Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Trifecta Of Evil

Town of Hempstead Legalizes Illegal Signs, Hires Town Attorney's Son, And Puts Seniors On Hold

Only in the Town of Hempstead!

We've long complained about all of those illegal campaign signs -- from the billboard-sized placards on fences and sides of buildings, to the "lawn" signs and "bumper" stickers adorning utility poles and electrical boxes -- standing in violation of Town Ordinance prohibiting the posting of signs, even on private property, without permit.

Not anymore, folks. The Hempstead Town Board -- the people who have brought blight to your backyards, perenially put pets before people (hold those letters from PETA), and who championed full-employment in Levittown -- has gone ahead and made those annoying, eye-polluting, and oft-times dangerous to drivers and pedestrians alike campaign signs you see plastered all over town LEGAL. [Pssst. Its still illegal to steal those lawn signs, but don't tell public safety -- or the Town Highway Department -- we said that.]

And if any of you thought that patronage was dead, oh boy. The Town of Hempstead has outdone itself, even by our standards.

Seems that Ed Ra, son of Town Attorney (and/or was that counsel to Sanitary District 6?) Joe Ra, has been put on payroll ($65,000, for starters) at Town Hall. And we thought they weren't hiring? Say it isn't so, Joe! Heck, its only the taxpayers' money. Spend on!

And while heretofore illegal signs were getting the thumbs up, and disenlightened nepotism the customary wink and nod (well, at least Ed Ra isn't from Levittown), Town of Hempstead seniors were being put on hold, the Town Board reserving decision on a proposal to lower the age for residency in an East Meadow senior development.

Hey, those seniors can wait. We need to keep those lawn signs blooming and ye olde patronage mill a-grinding. The old folks love us, no matter how we stick it to them.

Well, at least the Hempstead Town Board, in its infinite show of support for our communities, has approved an urban renewal plan for Baldwin (you know, those brick pavers, stylized benches, Victorian streetlamps. The works).

Wait. Didn't Kate Murray & Kompany approve similar urban renewal plans for the suburban hamlets of West Hempstead and Elmont, with those communities, months, if not years later, still having absolutely nothing to show for it?

Oh, stop grumbling, boys and girls. Be proud to be a part of America's most blighted township, where illegal signage now ranks right up there as facade improvement, and everyone, if not everything at Town Hall, is (a) relative.

And seniors, despair not. We'll get back to you on housing sometime before the appointment of the next Town Supervisor. Stay tuned...
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Hempstead Town Board OKs Baldwin urban renewal measure

The Hempstead Town Board yesterday unanimously approved the go-ahead for an urban renewal plan in Baldwin, a town code amendment allowing campaign signs without permits, and the hiring of a top employee's son. And it reserved decision on whether to lower the age requirement for a senior housing complex.

The Baldwin vote approved the town's acquisition of a property and subsequent sale to Garden City-based Engel Burman Group as part of an $18-million revitalization plan of the blighted area along Grand Avenue. The plan aims to make the area a destination for shoppers from outside the community, with new businesses in place next year.

The amendment to the town's building ordinance allows campaign signs to be displayed 60 days before and 10 days after an election, without a permit, if the sign is 32 square feet or smaller.

And the hiring involved Edward Ra - son of Town Attorney Joseph Ra - who was named a $65,000-a-year deputy town attorney, assigned to the town's Engineering Department to work on legal aspects of environmental reviews. Ra interned for the town board in 2005.

The vote to reserve decision involved a request to grant the Seasons at East Meadow permission to offer its condos for sale to people as young as 55. The development was initially approved with a minimum age of 62, as required for town Golden Age housing. In November 2006, the town board approved the firm's application to build the 416 two-bedroom unit senior housing complex. Such zoning requires fewer parking spaces per unit than multifamily developments without age restriction. The developers' attorney, Albert D'Agostino, presented experts who said that no more parking would be needed for the expanded age group.

He blamed the slow sales on the economy. Shareholders in the firm that's building the Seasons include former State Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, his son, Christopher, and D'Amato's brother, Armand. D'Agostino had his $106,700 annual pension revoked by the state comptroller last month when the state determined he was not an employee of the school districts and local governments for which he had done independent contracting work. D'Agostino is fighting the action.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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