Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Car 54 Where Are You?

Official Town Vehicle Goes Missing. Well, Sort of. . .

There's a hold-up in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights,
There's a traffic jam in Harlem
That's backed up to Jackson Heights.
There's a Scout troop short a child,
Khrushchev's due at Idlewyld,
Car 54, Where Are You?

Newsday reports of a flap over a Town of Hempstead Public Safety vehicle which was alleged to have been stolen. [Is nothing safe or sacred in the Town of Hempstead?] READ, Flap over missing patrol car.

Turns out, the car was not stolen, but merely deemed abandoned by the public safety officer, who, or so say Town officials, had left the vehicle parked, unattended, at Rath Park in Franklin Square "for an extended period of time."

So, personnel from the Town's Department of Public safety, unbeknownst to the public safety officer, James Whitaker, to whom the vehicle had been assigned, "retrieved" the car from Rath Park (without, of course, advising Whitaker). [Don't they give these guys walkie-talkies?]

So here's poor James Whitaker, returning to his official vehicle -- whenever -- thinking that the car had been stolen. Whitaker calls the cops. The cops put out an APB, and the madcap adventure ensues.

A comedy of Keystone Cops proportions. [If only Officer Whitaker hadn't parked under the "Autistic Child Area" sign!]

Was this a case of mixed signals or retribution? Have Town of Hempstead employees taken to stealing cars, now that Town elections are over and there are no more lawn signs to steal?

“Hmm. Now where did I leave my official Town car when I went to get coffee 4-days ago?”

The plot for a new movie, perhaps? Call it, The Supervisor’s Car Is Missing.

“...left unattended ‘for an extended period of time.’” Kinda like most positions filled through the Town's patronage mill, eh?

Who, we wonder, will get stuck with the tab for Nassau County Police overtime, as officers in marked patrol cars, unmarked vehicles, and a supervisor, no less, looked high and low for the "missing" car? [And don't you feel so much safer knowing that the Town's Department of Public Safety is on patrol in your community 24/7 (or was that paid 24/7, but only working 4/3?).]

Sure. James Whitaker (loved him in Give 'em Hell, Harry! and Kiss Me Kate. Wait. That was James Whitmore. Never mind.) is being “punished” for doing well on a promotional exam. Yeah, right. Like that ever happens at a government office.

We concur with Town Supervisor Kate Murray’s proposed policy – “not to remove a vehicle from somebody who’s on duty.”

In fact, why not just leave the car where you find it until the guy retires, or goes off on disability. Time, after all, is relative. [At least that’s always been the case at Hempstead Town Hall!]
- - -
UPDATE on That's Why They Call It Labor Day: We took considerable flak over our Labor Day piece that offered at least reserved praise for Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, who, as per her pledge, held the line on Town taxes.

We were reminded by several readers that the Town was only able to "freeze" taxes by bonding millions of dollars which, while not in the budget, are expenses that we must pay for at some point nonetheless (as in digging into reserve funds or tax hikes down the road).

Okay. So we tried to be nice. Geez. You can't get a break, can you? Sorry, Kate!

The Community Alliance blog will be taking a closer look at those Town of Hempstead expenses to see if the numbers add up to real savings for the taxpayer, or just a borrowing from Peter today to pay Paul and Mary tomorrow.

Meanwhile, keep those cards and letters coming!

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