A bit late, but I want to start by wishing all of you and your families a happy and healthy 2021. The year is off to a mixed start, to be sure, with hard-won victories in Georgia and terrible violence at the Capitol. But we are looking forward to a new President and this January is a special one for me. Deborah and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary and I am about to celebrate my 65th birthday. I hope you’ll join me on Feb 7th to celebrate these milestones at a fun Mad Lib (it takes one to know one) campaign fundraiser. We had hoped for an outdoor celebration but current restrictions on gatherings force us to wait for better days. So we’ll zoom this time.
Working for the Georgia Victory
I applaud those who worked so hard for this important victory for new Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. We did our small part by writing at least 600 postcards between me and Deb, scribbled and marked up with a kaleidoscope of colored pencils, crayons and Sharpies. We couldn’t stop. We became addicted. Thank you to the two suppliers who gave us our regular fix: Rhianon Navin of Indivisible New Rochelle and Amy Stern of Moms Demand Action/Westchester.
Freezing for the Workers
Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital nurses were featured in a New York Times article in December about the second COVID-19 wave now upon us. I recently spent four very cold mornings standing with them, the first time to demand reopening the maternity ward, then for safe staffing to protect the health of patients and nurses and to end a bad-faith lockout by hospital management.
Then just before Christmas with four of my colleagues, I was out in the cold with janitors and cleaners who are members of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union at the City Center mall in White Plains. We were there to tell the mall manager to obey the law that we on the County Board had enacted in 2019 to protect employees from replacement by a lower-wage, non-union contractor without proper notice or the opportunity to keep their jobs while searching for other work.
The County budget process for the coming year was a tough one but despite the loss of revenues because of the pandemic, it includes some important items to improve the life of Westchester residents. I fought hard and got some additional money for day care and some cost savings at the jail. We continue to make progress in undoing the depredation of the pre-2018 era of disASTORous INane Officeholders in power in this County. But we can still do better. Although I wanted more in the budget and am impatient for more change, I voted yes. If you have about 7 minutes, you can see what I had to say about the budget, beginning at 06:55 of the final Budget Committee video of 2020.
The REAL Face of Anarchy
Here’s an exchange I had with a person responding to my email demanding Trump’s removal. This one being marginally less personally abusive than some others, I felt compelled to think through my words and actions over the spring and summer, and reply.
From: [ redacted ]
Sent: Friday, January 08, 2021
To: Damon R. Maher
Subject: Re: Trump Must Be Removed From Office
I didn’t see you denounce the riots of the blm/antifa happening this past summer, or the burning of police stations and buildings. You are quick to point fingers!
From: Damon R. Maher
Sent: Friday, January 08, 2021
To: [ redacted ]
Subject: RE: Trump Must Be Removed From Office
Mr. [ redacted ]:
Thank you for reading and responding.
We all do what we can.
I was at over 40 marches, rallies and vigils last year. I had varying degrees of responsibility for organizing or publicizing all of them. I spoke at about half of them. In all communications from me and my allies we emphasized the necessity of non-violent protest. At not one was there a single broken pane of glass, much less a single broken bone. People spoke, chanted, sang — sometimes quite loudly — but there was not even any hint of an atmosphere that things might turn ugly, except for one where there was some violence…
One mid-September evening, I was with a group of about a hundred protesters on the sidewalk at the south end of Washington Square Park in Manhattan. Three unarmed, college-age people slipped through between NYPD sawhorse-type barriers onto the street. Three groups of four or five officers each quickly grabbed all three, punching them as they brought them to the ground. Bicycle police calmly went to the barricades and formed a line to divide the protesters from the full squad of police in riot gear. The protesters’ bike brigade, including me, lined up across from the bike police, to divide bike police from the protesters, who screamed some pretty vile stuff at the police before filtering north to march — noisily but nonviolently — uptown, escorted by the bike police and the bike brigade to Union Square and……nothing happened.
As a patriotic citizen, especially as a LAWyer, I am expected to respect the LAW — that word is right there in the name — even while hoping the law could be improved. I ran for elective office in government as a means of improving laws. I am not an anarchist. But a guy who spends five years preaching hate and inciting violence while campaigning and governing….well, maybe that guy is the anarchist.
Be well, stay safe.