News and Media
The 72nd annual Alfred E. Smith dinner took place on October 19, 2017 in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown Manhattan hotel. The yearly event brings the country’s most outstanding religious, political and business leaders together to support non-profit organizations that benefit New York’s children most in need of assistance.
The dinner honors the memory of the first Catholic to be nominated by a major US political party as the Democratic candidate for president in 1928. As a governor of New York, Smith was known as the “Happy Warrior” for his optimistic attitude and positive outlook as he labored to solve some of the most difficult problems confronting society at that time.
Every year the organization honors one person as the newest “Happy Warrior,” and this year John K. Castle, Chairman and CEO of Castle Harlan Inc, was that special person.
Actress and producer Patricia Heaton broke ground at this year’s dinner as the first woman to emcee the event. Vice Chairman of the organization, Mary Callahan Erdoes, introduced John K. Castle, mentioning that he has participated in the dinner for the past 38 years.
“During those 38 years, I’ve heard a lot of bad jokes,” Castle said. “And, unfortunately, a fair number of those ‘bad jokes’ got elected,” he gibed.
Also appearing at the dinner were the New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who gave the keynote address, and Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio, who recited the invocation.
Cardinal Dolan’s closing remarks included praise for those in attendance:
“…this event is really all about virtue; the virtue of a wonderful politician named Alfred Emanuel Smith, whose service to God, this state, this city, this one nation under God, was legendary. The ‘Happy Warrior,’ who stopped smiling only for a few moments when confronted with rejection and bigotry because of his own ethnic background and deep Catholic faith when he ran for president.
“The virtue of Jack Castle, who this evening received the award named after that ‘Happy Warrior.’ The virtue of Patty Heaton, our emcee this evening, whose joy and commitment to God and country are so luminously radiant.
“The virtue of a national leader, admired by all sides for his own patience, determination and sense of duty, whose own faith and patriotism, love of family and loyalty to friends—and I’m sure honored to be one of them—is so uplifting, Speaker Paul Ryan.”
Mr. Castle received his BA from MIT, his MBA from Harvard, and is the CEO and chairman of Castle Harlan.
Although California Governor Jerry Brown might agree, at least in theory, with fellow Democrats desire to see President Trump’s tax returns, he nonetheless vetoed the legislation his state’s legislature passed to force such disclosures in the future.
Saying that such a requirement, that presidential candidates submit their last five years’ worth of 1040s to California state officials before they can have their names on the ballot, would send California down a “slippery slope” of unconstitutional requirements, making it more difficult for candidates to participate in elections.
“While I recognize the political attractiveness – even the merits – of getting President Trump’s tax returns, I worry about the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “First, it may not be constitutional. Second, it sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”
Other states, along with California, have such legislation dragging along, but their constitutionality and legal force are highly speculative. In the past the US Supreme Court has determined that states are not allowed to add to the needed requirements for US Senators or Congressmen. California’s counsel has also published the position that such a presidential disclosure bill is likely unconstitutional. Other legal experts disagree and say that such a law could be approved by SCOTUS.
After Hurricane Maria swept through the unincorporated US territory island of Puerto Rico, “complete devastation” remained behind. In response to the destruction, Governor Ricardo Rossello requested more aid from the Pentagon in particular to provide more search-and-rescue support and other humanitarian help.
Rossello said, “We need more resources from the Department of Defense so we can get helicopters and resources. We know that there are capabilities in the surrounding areas, helicopters, planes and so forth. And our petition is for us to be able to use them.”
The Defense Department said that there are six Navy helicopters and three Osprey planes from the Marines that are working on search-and-rescue now, as well as assessing the overall damage to the island.
Several days after the hurricane pummeled the island there were still many areas without communication to either the capital city of San Juan, or the outside world. Because roads are destroyed, the commonwealth government sent out people by foot to find out what the situation is in other parts of Puerto Rico.
Rosello also urged President Trump to lower the amount spent on disaster relief that would need to be paid back to the US government by Puerto Rico, which has been suffering a severe economic crisis in recent years. Rossello also requested that Congress treat his island just like any other US state when deciding on a broad and inclusive emergency aid package.
“Whatever relief package we have, whatever impact we have, we are U.S. citizens,” Rossello said. “We shouldn’t be the lesser for it.”
It seems likely that President Trump will announce a roll back of the President Obama era DACA program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that was enacted by executive order in June 2012.
A rescinding of the program is in keeping with Trump’s campaign promises of cracking down on illegal immigration, and is expected to meet with support from his most loyal supporters. An outcry, however, is expected, as DACA is considered a good solution for people, known as ‘dreamers,’ to continue contributing to society and not punishing them for being brought to the US illegally as young children.
It is expected that there will be at least a six-month lag time between the announcement of DACA’s nullification and the actual expiration of the program, a period of time that many supporters of the program hope congress will take advantage of to enact legislation achieving the same goals as DACA.
It is estimated that 800,000 undocumented immigrants are benefiting from DACA, which has been a popular program among Democrats, with most Republicans accepting it as a compromise between a humanitarian response to the predicament of innocent people who were brought to the US against their will, and a strict rendering of immigration laws. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Republican Congressman and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin both warned not to nix DACA.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, would like to see Congress pass a law which will protect the “Dreamers.”
“My hope is that as part of this process we can work on a way to deal with this issue and solve it through legislation, which is the right way to do it and the constitutional way to do it,” Rubio said to CNN last June.