Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If Only We Could Vote Ourselves Raises. . .

Hempstead Town Supervisor, Board, Pad Wallets, And No One Says "Boo"

Amazing to think that not a single voice was raised on the issue of raises in Hempstead Town?

At least as concerns that big, fat $10,000 increase for Supervisor Kate Murray, one would think someone, somewhere, would say something?

Are Town of Hempstead residents contented as cows, or simply cowering in the corner in fear of retribution? What has become of democracy in Hempstead Town?

Did you see the white smoke emanating from Town Hall after John Rottkamp was anointed as the new Building Commish? Around the world in 270 days, and safely returned to Levittown.

Or maybe that was the carbon dioxide-laden smoke coming out of the incinerator overlooking Archstone, Meadowbrook Pointe, and The Source, where the Town looks to seal a 25-year, property tax free, deal with Covanta.

And do you really mean to tell us that the Town Board couldn't come to a decision on West Hempstead's notorious Courtesy hotel? [Or is it that they couldn't make that decision publicly, in front of a hostile audience, at least not with a straight face.]

Which part of "pay attention to what the community has been telling you for the last umpteen years" don't these people understand?

Newsday reports that eight civics outside of West Hempstead registered opposition to the community-preferred Trammell-Crow proposal?

Is that so?

What's their gripe, or should we ask, what is the quid pro quo?

And who rose from the dead politico pile to speak on behalf of the Town's Urban Renewal Plan?

Why, none other than former Town Supervisor/failed County Exec contender Greg Peterson.

This guy must have nine lives. Or at least nine lines on the Town of Hempstead/Nassau GOP payroll!

Hey Greg? You did nothing to shutter the Courtesy when you were Supervisor. Now you're going to say something?

While neighboring (or, in this instance, the not-so neighboring) civic organizations often come out in support of one another, it is a rarity that a group from, say, North Bellmore, would come out in opposition to a multitude of community organizations in West Hempstead, particularly where the impact on the former community is nominal, at best.

Just who is Stu Weinstein, one of those voices in opposition, other than the Second VP of the North Bellmore Civic Association, and what is his angle here? Did they move North Bellmore closer to West Hempstead?

Imagine the unmitigated gall when Robert Zaponte, identifying himself only as the president of the East Meadow Civic Association, rose in opposition. [In the interest of full disclosure, Robert, don't you think that you should have publicly divulged your status as Deputy Chief Investigator for the Town Attorney's office? (2005 salary: $93,461. We're sure Bobby's gotten a few nice raises since.)]

Civic leaders occasionally playing footsie with the Town folk is one thing. Playing Benedict Arnold on the significant causes of a community that is not your own, is quite another.

And Town employees who position themselves as civic leaders, bringing the political clubhouse to Main Street, postulating before the Town Board as if they were independent, objective observers? Priceless!

Too many questions, very few answers. And absolutely nothing that even remotely resembles government by the people in Hempstead Town.
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Hempstead Town board OKs $55,000 in raises

Town of Hempstead board members yesterday unanimously approved a total of $55,000 in raises for themselves and other elected officials but did not reach a decision on the fate of the much-criticized Courtesy Hotel after a seven-hour board meeting.

None of the about 200 residents in attendance commented on the resolution increasing the annual salaries of the town supervisor by $10,000; the tax receiver and town clerk by $7,500 each; and the six part-time board members by $5,000 each.

About 25 West Hempstead residents did speak out in support of developer Trammell Crow, whose private sale by the hotel's owner was interrupted last year by the town's urban renewal plan for the entire blighted area, including the Courtesy. A decision to adopt the town's renewal plan was reserved.

Trammell Crow, under the name West Hempstead Development Llc, scaled back its original proposal of 220 rental units for the 2.7 acre hotel site after town officials said it was too densely populated.

Yesterday, the firm proposed 176 units, or 65 per acre, down from 80 per acre. Rents for one-, two and three-bedroom apartments would be between $1,900 and $2,700 per month, it said.

The plan does not include any affordable units for low-income families.

The town's renewal plan calls for 45 units per acre.

Residents who support Trammell Crow's plan said it would immediately close the drug and crime-ridden hotel and provide a vibrant site for the area.

"Progress is more important than density," said West Hempstead resident and real estate agent Nikki Stamatas Thaw. "Rentals are needed here. We need this to happen today."

The supporters say the town's plan to condemn and acquire the hotel and surrounding businesses could take many years and millions of dollars.

One resident presented the board with an opposition letter from eight civic groups outside of West Hempstead against Trammell Crow's proposal.

The town board also approved the hiring of a company to provide sensitivity training to town workers in the wake of noose incidents earlier this year.

The board amended its deal with the newly-constructed Meadowbrook Pointe condo complex in Westbury, to lower the age requirement from 55 to 48 to allow more people the opportunity to relocate from nearby Archstone development because of mold infestation there.

The board, lastly, unanimously approved the appointment of John Rottkamp as the new building commissioner.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

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