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Mayor dodges Sheehan debate


Mayor dodges Sheehan debate
Bloomberg says the anti-war protest is not a 'local issue,' but his opponents, soldier's kin feel differently
BY GLENN THRUSH
STAFF WRITER

August 29, 2005

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants no part of the wrenching national debate over Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protest, arguing yesterday that the bereaved mother's peace campaign isn't a "local issue" in New York.

But Bloomberg's effort to duck controversy only seemed to accentuate the Republican mayor's pro-war stance in a Democratic city that, on balance, is decidedly opposed to the invasion of Iraq.

It's not a local issue, and I don't have anything to say," Bloomberg replied when asked about Sheehan's ongoing protests near President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Sheehan's son Casey, 24, died in Iraq last year.

The mayor's response, or lack thereof, elicited an emotional reaction from Carmen Depompeis, whose brother, Pfc. Hernando Rios, 29, was killed earlier this month in Baghdad. The father of three, who lived in Woodside, was one of 10 members of the Manhattan-based Fighting 69th Army National Guard regiment killed in Iraq.

"He was born in Manhattan, he was raised in Queens, he was a local issue," said Depompeis, 40, who opposes the war and supports Sheehan. "Many soldiers from his unit have died. That's a local issue."

Late Sunday, Bloomberg himself e-mailed a statement saying he respected "Cindy Sheehan's right to protest and greive [sic] in any way she likes."

The mayor added that he's attended many soldiers' funerals, consoled their families and is "acutely aware of the tradgic [sic] sacrifices that are being made every day."

Bloomberg's earlier remarks elicited sharp rebukes from all four of his Democratic opponents, who accused him of dodging a national issue made all too local by the deaths of 32 New Yorkers in the war.

"Cindy Sheehan is protesting a war in which New York's soldiers fought and died," said Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, who is anti-war and is running against Bloomberg. "The mayor should be willing to stand up to Bush and his fellow Republicans and say that this was an unjust and unnecessary war."

Democratic front-runner Fernando Ferrer asked: "How can you not feel for a mother? How can you not try to put yourself in that parent's shoes?"

Speaking at a City Hall news conference, the former Bronx borough president said, "It's an issue for all of us."

A spokesman for City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, of Manhattan, echoed those remarks. Queens Rep. Anthony Weiner called for Bush to meet with Sheehan.

Weiner voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution in October 2002. He now says he would have voted no if he had been given accurate information about Iraq's capabilities.

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I'm understanding the vote for HR375 will be held in
September. How many more signers are needed to pass this investigation into the Downing Street Minutes? Reminder to everyone to PUT PRESSURE ON YOUR CONGRESSMAN to sign on!!! URGENT

Mayor Bloomberg's avoidance of the Iraq war issue and Mrs. Sheehan's protest which has brought that issue to the forefront of the collective American conscience, is yet another clear signal that the right wing will not face up to the truth. At this time last year His Honor was basking in the red, white and blue glory of the Republican Convention and sending his stormtroopers out crush dissent. I vividly recall Democracy Now being the only outlet for the truth about how Bloomberg had the protesters and anyone else caught in the middle arrested and shipped off to a contaminated pier along the East River. Some show of leadership, eh? One year later this phony is afraid to answer the question because even he knows the true answer, if given, will unravel the power to trip to which he and the other right wingers currently cling. He and the rest of the right wing phonies must continue to be pressured to answer these questions and when they refuse, keep asking, again and again. Force them to look like the fools and liars they truly are! Memo to the good people of New York, restore your city to democracy and then get on board to help the rest of America restore democracy all across the land.

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