Astoria, NY, City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., is in the news. His letter to the Brooklyn Museum, threatening to cut off the city’s $9 million funding, is believed to have been a factor in the museum’s decision to drop the MOCA-organized “Art in the Streets.” Vallone’s role isn’t coincidental. He has made a career as a graffiti hawk. Brooklyn director Arnold Lehman must have known that Vallone—also known as God’s gift to NY bloggers—isn’t a man to back down, once he gets hold of an issue.
• Vallone on the 2006 sentencing of Queens tagger Kiko: “This punk can scribble all the graffiti he wants — on the inside of his jail cell.”
• Vallone wrote New York’s law criminalizing the possession of Magic Markers by anyone under the age of 21.
• One thing Vallone hates as much as graffiti: pit bulls. He likewise connects the breed to gangs and said the city should ban pit bulls “before another child’s face is ripped off.” Vallone himself owns a Bichon Frise, “Gus Gus”—named after one of the mice in Cinderella.
• Vallone wrote a complicated dog leash law, “possibly the worst written law in the history of the City of New York,” that arguably makes it a crime to tie up a dog at a picnic.
• Vallone is also a water fluoridation hawk. In December he was planning to introduce a bill to remove fluoride from New York City’s water: “This is forced medication by the government. What’s next? They decide we’re depressed and add Prozac to our drinking water?”
I don’t mean to trivialize Vallone’s issues. Graffiti is a big problem, and pit bull attacks are a big problem. (Fluoridation, not so much.) We want our leaders to be able to look at the big picture — in this case, a ground-breaking art exhibit of particular resonance to New York — and to distinguish the important from the trivial, the rational concerns from the paranoid. Otherwise… (via Gothamist and Stanley Kubrick)