Elected officials should show solidarity to their constituents, especially when the government issues a stop-work order. But my off-the-cuff poll revealed that Brooklyn’s five congress members and one senior senator were low-ficials for holding themselves above their districts’ newly beggared federal workers, who saw the rug pulled from underneath them when Uncle Sam closed shop last week.
Non-essential employees were furloughed, indefinitely. Essential ones were on duty without pay. The lights were out at important government offices. Parks, piers, beaches, and some after-school programs were closed until further notice. And disease-prevention work and clinical drug programs were hamstrung. But our bureaucratic blimps on Capitol Hill were skipping all the way to the bank.
Granted, their sweet, $174,000 salaries are constitutionally protected. But my survey found that none of these greedy “one-percenters” had the good grace to join ranks with the more than 130 nobler Democrats and Republicans who willingly forfeited their wages until they could return to work, including only two from the entire State of New York, at last check: Rep. Chris Collins (R–Niagara County) and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D–Cold Spring).
My question to the Brooklyn electeds, posed through multiple e-mails and phone calls to both their district and Washington offices, was a simple one: “Will you donate or refuse your salary over the course of the shutdown?”
Note, all but one of the lawmakers polled were “in and out of the office all day,” according to their phone handlers and aides. I reckoned that gave them plenty of response time on one of the most idle days of their entire public service careers — especially if their answer was “yes.”
But I discovered that when it came to putting their money where their mouths are, the congressional chatterboxes were timid tightwads.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Coney Island), whose website refers to him as a “hardworking legislator and community leader,” had “no comment.”
Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) disqualified himself as a candidate for his own award recognizing “outstanding public achievements,” when he answered through a flack that he would part with his dough only if Congress forced a vote.
Rep. Yvette Clarke’s (D–Flatbush), who stated last year, “much more work remains in the struggle for equality and human dignity,” didn’t bother to answer at all.
Ditto for Rep. Jerrold “I’m here to serve you” Nadler (D–Bensonhurst), and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Carroll Gardens), who nonetheless champions “American standards of nondiscrimination” with a straight face.
As for Sen. Charles Schumer (D–Wealthy N.Y.), who bills himself as a “tireless fighter,” bolted like a streak of lightning. No one answered the phones at Chuck’s district and Washington offices, although the doorman at his Park Slope residence said the senator was “working” in D.C., and gave me a withering look when I asked to speak to Mrs. Schumer through the intercom.
Brooklyn’s Selfish Six were dispatched to Washington to do a job. But if they can’t fulfill that requirement, they should not be pocketing a paycheck.