State Senator Elaine Phillips, in her campaign for re-election, has resorted to the characteristic Republican approach of selecting small snippets out of broader facts, blowing them up as though they constituted a full story, and by doing so completely misrepresenting the entire truth of the matter.
In television advertising and with glossy mailers, she has contended that Anna Kaplan, her opponent, voted five times for higher North Hempstead taxes while also voting to raise her own salary.
As a member of the Port Washington Democratic Club and a modestly active supporter of Ms. Kaplan’s current campaign, I felt it necessary to inform myself of the accuracy of her assertions and to share what I learn with the readers of the Port Washington Times and other Blank Slate Media publications. Here is what I discovered:
1. Ms. Kaplan was elected to the Town Board in November 2011.
In each subsequent year, the increase in Town budget expenditures was held to below the state-mandated annual cap rate and was roughly in line with the region’s inflation rate. During that period, the Moody’s bond rating for the town’s debt obligations was raised to AAA, the highest quality rating possible in terms of financial soundness and stability and the best on Long Island.
Clearly, Ms. Kaplan was not solely responsible for that achievement, but she was one of six Board members (presently including two Republicans), led by Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, who together demonstrated fiscal responsibility while continuing to provide an excellent record of service to the residents.
2) The Board members voted in in 2013 to raise their salaries 20 percent to $48,000 – the first increase since 2005.
I have been informed that Ms. Kaplan objected to the original proposal, to $55,000 per year, that had been submitted by one of the Republican members. The two Republican members voted against the revised proposal, one of whom objected because he considered the amount granted to be insufficient.
3. Notwithstanding that increase, North Hempstead Board member salaries in 2017 were the lowest of any of the seven Long Island towns of roughly comparable size.
According to a Newsday survey, the next lowest was Oyster Bay, about 16 percent higher; the highest was Babylon, more than double the North Hempstead rate.
The data reported by Newsday – real data, not “fake news” or “alternative facts” – is a clear rebuttal to the insinuation by the Phillips campaign that Ms. Kaplan had enriched herself at the expense of her district’s taxpayers.
Anna Kaplan was elected to the North Hempstead council in 2011; she was re-elected six years later with 68 percent of the vote.
It’s virtually self-evident that her constituents believed she had served their interests honorably and well. As our state senator, she will represent her larger constituency with the same commitment to integrity and to concern for its residents, not only of Senate District 7 but all of Nassau County and the rest of Long Island.
I urge voters to cast their ballots for Anna Kaplan on November 6.
Robert I. Adler