Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Legislative Laughing Stock

Nassau County Legislature Taps Schmitt As Presiding Officer; Corbin Is Deputy; Abrahams Gets Minority Leader Post

It's unofficially official. Well, Sort of... Schmitt 9, Abrahams 8, Corbin 2. Election "Certified" by Clerk, Stayed By Court

In what many in political and community circles say stands democracy on head and flies in the face of the will of the electorate, the Nassau County Legislature, controlled by a Democratic majority, today elected Peter Schmitt, a Republican, as its new Presiding Officer.

Roger Corbin, the Democratic legislator who, with fellow Democrat Lisanne Altmann, orchestrated a coup (in collusion with Schmitt and his Republican colleagues) to oust Judy Jacobs from the top post, has taken his old seat as Deputy Presiding Officer, while Kevan Abrahams, a Democrat, is the new Minority Leader.

After the vote, "certified" by the new Clerk to the Legislature (a Republican appointed by Mr. Schmitt), the Democrats stormed out of 1 West Street and took their case back to State Supreme Court. Their argument: 10 votes are required to elect a Presiding Officer. Schmitt got 9 (all of the Republican Legislators), Kevan Abrahams 8 (all of the Democrats except Corbin and Altmann), and Corbin got 2 (his own vote, and that of Altmann). The Court has stayed the certification of the Legislature's vote, keeping the status quo, with the matter adjourned until Monday.

One observer of the scene, upon learning of the vote from The Community Alliance, described the outcome as "topsy-turvy." Said another, "the people elect a Democratic majority, with the presumption that it will be a Democrat who leads, and here the legislators wheel and deal, in their own self interests, defying the public will!"

An aide to a high-ranking Nassau County elected official, who at the time had no formal word of a vote having taken place, spoke to The Community Alliance on the condition of anonymity. "If what I'm hearing is true, it's a good thing that the collective memory is extremely short. If the election was to be held tomorrow, some of these guys would get the boot." And deservedly so!

In a chain of events unprecedented in local politics (akin to a Republican controlled United States Senate electing Ted Kennedy as its Majority Leader), the Nassau County Legislature has slapped the faces of voters who elected a Democratic majority.

What this legislative body has done -- short of castrating itself in the minds of Nassau County residents -- is "obsence." That's not our opinion, but rather, the word of Peter Schmitt himself, who said, "I don't want to be presiding officer of a legislature that is a Democratic majority... That would be obscene... That is not what the people of this county intended when they elected 10 Democrats... The Democrats should be in charge."

Of course, that was then, before the Legislature's vote, not now, as Mr. Schmitt goes to the head of the class. Today's civics lesson: a new meaning for the word "obscenity."
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Return to this blogspot for updates on this story.
ON AGAIN OFF AGAIN! Click HERE for Newsday story, Control Up In Air.


  1. The Democrats have nobody to blame except themselves. They would rather vote for Kevan than Roger knowing full well that they were going to lose the majority. What is laughable is that people blame the Republican minority for the Democrats shitting all over one another. If I were in Peter Schmitt's shoes I would have done the same exact thing after Judy became a "blank". If all the Republicans voted for Roger and all the Democrats voted for Judy then the Republicans may as well have held their caucus meetings in the men's bathroom because they would have been completely shut out of the Legislative budget. It should have been Roger as PO, Schmitt as Minority Leader with Lisanne as Deputy, but since Jay Jacobs in all his infinite wisdom decided to write letters and authorize phone banks to savage Lisanne and destroy Roger in Newsday, he got exactly what he deserved.

  2. So much for the "race card," Roger. For all of your gaggling about this being a "black" and "white" issue, when push came to shove and you (and your sidekick Altmann) had the opportunity to vote for Kevan Abrahams for Presiding Officer (as did the remaining 8 Democrats), you put self before party, before the voters, and before the color of your skin.

    The Nassau County Dems don't need the Republicans to upset the apple cart. Even when they win, they lose, shooting themselves in the foot, hopelessly adrift on the sea of self-destruction.

    If there is any good to come out of this disaster, it is that the Legislators are so busy screwing one another on issues of leadership, that they have no time -- let alone authority -- to enact legislation that would, in all likelihood, screw us.

    Shame on all of the Nassau County Legislators. They've made a mockery of the process, and have given the public the collective finger.

    I hope we remember what they've done the next time around and vote the bums out. We won't, and we won't. How lucky for them, and sad for us.

  3. Newsday ran a political cartoon captiond "Nassau Circus," depicting our legislators as clowns rushing in under a sign that says, "...Send in the Legislature..." This looney toons entourage is followed by a man representing the taxpayers, a balloon overhead proclaiming with obvious dismay, "Holy Schmitt!"

    Is this what the Nassau County Legislature, our County's governing body, has come to? Reduced to mere baffoons, fighting among themselves, making a mockery out of last November's elections which, as concerns this body, favored maintaining the power structure "as is?"

    This is shameful conduct, particularly on the part of Roger Corbin and Lisanne Altman, who have turned their backs on the people (and the party) who put them in office.

    The Republican response, as led by the boistrous Schmitt, is no less offensive. Is this the new face of Nassau County? Even Schmitt himself has said that a Republican Presiding Officer would be against the wishes of the voters.

    What was that word he used again? Oh yeah, "obscene!"

  4. Disgusted. That's the only word I can use to describe how I feel.

    I'm a lifelong Republican, a County resident for almost 62 years, and a former volunteer firefighter who now struggles, like almost everyone else, to pay his property taxes.

    Is this all our legislators have to quibble about? Get over yourselves already, and get to work on the real issues of the taxpayers.

    Let's see how long this "coalition" government lasts, and who, at the end of the day, really benefits. Bet your bottom dollar it won't be us.

    P.S. To the Community Alliance. Nice coverage in breaking the latest twist on this story, but I for one have heard enough. Move on. There are too many quality of life issues left in the breach for the Alliance to continually revisit this politically charged dribble.

  5. If this whole sordid episode were not so completely pathetic, it would be comedy material. I don't know how Corbin and Altmann can live with themselves. They have brought the County Legislature to a new low by allowing themselves to think (and by using the word, think, I am giving them both far too much credit) that they could have a "coalition" with the Republicans under the guise of "good government." Give me a break. There hasn't been good government in Nassau County since the dawn of time itself.

    Hey Roger, if you want to be Majority Leader, here is novel concept.... try EARNING it instead of manipulating the system. If you didn't have the votes, then clearly you didn't deserve it. There was no secret anti-Corbin cabal in the Democratic legislature. (although there is now and its not a secret).

    You got what you deserved. Now you will have to live with the consequences.

    As you sow so shall you reap.

  6. Roger Corbin wanted the top spot because he considered himself a "leader." Obviously, his fellow Democrats didn't consider him a leader. In the end, neither did the Republicans.

    Roger was no more than Schmitt's patsy, a foil in a partisan game to wrestle control away from the duly elected majority.

    Schmitt and the GOP win, savoring at least a momentary victory. Corbin gains nothing, and has to walk away with his tail between his legs. And the voters are once again left holding the empty bag.

    Is it any wonder people are moving out of Nassau County? High taxes. Unaffordable housing costs. Curb to curb cars, trash and congestion. And a Legislature that leads with the horse's other end.

  7. TO WESTERNER11552: But for the "politically charged dribble," as you call it, we would be able to move on to the pressing quality of life issues that consume Long Islander's time, consciousness and money.

    Unfortunately, with our County Legislature in a perpetual state of chaos, it is difficult -- if not near impossible -- for any of us to either move on or move forward.

    We can only hope that the quality of life agenda will not continue to take a back seat to the political posturing that has marred this legislative session and placed the business of community on perpetual hold.

    We're ready to "move on," as you are. Let's get going!

  8. Maybe this is all a set up by Tom Suozzi in order to prepare to handle dealing with a republican led State Senate should he make it to Albany.

    And what was it with Suozzi's appearance last week in Borough Park? Oy vey! I haven't seen that much tuchus kissing since donkey mating season ended. Still, I can't blame Suozzi for his morph into Jewish mode and bad attempt at Yiddish. After all, he belongs to a political party whose leaders have a long standing tradition of adopting the speech and mannerisms of the ethnic groups from whom they try to curry favor and score political points. Think Al Gore circa 2000 at a southern baptist church screeming, "I have seen the Promised Land! Halleluyah!", or Hillary at a Harlem church on MLK day ranting that the House is being "run like a plantation - and you know what I'm talkin' about!". (I wonder if Hillary would drop the "g" from the word "talking" at a Chappaqua bake sale).