Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Eve Of Destruction

Nassau Dems Form Unholy Alliance As Corbin Courts Party Collapse

If politics makes strange bedfellows -- and believe us, it does -- then Roger Corbin, the liberal Democrat from Westbury, and Peter Schmitt, the Nassau County Legislature's raucous mouthpiece for the GOP Machine, give new meaning to that perfect sleep number.

If the media reports are accurate [SEE Newsday, Party Leaders Agree To Back Corbin], as they would appear to be, then Corbin is about to catapult from virtual anonymity to leader of the Democratic majority in Nassau County's oft times stalemated Legislature -- a body second only to the paralytic New York State Legislature in being unaccomplished, virtually since its inception a decade ago.

Whether Corbin is up to the task or deserving of either the accolades bestowed upon him or the hefty monetary stipend that comes with the leadership position, is almost beyond the point here. That Judy Jacobs, the current Presiding Officer, has managed to sail this leaky craft through many a rough sea, all to the benefit of County residents, is worthy of much consideration by her fellow legislators in voting to give her their continued nod of approval. Frankly, she has earned the trust of the people and the Party, and deserves the top spot.

What is troublesome, and should stand as most disconcerting to those who espouse good government, is Corbin's willingness -- and that of his fellow Democrats, Lisanne Altmann and David Denenberg -- to make a deal with the Devil. [And whether that Devil is Republican Party Chair, Joe Mondello -- "He whose name shall not be spoken" -- or the Devil's disciple, Peter Schmitt (President of the Gary DelaRaba Fan Club), Dems should be more than a bit leary of forming an alliance with those who have a proclivity to put self-interest before the public good.

Over the years, the Nassau County GOP -- from its one-time epicenter in Mineola to its last bastion of infamy in Hempstead Town -- has had as its mindset one of two objectives: Hold on to absolute power, or get it back at all costs. Some things never change.

Who knows what promises have been made -- or shall, in all likelihood, be broken -- in Corbin's negotiations under guise of coalition building. [In theory, coalitions and consensus-seeking are politic's answer to playing nice, but this coalition smacks of Neville Chamberlain's futile and failed attempt at appeasement to stave off the Nazi menace.]

That Roger Corbin would cut a deal with Peter Schmitt, as unseemly as this is, should surprise no one. If there is a loyalty here, it is neither to Party nor constituency. Perhaps this indecorous alliance is best characterized by former Suffolk Republican chairman Howard DeMartini, who helped orchestrate many a failed coalition in that county's legislature, as "self-serving." As DeMartini -- now wisely retired from political life and residing in Florida -- told Newsday, "You have one or two going out cutting a deal for themselves. They are saying, 'The hell with party unity or the will of the voters. I'm doing what is best for me.' Nassau has now caught the same disease that infected the Suffolk Legislature and the result will be governmental chaos."

Word on the street has it that Corbin and his legislative cohort, Lisanne Altmann, put this "coalition of ideas" together. A regular brain-trust. Seizing upon the opportunity, the fox (played here so cunningly by Peter Schmitt) donned the Grandma suit and jumped into bed with "buck" Roger.

Corbin is clearly out for himself here. No shame in that. After all, if you don't toot your own horn, who will? That Altmann joined the cabal is of no great surprise. She's always been a bit of a flake. The shocker -- and perhaps the most glaring aspect of the Democratic estrangement -- is the apparent support of David Denenberg for what amounts to a palace coup. [Not that we're against such coups, by any means. Indeed, we've been calling for one within the Nassau GOP for years, to no avail.] David may believe that rocking the boat and shaking things up is a good thing. It often is, but it must be done for the right reasons, and those who join in the coup -- yesterday's enemies who now call you "friend" -- must be motivated by something more heavenly than the simple power play.

Even assuming the best of intentions from all participants in this awkward dance, you don't overthrow the sitting Queen -- especially one who serves her public well -- and replace her with the court Jester. Not that Corbin is a clown or a puppet, but, if you look behind the scenes, you can clearly see that old marionette-master himself, Joe Mondello, pulling the strings. That's a destructive path for this Legislature to take, and, to put it mildly, bad news for the people of Nassau County.
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e-Poll of the Day: [Feel free to jump right in, folks. We're not monitoring how you vote (that's George Bush and the FBI/CIA), or seeing who is naughty and who is nice (that's Dick Cheney's job) -- Ho, Ho, Ho.]

1 comment:

  1. Certainly, one cannot overlook Tom Suozzi himself as the cause of this ever-widening fissure in the county democratic leadership. It's no surprize that Suozzi's renegade style coupled with his aspirations for higher office would naturally bring about dissention in the ranks. During Suozzi's tenure, one can point to numerous examples of his utter disregard for the balance of power vested in the legislature. Whether cutting his own deal with Charles Wang to develop the Coliseum without consulting the legislature, or drawing up his own plans to move Nunley's Carousel that nearly led to the democratic legislator from Baldwin quitting his party, Suozzi has a penchant for alienating even members of his own party for self-serving interests.

    In his 4+ years in office, Suozzi has proven himself more of an independent problem solver than a coalition builder. While that kind of leadership style has its merits, I fear that it won't bode well for him (or us) should he make it to Albany, where the rules are altogether different than at the county level, and state lawmakers will be much less forgiving should he try to go it alone without working together with the power brokers there.