hit. My blogs do not rise or fall with the influence of any politician. So I let the issue go. But it has nagged me since. Not because I still have yet to hear from Assemblyman Heastie but because of what it might mean to my readers.
My concern is not for Assemblyman Heastie. My concern is his inability to face questions from an ordinary person just like his constituents. As an interviewer I wanted to discuss issues that I believe are important to the people he represents. Many have no idea of how to contact him; and fewer believe that even if they could contact an elected official that that official would pay attention to their concerns. This was an opportunity for Assemblyman Heastie to alleviate those concerns and express his beliefs. Obviously he has a desire for greater political office at some point, an interview of this nature and international exposure could have done that. I have no doubt that in the future he will attempt to do this again. But the fact that he backed out so suddenly made me wonder why.
What might I have asked Assemblyman Heastie?
- Do you support any candidate for President?
- What does the campaign of Senator Obama for Democratic nominee mean to you? What does it mean to African Americans in your view?
- What is your position on Iraq and Afghanistan?
- Many African Americans were divided by the Clinton campaign during the Primaries – what would you say to those with questions/hesitation?
- You are quite young for a politician, what motivated you to enter politics?
- Growing up in the Bronx, how important has education been in your life?
- How important is the youth vote?
- How is the current mortgage crisis affecting the 83rd district compare to the rest of New York City, NY State, and the nation?
- How are your constituents being affected by the economy?
- As a native New Yorker 9/11 had to have a massive impact on your life – what efforts have you worked on to provide safety in the world’s largest city and ensure that no America is ever compromised again?
Those were exactly the prepared questions I had for Assemblyman Heastie. I do not think they are too harsh or difficult to answer. I believe that in June, July, and August – if not now – many in America would like to see their elected officials answer these questions.
I was not asking Assemblyman Heastie why he did not respond to the 2006 and/or 2008 Political Courage Test. I did not question his political ratings
that include his votes such as:
- 45% in favor of business
- 37% in favor of conservative issues
- 90% in favor of liberal issues
- 54% in favor of animal rights issues
- 100% in favor of environmental and anti-gun issues
- and an unclear stance on pro-life, choice, or abortion issues.
Overall I felt I was fair, or would have been. But why did Assemblyman Heastie back away?
Was he afraid of an issue he thought I might have researched and learned of? Did he believe that via my ties to the community he serves I had heard something that he did not want to address nationally about his past or present? Was he not committed to his support of Senator Obama and feared that being brought to life after the interview? Does he have a prejudice against Republican Black Puerto Ricans, or at least this one in particular?
I cannot answer any of these questions. Assemblyman Heastie has refused to give me the opportunity to ask these questions. Assemblyman Heastie has refused to allow his constituents to hear the questions or answers up til now.
Assemblyman Heastie may be a very good man, and/or a great politician, I do not know. All I can say is that he agreed to and then ran from an interview without stated cause. I presume he has political ambitions beyond State Assembly. He may or may not be re-elected.
I neither support nor am against Assemblyman Heastie. His constituents will decide what to do in the voting booths next week. I ask Assemblyman Heastie to respond to the questions I have placed here, and am still willing to interview him – whether or not he is re-elected. If he chooses to respond via email I will provide that response on my blogs verbatim. If he chooses to contact me, and he has all my contact information, via phone or regular mail I will transcribe the information verbatim as best is possible and provide that on my blogs. But in all honesty I do not believe that Assemblyman Heastie will do that.
Assemblyman Heastie has acted in a manner that I personally find rude at the least. This may or may not be reflected in his political actions. But if I were still in the 83rd District on Election Day and I were posed with a choice of re-electing Assemblyman Heastie I would be hard pressed to vote for him over a rabid dog.
This is my opinion. I look forward to hearing from anyone that knows of Assemblyman Heastie or his political actions that would like to respond.** I should note that I am sending a copy of this to Assemblyman Heastie after it was posted. Again, any response will be posted verbatim.**
Labels: 2008 election, 83rd District, Carl E. Heastie, Michael Vass, NY State Assemblyman, political elections