Editorial by the Publisher of Greek News Apostolos Zoupaniotis
As long as George Pataki was Governor of New York (his term ended at the end of 2006), the Greek-American Community was at a privileged position. The Governor following the example of his predecessors, Cuomo and Carey, had appointed a representative for the Greek-American Community. Every year, he was present at the Greek National Parade, and on the occasion of the National Greek Day of the signing of the Declaration of the Greek Independence Day he was organizing a special event at which the Archbishop and distinguished members of the Greek –American Community were present. At the same time he maintained regular contacts with the Archbishop of America and very often attended important events of the Omogenia. Furthermore, he was receiving many times at his office officials from Greece and Cyprus and he was adopting strong positions in favor of Greek national issues.
All these have changed after the assumption of the duties of Governor by Elliot Spitzer, who in the past was “acting” as a big Philhellene in order to reach to the pockets of the Greek-Americans. The post of the representative for the Greek-American Community was terminated; the declarations for the Greek Independence Day have stopped from being issued as well as the attendance at the parade. It is doubtful if he ever paid a visit to the Holy Archdiocese of America or if has met with Archbishop Demetrios. Even if we assume that former Governor Elliot Spitzer had no “free time” for the Greek-American Community (perhaps it was “well spent” enjoying the beauties of expensive call girls) the situation has not or has little changed when, almost a year ago and after Spitzerʼs resignation, David Paterson has taken office as a new Governor following exactly the same pattern. Only one member of the Greek-American Community (Tasos Manessis who knew Patersonʼs father) made an effort to approach him, yet without seeing any difference. This year, upon a request, Paterson issued a declaration for the Greek Independence Day, which neither he nor the recipients have made any effort to give it publicity. Of course, no official ceremony was organized by the Governor nor has he expressed-from what we know-any desire to meet with the Greek-American Community or its leader, Archbishop Demetrios.
Here, a big question is raised. Who is responsible for this terrible step-back? Why the two democratic Governors provocatively rebuff the Greek-American Community?
Before, however, one answer this question, one should think of another one: Why not even one Greek-American Organization or any distinguished member of the Community have ever protested or tried to inform the Governor or have never asked for an end to this offence against our community? I believe that the second rhetorical question gives an answer to the first one. No politician takes you seriously if you have no demands. He only remembers you at the eve of elections and when he is in need of you. Unfortunately, in New York, where the biggest part of the Greek –American Community lives, our stand shows that we donʼt rise to the circumstances and we are preoccupied with many other trivial things. Because if we did care about this we would have reacted against that behavior mobilizing Philhellene American politicians like the Democrat State Assemblyman Michael Giannaris, the Republican State Assemblyman Jim Baccales, the until recently Republican leader of the Assembly Dean Skelos. Neither we nor they have we done anything, in particular our politicians of Greek decent who have not created all these years as Greek-Americans any kind of an informal link among them in order to promote issues of our community. Neither have we ever asked them to.
There are some, who think, that since Paterson is a lame duck and Andrew Cuomo will be candidate for the Democratic Party, we shouldnʼt bother. Things however arenʼt like that. Our relations with State authorities as in any other local authority and like in Congress must be institutionalized in order to secure bipartisanship and continuity. Let us look at the issue in a serious manner, and take direct measures having as a starting point this yearʼs national parade. The Greek Federation of Greater New York as well as Archbishop Demetrios together with the Greek-American local politicians and other influential people in the Democratic Party (like Greek-American Dennis Mehiel who run for NY deputy Governor, was Kerryʼs Campaign New York State Chair and attended our parade but whom we have lost his trace since then), invite the Governor to attend the parade making clear at the same time our displeasure with the current situation.
From our part, we just say to the leadership of the Greek-American Community, here in New York, that our indifference, political games with the Political Parties in Greece and invitations to numerous parliamentarians at the expense of the poor Greek tax-payer contribute very little and are of little interest to the Omogenia.
Gentlemen, wake up from the lethargy and take the lead!