Mr. Michael Dinnocenzo’s moist paean to Tom DiNapoli “Dr. (sic) Tom DiNapoli: man for the people” is a stunning display of blind obeisance.
Contrary to his Op-Ed, there is no man who is a better representative of Nassau and Albany’s cult of corruption and mediocrity. He is the exemplar of our political dysfunction.
Mr. DiNapoli got his start on a school board. This is often used an entry point for local politics, and he caught the eye of May Neuberger. Ms. Neuberger is most famously remembered for saying things in a very loud voice. She would help him further his career.
Mr. DiNapoli then had an undistinguished career in the New York State Assembly. That’s not Mr. DiNapoli’s fault, as all New York State Assemblymen have undistinguished careers. The state government is purposely designed to function this way, since the leadership controls everything that goes in and out of the process. Loyalty to them got you your favors done. This system would eventually serve Tom well.
With the resignation of Comptroller Alan Hevesi, New York needed someone to take over the position. As one of Sheldon Silver’s willing executioners, someone who could be relied upon to take orders and look the other way, Mr. Silver put up Tom DiNapoli. He was interviewed by a panel of two former state comptrollers, a former New York City Comptroller and a group of legislators on Jan. 24, 2007. Mr. DiNapoli was not amongst the three finalists recommended by the review panel. Despite his complete lack of qualifications, on Feb. 7, he was elected as state comptroller by the Legislature.
Thanks to Silver, who now awaits imprisonment for decades of corrupt practices which everyone in the Assembly swears to have never known of, after 20 years in elected office without evincing the slightest interest in financial matters, and with no fiscal background whatsoever, a man who didn’t even know what a spreadsheet looked like was now put in charge of the second largest pension fund in the United States of America. For Silver, Mr. DiNapoli was merely a chess piece to put on his board. And a man in that position is certainly capable of rewarding who was later to become New York State’s most famous felon.
That’s how the sausage is made. Despite the advice of experienced experts, Tom DiNapoli now sat in the same chair as Arthur Levitt, who later went on to run the Securities and Exchange Commission. And as with his years in the Assembly, Mr. DiNapoli brings no drive or imagination to his task.
Mr. DiNapoli’s studied ability to avoid any “trouble,” smile, and keep a low profile as corruption and fraud swirl around him is still one of his greatest political gifts. The MTA can be exposed for wasting billions and he sees nothing, Sergeant Schultz style. The Port Authority is a fiefdom of patronage and self-dealing that would embarrass an Afghan warlord, but that’s a “no fly” zone for our wholesome little boy. But God help the East Meadow Library when good old Tom discovers a few minor vendor claims that they simply must address. There’s a reason for that. It doesn’t indict any civil service union. That would cross a line our fearless “model of integrity in a public servant” dare not cross. He knows where his bread is buttered, and so do the gushing sycophants who were heaping praise on him when he was sworn in.
There is one common thread in Nassau’s political class: it is a closed cult of people driven purely by talentless ambition. And a group of useful idiots to blindly support them.