LI’s political winners and losers in 2012 – By George J. Marlin

The following appears in the December 14-20, 2012 issue of the Long Island Business News:

Here’s my take on those that gained and those that lost this year in Long Island’s game of politics.

WINNERS:

Steve Bellone: Since taking office Jan. 1, Suffolk’s county executive has actually governed. He has made some tough budgetary decisions, and so far he has not resorted to kicking the fiscal can down Veteran’s Memorial Highway. While one might not agree with every one of Bellone’s policy initiatives (i.e., the police contract), he appears to be on track to avoid turning Suffolk into a ward of the state like neighboring Nassau.

Congressman Peter King: He handily won his 11th term to Congress. This affable and competent congressman has proven time and again that one can be a dedicated conservative who is pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, and still win elections in blue New York. State Senate Republicans should heed his example.

Congressman Tim Bishop: In one of New York’s most expensive and contentious congressional races, Bishop was able to beat back for a second time Repulican challenger Randy Altschuler 52.2 percent to 47 percent. So much mud was flying between the Bishop and Altschuler camps that on Nov. 7 both candidates and their staffs had to take long, hot showers to wash it all off.

Jon Kaiman: The North Hempstead town Supervisor was lucky enough not to be named the chief executive officer of the Long Island Power Authority a few weeks before Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island. If he had received the nod he would now be standing on the unemployment line with other senior staff members.

LOSERS:

State Sen. Dean Skelos: The Rockville Centre senator thought he could not only maintain but expand his Republican majority by bringing the same-sex marriage bill to the Senate floor for a vote and by supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s income tax increases. He was wrong. The Conservative Party, true to its word, brought down recalcitrant Senate Republicans by denying them its nomination. To maintain power and perks for their own sake, Skelos has cut a ridiculous deal with several dissident liberal Democrats. Expect “Bi-weekly” Majority Leader Skelos to be nothing more than Cuomo’s knave.

LIPA’s management team: Hurricane Sandy proved that this important state agency cannot and should not be run by local political hacks. The management team learned nothing from 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene. They failed to improve customer communications and failed to implement simple recommendations to prevent blackouts such as trimming tree limbs. Expect the size of LIPA’s overpaid staff to significantly shrink.

Congressman Steve Israel: He may have easily won his seventh term to Congress but as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he was a dismal failure. Under his leadership the Democrats made little headway in their quest to regain control of the House of Representatives. Also, the special deal Israel cut that reduced his home mortgage repayment by $93,000 did not pass the political smell test.

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos: For reasons known only to him, Maragos thought he was well-suited to take on U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012. Despite the support of Nassau’s GOP, he came in last place at the Republican State Convention and in the September primary. The hapless candidate, who received only 14 percent of the vote in the primary, proved it takes more than money to be a viable candidate.

The Hempstead Town Animal Shelter’s management team: This animal shelter, which costs twice as much to run as other Long Island shelters, has squandered millions of taxpayers’ dollars on high salaries, perks and excessive overtime. The state audit of this Republican patronage-laden operation concluded it is “a case study in mismanagement, poor recordkeeping and budgetary incompetence.”­

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