Stop The Presses! Hempstead Town Supervisor Misses Photo Op.
With all the photo opportunities in which Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray unwittingly finds herself – from Senior Centers to ribbon cuttings to the awarding of Citations to everyone from artists to zoo keepers – it is somewhat mind-boggling to learn that Smilin’ Kate missed a grand opportunity to step before the cameras, and, of no less moment, to perhaps benefit the people and communities of Hempstead Town at the same time.
When Hillary Clinton toured Long Island on Tuesday, on what was, for all intents and purposes, a campaign swing, county and town leaders sojourned with her – not merely to be seen and photographed, but more importantly, to be heard on critical regional issues such as housing, the environment, downtown revitalization and other immediacies impacting upon America’s oldest suburb. After all, like Hillary or not, she is a source of significant power in Washington, and a key to securing federal funding for much needed suburban renewal. [We need only point to New Cassel in the Town of North Hempstead as an instance where local and federal governments have teamed up to garner funds for a major revitalization project.]
Conspicuous by her absence at the varoius Long Island conclaves, however, was one Kate Murray, Supervisor of America’s largest township.
In an editorial, Newsday opines: “Give credit to the Democratic county executives of Nassau and Suffolk, Thomas Suozzi and Steve Levy, for helping Clinton's staff energize the session. Kudos especially to the Republicans who overcame partisan suspicions to attend: town supervisors such as Oyster Bay's John Venditto, Smithtown's Patrick Vecchio and Islip's Peter McGowan. Brookhaven's John LaValle missed it to attend the birth of his first child, but Hempstead's Kate Murray dissed everybody by just not showing up. Too bad for Hempstead.”
Too bad for Hempstead, indeed! Has Kate Murray gone camera shy? Was there a more compelling appointment to be attended? At least dispatch a Sanitation Commissioner or two.
Fact is, the Town of Hempstead has a history – or should we call it a phobia – when it comes to playing nice with other levels of government (particularly when that other government is not in GOP hands), stemming, we surmise, from Town Hallers’ innate belief that the world begins and ends on Washington Street. [Of course, they still believe that the world is flat, but hey, it has worked so well for them for the past 100 years…] Take, for instance, the Town’s failure to accept – or to even apply for – monies distributed by Nassau County early on in the Suozzi administration, which monies were earmarked to bolster Code enforcement. Every other township in the County, as we recall, reached out and was rewarded accordingly, while the Town of Hempstead was, as is typical, a no-show. [“Who needs money for Code enforcement? We can do – or not do – quite nicely, thank you, with 8 Building Inspectors for the entire township.”]
For as long as one can remember, Town of Hempstead government has considered itself an island unto itself, indifferent to the concerns of the outside world, and isolated from that world’s growing acknowledgment that if we don’t work together, rowing in the same direction at the same time, we’re all going down with the ship.
At a time when intergovernmental partnership and cooperation is not only desirable, but essential, the Town of Hempstead, staying the course, goes it alone. And it shows. It shows in our downtowns and along our Main Streets, where a 1950s attitude toward zoning and development has translated into a 21st Century disaster. It shows in our residential neighborhoods, as the ideal of suburbia – the American dream of ownership of a single-family home where the grass is green and life is idyllic – has evolved into the nightmare of illegal apartment rentals and a quality of life second only to Fort Apache in the Bronx. It shows in our wallets, where the almighty dollar shrinks under a tremendous tax burden of a Town government that has grown, by the Supervisor’s own admission, beyond the control of Town Hall. And it shows, most demonstrably, perhaps, in that arrogance and disdain for the electorate, treated like drooling idiots as we are told to “enjoy” being ripped off by a government that cares more for itself than for the governed.
So, Kate Murray was missing in action on Tuesday, presumably fiddling elsewhere while Hempstead burns. Watch for the photos in next week’s papers and the 8” x 11” glossy in the mail. Truth is, it really doesn’t matter anymore. Could be that even the powers-that-be at the once omnipotent and ubiquitous political machine can now read the writing on the wall at Town Hall. More likely (as we question whether they can read at all), they’re simply thumbing their noses at all of us.
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Join the search for Kate Murray. Ala the “Where’s Waldo?” series, The Community Alliance looks for the Hempstead Town Supervisor. Spot Kate in a photo - at the Levy Preserve, at the skateboard park, or slathering suntan lotion on Joe Mondello’s back at Lido Beach? We want to know about it. The person who spots the most Kate Murrays, between now and August 31st, wins an all-expense paid (by the taxpayer) trip to the Sanitary District of his/her choice (recycling not included).
NEXT WEEK: Clear the beaches, Kate. Here comes Hurricane ‘Harvey!’