Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen’s relentless drive to implement common sense good government policies has been derailed time and again by obstructionist GOP Town Board members.
It appears to me that Hempstead Republicans have not yet recovered from losing the supervisor post their party held for 112 years.
So, instead of imitating Nassau’s legislative presiding officer, Republican Richard Nicolello, who Newsday reports has “brought a businesslike demeanor and a willingness to work with new County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat,” Hempstead GOP councilmembers are rejecting or tabling many Gillen proposals, regardless of the merits.
At a six-hour raucous board meeting the first week of August, the Republican majority’s campaign of spite reached new lows.
They tabled for a third time Gillen’s proposal calling for a public hearing on special elections to fill Town Board vacancies.
Even discussing special elections in the public square is anathema because the five Republicans on the board were initially appointed to the board to fill a vacancy, and do not want to be open to criticism.
Take the case of the criminally indicted Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino.
If he is found guilty of corruption charges in his federal trial scheduled to commence on Feb. 25, 2019, and is subsequently removed from office, GOP bosses, not the voters, will choose his successor.
That’s an outrage!
But arrogant Republicans, having learned nothing from recent electoral defeats, still have “the voters be damned” mentality.
To thumb their noses at Gillen, the GOP steamrolled a procedural change that would prevent any tabled measure from being added back to a board agenda, unless a majority votes to permit the addition.
Gillen denounced the action as a “blatant attempt to silence [her].” “Tabling,” she rightfully argued, “never intended to bury an item forever so the public never gets to comment and board members never have to expose their positions on an issue they have too much cowardice to vote on.”
The balky Republicans also tabled a Whistle-Blower Protection Act.
They don’t want anyone who exposes illicit political or financial antics committed during their 112-year reign to receive any special considerations or protections from retaliation.
Another casualty of the Republican slash-and-burn approach to governing was Gillen’s Foreclosure Registry Town Ordinance Act.
This thoughtful public policy proposal, if implemented, would “provide real-time data on homes that have had foreclosures filed, or have completed the foreclosure process,” and would mitigate neighborhood blight and significantly improve maintenance of the approximately 6,000 foreclosed homes in Hempstead.
The Foreclosure Registry would relieve the Town from maintaining and managing foreclosed homes.
A vendor specializing in this area, Pro Champs, would be empowered to track foreclosed homes and to require banks to be accountable for maintaining them.
The corporate body responsible for the foreclosure would pay an annual $500 registration fee which would be dedicated to covering the town’s enforcement code and blight remediation project costs.
The Town of Hempstead presently budgets $1 million annually for unsafe building maintenance. The Gillen proposal would generate about $3 million in fees every year.
This approach will not cost taxpayers a nickel and it could turn the tide in the war against neighborhood blight.
What’s not to like?
Apparently, Republicans do not like it. Why?
I think the GOP views Gillen as a “meddling interloper.”
Because they expect to evict her from office in 2019, they prefer stalemate government. They do not want her to run for reelection with a record of solid achievements. Hence, they will kill most worthy proposals.
That’s pretty pathetic.
But Hempstead Republicans have been pretty pathetic for some years.
They are incapable of grasping that they underestimate, at their peril, the growing distrust of overburdened taxpayers with political business as usual; of politicians putting their interests first to perpetuate maintaining their power for the sake of power.
If the Republicans continue on their present path, they shouldn’t be surprised if voters sweep them into the dustbin of history.