Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Give Me A Sign. . .

. . .And Vote For The Candidate With The Fewest!

Newsday columnist Joye Brown -- another one of our favorites -- signs in with a poignant and timely column on the sudden disappearance, not only of lawn signs and campaign placacrds, but of civility in today's election campaigns.

Read Joye's column, Voters should try to find positive signs, in today's Newsday. Then, go out and gather as much information as you can find about the candidates running for elected office in your community.

When you go into the voting booth on November 6th -- and if you are a Long Island resident over the age of 18, you darn well should be going into that voting booth on November 6th (shame on you if you do not plan to vote) -- be armed with the truth (or as close to it as you can get during the campaign season), and make reasoned, intelligent choices when you pull that lever.

Speaking of positive signs -- and of stolen lawn signs -- there's a grassroots campaign in our own backyard (the 8th District of the Nassau County Legislature), not only to stop the madness, but to get out the message of hope, of civility, of change for the better beyond the lawn signs and the partisan politics.

Indeed, one of the most interesting campaigns you probably never knew about (because all of the candidate's signs have been torn down and carted away to the dump -- in Town of Hempstead trucks, no less) is that of Michael Uhl, a former West Hempstead Water Commissioner and longtime community activist, who has pulled out the plugs and opened all the flood gates.

Check out The Uhl Blog, and be informed, enlightened, and even amused. [Hey Michael. Can we borrow your blogger after the campaign?]

Coming up later today on this blog, The Community Alliance Endorses. Stay tuned. . .
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Voters should try to find positive signs
Joye Brown

Take a good look at the unidentified fellow in the fuzzy photographs. He's been caught, on a surveillance video camera, filching a campaign sign from Pat Montanino's lawn in Islip.

One minute, the sign's right there, sitting pretty on private property. The next, according to a security video from a week ago, a truck rolls up, its passenger door already open. Out pops Mr. Anonymous and, a split second later, a sign supporting DATRE - Clara Datre, who is running against the incumbent Phil Nolan for town supervisor - has been plucked up and carted away.

Now you see it, now you don't.

Montanino's angry and she's filed a complaint with Suffolk County police, who are investigating.

"It is outrageous that people think they can run onto my property in the middle of the night and do this stuff," she said.

It's also illegal, as in petty larceny and trespassing, police in Nassau said.

And it's very common in this season. "It's usually a small cadre of people who usually have an agenda," Anthony Reppalone, a Nassau police spokesman told me yesterday. "They want to try to compromise a candidate or the candidate's campaign."

What gets less attention, sometimes, is the substance of campaigns themselves.

Take this season, for example:

In Suffolk, the winner of the county executive race was set months ago, when the heads of the county Republican and Democratic parties agreed on one candidate: Steve Levy, whose popularity soars in part because of his unrelenting stand against undocumented immigrants.

Levy, a Democrat, wins on that issue alone. Still, two political insiders substituted their power for the democratic process by decreeing who would run Suffolk the next four years.

Think I'm exaggerating? Prove me wrong by naming the Integrity and Libertarian party candidates running against Levy.

Still, there are good races aplenty in Suffolk.

The East End is in a political uproar, with rare competitive races in East Hampton, Shelter Island and Southampton. The fight over immigration is making an appearance in some of those races, too. In Brookhaven and Islip, meanwhile, challengers are doing whatever they can to make it hard for first-term supervisors Brian Foley and Phil Nolan.

In Nassau, the fate of the entire county legislature hangs in the balance.

Will Democrats keep a one-vote majority? Or will Republicans take one or more seats, making Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi's final years politically miserable ones?

Voters in five legislative districts are being overwhelmed with literature - some of it laughably inaccurate. (Feel free, please, to send questionable campaign materials my way.)

As for Nassau's town races, incumbent Republican Kate Murray in Hempstead and incumbent Democrat Jon Kaiman in North Hempstead both are working to overcome the taint of malfeasance and corruption allegations involving officials in their building departments. And in Long Beach - ah, Long Beach, historically one of the most politically corrupt cities in the nation - a slate of Republicans is trying to regain power by taking on the Democratic Party machine.

Party faithful across Long Island are working hard. And some are even betting that their candidate might benefit from a light voter turnout, as there's no gubernatorial or presidential race.

But voters ought to be working even harder.

Sift through the hype; find the facts. Know who's who and where they really stand - not where their opponents say they stand - on an issue. Find a candidate, and maybe even plant a sign on the lawn.

It means something - no matter how long it stands there.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

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