Readers Write: Imitation of government

The Island Now

Laura Curran’s challenger for the county executive’s office has been chosen, and the choice is quite predictable. GOP Party Chair Joe Cairo picked a reliable perennial. He is Bruce Blakeman, who perennially loses elections. But he’s available and in Nassau that punches your ticket.

Quoted in Newsday, Blakeman said if elected he would bring “fairness back to the [property] assessment system in Nassau” and find new ways to boost economic growth to increase the county’s tax base. “I am focused on the tax burden on the average person in Nassau,” Blakeman said. “There is only so much they can take.”

He’s right about that. Me? I’ve been involved in property tax assessment in this county since 1986. I have personally met, corresponded or spoken with County Executive Tom Gulotta, the late Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, state Sen. Ralph Marino, then- Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, Assessor Abe Seldin and Carl McCall, then head of Citigroup’s public affairs office, among others.

I’ve got nearly 35 years sunk into this. Imagine being trolled by your own county government on this issue for over three decades, only to live to see Ms. Curran’s crowning achievement, making it even worse than ever before. I didn’t even think that was possible, but she managed it.

Mr. Blakeman, having been around county politics for all these decades, says he’ll bring fairness back. Unfortunately, you just have to elect him to find out how, but you can spare yourselves. There’s nothing he has to offer.

“(Joe) Cairo said with 65 percent of Nassau’s property owners seeing increased property taxes, Blakeman will “fix” the Curran administration’s countywide reassessment program.”

Uh-huh. It’s like someone reanimated Tom Gulotta. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 62 times, shame on me.

And, of course, he has no chance of being elected. He’s a sacrificial lamb for an election whose outcome is already foretold. Now that Ms. Curran has the gift of half a billion dollars to spend from the American Rescue Plan (take that, NIFA), she will be pretty much unstoppable. Mitch McConnell may be the most loathsome politician in the nation, but he was right on this one: incompetence and reckless profligacy have rarely been so richly rewarded.

Nassau’s eternal failure, and one that will plague it for decades, is that as the county grew, its political class never grew with it. It could never rise above the petty culture of cronyism and self-dealing that populated county offices with so many bad actors for decades. There are no professionals. Bodies are simply plucked and pressed into office as opportunities open. The same is happening for the county comptroller’s office. No experience required.

Meanwhile, up in Albany, the vultures are circling around the wounded carcass of Andrew Cuomo’s political career. Tom DiNapoli and Tom Suozzi are expressing interest, seeking their long-awaited gold watch for all those years in unremarkable public “service.” And what will they bring to the office besides name recognition? As much as Bruce Blakeman would.

And so, the parade of cardboard men is trotted before you. They seek to hold office, and indeed, that is all they CAN do since they cannot or will not govern. Their sole job is the maintenance of a perpetual, stochastic grift machine that feeds off the labor of the state’s citizens for the enrichment of their donor class and patrons.

It’s like taking over a donut franchise: the ownership changes hands, but the product offering on the shelves remains the same. Nothing of substance changes, unless you believe not putting your name on a county road sign is a major political objective.

And that is what happens when you have a political culture that believes itself deserving of fawning admiration for not even meeting its core competency. The mere paving of a road is supposed to demand expressions of gratitude. Legislators fall over themselves pushing for a county poet laureate or raising the smoking age. There is no substance.

I don’t have much time left in Nassau County. As I look back on the decades past, all I can see is an ocean of awful. We deserved so much more, and we were spineless fools to accept these outcomes. And there is more awful to come.

Donald Davret


Share this Article