Yesterday Assemblywoman Grace Meng skirted the issue of financially supporting a political consulting firm whose close affiliate both profits from and promotes the world's oldest profession.
Meng, who represents Flushing and is of Asian descent, is paying Multi-Media, the firm that operates out of the same office as the Queens Tribune, to do the printing for her run in the contentious 6th Congressional District Democratic Primary. She did this without realizing, or maybe without caring, that the head of Multi-Media is also the Tribune's associate publisher, and the Tribune sells as many ads as it can each week for "adult services" from women, most of them Asian.
These are ads that offer things like "Sweet Asian Girls — $50 per Hour" on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale, and "Young Asians Body Massage" on Cherry Avenue in Flushing, and "Hot Asian — Youngest Sexy Girls — Lowest Rates in NYC — Party Girls Available — Multiple Girl Specials" (no address there, but it's a 718 number).
The ads feature lots of silhouettes of well-built young women in poses like you used to see on tractor-trailer mudflaps. Real classy stuff.
The Chronicle asked Meng about her hiring of Multi-Media at a press conference Thursday on — of all things — sex trafficking! Meng is being honored tomorrow by the Center for the Women of New York, which has made battling the sex trade a priority. The center's chairwoman, Ann Jawin, apparently chose Meng as a recipient before the latter decided to run for Congress and hire someone who helps enable an illegal industry to do her printing.
Meng said she would talk to Multi-Media about the ads. Talk. OK.
About a year ago, Jawin asked the weekly newspapers of Queens to stop running such ads. She mostly got the brushoff. But the Chronicle signed a pledge to not accept them — we hadn't been anyway — so Jawin gave Publisher Mark Weidler an award.
We haven't forgotten our commitment. The sex industry in New York isn't just about Midwestern girls who came to the big city with dreams of being Rockettes and ended up having to do what they had to do to pay the rent and eat — which is bad enough. It's also about women like those in Flushing who are forced into hooking by gangsters who do things like steal their passports and beat them after luring them to Queens with lies about jobs cleaning houses and the like. We are not going to stop doing what we can to highlight this issue.
That's why you see stories in our paper about Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya's efforts to combat sex trafficking; columns by the senator on the same; coverage of Jawin's group; and stories about any hypocrisy or lack of knowledge we see out of candidates for office.
What a primary. The party leaders probably didn't expect a primary against Meng from a political pro like Assemblyman Rory Lancman, but they got it. They probably didn't expect the party chairman's own cousin to run against his choice for the office, but she did. They probably didn't expect revelations about how an operative tried to recruit Jewish candidates to take votes from Lancman, but they were made. They probably didn't expect a dark secret from their stalker candidate's past to drive him from the race, but it did.
And they probably didn't expect anyone to do anything but cheer when their candidate was named the recipient of an award for supporting women's rights. But we are. Certain questions need answering.