A Reflection On Inauguration Day

A Reflection On Inauguration Day

A Reflection On Inauguration Day
January 30, 2014

Many elected officials view their relationship with the media as inherently adversarial. When I made this point at the weekend retreat City & State co-hosted recently for the incoming members of the New York City Council, one of the veteran members erupted, “That’s because it is!”

Sure, there are those who make their living as “gotcha” journalists, and others who wallow inschadenfreude. However, for the majority of reporters the commitment to uncover corruption that sometimes puts us at odds with politicians arises not from the desire for personal gain, but out of reverence for the public good. We bring to light waste, incompetence and error not to revel in the shortcomings of others, but to safeguard the interests of those who are wronged by these offenses.

Elected officials who have nothing to hide tend to enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the press. They regard us as a means of amplifying their efforts, and as a partner in exposing the ills they have dedicated their lives to curing. They realize that we are not some Borg-type entity, which feeds on their suffering, but human beings whose needs and concerns align with their own.

I am a lifelong New Yorker. I was born and raised in Ben Kallos’ district. When I returned from college I moved first into Inez Dickens’ district and then to Brooklyn, into Brad Lander’s district, which was represented at the time by a now forgotten councilman named Bill de Blasio. After that, I lived for almost four years in one of the neighborhoods Carlos Menchaca will now represent, and for the last six years I have settled in Steve Levin’s district, where I am raising my family.

My daughter is a public school student. We depend upon the city’s parks and cultural institutions. I ride agonizingly packed G, L and 4 trains to and from work. My wife is continuing her education at CUNY. Together we have watched with trepidation as our neighborhood in Greenpoint has grown steadily less affordable. And, trust me, journalists know firsthand about the challenges of income inequality.

The last thing I want is for our elected officials to fail. On the contrary, I depend upon them to succeed. At the dawn of a new administration, it is my sincerest wish that this mayor becomes the greatest our city has ever known; that the incoming Speaker and the new Council governs more wisely and justly than any of their predecessors; that the commissioners and agencies attain their fullest potential, and solve all the municipal enigmas that continue to baffle us.

Over the next four years and beyond, it will not be City & State’s aim to rack up scalps, or chortle at the misfortune of our leaders. If they fall short, we shall not cheer. For the consequences of their trials and transgressions will not be borne by any one individual, but by all of us as a city.

Morgan Pehme