Friday, February 17, 2006

Newsday Letter

Legislature flap Mondello's fault
Regarding the letter to your paper from Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello: Does he really believe the people of the county think he has nothing to do with the recent legislative mess ["Don't blame the Legislature," Letters, Feb. 9]? A political move such as the one that stalled the legislature could not have been made without his consent.
He leads the Nassau GOP, and when his party could not win a majority, it was time for plan B. Lure two susceptible Democratic legislators with the promise of money and power, much like the serpent luring a susceptible Eve with the apple, and then sit back or slither away and see what happens. You win either way. If the other Democrats allowed the deal with Roger Corbin to go through, Mondello would have had control of the legislature - albeit tacitly.
Shame on Mondello for the problems he's caused, for the thousands of our tax dollars wasted and for thinking we were stupid enough to believe he had nothing to do with it.
Tom Cappiello

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Like a jilted prom-date left to stand and wait, corsage in hand, date never to arrive, Schmitt through Ed Ward wears his heart on his sleeve in today's Newsday "Neither one of them had the decency to come into his office, after they had been running into the office all week... Neither of them had the decency to call."
Yes, Peter misses Roger and Lisanne. They were such a fixture in his office as they conspired to unseat Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs. Now they are back in the fold and Peter feels betrayed.

Gee, a betrayer feeling betrayed by other known betrayers. Try wrapping your head around that one.
Schmitt expected Corbin to be the 10th vote last week to put him in the Presiding Officer seat. Ward says "It was always understood that Corbin would swing the vote,"
Yeah, Corbin would really want to be the #2 to Peter Schmitt. The whole gambit was for Corbin to be PO. That didn't work out as he was abandoned on the first vote by Schmitt and his rubber-stamp caucus.
Did Schmitt really believe that Corbin would risk losing all party support and have a long line of people ready to primary him?
The Love Affair has ended and it's back to work for the legislators.
For Schmitt, he leaves a little part of his heart behind.......

Cue music and photo montage...
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Mem’ries, Like the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures,Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? could we?
Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughterWe will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...

Friday, February 10, 2006

End of an Error: Schmitt Not Presiding Officer

The Appealate Court panel ruled that it does indeed take 10 votes to be Presiding Officer.
The Legislature held another vote and Corbin and Altmann joined with thier fellow Democrats to vote for Judy Jacobs to continue her excellent work as Presiding Officer.
Schmitt tells Newsday "I've never been so happy to lose an election as this one."
All we have to say to Schmitt is 'Start getting used to it.'

There He Goes Again - Schmitt Contradicts Himself

As we pointed out a little over a week ago, Schmitt told the December 30th Anton Newspapers
"There will be an election on Jan. 3 for presiding officer. Someone needs to get 10 votes."

Now in the Feb 10th Massapequan Observer (published by Anton Newspapers), "The wording in the charter is clear [where] it says 'he who has the highest number of votes wins presiding officer and the person from another party with the second highest number of votes is minority leader.' It never mentions 10,"

So the "charter is clear." Why was it unclear to him a month ago? As someone who wants to be presiding officer and a member of the legislature for 10 years, you'd expect a person to be well-versed in the rules that govern the legislature. Or even just be aware of it before you spout off.

Back in December when Schmitt made his first pronouncement (and he made the same one many times after) that you need 10 votes it looked as though his plans could be foiled if Judy got a majority of votes and not 10 or more.
Now that a judge says a PO needs 10 votes and Schmitt is one shy of ten, he changes his story.
Kinda like his college graduation date.
Or many other issues.
Word from his office is that he wasn't sure what the charter said when he was saying that 10 votes are needed. But if the charter is "clear" then he should have known what it said.

Schmitt really has to go.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Why Schmitt Can't Lead

The most important factor in leadership is being able to bring people together. If you can bring people with different ideas together to accomplish a goal, then you are a true leader.CE Suozzi has annouced a plan to fund a program to reduce abortions.
The proposed $3million would go to such diverse groups as Planned Parenthood and Life Center of Long Island.The idea is to bring to help each group to reduce the need for abortions which all sides agree on. It's not a matter of making it legal or illegal but lessening the need for them.Schmitt in his usual manner just doesn't get what is going on. Suozzi is working to bring groups together for a common goal.
Schmitt tells the NYTimes "Leadership is not pandering to both sides of a contentious issue by using taxpayer dollars. I have pro-abortion people calling concerned that pro-life people are being funded, and pro-life people calling concerned that pro-abortion people are being funded. You can't be on both sides of this issue."
This is exactly why Schmitt is not leadership material. Finding common ground is what a real leader does. Schmitt is too used to being a polarizing, partisan figure to know better

Monday, February 06, 2006

Our State Legislators and Their Slush Fund

Did we say slush fund?
Actually the pile of cash just sitting around is called "Members Items."
Members Items are a wonderful incumbant re-election tool available to New York State Senators and Assembly-members in both parties to dole out cash in thier districts.
Ever see Chuck Fuschillo or Dean Skelos hand out some over-sized check like the one Senator Kemp Hannon is handing out below?
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That's a "Members Item" check.
You would think that state legislators are fighting hard to bring money to the district. I fact, they just make a request for $2000, $5000, $10,000 etc, have an over-sized check printed up and arrive for a photo-op like heroes. They are not putting the items they are getting money for in the NYS budget but pulling money from this slush fund. And it doesn't take much to get the cash.
Azi over at the Fifth Estate blog has an exchange between Sen. Balboni and former Nassau republican County Executive candidate Bruce Bent at a panel discussion.

"When Manhattan Insittute released their scathing report on Albany, State Senator Michael Balboni got into an interesting exchange about member items with Nassau businessman Bruce Bent who had a suggestion about what to do with all that money.

Michael Balboni: "Put yourself, ladies and gentlemen, in my shoes for just a second, and Seymour [Lachman's, fellow panelist and former legislator]. If you arrive in Albany...and they say, okay, here's an allocation of dollars. You can spend it in your district and we're not going to spend it on a statewide basis, and we're going to do it individual[ly]. "It's almost like an independent contractor. You're in charge of your district and meeting the needs, and this is member items. And the problem with member items is that it's not done on a statewide basis. They vote on it, but they don't really get into the nuisances, and they don't do the individual evaluation of the allocations like Bruce is saying."But what are you going to do? Not spend the money? Now wait a minute. Now wait a minute. If I didn't support the district, then we're not doing a Mineola Downtown Revitalization Project. We're not doing the elimination of the grade-crossing program. We're not doing the Roslyn Viaduct. So I can point to 70 or 80 programs that were crucial, transportation programs, that I was able to support within the district."

Bruce Bent: "Put them in the budget."

Balboni: "They are in the budget."

Bent: "But the state treasury is not a cookie jar."

Balboni: "It's not a cookie jar, but why do you vote for somebody to get into office? So they go to Albany and let somebody else take the money away from us?"

Bent: "Take it away from all of them."

Balboni: "And do what with it?"

Bent: "Reduce our taxes!"

Balboni: "I voted for a tax increase once in 17 years Bruce and you know that. Once. It was a temporary tax. I voted for more tax reductions than anybody in this room. So don't tell me about voting for tax cuts. But the problem is this: how do you design a better system. We always talk about the member items and the pork but we never talk about a better way to allocate it. I'll go with a better way..."

Moments later, Seymour added:"I am opposed to member items...I think they cause more harm then good...I've been asked to be a member of the other party and I was offered more member items. That is outrageous."

We agree with Bent and Seymour. Put the money back into the budget and then get each item as a budget allocation. At a time when we have problems funding schools and we are being crushed by medicaid costs maybe the "Members Items" cash can be used for that.
The slush fund and the over-sized checks are a re-election tool. The money is more like a taxpayer provided campaign contribution.
Balboni says "We always talk about the member items and the pork but we never talk about a better way to allocate it. I'll go with a better way..."
Maybe he can step up to the plate and offer a better way.
The first way would be to kill the "Members Items."

Truant Legislators

The following legislators where supposed to be present to vote for a Presiding Officer today and did not show up for work. They have not perfromed any work for the past month and refuse to do so. Call or e-mail them and tell them they are being paid to work.

Roger Corbin - 516-571-6202;
Peter J. Schmitt - 516- 571- 6212;
John Ciotti - 516- 571- 6203;
Norma L. Gonsalves - 516- 571- 6213;
Denise Ford - 516- 571- 6204;
Dennis Dunne, Sr. - 516- 571- 6215;
Francis X. Becker, Jr. - 516- 571- 6206;
Vincent Muscarella - 516- 571- 6208;
Richard Nicolello - 516- 571- 6209;
Lisanne Altmann - 516- 571- 6210;

Last week Judge Spinloa ordered a new vote for Presiding Officer and it was scheduled for today. Needless to say that did not happen.
Why are these legislators collecting pay checks?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Schmitt Profiled in Newsday

Newsday ran an not too flattering profile of Schmitt today. Here are a few excerpts....

“Tom Gulotta, the Republican county executive from 1987-2001, said Schmitt has grown and matured in the past few years in the legislature and, if he ultimately keeps the post, would succeed at it.’That maturity is going to enable him to handle his responsibility with great skill. He has become, I believe, a very pragmatic public official, much more contemplative of weighing both sides of an issue’”

So while he was Deputy Presiding Officer of the legislature, Schmitt was not mature? He’s 55 and a public official for the past 30 years and he just reached maturity? This isn’t exactly the best of compliments.

“Continuing with his education, Schmitt finished his bachelor's degree in political science at Hofstra, which awarded the degree eight years after he started, in October 1976, university records show. That date is at odds with his public statements in recent years. In 2004, he gave the graduation date as 1972 to Newsday. It is listed as 1973 on his Legislature Web site. And in 2003 he gave the date as 1974 to Massapequa weekly newspapers. Schmitt said giving the wrong graduation dates was an "oversight.”

An “oversight?” Official biographies that have appeared on campaign literature and his own legislative website have been wrong for so long and he never noticed? In the grand scheme of things this is a small matter but it seems Schmitt can’t even get the small things right.

"In 1983, while a deputy commissioner overseeing Oyster Bay's drunken-driving prevention program, Schmitt was arrested twice for driving while impaired, state criminal records show. He was convicted on one charge and pleaded guilty to a lesser crime on another, and had his license revoked, the records show. He declined to say how long his license was revoked."That is a chapter of my life that is a quarter of a century old," he said in an interview last week after his election as presiding officer. Schmitt, who became a Nassau GOP executive leader, did not lose his Oyster Bay town job due to the convictions and was promoted a year later to commissioner of community and youth services."

Notice the lack of contrition. Not once but twice. Once is a mistake, twice is a willful disregard for the law and the safety of others.We wonder if Schmitt thought of his own arrests back in 2002 when he was attacking convicted former Democratic legislator Patrick Williams who was given a job at OTB. Schmitt told, “PATRICK WILLIAMS AND OTB: An absolute disgrace. He's a convicted felon who filed false instruments. He's now at OTB filing other forms. Suozzi, Newsday and the Democratic leadership are all at fault here.”

So who is at fault for keeping a convicted drunk driver as a Deputy Commisioner and then give him a promotion??

Legislator Dave Mejias gets it right when he says "When Mr. Schmitt was in control, Nassau County was facing a state takeover, nearly bankrupt, $3 billion in debt, and had a bond rating one step above junk. In 1998 alone, Mr. Schmitt passed a budget with a $300-million deficit," Mejias said. "We were rated the worst-run county in America ... just four short years ago. Clearly, Mr. Schmitt lacks credibility when discussing issues of governance."

One of the funniest things in the article was “Schmitt said that he accepts part of the responsibility for the county's fiscal woes but said he later became an adversary of the Gulotta administration. "No one was harsher in their criticism of Tom Gulotta's failure to act than myself," he said.”

Let’s get some fact straight here, Schmitt didn’t get religion until the republican majority in the legislature was wiped out. Up until November 1999, Schmitt was a rubberstamp for Gulotta. After passing horrendous budgets for the man, suddenly losing the majority causes Schmitt to start attacking Gulotta. The fact is, the republican legislators were running fast and hard away from Gulotta for self-preservation not good government.

And Schmitt keeps going right to the end "Watching it happen was actually a feeling of disbelief," Schmitt said, recalling the moment he took power in the legislature."

Is that why he had a prepared statement? Schmitt was prepared to be Presiding Officer the whole time.

"I still find it hard to believe that the Democratic majority was so foolish, so hate-driven. ... They did what they did knowing that they were going to tip the legislature into my hands."

The funny part is that Schmitt pledged his support for Corbin but backed out. What happened to Schmitt insisting that there should be a Democratic Presiding Officer?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

No Schmitt

The only P.O. that Schmitt is now is Pissed Off.
The judge has ruled in the favor of the Democrats that the vote for Presiding Officer requires 10 votes as a majority vote and not the 9 that Schmitt got. So really, the judge agreed with what Schmitt said a month ago which we posted about yesterday.
The judge has ordered a new vote which is scheduled for Monday the 6th and any actions Schmitt has taken as Presiding Officer have been made null and void.
The question now is how that vote on monday will go. We know that Schmitt's gang of 8 will vote lock-step for him as they always do.
Where does that leave Corbin and Altmann?
They have to vote for either Schmitt or the Democratic candidiate whether it be Kevan Abrahams or Judy Jacobs.
In the last vote, they had an out by saying "we voted for Roger and the Democrats ruined Democratic control by voting for Abrahams." Now they can't get away with that. They can side with the Democratic majority or they can vote for Schmitt and end thier careers in Nassau politics with a single vote. Corbin and Altmanns constituents might accept them being mavericks and voting for Corbin over Jacobs or Abrahams but they will be less forgiving if the votes are cast for Peter Schmitt.
Schmitt could stick with his original deal and instrcut his people to vote for Corbin but that opens him up to losing Minority Leader to Jacobs of she runs.
An appeal is most likely being filed so we'll have to see what happens next.