Welcome to the political Silly Season – By George J. Marlin
The following appears in the August 16-22, 2013 issue of the Long Island Business News:
British journalist G.K. Chesterton described this time of year when politicians grope to get the attention of a general public occupied with more important matters – i.e., vacationing with their families – as the “Silly Season.”
This summer is no exception to Chesterton’s rule. Viewing the Weiner and Spitzer antics, for instance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said, “My take on the situation is this: This is summer political theater in New York. We laugh, because if we didn’t laugh, we would cry.”
With Spitzer and Weiner dominating the news, here’s a few silly events you may have missed:
First, there is the case of New York’s most forgotten three-term governor, George Elmer Pataki. Every year around this time he manages to get his name in the papers. In 2012, he proudly announced the formation of his super PAC, “Tipping Point,” dedicated to maintaining the GOP’s congressional majority.
That was the last word the public ever heard of it because the PAC raised a piddling $30,000.
This summer, Pataki made the news defending himself in court against charges that he had kept more than 100 convicted sexual predators in psychiatric hospitals after their prison sentences were completed.
I have argued for years that Pataki was a lifestyle governor totally disengaged from the management of the state and who governed by press release. In testimony, Pataki confirmed my contention. He admitted that he had nothing to do with the planning and execution of his sexually violent predator initiative. He also said he had nothing to do with the statements released by his office that quoted him ordering the commencement of the program.
“That’s not how the press office operated,” Pataki said in court.
He went on to say that his communications office was authorized “to put out statements including quotes with my name, based on their knowledge of the position of the administration.”
In other words, Pataki was so out of touch he didn’t bother reading press releases in which he was quoted. His successful defense was based on a plea of ignorance of his own statements and policies.
Next is the case of the Long Island Power Authority rate increase. Only days after Cuomo proudly signed into law the so-called LIPA reform legislation, the agency announced a 4 percent hike in monthly customer bills. When inquiring minds asked about Cuomo’s pledge to freeze rates for three years, they received an Orwellian newspeak answer.
The promised freeze is now only a goal and “LIPA rates constitute the electricity delivery charge only, and do not include the power-supply charge.”
I don’t remember that distinction being declared in bold print when the administration was forcing the flawed LIPA legislation down the throats of legislators. And readers should know that there have been only two “rate” increases since LIPA took over in 1997. The countless other increases were all fuel related.
So, don’t expect much relief under the PSEG regime.
Finally, there’s the mysterious case of the Green Party candidate for Nassau county executive. Phillipp Negron, the 25-year old stepson of Nassau’s IDA chairman, Timothy Williams, declared he would seek the nomination of the Green Party one week after he was hired by the county’s Department of Public Works. In other words, he decided to run against the man who just hired him.
To add to the madness, County Executive Ed Mangano’s press spokesman, Brian Nevins, collected nominating petition signatures for the young candidate. When was the last time you heard of a top official helping a candidate who was opposing his boss?
Negron abruptly ended his three-week candidacy on Aug. 1 after the validity of a number of his petition signatures were challenged in court. It remains to be seen if he keeps his county job.
Pretty bizarre stuff. We are indeed in the Silly Season.