Monday, August 08, 2005

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight?

Absolute Power Corrupts - Absolutely!

Rick Brand, in his Politics & Power column of Newsday's August 8th edition, takes aim at Harvey Levinson, the Democratic candidate for Town of Hempstead Supervisor, for what Brand characterizes as an orchestration of the failed bid to unseat a sitting Commissioner in Sanitary District 2. [SEE Candidate's Idea Gets Trashed.]

Its a rather bizzare - if not factually inaccurate - take, made even more absurd by the side-bars of the likes of Joe Mondello, GOP County Chair, and Democrat Joe Scannell, both of whom refuse to see the forest for the trees. Maybe its a "Joe" thing - that old ignorance is bliss. Sure, upstart candidate Laura Mallay, president of a local civic association, didn't take down the machine Commish (given a few more weeks to "get the word out" and an election that folks were actually aware of, she just might have), but she carried the banner - as a civic activist, not as anyone's "recruit" - publicizing a bread-and-butter issue that only Harvey Levinson had the courage and the gumption to bring out of the shadows: That we are being ripped off, and quite handily, by these unnecessary taxing jurisdictions.

We expect Mondello to characterize Levinson and the Dems as "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." That's his job and his mantra. As for Democrat Scannell, could be he believes that the inequities of the Sanitary Districts, and other sordid taxing jurisdictions, are non-issues. Or maybe he's just not willing to risk political capital on matters of such great significance that they rattle the very core of politics as we have come to know it on Long Island.

As we see it, the key determinate in this election was the Sanitary District's use - or should we say, "misuse" - of taxpayer resources in mailing out a political flyer to all residents prior to the election. Period. It is just very, very difficult to compete with that if you are an underfunded challenger, claims of support from the Dem funded autocalls (made after the machine-mailer was sent out, in an effort to address it) notwithstanding.

The bottom line is this: When a powerful political machine defeats an underfunded, virtually unknown reformer, that's usually not news. Why Rick Brand decided to frame the outcome as a surprise is beyond us. Then again, this is August, when political news is scarce, and there's slim pickins for even the best of the pundits.

Perhaps the issues raised by Harvey Levinson - such as the bane of illegal rentals and the true cost to all of us of the Sanitary Districts - won't resonate with voters in the fall classic come November 8th. Maybe we'll continue the tradition of voting against our own best interests, financially and otherwise. That would be a real shame, considering the impact such long-neglected issues have on our quality of life and on our pocketbooks.

Oh, and by the way - "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," based on a novel by Jimmy Breslin, showcased the likes of Jerry Orbach and Robert DeNiro. Not too shabby company for Harvey Levinson and the Dems to be likened to!

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