Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What If They Held An Election And Nobody Voted?

Sanitary District 6 "Election" Day Passes With Barely A Whimper

Fred "Sandy" Senti coasted to victory yesterday in his bid for re-election as one of six paid Commissioners in Sanitary District 6. Never mind the final vote count. It really doesn't matter. Senti was unopposed. A single vote would have put him over the top (or at least in a run-off with a "write-in" candidate).

With all the hoopla and fury over exorbitant and disparate tax rates in the Town of Hempstead's multiple Sanitary Districts - where some residents pay double the tax rate of those serviced directly by TOH Sanitation - one would think there would be sufficient outrage to at least foster token opposition. With 35,000 "stops" in this patronage-riddled fiefdom, one would surmise that at least a single candidate would surface to challenge the status quo.

Ah, to think and surmise. Too much time and energy. We've got more important things to do than take on the status quo, upset the apple cart (where last year's bad apples, harvested for 2 cents a pound, are being peddled to us for $2.99 apiece), or, heaven forbid, vote (they still permit "write ins," if only in protest).

Why, even the local civic associations - and there are a multitude within the artificial boundaries of Sanitary 6 - remained virtually silent. Nary a mention of the election, let alone so much as a paltry attempt to stir the community to action.

In a community that should be up in arms over the abuses - and yes, they are abuses - of local government, there is a growing malaise, spreading like a malignant tumor smothering senses and thought processes alike. We say we care, yet do no more than grumble. We live, sometimes paycheck to paycheck, often surrounded by conditions no better than sqaulor, yet fail to take even the smallest steps forward to improve our quality of life. We have borne witness to the near-demise of suburbia - and, in many ways, its "planned" annihilation - yet remain tethered to a sputtering machine, mistaking life-support for that which, in reality, has taken away not only our ability to breathe on our own and to think for ourselves, but even the mere will to live.

As for the civics, their failure to make any noise on the glaring issues that mire our community in the muck is perhaps more disconcerting that the self-absorbed contentment of the general populace. True, the civics reflect the communities they serve, but at what point do we begin to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we like what we see? Our efforts to "partner" with the politicos rather than to fight City Hall - suggesting that we can catch more bees with honey than we can with vinegar - has rendered many a civic association into little more than a "mini-me" to the occupants of Town Hall. Too much time spent patting the pols on the back as they patronize us with promises rather than taking them to task on the salient issues of the day - praise-heaping supplanting much needed pot-stirring. Yes, we have caught many bees over the years, but not a drop of honey to be had. [And that sting - Ouch!]

We've become, in effect, apologists for the failures and inadequcies of our government, rather than the protagonists of beneficial change. Good for them. Very bad for us.

Let no one say we are complacent. Perish the thought. We are comatose. Dare we say, in some instances, absolutely brain dead. Someone please show us mercy and pull the plug!

By the way, a call this morning to Sanitary District 6 revealed that, while the vote count had yet to be completed (nearly 12-hours after the polls had closed), the tally thus far is 859 votes for Commissioner Senti, and 3 "write-ins," including one for Tom Suozzi. The victory, of course, is hallow where there is but a single candidate on the ballot, and the process about as wholesome as elections held by dictatorships under the guise of freedom of choice. [You can choose between the guy on the ballot and not voting!] For the 862 residents of Sanitary District 6 who voted, there is a rejoice of sorts for democracy in action. For the rest of us, there can be only lament for democracy's inaction!


  1. frustrated in franklin squareTuesday, August 16, 2005 11:13:00 AM

    I agree that local civic groups too often praise the politicians rather than taking them to task on the pressing concerns of community.

    Attend a civic meeting or read one of the civic newsletters, and, nine times out of ten, you will find the civics lavishing praise - in many instances where critique and criticism are due. Why do we have to publicly and profusely praise our elected officials simply for doing the jobs we've elected them to do (and for which they are paid, especially when they are not getting the job done)?

    Civic associations should be the thorns in the side of local government, being that constant cattle prod lest the herd simply graze on barren land and die of starvation.

    As for the rest of us, agreed, we are flat liners on the EEG. Who but the mindless would put up with the "garbage" (literally) heaped upon us by our Town government?

    I will be retiring in December, and after fifty-two years on Long Island, will be looking to move to more favorable and fixed-income friendly climes. Yes, this has been my home for over half a century, and I'll miss my kids (who now live in Brooklyn), but what choice do I have? Taxes aside, you call what we have in Hempstead Town living? The grand-kids will just have to get on a plane and visit me in Virginia!

  2. waylaid in west hempsteadTuesday, August 16, 2005 12:20:00 PM

    I was one of those 3 write-in votes counted thus far (not the one for Tom Suozzi :-).

    If not for The Community Alliance blog (sent to me by a neighbor who is "involved"), I never would have known about the August 15th Sanitary District vote.

    Saw nothing of it in the Herald or the Beacon - maybe I missed the fine print of the "legals" under which such public notices are typically published.

    Not even an honorable mention on the local civic association's website, which is usually pretty good in keeping the community informed.

    I, too, am amazed that more people aren't moved to action. Many of us are at the point of exacerbation and despair. I suppose, as many of the FOR SALE signs around town suggest, that more people are moved to simply move. Seriously, if I didn't have two little ones in the elementary schools and a third starting his sophomore year at the high school, I'd consider moving too.

    Let's hope more people are moved to the polls on November 8th!

  3. Talk about "brain Dead." 859 zombies heeding "the call" to rise from their patronage graves to vote "the party line" in the Sanitary District election.

    Does anyone, with the notable exception of the community alliance, raise an eyebrow? Does anybody really care?

  4. Fred Senti is an elected Sanitation Commissioner. Fred Senti is an elected Fire Commissioner. Is he legally allowed to hold two elected positions simultaneously? If so, the next question is: should anyone be allowed to do so? We should be demanding government by the people, not by the few.

  5. So, Fred Senti is a Sanitation Commissioner AND a Fire Commissioner. No big deal. If he lived in a village, they'd probably elect him as mayor and chief of police as well.

    Come to think of it, isn't Joe Ra both the Town Attorney AND counsel for Sanitary District 6?

    So what? This is the Town of Hempstead, where inbreeding assures that everyone and his third cousin twice removed gets a piece of the action, and you and I pay for it!

  6. Someone should match up the names of the 862 who voted in this sham of an election against the employee lists at Sanitary 6 and the Lakeview Fire District, where Senti also serves as a Commissioner. Bet the match would be darn close. Likely 859 out of 862.

    "Outraged?" We should be incensed. We either take these "elections" out of the clubhouse, or its the doghouse for all of us!

  7. Those you call "zombies", I like to call them "stepford wives." I find that in Long Island, (where the schools are supposed to be the best), it is a lack of knowledge amongst people that created our dilema. People don't even understand that the assessment does not set your tax rate, it is the budgets set up by these "elected officials" that determines the rate. Look at the new commercial attacking Levinson. They might as well say, "we know you people are stupid and we are going to manipulate you."
    I'd like to ask the "stepford wives" when was the last time they heard of someone calling cablevision and saying they wouldn't mind paying double.

  8. Let's see: A secret vote on the Sabbath in Sanitary District 1; District Supervisors and employees electioneering and handing out flyers signed by the Board of Commissioners in Sanitary District 2; An unopposed election in one of the largest and THE MOST HIGHLY TAXED jurisdictions, Sanitary District 6.

    And none of the above under the "control" of the Supervisor at Town Hall.

    Do we detect a pattern here? Are we ready to stop and smell the garbage in ye old Hempstead Town?