Posted by Next Left Notes - December 20, 2009 | News

NWU president Larry Goldbetter stands with NLN editor Tom Good
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — December 21, 2009. On Saturday, National Writers Union President Larry Goldbetter issued a statement defending union writer, and NLN editor, Thomas Good who had recently been on the receiving end of what Goldbetter described as “an unprincipled attack” by Staten Island GOP boss John Friscia.


Goldbetter’s statement was only the most recent salvo fired by two sides that have squared off over the issue of Good receiving a Congressional certificate from Congressman Mike McMahon (D, NY-13) this past October. Honored by Peace Action for his work as a photojournalist, Good, along with three other honorees, received a certificate from McMahon’s office for “community service.” The Tea Party and the Staten Island GOP leadership attacked McMahon for issuing the certificate, prompting a response from Peace Action’s Sally Jones and subsequently a statement from Goldbetter.

Ironically, neither Peace Action, Goldbetter or Good support McMahon’s political positions. In his acceptance speech, at a Peace Action dinner, Good said that “I hope that it’s okay that I didn’t vote for this guy.” For their part, Peace Action will be holding a protest at McMahon’s office tomorrow — objecting to his support of the escalation of the Afghanistan War — and Goldbetter is annoyed that McMahon voted against health care reform.


On December 11 of this year, Staten Island Republican Party Chair Friscia, a personal injury lawyer whose firm has as its motto, “Representing the people, not the powerful,” issued a press statement condemning McMahon for giving an award to Good. Friscia’s ostensible objection to McMahon’s office issuing the award was that Good is a “radical” who helped the new SDS in 2006. Friscia appeared to be repeating charges levelled at Good by Staten Island realtor Frank Santarpia who earlier had written a letter to the editor of the Staten Island Advance. In the letter, Santarpia identified himself as an “organizer” with the Tea Party, an ultra-right group that claims to be “non-partisan” despite the fact that they regard President Barack Obama as a “socialist” who is responsible for their members being “crushed under the boot-heels of radicals.” Santarpia’s website argues that Obama’s administration is “making capitalism a dirty word.” “They and their minions work day and night” towards this end, Santarpia said.

The Staten Island Advance reported that Friscia, like Santarpia before him, had come to the conclusion that McMahon’s giving a certificate to a radical was evidence of “Mike McMahon’s liberal agenda despite his conservative press releases.”

According to the Advance, “McMahon spokeswoman Lauren Amendolara called Friscia’s statement ‘inane.'”


Peace Action responded to Friscia by issuing a press statement, “correcting” the GOP party boss. The statement said that:

Peace Action of Staten Island wishes to correct Staten Island Republican Chair John Friscia’s public statement criticizing Congressman Michael McMahon’s office for issuing a community service certificate to Peace Action honoree photojournalist Thomas Good.

Peace Action of Staten Island feels this honor was well-deserved. Mr. Good has given countless hours to record and document many Staten Island events on the online news website Next Left Notes (, including rallies and forums for health care reform, marriage equality, living wage jobs, and for bringing the troops home from eight long years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Staten Island Advance has benefited from Mr. Good’s work to cover events that they do not have the resources to cover. Whether or not Mr. Friscia believes in the position of the hundreds of Staten Islanders who have participated in these events, as someone who believes in the free press, he would have to agree that the coverage of these events is a community service.

Mr. Friscia’s statement condemns Mr. Good for his support of the “radical” Students for a Democratic Society, which is a network of multi-issue student groups around the country grounded in the principle of participatory democracy that was revived in 2006. The new SDS members consider themselves “radical” because they want to change society to end oppression, create a sustainable economy, and end wars of aggression.

Peace Action of Staten Island stands for the “radical” ideas of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible and negotiating now for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Many Staten Islanders have come around to believing in these “radical” ideas, too. We want to thank Congressman Michael McMahon for the certificate his office gave to photojournalist Thomas Good in recognition of his documenting these efforts.


On Saturday, Larry Goldbetter, President of the NWU — Local 1981 of the United Auto Workers – issued a statement expressing his support of Good:

I want to congratulate photojournalist Thomas Good on receiving his certificate of recognition from Congressman Mike McMahon. I am proud to count Tom among the more than 1,400 members of the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981, the only union for freelance writers of all genres. Tom has spent thousands of hours and covered countless struggles of working people and in the service of progressive causes. Frankly, the Congressman could learn a thing or two from him, especially in relation to the current struggle for healthcare. Congressman McMahon was the ONLY Democratic Congressman from New York City to vote against the health care bill.

As for the unprincipled attack by Staten Island GOP boss John Friscia, a trivial job if ever there was one, Tom should consider that yet another award, a badge of honor. As a former member of SDS myself, I consider the years spent actively opposing the genocidal war in Vietnam, opposing racism and building a worker-student alliance as having set the course of my life on the side of working people. There’s an old union song called, “Which Side Are You On.” We know the answer with both Tom and Friscia. And I’m standing with Tom Good.