The Glen Cove City Council has now held at least two "public hearings" on the matter of its proposed change to the city charter to avoid a New York State law that prohibits the appointment of out-of-towners to various jobs in city government.
At the forefront of the debate is the appointment of a personal friend of the wife of Glen Cove's mayor, who appears to have earned himself the moniker "Mayor Gump" from the way in which he has bungled the whole affair and everything else. In essentially telling an angry constituency to "take it or leave it," the mayor has given all sorts of inane Gump-like reasons for why the illegal appointment should be "fixed" by amending the city's charter. If this were the Letterman show, Reason No. 1 of the Top 10 dumbest reasons to change the charter would be: "Glen Cove has been out of compliance with state law for 13 years, so we should change the charter to bring the city into compliance to make our illegal appointments legal."
For sure, this is a classic Gump-ism. Instead of changing the charter, wouldn't it be a reasonable idea to just stop violating state law and appoint people from Glen Cove to the positions that require local residency?
Regardless, here's why the mayor will prevail in his determination to make sure his wife's friend keeps her job.
The first "public hearing" was very heated and emotionally charged. People were angry and they expressed that anger. The second "public hearing" was attended by far fewer residents. The mayor opened the so-called hearing by declaring that he would not entertain statements from people who had previously spoken, nor would he and his city listen to people reiterate arguments that they had already heard. By setting these rules, the mayor effectively shut down the discussion, and to no surprise, the so-called "hearing" ended in a whimper.
The strategy? Well, the mayor simply let the public talk itself out (or not talk at all) before everyone just went home. Now, with public outrage subsided, the mayor and city council have a green light to change the city charter and accommodate that friend of the mayor's wife.
The reason this stuff happens is because politicians have "staying power." The public doesn't. Politicians generally have no life beyond politics. They eat and sleep and play politics on a 24/7 basis. And the public pays them with salaries and benefits so they can do exactly that.
The average taxpayer and voter, on the other hand, has to go to work and make ends meet. Most people do not have the time to engage in long-term debates with public officials, no matter how important or outrageous the issue at hand. Here, there was public outrage. So the mayor had a "hearing," and when there was still outrage, he held another "hearing." No doubt, he would have continued to hold "hearings" until there was no one left to speak out.
And that's why, in the case of Glen Cove's out-of-town deputy mayor, when the vote is finally taken, there will be at best a handful of glum taxpayers on hand to witness their public officials legitimize another patronage job - in this case, for a friend of the mayor's wife.
Here's another illustration of how staying power can make a problem go away.
Back before the last election, there were a series of weekly letters pointing out that the incumbent mayor of Glen Cove couldn't finish the waterfront if he was unable to clean up the garbage behind the movie theater on Brewster Street. Letter after letter pointed out the unsightly garbage accumulation. The mayor's response? He did nothing.
Now, months later, if you want to see how "staying power" works, go take a look at the garbage situation behind the movie theatre.
And now you know; that's why this mayor will prevail on this patronage job, too. No one is left to stoke the flames of discontent. They all went to work.
Michael A. Levy
Today marks the first day of spring and very soon thousands of pink tulips will adorn Gardens of Hope in our city. Those gardens are just one of the many innovative community-minded ideas of the late Terry Petikas, the founder of Glen Cove CARES (Cancer Awareness Resource Education Source). She felt that each spring, when the tulips blossomed, they would simultaneously beautify Glen Cove and bring breast cancer awareness to the forefront of our daily lives. The tulips also emphasize Terry's motto, "Where there's awareness, there's hope." Terry succumbed to cancer in March 2002 never having seen the grand blossoming of the bulbs she planted the previous November.
I urge you to honor Terry's memory by making and keeping an appointment for a mammogram-and enjoy the beauty of Terry's legacy.