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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s What Nassau Voters Want

Well over 300,000 Nassau Democrats, fully nine out of 10, voted with their feet last week. They stayed away from their party’s primary for Nassau County Executive in a stunning rebuke to what has probably been the most expensive county primary race in New York history, even accounting for inflation.

Under New York’s dated and inadequate campaign finance reporting laws, it will be weeks before we can put a final number on how much these candidates spent in the primary. Based on the late-August filings, it is likely that the final total between the two will hover around six million dollars. Former County Executive Tom Suozzi will probably have spent about $126 for each vote received. His challenger, Adam Haber, will have spent about about $259 per vote. In 2012, President Obama’s campaign spent $10.37 per vote and Governor Romney spent $7.11.

This was the fifth contested Democratic primary for Nassau County Executive since the position was first put on the ballot in 1937. Even taking into consideration Democratic enrollees who have likely moved or died and haven’t been removed yet from the voter rolls, this was the lowest turnout by percentage of those primaries. There was a slashing Disconnect between voters and candidates, even more stunning because this is a year in which, on paper, being nominated by the Democratic Party should be almost tantamount to election.

After his upset victory in the 2001 county executive primary, Tom Suozzi said, “We won this race because we had the better message.” There were some other things going on, but that statement is essentially correct. In 2013, we had two “grasstops” campaigns that never offered a clear rationale, and never answered the underlying Master Question that all candidates must answer for the voters. The universe asks, “Why?” The universe prefers the answer to be in 10-12 words or less.

Why should you be County Executive? Why should I vote for you? Why?

A political campaign should be a connected series of events that bring the candidate closer to answering these questions in the minds of voters. This is how candidates grow trust and credibility.

And stepping into politics almost stone cold, Adam Haber needed objectivity around him. I can easily imagine how exciting and new and fresh everything probably seemed to a first-time candidate, unaware that much of it has been seen and heard before, or has already been called into question.

From the outside, it seems so obvious that you just walk up and down halls of the Caso Office Building in Mineola, maybe in a black hooded robe and holding a scythe, handing pink slips to all the “hacks” eating sandwiches.

We’re 20 years past this. More than two decades ago, uncoordinated mass layoffs crippled park and infrastructure maintenance. An executive pay cut? County Executive Gulotta took one. Didn’t fix things. We’ve gone past these generic drops in the bucket, as a county and as an electorate.

Nassau County voters are ready for something different from what they have, opening a huge opportunity for Democrats. However, if Tom Suozzi, a most political county executive, keeps insisting that the only thing that went wrong for him in 2009 was that he “didn’t play politics enough,” he is very possibly going to lose.

Until last week, I was quite confident that former Executive Suozzi would run the table against present Executive Mangano. Until I saw the nine percent turnout among Democrats.

In August, State Senators Marcellino and Martins participated in a public hearing on the possibility of municipal bankruptcies in New York. We’re entering The Undiscovered Country. We have no time for another campaign about bond ratings moving up and down. No time for “Me, Me, Me” from leaders.

Nine percent turnout. Talk to us like adults.