Wednesday, January 03, 2018

1887 Everything's Normal in Nassau County

1887 Everything’s Normal in Nassau County

In Nassau County, Long Island, New York they’ll elect a bunch of carrots to public office as long as they’re Republican carrots.  They have done this for the better part of the last 119 years.  It is the richest county in New York State (eat your heart out, Westchester) [1] and also one of the highest taxed. [2] It manages its finances so brilliantly that the State of New York has taken over that job which is unusual because that means some actual work will have to be done in Albany.

The largest geographical sub-entity in Nassau is the Town of Hempstead, which pretty much ran things its own way for the first 90 years the county existed.  Little has changed.  This is a gang that takes care of its own. Here’s the latest example of politics, Hempstead style:

The head guy is called the Supervisor. Until the last Friday of December 2017, the office was occupied by one Anthony Santino who is paid about $160-thousand a year for his trouble.  He was temporarily replaced by his deputy who will then undoubtedly got a raise to match Santino’s pay grade at least for the four days he was in office.

The election last November went to a Democrat. A woman! A Democrat. A woman. In Hempstead Town.  Unthinkable in the insular world of the tax and spend Republicans, though it has happened on rare occasions.  But don’t feel sorry for Tony.  He already has a new job lined up.  He will become the Administrative Assistant to the Board of Elections.  And he will be paid give or take what he has been paid as supervisor, which is more than the Commissioner of Elections he’ll administratively assist.

Those jobs -- called patronage elsewhere in America -- amount to “OK, hire the loser and then we’ll figure out something for him to do on those days he shows up to do stuff.”

The temp hired to be Town Supervisor, Anthony Esposito, will be able to use another trick that was invented at home:  Next election he can run for the job he’ll hold now for only a few days and his campaign signs will legally be able to say “Return Supervisor Esposito to Office.”  That would make him seem at casual glance to be the incumbent which ain’t what happened.  But an incumbency -- real or fake -- often is a leg up in an election because who pays attention to this nonsense in the off season.

--A possible stupid pet trick to watch for: The story goes that in 1961 when  Eugene Nickerson became the first Democrat elected Nassau County Executive, he opened his desk drawers for the first time to find his Republican predecessor had left them pristine and empty. No paperwork, not even a paper clip or a key to the men’s room.

--Politicians of every stripe give out little campaign trinkets like ballpoint pens, bumper stickers and maybe potholders.  The Town of Hempstead Republicans used to give out sponges imprinted with the names of their candidates.  How apt.

1.    Source: US Census Bureau
2.    Source: Attom Data Solutions via Long Island Business News.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

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