Thursday, May 26, 2005

Patronage As Way Of Life In Hempstead Town

Newsday confirmed today what most of us already knew – at Town Hall in Hempstead, its politics as usual, and rampant party patronage rules the day. Why, they don’t even try to hide it anymore!

The wife of former U.S. Senator and Republican Party big-wig, Al D’Amato, was named to the TOH Board of Zoning Appeals (the folks who ultimately decide what gets built in our township), and she also got a seat on the Town’s Planning Board. Katuria D’Amato, a securities attorney who, as reported by Newsday, once sued the University of Washington, alleging that she was rejected because she is white (we told you, Kate, always check the box next to “Other.”), was said to have submitted her resume (where her zoning and planning experience is limited to the million dollar property the D’Amatos purchased in Lido Beach) to Town Supervisor Kate Murray, and was given an obligatory thumbs up by the Republican dominated Town Board. [Dorothy Goosby, the lone Democrat on the Town Board, voted nay to the political plum.]

Patronage is one thing – after all, who are you going to appoint to key positions, your political enemies? This, however, is political cronyism run amuck. Fail to get re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives? No problem, you’ve got a job at Town Hall. Get the boot as Nassau County Comptroller? Don’t worry about it. We’ve got an office for you at One Washington Street. Marry “Senator Pothole” (the man who, by the way, holds second place in the Senate’s record books for the longest fillerbuster, suddenly the bane of every Republican), and you land an influential job on the Town Zoning Board. Can a cushy position at Town Hall for the ex-Mayor of the Village of Hempstead be far behind?

The dangers and downsides of one-party rule - and the miscarriage wrought upon democracy that results - are nowhere more obviously pervasive and overtly notorious than at Town Hall in Hempstead, where one party continues to serve itself, above all, and all at the expense of the people they are constitutionally bound to work for. There is a very real sense, given the cavalier and brazen attitude of both the appointed and the anointed, that the party’s place at Town Hall, secure for nearly 100 years, is more a birthright than a privilege bestowed by the electorate. Shame on them. Shame on us!

To paraphrase Town Supervisor Kate Murray, drawing (admittedly out of context) from her quote in Newsday, “I find it kind of sad…” So do we all, Kate. So do we all.

Perhaps Lord Acton said it best. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
READ THE NEWSDAY ARTICLE:,0,7097594.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

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