IT’S THE PROPERTY TAXES, STUPID
Once, in a galaxy far, far away, there were massive property taxes that threatened to consume every homeowner…
Duh… 46 school district budgets failed. Many that passed came through by razor thin margins. Are folks disgusted with the property taxes? Ya think? Sometimes, just sometimes, you wonder whether anyone is paying attention to us.
Upstate school districts get upwards of 60% of their budgets through State Aid. The average State Aid to Long Island school districts hovers around 13%. What gives? You wonder why our Governor has an approval rating in the 30s – and he has to “think about” whether he should run again. Run, George. All the way back to Peekskill!
Of course, you really can’t put all the blame on the elected. The electors have a little to do with the mediocrity we send and return to office – ad nauseum. How many times do I ask, “Just how stupid do they think we are?” The answer – pathetically stupid. And the proof is in the pudding – a complacent, uninformed, willing to believe whatever they see and hear (I’d say read, but most of them don’t – or can’t), stepping into that voting booth and sending buffoons to “represent” us everywhere from the State house to the White House. This in the vain hoping of savoring a few table scraps and fruit cake crumbs.
We buy into the myth and the mystique – like those warm and fuzzy TV spots for Haliburton, with all the trees, the clean air and water, the gushy concern for the environment. This from the folks who rape the forests, put money in the pockets of those who sponsor terrorists, and care for only one tree – or should I say Bush.
Closer to home, when a fella named Golisano was running for Governor as a third party candidate, telling us that the sky is falling on New York’s finances, nobody listened. The guy was barely a blip on our radar screen. We shrugged our shoulders and sent the two-bit grape farmer back to Albany. NOW we blame Pataki?
Truth is, its no different in our own backyard. We blindly followed the Nassau County parade – right off the edge of the cliff into the abyss – then blamed the showman we so willingly returned to office - again, and again, and again. Everyone knew Tom Gulotta was a larger than life personality – the man of a thousand photo ops who was wholly absent on the managerial scene. Why, even Joe Mondello knew what he was shoving down our throats all those years. Fact is, we kept closing our eyes, opening our mouths, and pleading, “More please.” Just how dumb are we? Tom Gulotta was who Tom Gulotta is. A genuinely decent, relatively humble, truly personable guy who lacked the skills to manage Nassau County, and whose underlings – the anointed and the appointed – knew and cared even less. You can’t fault Tom Gulotta for being, well, Tom Gulotta. Blame Joe Mondello? Sure, why not? In lesser counties, they would have run him out of town on a rail. In Nassau town, we just keep threatening to shut those rails down, lumbering along the potholed road on a broken wagon with three reinvented square wheels. Is it really Joe’s fault that we let them get away with it – year after year, decade after decade?
Last weekend, I was watching the Star Wars movies in anticipation of Episode III – The Trilogy, Episode I, and I really don’t know what happened to Episode II (Was there an Episode II? There had to have been.). Let me tell you, never watch these movies before you go to sleep. You’ll have the strangest dreams. Call it a nightmare, actually…
I found myself in the alien bar, as appeared in the original Star Wars. It was Election night, 2005, and the Nassau County Republicans had rented out the bar for the evening. The other-worldly were all in attendance, rattling their light sabers, speaking unintelligible gibberish, devouring gruel imported from The Sand Castle in Franklin Square. And then the shocker.
Up steps Joe Mondello to the microphone to announce that Greg Peterson – the once Town of Hempstead Supervisor regurgitated as the party’s answer to Tom Suozzi (Who asked the question?) – had been elected County Executive. [Apparently, Suozzi could not come back after the Lorna Goodman scandal broke in late September. Something about stiletto heels, whips, chains and a dungeon in the basement of the old County Court House. Hmm. Let’s not even go there…] In saunters Greg Peterson, a blinding flash of light glinting off of his gold jewelry. He gives us his broadest signature grin, with that whiter than white smile, and, before he can say a word, lifts his hand to his face and briskly pulls off a mask, revealing none other than Tom Gulotta. I gasp. The assembled begin to take notice.
Wait. It gets worse. The crowd ooohs and ahhs. [That’s all they ever do, isn’t it?] Petersen again lifts hand to face (I’m not certain it was his own hand, though that rarely matters in the circles he travels), and off comes yet another mask, this time revealing none other than Joe Mondello himself. Joe – the other Joe – which one is the real Joe makes no difference. They are all Joe. - puts his arm around the man we thought was Peterson, turns to the gathered GOP, and proudly proclaims, “Greg, I am your father…” At that moment, in slimes Jabba the Hut, disguised as none other than Town of Hemp…
It was at that point I awoke, bolted out of bed in a cold sweat, and ran to check the calendar. Phew. It was only May, not November. There was still time. But hold on. Was there time enough to save the Empire, let alone the Town and County, so far, far away. Where is Yoda when you need him? Geez, I can’t even pick up the phone to call the President to warn him that the alien invaders are walking among us. [Fade to the Oval Office, where the President has just screened Episode III – although he thinks its FOX news footage of the invasion of Afghanistan. As the credits role, W wipes the popcorn off of his PJs, as Dick Cheney approaches from behind. “George, I am your father…”].
But I digress. What were we talking about? Oh yeah. Those stupid property taxes. Who do we blame for this terrible, terrible mess in which we find ourselves? We’ve all heard the age-old expression, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What do we do, however, when that tired, old machine finally does break down, and there’s no R2D2 around to make those crucial repairs? Why are we governed by our inferiors? Who, pray tell, do we blame?
We have seen the enemy, and he is us!