Two years ago, Town of Hempstead voters, disgusted with corrupt and incompetent Republican leadership, elected Laura Gillen the first Democratic town supervisor in one hundred years.
The repudiation at the ballot box, however, appears to have fallen on deaf Republican ears. Since Gillen was sworn into office in January 2018, GOP Town legislators have been spiteful obstructionists, rejecting time and again thoughtful public policy proposals that would benefit taxpayers.
Here are a few examples of the GOP’s bad behavior:
Shortly before defeated Supervisor Anthony Santino left office, he rammed through the Town Legislature a resolution that limited Gillen’s ability to clean house.
To protect at-will hack employees from being fired, the legislation reassigned them with current salaries to unbudgeted civil service jobs in “departments that were not financially positioned to handle the additional salary expense.”
What an insult to voters who evicted Santino!
When Gillen learned that her predecessor failed to refund bonded debt to procure lower interest rates that would save taxpayers millions of dollars, she asked the Legislature to empower her, if warranted, to refund up to $110 million of the debt.
But once again, GOP legislators objected an approved only limited authority.
Excuses for not approving the potential refunding of the $110 million were specious, reeking of a partisan desire to rob the new supervisor of a victory, rather than a responsible approach to doing good service for taxpayers.
Another casualty of the Republican slash-and-burn approach to governing was the rejection of Gillen’s Foreclosure and Registry Ordinance Act that would have relieved the Town from maintaining and managing foreclosed homes.
Instead of spending $1 million annually to maintain unsafe buildings, the proposal, if enacted, would have generated $3 million in fees from banks required to be accountable for foreclosed property.
Cutting town spending, generating revenue and eliminating neighborhood blight — a big win for taxpayers — was stopped in its tracks by Republican obstructionists.
Then the Republicans discarded Gillen’s balanced budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 and imposed a fiscal gimmick called “Less Savings” throughout the Town’s line-item budget.
This shell game practice is a guesstimate of unspecified savings that may or may not be achieved savings is unique in the annals of municipal finance.
One Republican dolt accidentally revealed to Newsday the true intent of the scheme: “Less savings is a way to pad money and hide money by removing it so there’s a surplus next year so whoever is running can say they’d save taxes.”
The GOP’s latest antics reaffirm their “public be damned” attitude. In late September, they tabled indefinitely a host of sensible Gillen proposals that would have saved millions.
The most important item tabled was the Siemen Energy Performance Contract. This contact projected $11.4 million in savings and more than $5 million in positive cash flow over 20 years.
Those savings would have permitted the town to finance — without any additional cost to the taxpayers — numerous worthy projects including computer management software for 1,100 terminals, 16 high-efficiency pool pump motor replacements, 19 high-efficiency transformer replacements, and 5,400 conversions to LED lighting.
When speaking about the restored Bourbon monarchy after the fall of Napoleon, the renown French diplomat, Talleyrand, quipped “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”
By this he meant King Louis XVIII and his family did not understand why King Louis XVI was beheaded in 1792 by the revolutionary government; and that they did not forget grudges against those that overthrew them. Hence, it was no surprise when the House of Bourbon was booted out of France for good in 1830.
Similarly, Hempstead Republicans have learned nothing from voter rejection in November 2017 and are driven solely by rancor.
This flawed and dangerous approach to governing will eventually drive voters to do to the Hempstead GOP what the French did to the Bourbons—sweep them into the dustbin of history.
I’m hoping it’s sooner than later.