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Unexpected addition to work group on marijuana
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created a work group to draft legislation for legalizing the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana in New York. That move Thursday has been a foregone conclusion since a multiagency study he commissioned in January concluded that the positive aspects of a regulated marijuana market in New York outweigh the negatives.
This work group is charged with crafting a plan to regulate the market effectively and minimize the harm of legalization. And based on his selection to the panel of Family and Children’s Association of Long Island CEO Jeffrey Reynolds, who has been involved in the field of addiction treatment and policy for decades, Cuomo really does want to hear about the potential downsides of legalization. Reynolds always has been far more outspoken about the dangers of legalization than the upside.
Reynolds says he was consulted in the creation of the initial report, and Cuomo and his administration know of his reservations and want to hear a variety of voices. Characterizing his own view, Reynolds said, “I have significant concerns about legalization itself . . . but I’m a lot more worried about the dangers of a widespread commercial marijuana market than I am someone growing a plant or smoking a joint.”
But Reynolds says his sense is that commercial sales are coming to the Empire State.
So what can a naysayer contribute? Reynolds says he hopes he can be a strong voice for making sure legalization is done as safely as possible, New Yorkers are educated on the dangers of marijuana, particularly for young people and pregnant women, advertising is properly regulated, and effective measures are put in place to prevent the sale of marijuana to and its use by minors.
People unhappy with State Sen. Marty Golden of Brooklyn are getting creative.
On Thursday, street safety and transportation advocates held a protest walk around the block of Golden’s Bay Ridge office. And on Friday, a Trump-era community group called Fight Back Bay Ridge will be at a local street extravaganza called Summer Stroll, distributing bright yellow anti-Golden reusable tote bags as well as red fans in the shape of a stop sign that read “STOP MARTY.”
The protesters’ main issue is Golden’s history of opposition to speed cameras. It’s contentious because the Senate GOP impeded renewal of a New York City speed-cameras-near-schools program before the end of session, and the cameras shut off last month.
The other issue is that Golden is a rare Republican in the city political contingent. And this year, he’s facing energetic challenges from two Democrats and the attention of anti-Trump protesters. So he has changed his tune a bit on speed cameras and has said he favors getting the band back together in Albany to finish speed-camera work.
There’s been little movement on that front, despite howls of protest from city officials who say the cameras save lives. And his policy shifts don’t appear to have mollified the protesters. They say he should “walk the walk” on speed cameras, hence the protest walk. They and other Golden critics also have dredged up past traffic violations from a car affiliated with Golden, plus the fact that Golden once drove a car that hit a pedestrian who later died (authorities ruled he wasn’t at fault).
And it’s only primary season.
It was all about the cookies
Perry Pettus, a Hempstead Village trustee, and William Mendez, a bar owner, were indicted this week by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas for their roles in a protection scheme in which restaurateurs allegedly were forced to pay protection money to stay in business.
The defendants, Singas said, referred to the alleged bribes as “cookies.”
And so Pettus and Mendez took their place in a long and inglorious tradition of referring to bribes as food.
Tuesday’s indictments brought to mind the corruption-bribery conviction earlier this year of Joe Percoco, the former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who stole terminology from “The Sopranos” TV show and called his payments “ziti.”
A recent Securities and Exchange Commission case involved a Texas medical devices company fined several times for bad behavior seeking lucrative contracts with Mexican hospitals by bribing officials with “chocolates.”
The vocabulary is not exclusively American.
In many countries, the parties involved refer to a bribe as money for something to eat or drink.
In France, a bribe is for a pot-de-vin (glass of wine). In Spain, it’s mordida (a bite). In China, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iran, the bribe is money for tea. In Syria and Brazil, it’s for coffee. In Turkey, it buys soup. In South Korea, it’s for soju (a liquor most similar to vodka). In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a bribe is just “beans for the kids.” And in the Czech Republic, during a soccer scandal, it emerged that bribes were referred to as a “little carp” — and now the fishy phrase is a national euphemism for corruption.
Money, in general, has a host of gastronomic synonyms here and abroad, which makes sense since both money and food can make one gluttonous. The terms range from dough, bread, gravy, cabbage, lettuce, cake and cheddar to lobster (a particular Australian note), “arbuz” or watermelon (1 billion rubles in Russia) and biscuit (£100 or £1,000, especially in casinos, in Britain).
But there’s a difference between regular money and bribes. As every food and cash lover knows, only bribes are taken under the table.