Barely Out Of One Election, Right Into Another
The ballots from the November 3rd vote for County Executive are still not all counted -- and may not be until the week after Thanksgiving -- and here we are, headed into yet another election (in December, no less), this time for commissioners of those special taxing districts.
Yes, though few will actually take notice, and even fewer will bother to vote (given the low turnout on November 3, that may take us into the negative numbers), commissioners for fire and water districts, among other fiefdoms, if their posts are challenged at all, will likely be elected to public office by friends and family. Literally.
Why, even our good friends and neighbors who spearhead the fight to consolidate -- if not eliminate -- those costly, wasteful and too often corrupt special districts -- Residents for Efficient Special Districts (RESD) -- oxymoron aside, are silent as to the date, times (they vary), and locations (in the commissioner's kitchen, perhaps?) of the upcoming elections.
Oddly enough, neither the website of the Nassau County League of Women Voters nor the organization's Political Calendar, make any mention of Special District elections.
We've gone so far as to visit the website of Long Island Progressive Coalition's Nassau County Government Efficiency Project -- fixmypropertytaxes.com -- and while they plainly and properly rant about the special districts, nowhere is the date for special district elections posted (at least not conspicuously).
It is a horror story, indeed!
Could there be some vast conspiracy to keep voters away from the polls on Special District Election Day, denying them the "local control" they are said to have over these patronage-filled bastions of medieval ministration?
All right. We know the suspense is killing you.
Tuesday, December 8th. Special District Election Day.
Of course, most of the special districts themselves -- including many of the districts that have websites -- don't give you a clue as to an election of commissioners, let alone a date, time, and place.
Where can you find information? Well, try the website of the Town in which you live. [Believe it or not, the Town of Hempstead (the absolutely last people in the world you would expect to divulge such info) has a special districts page, linking to specifics (presumably furnished by the districts themselves) available for fire, water, sanitation, etc.]
Of course, not all districts are listed, and rare are any details on the Town's own special districts (i.e., Sanitary Districts, which typically hold their Special District elections -- because they are sooooo special -- during the Dog Days of August), let alone the posting of proposed budgets for each special district, which, as we recall, is required by law. [The district shall furnish and the Town shall post.]
Oh, we're so picky when it comes to such minutia, aren't we? Too bad the public, at large, is not!
So, like we said, here comes yet another election day. One that too few are aware of and where still fewer will opt to vote.
The outcome? The status quo, where the few (with pension credits, health insurance, SUVs, and 52" HDTVs) will decide how much you pay to have water flow from the tap, garbage picked up at the curb (or from the side of your house, district dependent), and a uniformed firefighter at your door handing you an envelope for a "voluntary donation" (as if our out-of-pocket tax dollars were not enough. Gotta have those keg parties and junkets to the Bahamas, after all).
Now isn't that special. . .
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Here's a thought for our State Legislators, now in special session up in Albany (where the Dems are afraid to cut spending, lest the Republicans blast 'em for doing so, and the GOPers are content to sit on their hands and do nothing, letting the Dems take the blame).
How about a bill that requires at least 25% of all registered voters in any particular special district to cast a ballot in a special district election? The failure to reach the 25% minimum turnout would cause the automatic dissolution of said special district. Period!
Now that, dear friends, would assure a get-out-the-vote campaign like no other. And you could be sure that notice of an upcoming election (did someone say December 8?) would be as prevalent in special district households as, well, a weekly newsletter from Town hall.
And should voters stay at home on Special District Election Day? Well, The Doomsday scenario for the folks at fire, water, and sanitation might well provide tax relief for homeowners. Read as, "the only good special district is a dissolved special district!"
December 8. A date that should live in infamy!