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Serious problems at Merchant Marine Academy
Keeping his promise to address serious problems of sexual assault at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy before he leaves office, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has authorized the reinstatement of Sea Year training on commercial ships — with some very significant caveats.
In a letter sent Friday afternoon that was obtained by The Point, Foxx tells Supt. James Helis, who heads the federal service academy, that stunning findings by outside consultants “should alarm all of us.”
In a study, the consultants confirmed a prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault at the Kings Point campus and at sea, and pointed to significant deficiencies in the academy’s communication, leadership and culture, including its handling of harassment and assault issues. The findings also showed a culture of fear and retaliation at the academy, an emphasis on alcohol use, a lack of attention to positive core values, and concerns about hazing, bullying and discrimination.
“It has been made clear to me that, absent greater vigilance, we have been putting too many young people at risk,” Foxx writes in a separate letter sent Friday to the school community.
Last summer, Foxx suspended the academy’s tradition of placing midshipmen on commercial vessels for a year of their schooling. The resumption of the commercial Sea Year, Foxx said, will be phased in only after significant changes to the program, including expanded oversight and accountability, and improved procedures to handle concerns of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Foxx will require each commercial shipper to go through a new credentialing process to make sure it meets the new criteria.
The release of the study and action plan is the easy part. For any of this to become more than just words, everyone will have to be on board.
Randi F. Marshall
Clinton’s next campaign
Just when we thought the door had closed on one of the topsy-turviest elections in memory, the conservative website Newsmax threw out a juicy and very unlikely possibility: that Hillary Clinton comes down from the Chappaqua woods to run for NYC mayor in November.
The website, owned by a former Clinton enemy converted to Clinton donor, alleged that unidentified top Democrats were urging the former presidential candidate to lower her sights and try to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio. It would be a city politics step down-comeback attempt even more surprising than former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s try for city comptroller, sure to be followed even more closely than former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s disastrous run for mayor in 2013.
An unidentified “well-placed source” told the Daily News Friday that Clinton kept the possibility for a run open in a conversation this year. But Clinton’s camp has given no indication that we’ll be treated to the pleasure of the first woman to win the presidential popular vote sharing a debate stage with de Blasio, a former employee who belatedly endorsed her in 2015.
But there’s a case to be made that Clinton would be well-suited for the mayoralty, sometimes referred to as the nation’s second-hardest job. She could throw herself into meat-and-potatoes policy, from bike lanes to reforming the Administration for Children’s Services.
She could craft child-care policy to be used as a model for the nation. She could keep her head down and get the potholes fixed, from time to time emerging for a photo op at the UN or in front of Trump Tower.
Following de Blasio’s example, she wouldn’t even have to have news conferences. She might have to get a little better with her MetroCard, though.
Nuts over nuts
Swearing-in comes to Seaford
After an upset win in the 8th New York State Senate District, John Brooks is already showing the charm of a citizen legislator. Brooks will hold a local inauguration ceremony in Seaford Friday afternoon to kick off his Senate career. He was formally sworn in Wednesday at the Capitol in Albany.
Seaford is where Brooks’ family has resided for generations, and it’s where he served as a fire chief and a school board member. Brooks specifically asked for a community ceremony so his constituents and family members could attend.
“This is our approach, this is how we’ll be running the office, having the community be more a part of the process,” Brooks said, adding that finding better ways of reporting to residents is his priority.
The 4 p.m. ceremony will be at Seaford High School to symbolize his campaign promise to fully fund education. Expected guests include Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and New York State Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Brooks beat Republican incumbent Michael Venditto after a five-week recount to become Long Island’s second Democrat in the State Senate. Newly elected State Senator Elaine Phillips in the 7th District is not planning a local ceremony.