BY ANTHONY J. BAZZO
Man oh man has the world changed since I started writing columns in local papers. Yorktown, for all intents and purposes, was relatively boring when it came to the local elections. They would have candidates on both sides of the aisle publicly sign these non-aggression pacts including the ridiculous no lawn sign pledge. Like fools, challengers would go along all but ensuring a victory come November for the incumbent whose name was already known and would be in the news every week for something they voted on at the last board meetings. Thank God Don Peters was too smart for that when he challenged both Linda Cooper and Rose Panio. He opened the doors so challengers would have a fighting chance and not be intimidated with this “let’s play nice” nonsense.
Peekskill and Putnam Valley, on the other hand, got really nasty as election day neared. So much so that I was waiting for them to call the other person ugly and the same for their family members. It really did not go that far, but close enough. Whisper campaigns, public pronouncements about who lives with who, lawsuits against candidates and their family members—talk about trial by fire. It was not for the weak.
Now they play relatively nice and Yorktown has become ugly. However, through it all, I have maintained and written that though the candidate was fair game, family members and how they earn their living is off limits. I believed then as now that there was too much collateral damage to innocent people who happened to work for or are related to a candidate. Just because they took pictures with their families for palm cards and mailers did not make those family members fair game. Just because they touted their work experience in their resumes did not make their livelihood fair game.
Yet you may ask, “What about Sheldon Silver? Wasn’t his connection to a law firm fair game?” It was not that connection that brought him down at first; it was his non-disclosure of income from another law firm that started the walls crumbling down. After that, everything else became relevant. The fact that Silver was never seen practicing law in a court room for at least ten years, nor that clients never met him, made how he earned his living relevant. Just being associated with a firm, most people did not care, after all a person has to earn a living. There is a difference. One cannot assume a conflict of interest unless there is proof just because you differ on policy.
Now, you may say that I have been part of that problem. Yet the record shows I never called any one a crook before law enforcement made the first move. Mind you, I have always been suspicious of anyone who pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for a job that pays tens of thousands, or enters politics with money constraints and leaves rich. However, having these personal suspicions, did not give me the right to accuse individual politicians of being less than pure of heart.
When a politician I disagree with champions a cause I do not assume personal ulterior motives. I have characterized their arguments with descriptive adjectives. Some may say I was over the top. Maybe so. I do it because I believe there are political motives. It becomes, “What can I say to get elected?” My job then becomes to help not get you elected. How about when an elected official jeopardizes the legal standing of the town, risks lawsuits so the taxpayer (and I am one of those) will foot the bill, then feels they owe no explanation? A descriptive adjective is appropriate then. Worse still is if one I disagree with actually believes what they are advocating. There are appropriate descriptive adjectives to convey my disapproval.
The point is in disagreeing, one does not have to ascribe ulterior motives. It is very much like talking heads that believe to disagree with Obama’s policies, the only motive can be because he is black. What I am trying to convey is that as Yorktown faces two, possibly three elections (in case there is a primary election), and even though a candidates touts their loving family and their business experience, they really should still be considered off limits. It is the candidate, their positions, or the avoidance of taking one that should guide the discourse. On these passion is allowed. On these passion is to be expected. It beats the hell out of apathy, for that is how Albany became the cesspool it is. This is what I say, what say you?
Supervisor Michael Grace discusses the issues at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, March 4 and 11 on channel 74.