Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Great Debate, Long Island Style

D'Amato Versus Damato

No, Al is not getting divorced -- again -- but we thought it could be fun if, just days before the November 6th elections, the former United States Senator (and Town of Hempstead Supervisor cum husband of Hempstead Town Zoning Board member, Katuria D'Amato) would jump back into the limelight to take up the issues of the day -- or night (you choose).

And so, as only The Community Alliance could do, we have arranged for a debate between Alphonse D'Amato and none other than Junior Damato.

The latter a columnist for Newsday and an expert on machines. The former, appearing regularly in Newsday and, er, well, an expert on machines.

Watch the Great Debate, never on cable but only online [the webcast will be restricted to viewers who are registered vegetarians -- sorry], at http://rageagainstthemachine.com/.
We'll await the post-debate "spin" before we comment on who emerged victorious. Though we will say this: If in doubt for whom to pull that lever on Tuesday, November 6th, cast your write-in vote for Damato -- Junior, not Alphonse.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blight Among The Ruins

Give The People What They Want? Well, Not Exactly.

With Supervisor Kate Murray -- known in certain circles as "she who must be obeyed" -- ruling the roost at Hempstead Town Hall (with Joe Mondello's hand pulling the strings), is it any wonder that few in the unincorporated areas of the township ever get what they actually want, let alone what they really need?

In Elmont, where the Town talks of revitalization (been there, haven't done that), residents have been begging for a supermarket, looking to transform the old Argo movie theater.

"We're waiting for residents to tell us what they want," says Murray.

Pssst! Kate. They want a supermarket, a safer, more aesthetically pleasing Turnpike, and an atmosphere conducive to vibrant commercial and retail growth and stability.

In Baldwin, the Town wants to give residents a big box store -- Kohl's -- while residents want to make way on a reinvigorated "Main Street" for the smaller Mom & Pops to flourish.

"It's one big brown box," said a Baldwin resident of the Merrick Road project. "We'd like to make that area look different."

"We're waiting for residents to tell us what they want," says Murray.

Pssst! Kate. They want a walkable, viable "Main Street", with smaller, community-centric stores.

How 'bout a Kohl's?

In Oceanside, its back to the Town Zoning Board -- again.

How 'bout a BIGGER Kohl's?

In Roosevelt, the Town redeveoped a single building on Nassau Road, and put a new face on an old facade in the Western Beef shopping center (the old "pave the parking lot" routine).

A nice start, but it will take a lot more than stucco, a fresh coat of paint, and some "Welcome to Roosevelt" banners to give a rebirth to Nassau Road. [And when the County takes over the lease at 380 Nassau Road, and the building comes off of the tax rolls, what will happen then?]

In Franklin Square, it's DON'T give us what we DON'T want -- another cell phone tower in a residential neighborhood.

"We're waiting for residents to tell us what they want," said Murray.

Pssst! Kate. The phone is ringing off the hook! Tell your Zoning Board to deny the Application, and let them take the matter to court.

Yup. Give the people what they want -- like in West Hempstead, where folks have wanted to rid themselves of the crime-ridden Courtesy hotel since the days when Al D'Amato (Katuria's boy) was changing Kate Murray's diapers.

"We're waiting for residents to tell us what they want," said Murray.

Pssst! Kate. Try Trammell-Crow!

Right. Give the people what they want, all over the Town of Hempstead. Consolidate the Town's Sanitary Districts, for instance, eliminating the patronage, the waste, the inefficiency, and saving the taxpayers wads of money?

"We're waiting for residents to tell us what they want," said Murray.

Pssst! Kate. We want to pay more. Heck, we enjoy it. Just ask Tony Santino.

Think about it. How much of what you want -- in terms of the quality of life issues that impact directly on your day-to-day and bottom line -- have you actually gotten from Kate Murray's Town Hall?

Not all that much, from what we can see.

Pssst! Town of Hempstead residents. On Tuesday, November 6th, tell Kate Murray what you really want. Perhaps she'll listen then.

Friday, October 26, 2007

So, You're Having A Bad Day. . .

Are ya havin' a Bad Day? Well, then, consider this...

In a hospital's Intensive Care Unit, patients always died in the same bed, on Sunday morning, at about 11:00 a.m., regardless of their medical condition.This puzzled the doctors, and some even thought it had something to do with the supernatural.

No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, so a worldwide team of experts was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11:00 a.m., all of the doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crossses, prayer books, and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits.

Just when the clock struck 11:00, Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so he could use the vacuum cleaner.

Still having a Bad Day?

The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez Oil spill in Alaska was $80,000.00. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were being released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers.

A minute later, in full view, a killer whale ate them both.

Still think you are having a Bad Day?

A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically, almost in a dancing frenzy, with some kind of wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood, breaking his arm in two places. Up to that moment, he had been happily listening to his Walkman.

And still think YOU'RE having a Bad Day?

Two animal rights defenders were protesting the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn, Germany. Suddenly, all two thousand pigs broke loose and escaped through a broken fence, stampeding madly. The two helpless protesters were trampled to death.

No way after this one will you still be having a Bad Day!

Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "Return to Sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits.

There now, feeling better?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If New Jersey Gets Rid Of Its "Idiots". . .

. . .We Can Add Them To Our Stockpile Here On Long Island

Idiots, along with the insane, are not afforded the right to vote under the New Jersey Constitution, something New Jersey voters may seek to change by referendum on November 6th.

Assuming New Jersey throws out their "idiots," where will they go? Who would have a bunch of idiots as voters, anyway?

Apparently, there've been "idiots" in Jersey, at least in the Constitutional sense, since 1844. We're pretty much certain that, here in New York, we've harbored idiots -- and permitted them to vote -- for far longer.

In fact, by informal survey, and a close examination of the voting records for the last generation, or so, we can say without hesitation that many of those idiots live, and vote, right here on our Long Island.

New Jersey, along with Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio, don't allow "idiots" to vote. [Clearly, Florida does!]

If the Garden State gives idiots the boot from their Constitution, we say, offer them asylum (with driver's licenses) on Long Island.

True. We already have more than our fair share of idiots. But what a voting block they make.

So, the next time you're shaking your head over the election results, mumbling words under your breath to the effect of, "They must all be idiots." You may be absolutely right.

Give us your tired, your poor, your idiots yearning to vote. . .
- - -
NJ voters to decide fate of 'Idiot' language in Constitution
By TOM HESTER Jr.
Associated Press Writer

TRENTON, N.J. -- In about two weeks, New Jersey voters will decide whether to eliminate insensitive phrasing in the state Constitution that characterizes people with disabilities as "idiots" and "insane." The offensive language, adopted in the Constitution in 1844, is aimed at barring people with limited mental capacity from voting: "No idiot or insane person shall enjoy the right of suffrage." At least seven other states _ Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio _ have the words "idiot" or "insane" in their constitutions to define who can vote.

On Nov. 6, New Jersey voters will decide whether to replace the wording in its Constitution with a phrase explaining how people deemed by a judge "to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting" would be barred from casting ballots. It is the fourth of four statewide ballot questions.

Advocates for the disabled contend the current language perpetuates myths. "The perception is still out there that if you have a disability that you can't fully function, that you can't be a participating member of the community," said Colleen O'Dell-Multer, a Brick resident who has multiple sclerosis and is legally blind. "That perception is totally inaccurate."

Kerry Walker, a Cinnaminson resident paralyzed in a diving accident, has talked with lawmakers about the need for the change in language. "Idiot and insane, as well as being offensive, are inaccurate and should be removed," he said.

The proposed change was sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, who has advocated for numerous mental health reforms. "We can hopefully erase the stigma attached to mental and cognitive disabilities," Codey said. "The fact that this language has remained in our constitution for so long is a disgrace. I'm confident that the people of New Jersey will agree with me." Another sponsor, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, called the language "as outdated as it is offensive."

It's unclear whether the language has been used to prevent anyone from voting. In 1976, an appellate court allowed 33 residents of Burlington County developmental center to vote, ruling that living in an institution didn't make someone incapable of casting ballots. "A mentally retarded person need not be an `idiot' and a mentally ill person need not be `insane,"' the court opinion stated. An appellate court relied on that ruling in 2000 to allow five Trenton Psychiatric Hospital patients to vote.

The New Jersey proposal hasn't spurred any opposition, and it passed the Assembly 79-0 and the Senate 36-0. Still, supporters aren't resting easy, noting New Mexico voters in 2002 rejected a plan to remove "idiots" and "insane persons" from that state's Constitution by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent. "These words do not belong in our constitution," said David Tag of Voorhees. "As a person with a disability, I find them offensive."

On the Net: http://tinyurl.com/ywvfzg

Copyright © 2007, The Associated Press

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Community Alliance Endorses. . .

Our Picks For The 2007 Elections


Diatribes aside, and without going into a lengthy discussion as to the whys and wherefores (been there, done that), suffice it to say that the 2007 endorsements by The Community Alliance are based on our educated sense of who best will serve community.


You know – or should by now – where we stand. These are the folks who, we believe, stand with us -- and with YOU:

Nassau County Legislature
County of Nassau County Legislator District 1 Kevan Abrahams
County of Nassau County Legislator District 2 No Endorsement
County of Nassau County Legislator District 3 Ali A. Mirza
County of Nassau County Legislator District 4 Denise Ford
County of Nassau County Legislator District 5 Joseph Kenneth Scannell
County of Nassau County Legislator District 6 Omar Jorge
County of Nassau County Legislator District 7 Jeffrey W. Toback
County of Nassau County Legislator District 8 Michael Uhl
County of Nassau County Legislator District 9 Eric Sokol
County of Nassau County Legislator District 10 Judi R. Bosworth
County of Nassau County Legislator District 11 Wayne H. Wink Jr.
County of Nassau County Legislator District 12 John Rennhack
County of Nassau County Legislator District 13 John Rossi
County of Nassau County Legislator District 14 David L. Mejias
County of Nassau County Legislator District 15 John Michael Clark
County of Nassau County Legislator District 16 Judith A. Jacobs
County of Nassau County Legislator District 17 Edward P. Mangano
County of Nassau County Legislator District 18 No Endorsement
County of Nassau County Legislator District 19 David W. Denenberg

Town of Hempstead
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kevin C. Gorman
Town of Hempstead Clerk Mark A. Bonilla
Town of Hempstead Council Member District 2 Edward A. Ambrosino
Town of Hempstead Council Member District 3 James Darcy
Town of Hempstead Council Member District 5 Robert S. Young
Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald X. Clavin Jr.

Town of North Hempstead
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman
Town of North Hempstead Clerk Leslie C. Gross
Town of North Hempstead Council Member District 2 Thomas K. Dwyer
Town of North Hempstead Council Member District 4 Maria-Christina Poons
Town of North Hempstead Council Member District 6 Fred L. Pollack
Town of North Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Rocco Iannarelli

Town of Oyster Bay
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Terino, Jr.
Town of Oyster Bay Council Member Anthony David Macagnone
Town of Oyster Bay Council Member Keith Scalia
Town of Oyster Bay Receiver of Taxes Marie F. McCormack

City of Long Beach
City of Long Beach Council Member Robert Tepper, Gina T. Guma, Lawrence Benowitz

Judiciary
NYS Supreme Court Justice Timothy S. Driscoll, Jeffrey S. Brown
County of Nassau County Court Judge Samuel Rieff, Jerald S. Carter, Norman St. George
County of Nassau District Court Judge 2nd District (Hempstead) Robert Spergel
County of Nassau District Court Judge 3rd District (North Hempstead) Erica Prager, David Goodsell
County of Nassau Family Court Judge Edmund Dane, Amy Rood

For a review of all Propositions and candidates on the November 6th ballot, click HERE for the League of Women Voters Nassau County Voters Guide 2007

ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6th, THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS. VOTE!

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. . .
- - -
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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tea Time With Kate Murray

An Illiterate's Guide To Voting In the Town of Hempstead

Ellis Henican, a Newsday columnist who so often brings smiles to our faces here at The Community Alliance, has shown us, once more, that you really can't make this stuff up.

In his latest column, The cost of feeling safe, he writes:

SPELLCHECK, PLEASE: No big deal if Kate Murray wants to drop an "m" from her Team Murray re-election Web address, "teamurray.com." But why drop the second "t" to make it "Levitown" on her Web site's contact page? You'd think the "Hmpstd supvsr" would know.

Okay. They MEANT to leave off that "m" -- and that "t." Its like 1-800-MATTRES. Leave off the last "ass" for tax freeze. [Would that give us frozen ass-heads?]

Can't you see that the Supervisor is trying to save the taxpayers money? Bervity is the soul of wit, after all. And here's kate Murray, half wit.

Stop picking on the Hempstead Town Supervisor, Ellis. That’s OUR job. We've got dibs on the Special Pick On Kate Murray District (Joe Ra, Counsel).

By the way – They must be reading your column at Town Hall [or more likely, having it read to them]. They've now put the second “t” in Levittown on the teamurray.com contact page.

What we want to know: Why is there an asterisk next to Kate Murray’s name on the teamurray.com website? Is this like the asterisk on the Barry Bond baseball that broke Hank Aaron’s homerun record? Is this Kate Murray on steroids? Or are the rest of us on drugs for having voted her into office in the first place?

Maybe we should consider making the casting of a vote for Kate Murray a hate crime. Or is that, hte crm?
- - -
Photo above: "Mom, Dad, can I borrow the car keys?" "Look, Kate, we're 90 years old, living on fixed incomes, being taxed out of this stinkin' Levit(t)own cape, and you're still living in the attic, too lazy to even help rake the lawn. Go borrow Howard Weitzman's car!"

More Dirty Business In Town Of Hempstead Sanitary District

NYS DEC Sues Sanitary District No. 1 For Violating Law On Recycling

Sure. Sure. We're always talking trash about the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary Districts, where Commissioners dine at Morton's Steakhouse on your tab. But come on now, when your little fiefdom can't even follow the rules on seperating solid waste from recyclables -- and won't even try -- you know there's something terribly wrong.

We wonder what, Nat "extra trucks to pick up bread during Passover" Swergold, counsel for Sanitary District 1, will have to say about the latest foible from this smelly little throwback to medievil times? We're certain that he'll have some excuse for the District not doing as the law requires. After all, the law dosn't apply to Special Districts, does it?

And what, if anything, will Town Supervisor Kate Murray say or do?

Oh, that's right. She has "no control" over the Special Districts," call them Town of Hempstead or otherwise.

So, let's see. Sanitary District 1 is the ONLY district in New York that doesn't require "at the curb" recycling?

The State DEC says the district is stuck in the 1950s. Heck, that's nothing. The Town of Hempstead has been stuck at the turn of the century -- that's the 1800s to the 1900s -- for 105 years!

Pay more. Get less. That's not trash talk. That's the reality of life in Kate Murray's Hempstead Town.
- - -
Recycling row in Hempstead going to court
BY JENNIFER SMITH
jennifer.smith@newsday.com

Twenty years ago, an Islip garbage barge's fruitless five-month quest for a place to unload its trash drew national attention to a landfill crisis in the Northeast and sparked a local recycling revolution.

But for residents in Hempstead's Sanitary District 1, garbage day looks pretty much the same as it did back then. Food scraps, beer cans, takeout boxes -- the district's 30,000 customers in the Five Towns area stuff it all in the same bin instead of leaving a separate container of recyclables at the curb.

That approach has landed the district in a legal battle with state environmental officials, who say the district has blown a 1992 deadline mandating that recyclables be "source separated" -- sorted out from trash left for collection. The state says it is enforcing the law, but the court fight has also raised the question of whether residents really need to separate paper and containers to recycle effectively.

The district is the only one in the state that doesn't ask its residential customers to source separate, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Instead, workers at a Lawrence recycling facility pick through the trash, plucking salvageable recyclables from the detritus of suburban life.

"This special district is stuck in the 1950s," said DEC regional director Peter Scully. The DEC refused to renew a permit for its recycling center, saying it violates state conservation law.District officials defend their method. They said it yields more material because it doesn't rely on residents to sort reusable commodities from the 38,000 tons of refuse the district processes each year.

Scully called the district's assessment of its own recycling rates "suspect," and said materials salvaged after collection have less value because they've been contaminated by household waste and shards of glass.

The district sued the DEC earlier this year for stopping the permit renewal. The lawsuit said Sanitary District 1 had operated this way for years without objections, and that state law only required source separation if there is an economic market for the recyclable materials.

In this case, the district argued, no market exists because the cost of extra equipment, staff and pickups would cancel out the district's revenue from the sale of recycled materials.

In August, Nassau State Supreme Court Justice William R. LaMarca ruled that the district had broken the law and violated the terms of its DEC permit. But he gave the district a chance to prove its economic argument. Both sides were in court last week for a preliminary conference and are scheduled to appear again in January. The facility remains open.

Sanitation experts say it's difficult to tell which type of recycling does a better job. A so-called "clean MuRF" -- a materials recovery facility -- that processes only recyclables -- can yield cleaner materials that fetch higher market prices.

Still, a "dirty MuRF," like the Lawrence facility, produces "a hell of a lot of material," said David Tonjes, an assistant professor at Stony Brook University who studies solid waste. Recyclables from a dirty MuRF might sell for less, but the volume of recovered material could be greater, he said.

Economics are at the center of the district's legal argument. Switching to source separation would be so expensive as to negate any benefit from selling recyclables, according to a report the district commissioned from Cameron Engineering, a Woodbury consulting firm.

The state said the Cameron report underestimated residential recycling rates and ignored changes that could cut costs, such as eliminating rear-yard collection. It also failed to apply the standard the state said was required to determine economic markets: comparing the cost of throwing away source-separated materials with the cost of recycling them.

DEC officials have also questioned the report's account of past district recycling rates because they include yard waste, which is collected separately.

In 2004 the district claimed a recycling rate of 42 percent. A DEC analysis that removed yard waste from the calculations pegged the real rate at 18 percent, compared with the Town of Hempstead's overall recycling rate of 27 percent. But there are many ways to calculate rates; other DEC figures show the Town of Hempstead's 2005 recycling rate at about 12.2 percent and the district at 11.7 percent.

Whatever the various rates, Scully said the district's position is undercut by strong prices for recycled commodities. "The sanitary district would have a tough time explaining why they are the only municipality in the state for which no economic markets exist," he said.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

Visions Of Victorian-Style Street Lamps?

Results Of Visioning Process In Elmont Receive Rave Reviews

Pardon us for our continuing skepticism, but we've heard the talk, seen the plans, viewed the artists' renderings, and been courted by those seeking "four more years" many, many times before.

Don't get us wrong. We, too, applaud the plans to revitalize long-neglected Elmont. After all, as Elmont goes, so goes all of western Nassau.

We remain unconvinced, however, when "ideas" clearly designed to elicit community approval, if not applause from the peanut gallery -- such as "One idea that received applause from the audience was the removal of illegal apartments" -- are floated with little or no intention of effecting a result.

Truth is, with all the talk of "nail & mail" and increased fines, the proliferation of illegal accessory apartments continues to escalate, with no evidence that the Town, which has jurisdiction here (as in Building Department) is making anything more than a snake oil salesman's effort to beef up enforcement or impose the law of the land upon errant landlords.

Then there's the talk of Belmont's role -- via Governor Spitzer and the State of New York -- in reclaiming Elmont from the ash heap. Visions of a rejuvenated Belmont spawning the economic revival of greater Elmont and neighboring Floral Park.

To VLT or not to VLT? [Video Lottery Terminals.]

Well, the VLT might be a diversion for the gamer or gambler, but in terms of aiding and abetting Elmont's rebirth, it is more distraction than panacea.

Local civic and community leaders shouldn't be waylaid by visions of money flowing from slot machines as stimulus for the local economy.

We've seen those VLTs at Yonkers Reaceway and at Monticello Raceway, without much attendent benefit to either Main Street or back street in either community. VLTs may be the savior of the track, but beyond that, in terms broader initiatives, it is little more than window dressing.

Of course, we don't want to be total naysayers. After all, in Elmont, the forces of that "perfect storm" may well be in play at last. The joinder of county, town, community, and perhaps even the state, each realizing that its now or never, coming together to deal a blow to the blight, the economic decline, the unsightliness, and the anti-suburbanization of what is the gateway to Nassau County.

We certainly hope so!
- - -
From The Three Village Times:

Full Speed AheadWith Elmont Visioning Plan
Plan Thus Far Receives Warm Welcome in Elmont
By Joe Rizza

When Elmont Coalition of Sustainable Development co-chair Sandra Smith asked the audience that had gathered in the Elmont Library Tuesday night for the visioning plan for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont if Elmont was going in the right direction, she received applause. She asked the audience if the plan is what the residents want for Elmont and again she received applause.

At the community presentation on Tuesday evening, representatives from Saccardi & Schiff unveiled a concept for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont that came from ideas and suggestions from community during the visioning meetings that were held as part of the visioning process, a partnership between Sustainable Long Island, Saccardi & Schiff and Elmont's many community organizations and residents.

Although the plan is in its infant stages, there seems to be a lot of opportunity for redevelopment and changes that will enhance the safety and aesthetic look of the turnpike to spawn economic growth in Elmont.

The plan focuses on all of Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont from Belmont Park on the west end to the Franklin Square boarder on the east end. Based on what was discussed Tuesday evening, it is believed that Belmont Park represents a big opportunity for the Elmont community, although what ends up happening within the park comes under the jurisdiction of New York State.

However, local elected officials such as Assemblyman Tom Alfano and Senator Craig Johnson have been lobbying for the communities near the park to have a say on how Belmont can benefit the community.

In terms of what is envisioned for the area around Belmont Park, the plan will focus on creating a gateway to Elmont and redevelopment around the park with the potential for a hotel/conference center and restaurants.

Another idea for the turnpike includes the building of a supermarket, which is something the community feels it needs. The plan envisions a 40,000-square foot supermarket on the southwest corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Elmont Road.

The plan also calls for a redesign of Hendrickson Park, redevelopment of Jamaica Square and the possibility of relocating the post office to make it more accessible. The plan also calls for the community use of the old Elmont Library.

Among some of the other ideas discussed for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont are improving safety conditions by providing additional traffic lights, improving the turning condition from eastbound Hempstead Turnpike to southbound Meacham Avenue, provide additional bus stops and/or relocate bus stops, improve connection between the N6 and N2 buses at Meacham Avenue, provide additional pedestrian crossings and align crosswalks with public transportation.
The plan also calls for beautifying Hempstead Turnpike with landscaping, widening sidewalks, providing lampposts and garbage receptacles and improving/providing a landscaped buffer between roadways and buildings. One idea that received applause from the audience was the removal of illegal apartments.

Those who will be involved in the process, from local elected officials to community members to planners, know that this will be a long process; and ideas for funding for these initiatives will have to be sought, but Elmont now has the basis for a plan to improve its main business corridor.

Elmont Coalition of Sustainable Development co-chair Ed Ambrosino said the local elected officials will take off their political labels and work together to make the visions a reality.
Another meeting is expected to be held in the spring. Over the next two years, the goals will be to create a final vision plan and begin overall beautification efforts while working with municipalities such as the town, county and state.

Friday, October 19, 2007

No Noose Is Good Noose

Virtual Noose Found Dangling At Portal To The Community Alliance Blog

Oh, we've been hanging around this place for far too long!

Not for anything, but we think all of this yardarm stuff -- the harkening back to lynchings in the deep south -- is nothing more than mere subterfuge.

For goodness sake. A noose at the Town of Hempstead Highway Department facility? [And now, prayer sessions and "diversity" training.] Are you kidding? Everyone knows there's not a single person in the employ of Hempstead Town who can possibly tie a knot. Even tying their own shoes requires the hiring of outside consultants! ["Pray with me, Dorothy, that one day, you, too, will be White like the rest of us at Town Hall. . .] Imagine that, Kate Murray hand-in-hand with Dorothy Goosby, singing We Shall Overcome. MLK, Jr. must be turning over in his grave!

Let's talk about some real issues. Quality of life issues.

Why, just last week, a resident of Queens (you know -- the place some of us say Nassau is becoming), received a $50 summons from the NYC Department of Sanitation for, of all things, placing his recycling bin at the curb on the wrong day.

Then there was the Brooklyn family, written up for graffiti-writing on the public way, because their daughter had the audacity to create a chalk drawing of a blue flower on the sidewalk. [The City later rescinded the notice -- apparently after being mocked by the media -- declaring that chalk drawings on the sidewalk are NOT graffiti. Childhood is once again safe for our children!]

And then there's the woman in Scranton, Pennsylvania who was cited by the municipality because she cursed, in the privacy of her own home, at her overflowing toilet. Holy s..t! [That could never happen here, where we curse daily at the overflowing sewer that passes for local government. "Cheese it. Its Public Safety!"]

Now these are extremes, of course. Right out of the Benito Mussolini school of making the trains run on time. [Thank God we didn't say, "the Rudy Giuliani school of cleaning the streets by way of suspending personal liberties." And they call us Fascists!]

Still, wouldn't it be nice if instead of the "anything goes," "do whatever the Hell you please" mentality here in the glorious burbs, we had a little regulation by way of code enforcement?

Why not put homeowners on notice -- followed up by an actual summons -- for placing the garbage out on Sunday for collection on Tuesday, in a can without a cover, or in a flimsy kitchen bag readily invaded by marauding sea gulls?

How about tagging some fines on those store owners who allow trash, beer bottles, and their own flyers to pile up on the public thoroughfares, that which literally flies in our faces whenever the wind blows?

Maybe a gentle nudge to homeowners who refuse to move their cars off the streets on the one or two days a month (weather permitting) when we have street cleaning (also known as "the moving of the dirt from one side of the street to the other").

Then there's street sign replacement, pothole repair, and the other sundry niceties that seem to bypass us folks, particularly in the unincorporated hither-regions, notwithstanding the plethora of town employees who, in the safety of their trucks, pass by thrice daily, never taking notice of the missing signs, craterous potholes, or the dead water buffalo carcass with the RE-ELECT KATE MURRAY lawn sign afixed to its buttocks rotting away in the middle of the road.

No, I'm not suggesting that we live in an armed police state, where big brother not only watches everything we do, but also goes through our trash (courtesy of Sanitary District No. 1). Still, this isn't the wilds of Wyoming, where, living in a one-room cabin, our nearest neighbor twenty miles away on horseback, its every man for himself.

There needs to be at least a modicum of regulation, and something akin to enforcement of the rules, in a society where we cherish both individual rights and a "Main Street" that doesn't look like Berlin after the blitz.

Its called, community!

Village Trumps Town In Zoning, Redevelopment

If It Can Be Done In Garden City, Why Not Hempstead Town?

We've heard it all before. "It takes a village."

Well, maybe it just takes a township that is both responsive and responsible.

In the heart of the incorporated village of Garden City, a former Texaco station is poised to become a centerpiece of a thriving downtown, with a mix of retail and residential, and even a pedestrian promenade.

No "blight studies." No Condemnation proceedings. No endless hearings before zoning boards, planning boards, or town boards.

Meanwhile, in Elmont, the old Argo movie theater is still the old argo movie theater, and further east, in West Hempstead, the dangerous, crime-ridden Courtesy Hotel -- the hottest spot in Nassau County's 5th Precinct -- still looms over a community, as a former civic association leader put it, "under siege."

If it seems that, in villages, improvements happen and things get done, perhaps it is because they do.

Is it that residents of incorporated areas expect and/or demand more than their neighbors in the unincorporated areas, or could it be that the village trustees, who themselves are residents of the village -- paying its taxes and living in its neighborhoods -- actually care about what happens and what gets done?

True, life in the unincorporated "territories" is often akin to the wild west, where "park on the streets anytime, day or night" (quash street cleaning in favor of packing 'em in to illegal accessory apartments), and "give us your laundromats, storage facilities, and abandoned commercial strips", rides rough shot over any prospect of enforcing codes or revitalizing "downtowns."

Indeed, it is night and day when it comes to incorporated villages and the unicorporated stepchildren of the township. The villages get the best, the most, and have it first, all the while having the lowest town taxes, while the unincorporated, if they're lucky, get whatever may be left over.

Maybe Levittown, where Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray grew up -- and still resides with Mom and Dad -- gets a little more attention than the township's other unincorporated areas. Then again, considering that nobody from the Town -- not even Supervisor Murray -- was paying attention to the un-permitted McMansionization on the Supervisor's own block, maybe not.

The rest of us, west of Levittown, remain mired in a 1950s mentality of provincialism (or is it isolationism?), keeping us as far from the ideals of village life as the idea of democracy is from 21st century Iraq.

Does it help that the village doesn't have to deal with the Town's politically charged and developmentally challenged zoning board/planning board, or a Town Board that only votes one way, staying the course, wherever that course may take us, even if its nowhere? You bet!

The blight. The brownfields. The economic depression of "Main Street." The filth. The ugliness. Did we mention the blight?

Not quite sure if it really does take a village. We can say, with at least a modicum of certainty, that it takes a lot more than the Town of Hempstead is willing -- or able -- to give us.
- - -






The design plan for the corner of Seventh Street and Franklin Avenue, more commonly known as the old Texaco gas station site.

The eyesore at the corner of Seventh Street and Franklin Avenue could turn into a focal point if the property's owner, Domus Green, is granted a zoning amendment to turn the former Texaco gas station site into a mixed-use street level retail residential two-story building designated to support and compliment Garden City's existing downtown area.

According to Kevin Walsh, who is representing Domus Green, the proposal calls for approximately 19,000 square feet of retail and approximately 10,000 square feet of residential - or 12 mostly one-bedroom and studio units. The proposed building would also boast a pedestrian promenade, which Walsh believes will only add character to the area. Domus took title to the site in April 2007 and has since removed the underground fuel storage tanks and cleaned and secured the site.

The property is currently located in a C-2 District, which permits retail or office use but not residential use. That is not to say there is not residential development in the C-2 zone. Directly across the street there are two condominium complexes - 222 Seventh Street and Stewart Franklin Condominiums - that have retail stores on the lower level and four stories of residential units above. "We seek to put a smaller version of those on the west side of Franklin Avenue. I think those buildings work well and I think this would also," Walsh said.

Two weeks ago, Walsh filed a petition with Village Administrator Robert Schoelle seeking the zone change. He included criteria in his request that he believes would protect the village from anyone's efforts to over-intensify the use of their existing properties.

"The zoning is good. This type of use is good for the area," Walsh continued, adding that he believes the mixed-use development is good for two reasons - physically, its aesthetically pleasing and the mix of retail and residential works well.

In its efforts to create a pedestrian link from Seventh Street to Franklin Avenue, Domus Green is setting the building back off Seventh Street by 30 feet from the curb and angling the building. "It's a true pedestrian promenade that would invite people from Seventh Street downtown to Franklin Avenue downtown, something we've never had before," Walsh told trustees.

The plan intends to close off driveways along Seventh Street so instead of stopping at Seventh Street, as many people did, they would actually be invited around the corner to the shops and businesses on Franklin Avenue.

An approximate 30-foot link or promenade to the rear of the building would give residents and shoppers to the area access to the municipal parking lot behind it, something Domus Green thinks are all critical aspects of the design plan.

"Mixing residential and retail is important to a downtown," Walsh said. "The people who live in these buildings supply much of the revenue to those people who operate businesses there."
Some months ago, the Texaco gas station moved further south on Franklin Avenue. Domus Green has already gone before the village's Architectural Design Review Board and is expected to meet with the Garden City Chamber of Commerce this week.

"The property is just sitting. It's in the heart of the downtown. It really needs to go to your planner," Walsh continued. "I'm confident that this is the right plan for this area..."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two And A Half Men: The Future Of New York's GOP

All Right. Its Three Men, But We Needed A Catchy Title

Lawrence Levy, columnist, former member of Newsday's editorial board, and executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, opined in a recent article that not only is the death of New York's Republican Party -- despite Joe Mondello's best efforts to take the party with him to the grave -- greatly exaggerated, but its demise would be detrimental to a democracy that draws its strength from a vibrant, vital two-party system. [See, New York needs two-party system, with wiser GOP]

To demonstrate that a one-party system -- or two-party, where one has diminished capacity and virtually no voice -- is harmful to democracy -- "it discourages the sort of scrutiny and competitiveness necessary for honest and creative lawmaking," says Levy -- we need look no further than the Town of Hempstead, where a single party -- the GOP -- has called the shots for, believe it or not, 105 years. [Yes, it has been that long!]

Yet, with all of its shortcomings -- and there were too many to mention, even in the 600+ blog posts that grace this portal -- and for all of our venomous rants against the governing body that calls itself Hempstead Town [and, in particular, the town's presiding officer, Supervisor Kate Murray], the seeds of hope, at least for the future of New York's Republican Party, if not democracy itself (all right, that's a stretch), are planted at that building at 1 Washington Street.

What we're sure will be a collective groan aside, we at The Community Alliance offer kudos to three men -- Republicans all -- who stand poised to break the mold that Mondello cast (and its getting moldier by the minute, Joe). Three who have, on more than one occasion, and in not so subtle ways, publicly bucked "she who must be obeyed" (we mention no names here), exerting the independence (sort of) that will be required, not only to salvage New York's Grand Old Party, but to give shine to its long-tarnished image. [Oh, we hear the coughs and catcalls already. So be it.]

The three men we speak of -- the future of New York's Republican Party (and our hope of a strong, two-party system) are, in the order that they will appear on the November 6th ballot, Hempstead Town Clerk, Mark A. Bonilla; Receiver of Taxes (sends shivers up the spine, doesn't it?), Donald X. Clavin, Jr.; and Town Councilman, Edward A. Ambrosino. [You didn't think we were going to say, Tony "they enjoy paying more" Santino, did you?]

Okay. You're thinking we've lost our marbles. Haven't we been trying to oust the GOP from Hempstead Town Hall by means ranging from enemas to Roto Rooter? Absolutely, but let's not throw the babies -- and these three are the Generation Next of the Nassau GOP -- out with the contaminated (as in water districts and Superfund sites) bath water.

True, there's still too much of the party line being towed by Bonilla, Clavin, and Ambrosino, but one would have to expect that in our "hand that feeds you" politic. Yes, way overboard with the "Kate Murray and I" talk and the shared Murraygram dance, but face it, were the Dems not constantly at one another's throats, and choking on their own inability to grab the bull by its horns and at least get into the China shop, they'd be singing "Tom Suozzi and I," all the way to the polling place.

Within the context of the hellish cesspool that is Hempstead Town Hall -- a century of fecal waste accumulated behind closed doors and one-party edicts enough to make the heads of sanitary district commissioners spin -- Mark Bonilla, Don Clavin, and Ed Ambrosino are, for lack of a better term, rebels in the cause of freeing the GOP from the corpse-like grip of the Mondello era.

It is difficult, even for us liberal thinkers -- perhaps especially so -- to present members of an entrenched, monolithic political club as innovators, let alone as men who are capable not only of independent thought, but of thinking outside of that stuffy and confined GOP box, where thinking itself is seldom allowed. And yet, that's just what comes to mind when we think about Mark Bonilla, Don Clavin, and Ed Ambrosino.

Frankly, they'd be heroes enough in our book, and torchbearers, certainly, of the new Republican guard, had their only good deed been to stand up to the likes of the embodiment of all evil in Hempstead Town, Kate Murray.

Mark Bonilla, fiercely independent, will not be upstaged by the Supervisor, often asserting, to Kate Murray's dismay, the autonomy of his office.

As Town Clerk, Bonilla has transformed the office from one of mere political hackery (now there are other things, in addition to political hackery), where the occasional marriage was performed for photo op purposes, or death certificate unceremoniously filed for the unincorporated, into a one-stop-shop of useful, consumer-friendly public services.

First to mind is the Town's one-stop Passport Service, which, as one of the largest -- if not the largest -- passport service centers in the nation, can be credited with getting more folks out of the Town of Hempstead than property taxes. Its fast. Its humane. Its a pleasure for all who seek to travel outside the borders of the good old US of A. And Mark Bonilla makes it work.

Mark Bonilla, lauded as the first Hispanic to be elected to a Town-wide position in Hempstead Town (not that this should be noteworthy criteria in and of itself, but something that will serve him well in a township where demographics are shifting steadily, and in a party that is generally whiter than a polar bear drinking whole milk in a snow storm), is a rising star in Nassau politics, as well he should be.

What can we say about the Receiver of Taxes (pause for mass boos from the gathered), Don Clavin. He's a centrist with a sense of humor. [One surmises he'd be a top notch blogger in another life ;-).] Attend a meeting of the Town Board (one wonders why Don does, since he has no vote there, anyway), and you can catch Don smiling wryly -- sometimes even laughing -- at the silly-business as usual. Don Clavin gets it.
Sure, they could do with ten people what the Receiver's office probably does with 100 (we're guessing), but that's the broken system at play, not Don.

It was Don Clavin who gave residents the mobile tax office [okay, so the Town is hunting you and your tax dollars down. Get over it], and, most recently, in what is the most creative idea to come out of Hempstead Town Hall since Rich Guardino jumped ship for academia, the E-Z Pay Drive-Thru Tax Window at the back of the Receiver's office. The only thing missing is the latte and the cinnamon bun, but we hear Don's working on that. [Something about a Special Coffee & Donut District!]

Just another way of taking the taxpayers' money? Well, you could say that. Taxes being that necessary evil upon which government runs (amuck and otherwise), we look at it, as Don has said, this way: "Residents can now enjoy the convenience of paying their taxes in the comfort of their car at the EZ-Pay Drive Thru Payment Window. . ." [Or, in brief, as Tony Santino would say, "Residents can now enjoy... paying their taxes..."]
Well, Don, maybe if you offered an oil change and Carnuba wax with that. . .

Watch Don Clavin. He's a first-class guy who deserves much credit for his take on a taxing job.

We won't say that we've saved the best for last, but Ed Ambrosino is truly one of us. Never have we seen an elected official agonize over the very issues that dog homeowner, taxpayer, and stakeholder alike.

Whether its the long-awaited renaissance in Elmont -- where Ed serves in an advisory capacity on Elmont's Coalition for Sustainable Development -- or giving the Supervisor Hell for her obstinance (okay, call it what it is, foolish pigheadedness) in standing in the way of the Courtesy Hotel's closure in West Hempstead, Ambrosino has proven himself a leader among those who, all too often, refuse to lead.

As we said back in 2005, and reiterate here, "Ed is a bright spot on the Town Board, a man who, when first elected, offered no assurances other than 'give me a chance to get the job done.' While the job, in most communities around the Town, is far from done, when the cause of community does move forward in Hempstead Town's 2nd District, it is largely because of the efforts of Ed Ambrosino. A doer in the face of frustration, Ed hammers away at the "let them have blight" Town Hallers, looking to move off center to redevelop the very face of community."

By now, our readers on the Democratic side of the aisle, assuming they haven't hemorrhaged, are wondering where we are coming from.

Well, we all know from whence we came -- as anybody of somewhat sound mind in the unincorporated hinterlands of Hempstead Town can tell you. The real question is, where are we going?

They may not be the Nassau GOP's answer to Abraham, Martin, and John, but in a town that time, and democracy, seems to have forgotten, if you cock your head just right, squint your eyes so, and look over that hill on the Hempstead Plain, you might just see Edward, Mark and Don.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Wild, Wild West Of North Hempstead Town

The Bell Begins To Toll For Building Departments In The Townships

Few were surprised by the rash of recent arrests of Building Department personnel -- including a former Commissioner -- in the Town of North Hempstead.

Everyone knew, if but intuitively, of the corruption, the payoffs, the "consultant" fees. No surprised looks on anyone's face.

Joye Brown, one of our favorite Newsday columnists, writes about the lawlessness of what was -- and, to a lesser or greater extent, probably still is -- a wild, wild west mentality.

Anything goes, and it typically does.

Fact is, despite our common knowledge of despicable conduct (okay, alleged despicable conduct) unbecoming of elected officials -- or of anyone, for that matter -- we condoned both the untoward and the unlawful, year after year, with the tacit approval of our votes.

Brown ponders what prompted the Nassau District Attorney's investigation. "Why did officials decide to delve into North Hempstead's building department? Prosecutors say it started with a spate of anonymous complaints about houses with illegal apartments and too-big mansions on too-small lots."

Well, it certainly took them long enough. Then again, Denis Dillon wasn't going to go after what was, at the time, his own.

If what we're seeing in North Hempstead is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg, one has to ask, what about Hempstead Town, where there, too, even the Building Commissioner apparently held himself above the law?

Hempstead Town, where there hasn't been a changing of the guard -- or a cleaning of the house -- for 105 years.

Assuming "complaints about houses with illegal apartments and too-big mansions on too-small lots" are the lithmus test for investigation and possible prosecution, the law is about to catch up with the lawless, and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen (not related to Kate) Rice has her work cut out for her.
- - -
Rounding up the suspects
Joye Brown

Yipee-ki-yoh-ki-yay.

The Wild, Wild West had nothing on North Hempstead's building department. Corruption and lawlessness reigned, for years, prosecutors alleged, and thar was little helpless townsfolk could do about it.

The presumption of innocence remains, as it should, for former building commissioner David Wasserman and his, um, deputy, John Madden; and with former plans examiner Andrew Acierno and building inspector Thomas McDonough, too.

But a 16-month investigation by the Nassau district attorney's office churned up more than enough tidbits to weave together a tale of a town in desperate need of a cleanup.

Let's meet the cast:

The sheriff would be Wasserman, who headed the department, left, and circled back as a consultant. He was also economic and planning commissioner and remains chairman of the town's community development agency.

Prosecutors pegged him as leader of the wild bunch. Not only did he work for the town, they said, but worked to cover up the private architectural firm he ran on the side. He's so tough, prosecutors alleged, that he managed to shake down guys at a gym, right after he approved its construction plans. He's so smart, he figured out a way to get paid for attending meetings (as a consultant) rather than sitting for free (as a commissioner), the indictment said.

He was also sitting so high and pretty, prosecutors said, that he made more than $300,000 in extra income over three years, but never bothered to pay taxes.

Madden, the deputy, is accused of having traded cash for inspection certificates and building plan approvals. Acierno, the plans inspector, is alleged to have loved plans so much that he, too, had a business on the side - drawing plans. He wasn't an architect, but why should that matter? He affixed other architects' seals, prosecutors said, to his work. Voila!

McDonough, meanwhile, is accused of giving one hapless homeowner a choice: Your money ($900 for a ticket to a political fundraiser) or your drywell inspection. The homeowner bought the ticket.

Kathleen Rice, Nassau's district attorney, twice noted during a news conference yesterday that the four did not act in concert. Thus, it would be grossly unfair to tag them the North Hempstead Building Department Gang.

No, it's worse than that.

The department was so wild, so lawless, that each had the freedom to act alone. Each had the unchecked authority to devise four personal plans to, as Rice said, "put their personal greed ahead of the public good and ... that greed and that corruption has crippled this department and decimated the trust these communities have in their public officials."

The department has been under investigation for almost two years. As a result, it was, at worst, seven or eight months behind in processing necessary permits, Supervisor Jon Kaiman told me yesterday. Now, it's about four months behind.

"This is a different department," Kaiman said, noting that he had instituted a number of reforms. "I am the guy at the top," he said. "Do I get kudos for finding it out and trying to fix it or do I get blame for being the supervisor in office when the story broke?"

Residents will decide, come November, all of which takes us back to a key question. Why did officials decide to delve into North Hempstead's building department?

Prosecutors say it started with a spate of anonymous complaints about houses with illegal apartments and too-big mansions on too-small lots.

I'd say the townsfolk weren't so helpless, after all.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hearing On Town Of Hempstead Budget Today

Town Board Invites Public Comment, October 16th, 2:30 PM And 7:00 PM




Town Board Calendar

Town board meetings are held in the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion, adjacent to Hempstead Town Hall, One Washington Street, Hempstead.

The Hempstead Town Board is scheduled to hold its next meeting:Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 2:30 & 7:00 p.m.

Preliminary Budget - TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD - for fiscal year commencing January 1, 2008

Proposed Assessment Roll - GREATER ATLANTIC BEACH WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT - for fiscal year commencing January 1, 2008

Be heard now, folks, or forever hold your peace!

Why We're In Trouble

LIers More Interested In High School Football Than Roaming Gangs

Check out the comment statistics for Newsday stories.

More talk back and commentary on high school football than on violence, gangs, libraries, and hanging nooses, combined.

Go figure!

Newsday Forum

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Community wish to end violence has prom... 5 comments

Dragging it out is disrespectful to Tor... 20 comments

Brain Found in Bag Near Richmond, Va. - 14 comments

H.S. Football talk back - 13351 comments

Five indicted in $1M Hamptons art heist - 1 comment

Smithtown library expansion defeated - 1 comment

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Elmont, Rising From The Turnpike

Revitalization Plan, Shared Vision, To Be Shared With The Community

Could it be that the long-awaited, much debated, often faded renaissance for Elmont is just around the corner?

As alawys, we're skeptical, many an attempt fo pry this community from the locked jaws of despair and decay having fallen by the wayside.

And yet, it would seem, Elmont is closer to a rebirth -- not to be confused with the afterbirth that years of neglect by both town and county have left behind -- than ever before.

A couple of perspectives, the first from the Three Village Times, the second from the Elmont Herald.

The action continues (or so we can only hope) at the Elmont Public Library on Tuesday, October 16th.

The timetable for revitalization? Six months to 30 years. We should all live so long!
- - -
From The Three Village Times:

A New Vision For Elmont
Community Presentation to Be Held on October 16

The new Elmont Library on Hempstead Turnpike can be seen as a centerpiece for revitalization in the community.

A presentation to the community will be made by Sustainable Long Island and Siccardi & Schiff, which are collaborating with the Elmont community to come up with a redevelopment plan for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, on Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Elmont Public Library, 700 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont.

According to program coordinator Lyle Sclair of Sustainable Long Island, the presentation will be made to the community as a way to make sure Sustainable Long Island and Siccardi & Schiff are headed in the right direction in developing a plan to revitalize Hempstead Turnpike with the Elmont borders.

Thus far, three community workshops have been held in addition to a visioning weekend in late September. Among the topics covered in the workshops were housing and economic development, transportation, and recreation.

The goal of the visioning process will be ultimately to adopt a plan and implement it over six months to 30 years. The timeline calls for the community vision plan to be unveiled in spring 2008.

The plan will take into account vital issues to the community visioning process and revitalization such as land use and zoning, encouraging local business such as a new supermarket.

As is the case with the Elmont School Board, there are factions in Elmont that are often at odds. However, that doesn't seem to be the case with the visioning process. Elmont East End Civic Association President Patrick Nicolosi sees the community working together for the common goal of improving Elmont.

Nicolosi believes Sustainable Long Island is helping to bring the community closer together and commended Sandra Smith, co-chair of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Long Island.

"I think we were all working together. Right now, I think Elmont has pretty much caught the attention of the whole state. Everyone is looking and listening to Elmont. That's a good thing," Nicolosi said. "I always felt that Elmont was a jewel. It's just that nobody found out about us until recently. I think all hands are working towards revitalizing Elmont."

- Joe Rizza
- - -
From The Elmont Herald:

Visioning Weekend’s Preliminary Findings

Over 200 attended Elmont’s Community Visioning Weekend over the two days, September 28 and 29.
They got down to business participating in the community goal setting, walking tours along Hempstead Turnpike, and spending time at the design tables and interactive keypad real-time polling to prioritize ideas and concerns for shaping the future of Elmont.

The event took place at Elmont Memorial High School.

The Hempstead Turnpike corridor from the Cross Island Parkway to the Franklin Square border is the focus of the collaborative efforts of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development, and its partners, Sustainable Long Island, the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County and Siccardi and Schiff. All community members – business owners, residents, town and county representatives, houses of worship, civic groups, the police, fire departments, all the stakeholders were invited to attend to help design the grand plan to reinvigorate the community.

The weekend was dedicated to shaping the plan.

Preliminary findings culled during the visioning weekend were:

• pedestrian safety issues at the intersection of Elmont Road and Hempstead Turnpike;

• the need for redevelopment opportunities and pedestrian safety near the Elmont Road/School Road/Hempstead Turnpike triangle, the Home Depot shopping center and the Belmont Race Track;

• The need to calm traffic along the entire length of Hempstead Tpke.

The five priorities sited by those in attendance included something Elmont civic groups and individuals have been screaming about for years – Code Enforcement.

The priorities also included the need for:

• uniform signage, street maintenance, street furniture, compatible adjacent fa├žade improvement, and sidewalk improvements;

• Greenway/beautification (crosswalks aligned with public transportation, landscaped gateways signs along the turnpike and within the Home Depot shopping center;

• Hotel and Economic Development in Belmont Park;

• mixed use development including an up-scale hotel/convention center retail and recreation. This would provide tax benefits for Elmont, and integrate Belmont Park into the community with year-round activities offered at Belmont. Also noted was the need to clean up the street frontage of Belmont Park on the Turnpike as well as the need for general beautification at the Park;

• a community center – a multiuse center servicing all community members located near other community assets such as the new library;

• a supermarket to serve the residents north of Hempstead Turnpike.

A more complete report of the outcome of the Elmont Visioning process will be presented on Tuesday, October 16, at the Elmont Public Library, from 7-9 p.m.

At that time a presentation will be made to the community of the data gathered and synthesized. Based on the information gathered a plan will be developed for future development of Elmont. That process will be guided by Sustainable Long Island and Saccardi and Schiff, who will work collaboratively with the community developing a plan to serve as a roadmap for the future development along Hempstead Turnpike.

Once Elmont has developed its “vision” for Hempstead Turnpike, a formal plan outlining short-term (six months to three years), medium term (three years to 10 years) and long-term (over 10 years) goals will be drafted for community and town approval.

If approved, the plan will become the document used to revitalize Hempstead Turnpike, at which point public and private funding will have to be secured to implement the plan.
- - -
In other words, maybe we shouldn't hold our collective breath. Ah, but hope, in Elmont and here at The Community Alliance, springs eternal!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't Take Candy From Strangers

Or Gum Balls From Vending Machines

All right. Now we've heard it all. [Until we next open the funny pages, to be sure.]

Cargo entering our ports goes uninspected.

Reservoirs, bridges, nuclear plants go largely unprotected.

There's lead in our children's toys and in several popular brands of lipstick.

Our borders are open to all, except American citizens.

And here we are -- or there they are, in good old Dover, New Jersey -- worried that terrorists are going to infiltrate America via poisoned gum balls in unlicensed vending machines.

Did April Fool's Day come early to Dover?

It would be "pee in the pants" funny if these folks -- or at least some of them who, apparently, have been hanging out in Jersey's toxic dumps for too long, inhaling the fumes -- didn't take such nonsense so seriously -- or seriously at all.

Yes sir. Bin Laden & Company have set their sights on America's unlicensed vending machines, and on those ever-popular gum balls, in particular.

Come to think of it, maybe its not so far fetched, after all.

Perhaps it can happen here.

Local Water Commissioners slipping something into our drinking water so that we'll keep their little fiefdoms going well into the next century.

Kate Murray and her clan (literally) sending coded, subliminal messages to every household in Hempstead Town via an endless barrage of Murraygrams. The message: YOU WILL VOTE FOR US, AGAIN, AGAIN, AND AGAIN. How else could this scandalous cadre of scoundrels hold on to power for more than 100 years, while screwing the populace royally?

Nat Swergold, and the fellas in Town of Hempstead Sanitary District 1, on the orders of Town Councilman Tony "Mondello's Boy" Santino, spraying something funny in your garbage cans and recycling bins -- not to mention, putting on those extra trucks to pick up bread during Passover -- so that every homeowner comes to believe that he truly does "enjoy" paying more for garbage collection than for police protection.

The members of the New York State Legislature, channeling through rebate checks delivered to mailboxes in front of every home, a kind of government-sponsored hypnosis of a gullible electorate, leaving us in the trance of "Gee, this really is tax relief!"

Think of it as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets 1984.

Or maybe its just the fear of what could be -- or more likely, what never was -- a creeping paralysis of paranoia and suspicion that consumes us in ways that even the terrorists themselves never imagined. Seems to us that we are now a nation primed for nothing less than fear itself.

Alert Peter King and Peter Schmitt. Confiscate all of the gum ball machines in Nassau County, posthaste!

Maybe it really can happen here. Maybe, just maybe, it already has. . .
- - -
Where Candy Machines Are Eyed With Suspicion
By Kareem Fahim

DOVER, N.J., Oct. 11 — Frank Poolas, a burly ex-marine who has been an alderman here for eight years, simply did what many of his fellow politicians have done since Sept. 11: He raised the specter of terrorism.

Specifically, he warned of the hidden dangers lurking in gum balls and other loose candy dispensed by coin-operated vending machines.

The machines, he said at a City Council meeting last month, were vulnerable, and “in times like these,” they might be used for nefarious purposes.

But on Thursday, after his concerns were publicized in an article in The Star-Ledger of Newark, Mr. Poolas spent much of the afternoon explaining — or some might say, back-peddling.

He was not, he told the reporters and photographers who assembled in this northern New Jersey town, really all that concerned that candy posed a terrorist threat.

“Our main concern was health. Period,” Mr. Poolas said, explaining why he and some colleagues started a project six months ago to inspect all of the town’s candy and gum vending machines to make sure they were properly licensed.

Sure, he had mentioned terrorism, Mr. Poolas said, but only as a “worst-case scenario.”

Mr. Poolas and the town’s mayor, James P. Dodd, who joined him in an impromptu press conference, explained that the idea for the project came after Mr. Poolas noticed unlicensed pinball machines in a store. Then they found 96 candy machines that had licenses and 103 that did not.

For the safety of residents, Mr. Poolas said, “we felt there should be accountability.”
In the Star-Ledger article, Mr. Poolas was quoted as saying, “Someone who wanted to do harm surely could” by tampering with the vending machines. Mr. Dodd was also quoted in the article.

“It would be very easy for someone to put poison in one of these coin-operated devices that distribute candy to children,” he said.

All in all, it was a jarring day for this town of 18,000, which sits on the Rockaway River. It is a former industrial town, where old brick buildings stand out against the flat architecture of the 1970s, and most of the residents are Hispanic. There are Mexican restaurants everywhere. And candy machines.

By the early afternoon, news trucks had started appearing on the town’s streets, and TV cameras were filming old-fashioned glass-globed gum machines in stores.

By 2 p.m., Mr. Poolas, a tavern keeper, and Mr. Dodd, an entrepreneur, had had enough, and they called the reporters and cameramen into a room that doubles as the municipal court house.

Meanwhile, nearly a dozen people who had appointments in court had to wait, and by the end of the afternoon, some were not happy about it. They included Keesha Faines and her husband, Garrick Faines. “That was silly,” she said of the press conference.

Mr. Faines said he was there to contest a fine on behalf of his brother, who is now dead.

There were varied reactions in the town to the inspection program. Raymond Doran, the longtime owner of Doran’s Auto Parts on East Blackwell Avenue, said state health inspectors had removed five of his candy machines last year.

And Mr. Doran did not entirely dismiss the idea that terrorists could use the machines to their advantage. “Anything is possible,” he said, adding that he had started to feed his Siamese cats fresh food because of poisoning fears.

Mr. Doran’s store now has new candy machines, in sight of a door with a window etched with a bucking stallion.

Other residents said there were more important things for town officials to spend their time on. Maria Barrera, a sales associate at Towers Realtors, on North Sussex Street, said that the housing market in Dover was collapsing.

“There were 99 houses in foreclosure here last week,” Ms. Barrera said.

Her boss, Daniela Diaz, complained that overzealous housing inspectors were driving many residents out of town. Meanwhile, she said, no one had ever asked for a licensing fee for the gum machine they had had in their office for the last two months.

Reached a few hours after the press conference, Mr. Poolas told a reporter he was happy to talk but would tape the conversation, to prevent any further misunderstandings. Mr. Poolas, who owns a tavern called At the Hop, said he has an M & M machine in his restaurant, but it is free, and so he has not had to license it.

He said that he did not regret what he had said, but that if he were doing it again, he would probably not use the word "terrorism."

“It was all blown out proportion,” Mr. Poolas said. “The next thing you knew, they were invading Dover.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

The Blogs Of New York

Okay, Of Long Island. Geez!

The Long Island Press front page story last week chronicled the life and times of some of Long Island's more interesting blogs.

Alas, The Community Alliance Blog was not among them.

Damn you, Robbie Woliver!

Actually, the Editor-In-Chief did contact this blogger. We missed him. He missed us. And there went the deadline. "Better luck next time, Kimosabe." LOL

Anyway, some good stuff in the article on Citizen Journalists (more in the print edition than online), including a blurb on our good friends at The Peter King Watch.

A nice cross section -- well, maybe a bit heavy on the music blogs, ala www.acousticlongisland.com, but that's the trade -- of skull bloggery, and even a hit on The Long Island Idea factory, which this blog highlighted some time back (and we're still trying to figure out what Louis Savinetti is talking about! ;-)

Well, here are a few Long Island blogs -- notable or not -- the the LIP missed, for better or for worse:

Loving Long Island. Yes, you, too, can post a blog. And you should!

Long Island Library Conference Blog. Shh. Wake us when its over.

Long Island Woman. Some fantastic pics, from Coney Island (yes, Brooklyn is really part of Long Island) to Peru. Peru?

Feng Shui Long Island Blog. A bit about the Ying and the Yang. Hey, isn't that what got Senator Craig into trouble? Hmm. We're feeling some negative energy here.

Long Island Food Blog. Can somebody point us in the direction of the nearest White Castle?

The Long Island Living Blog. You call this living?

And finally, the blog that begs the question, "Who named Michael Watt 'Mr. Long Island,' anyway?" Mr. Long Island.

There's lots of interesting reading out there -- and plenty of blogging that's not, as well. This is Long Island, after all.

Have something to say about your Long Island? You can send it to The Community Alliance Blog at thecommunityalliance@yahoo.com and we'll post it. Better yet, start a Long Island blog of your very own.

Exercise your First Amendment rights. Freedom of Speech. Use It or Lose It!