Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fun and Games at the Sanitary Districts

Remember the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and company, traveling down south, were unwittingly caught in a speed trap by a motorcycle cop? As the story unfolds, we find that the cop is also the Town's Mayor, and the Judge is the cop's father-in-law.

Laura Mallay to challenge Gerard Brown for sanitary commissioner

Well, what do you know? In Sanitary District 2, a Commissioner standing for re-election is also a Baldwin Fire Commissioner (nothing unique to District 2. The same holds true in District 6, where a sitting Commissioner is also a Commissioner of the Lakeview Fire District). And we don't have to check party affiliations to say with confidence that the "connections" run much deeper than that.

As Ricky Ricardo was fond of saying, hands on hips and that stern look upon his brow, "Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do..."

Is it that we just don't get it or that we just don't care? Or could it be that everyone and his brother-in-law is on the public payroll?
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Meanwhile, the fun and games - not to mention the party patronage - continue in Sanitary District 1. Read on . . .

Levinson: Sanitary Election Doesn’t Pass Smell Test

Lawrence- Town of Hempstead Supervisor candidate Harvey Levinson and community leaders today called for immediate postponement of Sanitary District 1 election, currently set for this Friday evening from 6 to 10 p.m.

Community leaders objected to holding the election on the Jewish Sabbath at a time precluding Jewish families from participating. In addition, many non-Jewish families will be vacationing out of town and unable to cast their ballots.

Levinson said that almost no people were adequately informed about the election, and that the only public notification was an obscure legal notice published in the Herald newspaper.

The firm of Cohen, Tauber, Spievack and Wagner LLP will be seeking an injunction in Nassau County Supreme Court.

“Holding such a poorly timed and ill publicized election shows the lengths to which a wasteful political machine will go to prevent open debate. This election was designed for one thing: to give an inefficient, self-perpetuating district the least possible scrutiny. It just doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Levinson.

“I call upon the Sanitation District to have a open and honest and fairly publicisized election. Designing an election with a goal of minimizing voter participation undermines our democratic process.”

Sanitation District 1 has an annual budget of over $15 million, with over $5 million paid in salaries and wages. The budget faces no independent review or meaningful oversight.

Critics say that the same level of service could be achieved in District 1 with greater taxpayer saving, and that the political bureaucracy should be cut. Supporters of special taxing districts, such as Republican Town councilman Tony Santino, contend that a “vast majority” of residents are willing to pay for the higher rates (Newsday, June 16, 2005).

The Republican political machine has benefited from these undemocratic election tactics.
Politically connected Superintendent Phil Mistero, brother of Republican leader Jesse Mistero, was paid $152,000 from the district in 2003.

Levinson also noted the irony of such a poorly publicized election. The GOP political machine has spent thousands of taxpayer dollars criticizing Levinson in lavish four-color mailings, but failed to publish anything notifying residents about the Sanitation District election.

“$15 million dollars at stake and the patronage machine still finds it more important to spend taxpayer dollars attacking me rather than getting the word out about this election. It’s another example of how a wasteful patronage machine puts their own interest above the interest of taxpayers.”
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Click Here to Check Out Newsday's Editorial.


  1. EXCELLENT article the underscores the strength of the political machine. Sanitary District 1 is very strongly held together by the Inwood-North Lawrence Republican Club and Jesse Mistero. Phil Mistero was a commissioner - he and the other commissioners told the Superintendent to retire and then gave Mistero the job at $90K per year. Then they created a NEW position of Asst. Superintendent and promoted another Inwood Republican, Joe Kenn. BOTH of them drive around in leased Ford Expeditions 24 hours a day and use them for family purposes as well. Joe Kenn was also voted as an Inwood Fire Deoartment Commissioner. The two people running for commissioners on this sanitary commissioner election are both strong supports of Jesse Mistero's club. These commissioners are PAID and they receive BENEFITS and RETIREMENT even though they may work full time some where else. What a sham! Our taxpayer dollars at work, cleaning out our sewer pipes rather than doing the work at hand - picking up garbage and keeping our taxes low. How did Phil Mistero's salary JUMP to $153K (in 2003)? The Misteros' nephew, George Pappas is a Sanitation Foreman. All the foremen are members of the Inwood-North Lawrence Republican Club. Office workers were added after Phil Mistero became the Superintendent - all members of the Inwood-North Lawrence Republican Club. What more can I say???? All Town of Hempstead honchos (Murray, Bonilla, Clavin, Darcy) are ALWAYS at Inwood Republican Club functions because of the large Republican base - yet these are the same wiseguys that crap all over the neighborhood by ignoring housing and zoning issues.

  2. You should check your facts...Gerard Brown is not a Fire Commissioner for the Baldwin Fire District and he never has been.

  3. CORRECTION: Gerard Brown is not a Commissioner of the Baldwin Fire District. He is actually on salary with the Fire District as Operations Supervisor.