Monday, July 13, 2009

No Taxpayer Dollars Have Been Used To Post This Blog

When The Public Pays For Political Fodder

We've long complained about the misuse of taxpayer money to pay for what amounts to political mailings, especially during the long campaign seasons.

Apparently, we are not alone in taking notice of the fact that homeowners/taxpayers are being barraged with self-serving communiques that, while only marginally serving to enlighten and inform, go a long way toward keeping the names -- and faces -- of incumbents emblazoned upon the minds of residents.

At the same time, these very same homeowners/taxpayers are being bilked out of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to pay for political mailings, thinly disguised, if masquerading at all, as public service announcements.

Granted, all incumbents -- both Republicans and Democrats -- partake in parceling their candidacy through mediums such as taxpayer-funded mailings. In the Town of Hempstead, however, as blog reader and community advocate Henry Boitel points out, the GOP has the media blitz, at taxpayers' expense, down to a science.

Long live the Murraygram!
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Town Of Hempstead Underwrites Republican Campaign Literature

I know I received some kind of color flier from the Town of Hempstead, with the names and photos of (Kate) Murray and (Tony) Santino on it, just in the past week or so. It seems I have been lately getting at least one mailing a week from Murray or Santino, at taxpayer expense.

In addition, today I received in the mail three communications from the Town of Hempstead, i.e., paid for with our tax money.

1. From Murray and Santino urging me that recent State legislation that enables localities to consolidate government functions should effectively be undone since the people cannot be trusted to make the right decision on these matters. That bore postage of 21 cents.

2. From Santino telling me that there will be no tax rate increase in the town budget for 2010. He does not tell us about infrastructure that is being neglected, or debt that is filling in for taxes, or about any effort to reduce the number of patronage jobs. The mailing also ignores the substantial tax increase that property owners have experienced in the Town of Hempstead over the past ten years, simply because of the alleged increase in property values -- which went up for tax purposes a lot faster than they are coming down. Even when the tax rate does not change, high "value" of property means more tax paid. That mailing bore postage of 35 cents, even though it was the same size and weight as the first mailing.

3. From Murray and Santino - four page color brochure with their photos and names emblazoned on the front AND on the inside page, inviting me to a Hurricane Safety seminar on July 21 at 7 PM. The brochure itself seems to tell one everything one could possibly want to know about hurricane safety. One wonders what additional purpose the seminar will serve.
It sounds as though we are getting ready to take a trip with Dorothy (not Goosby) and Toto. In any event, it is not shown what the cost of this multi color brochure was or what the cost of the postage was.

The bottom line is that I got three pieces of mail today that must have incurred at least a total of $1.00 each to me and to every other household in the Town, and each of the mailings was politically motivated and not service motivated. Note this does not include the amount of time that patronage employees were paid to put this stuff together.

Since there are 246,828 households in the Town of Hempstead, how much, exactly, does the Town spend on mailings such as this?

I hope that the Democrats who are running for Town of Hempstead office will promise not to abuse town funds for self-aggrandizing political purposes in this way. Can you imagine how much money we would save by simply eliminating wasteful patronage jobs and politically motivated mailings?

Henry J. Boitel,
South Nassau Coalition
An Alliance of Democratic Organizations
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Publisher's Note: Henry, you needn't worry about the Dems running up the taxpayer tab in Hempstead Town. Doubtful that the lone Democrat on the Town Board, Dorothy Goosby, has access to any of those media funds used to engage the elves who run the printing presses in the dungeon of Town Hall, and the Democratic candidate for Hempstead Town Supervisor, Kristen McElroy, appears to still be running for the NYS Senate, at least according to her website, McElroy for Senate. Apparently, either no one knows how to change the word "Senate" to "Supervisor," or Ms. McElroy is simply running in place, keeping her name in the news, gearing up for another shot at Kemp Hannon in 2010.

Ahhh, it would seem, at least to this observer, that the cost to the electorate comes not only by way of the GOP printing press. . .
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From The Community Alliance Blog, October 6, 2005:

A Patchwork Quilt Of Ideas, Thoughts, And Head-Scratchers
Murray-Mail-Meter Tops $400,000

Yet another mailbox stuffer from Town Hall, as the latest Murraygram arrives in homes around the Town. Only 3 photos of Kate in this 4-pager (someone apparently slipped up), a "let's review" guide of that which they've told us at least a dozen times before -- "Tax-Freeze" Budget; Cutting Taxpayer Costs (but not for YOUR Sanitary District); and, did we mention Hempstead Town's highest credit rating?

Yes, all stuff we, the taxpayer, should know. Problem is, we know about it already. We've read the papers, received the press releases, logged on to the Town's website, and plodded through the umpteen other Town mailings on the very same subjects.

Clearly, the public benefit of the latest in the series of Murray mailings fades in comparison to the political self-promotion, making most suspect "Supervisor Kate Murray's Budget Review and Fiscal Update," which looks, smells, and reads as campaign literature mailed under the guise of Town update, and all at the taxpayers' expense.

And so we add to the unofficial till another $32,400.00 in taxpayer financed postage for personal gain, bringing the Murray-Mail-Meter to $421,200.00. Again, that's for postage alone. Add in the cost to taxpayers of material and production, and we're talking nearly $580,000.00 spent by the Town since May of this year on what would otherwise be campaign literature paid for by the candidate.

Hey, its your money!

1 comment:

  1. My own experience managing direct mail budgets suggests to me that the unit cost estimate provided by Boitel is in the ballpark. Just about every Murraygram I've ever seen is an oversized format, with four-color process printing, and including original photography. Clearly, if the sole objective of these mailings was to provide information to town residents, it could be done much more cost-effectively than this. But, as noted, it is absolutely transparent that the actual objective of these mailings is little more than a lot of shameless self-promotion. That said, the real shame in this situation is that hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars get wasted on this stuff every year, even while those who live in the Town of Hempstead continue to suffer from burdensome taxes and inefficient services.