Friday, July 20, 2007

Missed "Benchmarks" Closer To Home

Legislative Dysfunction Not Limited To Iraq

Much has been made in the media about the failure of the Iraqi government to meet the so-called benchmarks set by the Bush Administration -- those post-surge signs from Bagdhad that signal a readiness on the part of the Iraqis to hold their own.

Seems that the Iraqi legislature, prior to its adjournment for the balance of the summer (its simply too hot to work in August, after all), has only met 8 of the 18 benchmarks to date, and Americans are grumbling.

8 of 18? And that's a bad record?

Can you name 8 things that our legislatures here at home -- from Washington to Albany, Mineola to Hempstead -- have accomplished? Can you name 3? Collectively?

Would that the folks in Washington tackle but one of the substantive issues that confound us. Pick one. Any one.

Social Security. The Medicare Drug plan. The Alternate Minimum Tax. Energy crisis. Global warming. Health care. Campaign finance reform. All those children still left behind.

The list is never-ending.

Albany's not much better, thanks for asking.

Forget congestion pricing. Those three men in that room (or are we down to two now?), couldn't even agree on a bigger, better bottle bill.

In Mineola, kudos on the Social Host Law, but beyond that, they couldn't even give the County a Poet Laureate.

And as for what passes for local government (which, more often than not, fails us all), the grass and weeds are still neck-high, the litter as prolific, and the brownfields getting browner, this despite the pretty facade painted by legislation that goes unenforced, photo-filled newsletters (Kayaking with Kate was our favorite), and the Around the Town hype that bellows beautiful, but, in reality, signifies little in the way of actual accomplishment.

The big ticket items -- or, for that matter, the small ones -- go untouched. We call for action, year, after year, after year. Our local legislators nod in agreement, reacting, if at all, with Band-Aid relief over wounds that call for major reconstructive surgery.

Illegal rental apartments; more than ever. Affordable housing; less than ever. Special taxing districts; more taxes, less accountability. The cost of operating 124 seperate school districts on one island; more, more, more. The flipant reaction from Town Hall; priceless!

8 out of 18, eh? Not all that bad, when you come to think of it. Another two or three of those benchmarks under our belt, and, no doubt, we can proudly proclaim MISSION ACCOMPLISHED yet again.

Meanwhile, here at home, the beat -- if not the beatings upon the taxpayer -- goes on. Few things change, even fewer for the better. And legislators, from Washington to Hempstead, gloat over their record of "accomplishments," most of which optimistic expression bears strikingly similar tones to (and about as much credence as) Dick Cheney's remark, "We're winning the war in Iraq."

Clearing the streets of insurgents in Bagdhad? Piece of cake. Just give us some more time. Cleaning the streets in, say, Hempstead Town? Well, that may take just a little bit longer.

The apparent solution to the ills that put blemish upon blemish to our suburban quality of life -- build a municipal parking field, and throw another Victorian-style streetlamp into the lot.

Who was it who said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time?" Oh yeah. The guys who head up the communications offices at the Capitol buildings and County Seat, and the gnomes who keep the printing presses rolling 24/7 in the bowels of Town Hall.

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