Political Flavors


Last Straw on Cuomo: Public Funds for Faith-Based Initiatives

Posted in Editorials on October 10th, 2014
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This will be brief as evidence that Andrew Cuomo is a Republican who wants a Republican-controlled Senate is a mile high.

Remember back during President George W. Bush’s first term when he teamed up with Senators Rick Santorum and Joe Lieberman to promote faith-based initiatives? We do too.

Remember when Rick Santorum promoted government incentives to promote marriage, because in his view, marriage is the only answer to all of the world’s ills?

We do too. But we were also unsurprised. George W. Bush, Joe Lieberman and Rick Santorum have never been shy about injecting their religious beliefs into public policy.

Most Americans who believe in the importance of the separation of church and state understand the inherent danger in faith-based initiatives. Driving taxpayer funds to religious organizations is fraught with all sorts of concerns, especially when religious groups can be openly hostile and discriminatory toward those with whom they disagree.

So then, why, we must ask, is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo not only endorsing faith-based initiatives, but actually proposing a “State Office of Faith-Based Services”? Well the answer is simple to everyone. Well, maybe everyone except the Working Families Party.

Andrew Cuomo is not a Democrat. Andrew Cuomo is a Republican. And each day, we learn how much of a Republican he is.

He has now proved that by joining the ideological positions of Rick Santorum: One of the most Christian-right members of the Republican Party and a man who is unabashed about wanting to impose his Catholic Doctrine on the people of this country.

New York is a state which provides more social services than most others. Our state has the means to provide for any citizen who seeks out its services. Diverting tax dollars to religious organizations is not necessary, nor prudent. But the proposal to create an office specifically for such initiatives offers true insights into the Governor’s view of the role of government.

Election Day is November 4th. Send a message. Vote third party in the governor’s race.

Who Will Be The Next Republican To Endorse Andrew Cuomo?

Posted in Editorials on October 7th, 2014
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Today New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo released endorsements from Republican county executives Joanie Mahoney from Onondaga and Ed Mangano from Nassau. Here at Political Flavors, we’re wonder who the next GOP member will be to throw their support behind the Governor. Our money is on New York State Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos from Rockville Centre. The following is what we’re betting it will sound like…

No one knows more than me how important it is that we stop campaign finance reform dead in its tracks.

And that’s why I’m supporting Andrew Cuomo’s re-election.

I’ve already used Andrew Cuomo’s might to keep me in power in the State Senate. When we meet in his mansion over semi-homemade meals, he affectionately refers to me as “his tool” – and my ego has never felt better.

Where would we be without Andrew Cuomo’s steadfast leadership in pushing for sustained Republican control of the State Senate? Well, we’d have codified protections of reproductive rights, a ban on fracking, tax laws that didn’t overwhelmingly favor top earners, we’d have universal workplace protections for all minorities, and we’d have fair, balanced, independent redistricting.

What an awful mess that would be! It would make New York more of an egalitarian democracy. Ugh.

That’s why I’m here today to say that Andy’s my guy. I even got Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who I affectionately refer to as “my tool” to endorse him.

As a Republican, I look forward to further reaping the rewards of an Andrew Cuomo administration as we ensure that New York continues to be the least progressive “blue” state in America.

Albany is a little more corrupt this morning

Posted in Editorials on September 10th, 2014
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In case you were wondering, Albany got a little more corrupt yesterday. While Sen. Malcolm Smith, who allegedly tried to rig the NYC 2013 Mayoral election and is awaiting trial, was defeated, it was the only ray of light in a rather bad day for those seeking a more ethical Albany.

Republican Sen. Tom Libous, under Federal indictment, defeated his primary challenger, and fellow senator John Sampson, a Democrat and also under indictment, won his race as well.

To top it off, Andrew Cuomo was yesterday’s victor, along with his flip-flopping deputy Kathy Hochul. Hopes were that Hochul would lose to Tim Wu, and Wu would refuse the Independence Party nomination, thus finally killing the scandal-ridden organization.

In other bad news, senators Jeff Klein and Tony Avella both won. These individuals were elected as Democrats, but then caucused with the Republicans under the guise of the “Independent Democratic Conference (IDC)” to give the GOP control of the chamber.

And the icing on the cake: moderate Republican Senator Mark Grisanti was defeated in his primary. He was defeated with the help of the teachers union, who said Grisanti was not “conservative enough.” While this was done as a way to help Democrats reclaim the seat in the general election, it ultimately served to make the IDC even more powerful as both Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will be willing to give away more chits to garner their support in January. Ironically, it was Skelos who refused to usher through campaign finance reform that would have made it harder for the teachers union exercise its tactics.

So, New York, the winners in yesterday’s primary are a governor under Federal investigation, two senators under indictment, the corrupt Independence Party, the teachers union, and the sleazy Independent Democratic Caucus.

As usual, the loser is all of us who live in this state and must deal with the consequences.

Hey New York: Voting takes about five minutes. Try showing up next time.

Buying Kathleen Rice

Posted in Editorials on December 18th, 2013
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“Nearly $300,000.”

According to the New York Daily News, that’s how much Nassau County District Kathleen Rice received from the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, its partners, and their spouses. Weitz & Luxenberg isn’t just any firm. And it’s not just known for its masterfully-produced “Metal-on-Metal” hip replacement surgery ads seeking your willingness to sue.

This is the law firm of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Yes, in New York State, there’s absolutely no conflict of interest (apparently) to make money at a personal injury firm while also determining if tort reform legislation makes its way to the floor of your chamber.

What’s interesting about the donations Ms. Rice receives from Mr. Silver’s firm is that she’s also co-chair of a Moreland Commission in New York that’s investigating government corruption, with a focus on the New York State Legislature. According to the Daily News, “No one else on the 25-member corruption commission received contributions from Weitz & Luxenberg.”

A spokesperson for Ms. Rice said that she is “immune to fear or favor.”

Sidebar: Kathleen Rice has also received contributions from a partner at Thor Equities, who was subpoenaed by the same commission of which she is a co-chair.

Now we know why she is “immune to fear or favor”: vaccines are so expensive these days.

Speaking of vaccines, what do you have to do in a Republican stronghold like Nassau County to repeatedly have the GOP refuse to nominate a strong candidate against you? It seems odd that when Republicans hold three out of the four countywide posts, that they would give Ms. Rice, a Democrat, a free pass when it came to her own elections.

Maybe it’s her record.

In June 2013, Ms. Rice “investigated” the Republican County Executive Ed Mangano’s use of government employees to hand out flyers that touted his repeal of an energy tax and for not raising property taxes. Such language, it seems, would be more suited for campaign literature handed out by volunteers. Luckily for Mr. Mangano, Ms. Rice’s office found nothing wrong with this exercise. She deferred to a county ethics board which is controlled by Mangano-appointed members.

Ms. Rice’s actions resulted in even greater and more egregious taxpayer-funded literature being mailed out by the county right before the fall elections. One of these flyers stated that: “Democrats Are Playing Politics with your Health.” But it’s all okay, right? Because none of these used “objectively overt political statements.”

It seems putting up token opposition in District Attorney’s races can have benefits for the opposition’s party.

But this story isn’t over just yet.

Apparently it’s just dandy for Republicans to use intimidation to win an election as long as Democrat Kathleen Rice occupies the District Attorney’s Office.

But now circumstances have changed and the Democrats have finally woken up to her “immunity.”

Ms. Rice most recently found “no criminality” when the local police commissioner who, according to the Daily News (glad someone is actually reporting this) “at the urging of Gary Melius, a politically connected donor, personally directed officers to arrest a key witness in a case connected to the county executive race.”

To sum it up, according to the Daily News:

The witness, campaign worker Randy White, was set to testify in a case involving a third-party aspirant for county executive who Dems believe was a strong candidate designed to help GOP incumbent Edward Mangano.

Two days before the testimony, White was arrested — while riding on a bus — on an outstanding warrant over a $250 fine he hadn’t paid from an unrelated misdemeanor conviction.

The Daily News also writes:

Some question how aggressively Rice’s office investigated, given that the situation touched major Nassau County political figures: Mangano, who Rice found to have no involvement, his police department, and Melius.

Rice spokesman Shams Tarek said the DA is “completely unfazed by all this commentary and is used to ignoring political pressure as she follows the facts and applies the law.”

Well, obviously she is unfazed…she got a vaccine and is now immune.

But this isn’t as simple as going soft on GOP corruption to have an easy ride on Election Day. It’s much deeper than that. The gentleman mentioned above, Mr. Gary Melius, who is he, exactly?

Well, it turns out he owns Oheka Castle. And he might have skipped out on a $27.9 million mortgage payment due last year.

But that’s beside the point. Gary Melius is Executive Director of the Nassau County Independence Party. And his COO at Oheka is Chairman of the same party. It must be one helluva castle!

Why is this significant? Ms. Rice doesn’t need the Independence Party’s support for her DA races. When the Republicans choose to leave you virtually unchallenged, your opposition doesn’t really matter.

But she will need the Independence Party’s backing should she run for Congress next year, as is widely speculated. She could also use the party’s assistance for other races, including a future County Executive run – or anything else.

That’s why her “immunity” should be questioned. And it’s why it’s so perplexing when she repeatedly finds so little wrong with matters she “investigates.”

So how much does it cost to buy Kathleen Rice? Much like a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

Fran Becker: Theocrat, Hypocrite.

Posted in Editorials on June 21st, 2012
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From Newsday’s Spin Cycle:

Nassau legislator adds God to the debate

Tuesday June 19, 2012 5:02 PM By Celeste Hadrick

Legis. Fran Becker, a Lynbook Republican who is the party’s nominee to run for Congress against Democratic incumbent Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), was looking for divine intervention during Monday’s hectic meeting of the Nassau County Legislature.

As Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for a $41 million hole in last year’s budget, Becker said, “Let’s bring God into the office. Let’s pray about this.”

The 10-member Republican majority wants to borrow the money to pay overdue property tax refunds and fill the budget gap but the legislature’s nine Democrats have refused to provide the three votes needed.

“What would Jesus do?” Becker said.

“Excuuuuse me?” interjected Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury).

“Why are you interrupting me?” Becker asked.

“This is so ridiculous,” Jacobs said.

“To say God should be in the audience?” Becker responded.

Later, Becker chided Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) and Robert Troiano (D-Westbury) for not approving the bonding as a way to help save youth group programs in their communities. He noted that he had voted to borrow when Republicans were in the minority on the legislature.

“I did what my God wanted me to do,” Becker said.

Abrahams, leader of the Democratic caucus, said, “I think Mr. Becker’s plan is to argue with people he doesn’t agree with. I guess God is telling him to do that.”
Becker is facing a primary from Frank Scaturro of Hempstead for the Republican nomination next week.


Fran Becker yelling at constituents during a 2011 meeting. Photo credit: Michael Kirby Smith, New York Times.

I’ve written previously about the Nassau County Republicans, and while this appears to be a new low, it’s not really as bad as having campaign staffers yell racial epithets to intimidate people. But it is definitely a new height of absurdity. Mr. Becker is a Catholic. And reading through his outburst, I’m reminded of Matthew 6:5,

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.

This wasn’t a humble display of piety, he was using religion as a weapon, which should be distasteful to the religious and secular alike.

Beyond absurdity, and a blatant disregard for the First Amendment, this is intentionally aggressive. A person who cannot use his negotiating skills to reach a compromise, and must instead issue a combative appeal to the divine, is unfit for public office.

While I’m still endorsing Democrat Carolyn McCarthy in the general election, any Republicans reading are encouraged to support Frank Scaturro.

Nassau Democrats Celebrate Poetic Victory

Posted in Editorials on November 10th, 2011
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Tuesday night Carrie Solages was all smiles at the Nassau County Democratic Headquarters Victory Party. As he thanked his supporters and family, he was exuberant and gracious. And he had every right to be. He had done something that Nassau Democrats had been trying to do for years with little luck – he unseated 16 year incumbent Republican Legislator John Ciotti, and as a person familiar with the history of the district, believe me when I say it was a truly Sisyphean victory.

The district is majority Democratic, but John Ciotti is popular in the community and for various reasons Democratic voters do not turn in as high numbers as Republicans do in the odd year elections when the county legislators are elected. However, there is more at play than a simple lack of enthusiasm. The Nassau County Republicans are notorious for their intimidation of Democratic voters, especially people of color, as I have written about previously. The difference is that this year, Solages campaign was able to capture this intimidation and racism on film.

Solages win is symbolic of so many things – a grassroots victory over an entrenched political machine, the power of the internet and ubiquity of digital cameras to influence a large number of people quickly, a community standing up and fighting back against racism, and also proof that sometimes – the good guy does win. Sometimes, justice is served, and the person standing up to the bully doesn’t get trampled, but is the triumphant hero. And this year, it wasn’t merely a dream, or an inspirational story liberals tell themselves to keep their spirits high, it came true right here on Long Island.

The final lesson to learn in this happy chapter of the 2011 elections, is that the Nassau County Republicans are not unaware of how and why they lost this seat. Tuesday night, two candidates who won reelection spoke of their unwavering support for John Ciotti.

Other Republicans stood up for Ciotti even as the numbers looked grim “Ciotti ran a great race,” said fellow North Valley Streamer and Town of Hempstead Councilman Ed Ambrosino. “I don’t care what it says up here, John Ciotti is a winner each and every day.”

“John Ciotti is a man of tremendous integrity, of tremendous character,” said Nassau County Legislator Fran Becker.

What fascinates me about these quotes is that they were uttered at the exact moment they will have maximum impact in both raining on Carrie Solages victory and minimizing the damage to their own reputations. In two years, no one will remember John Ciotti’s racist tactics and so statements supporting him will be meaningless as ammunition for challengers. There will be no consequences for absurdity of these statements. That they were made at a time when they cannot be held accountable for them shows a shrewd calculation, that they are aware of the power of their words. Ambrosino and Becker did not say these things two weeks ago when Ciotti’s campaign was going down in flames, because outright support for racist and intimidating tactics would have hurt their own electoral chances. By waiting until after the polls have closed on election night proves they know it, and this is important to remember. Future dirty tricks may be more subtle or not as cinematic, but still just as underhanded as what happened in front of Solages’ campaign office this October.

Racism and Intimidation In Nassau County – An Ugly History

Posted in Editorials on October 20th, 2011
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Two years ago, I posted a diary over at Feministing about why I disagree with people who claim that those of us who have respect for others regardless of race, gender or sexuality can be Republicans. The idea of the Republican “big tent” is easily disproved.

The video below and the campaign that followed were a lesson to me in Republican dirty tricks. It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen mud slinging before on Long Island. I had heard Republicans use racist code words about to discredit Democrats, especially candidates who were people of color – if a person was Black, they would talk about how “the neighborhood is changing” and if the candidate was Latin@, “immigration” would suddenly become the top priority for local government. But the summer of 2009 and the time I spent on Nina Petraro Bastardi’s campaign was when I realized how much their prejudice meant to Republicans and how far they were willing to take it. I watched as the Nassau County Republican Party lost all claim to plausible deniability with regards to their bigotry. They really are burning with hatred. Listen to this man’s voice.

It doesn’t stop with screaming. One of the reasons that Ms Petraro Bastardi became a Democrat was because of explicitly racist voter suppression tactics used by the Republican party:

Nassau County Republican Board of Elections Commissioner John A. DeGrace [attempted] to reproduce and mail the bogus ACORN letter to newly registered African-American voters in the Hempstead-Uniondale district. The letter allegedly told the would-be voters not to go to the polls on Election Day, that their votes would be cast for their respective parties’ candidates.

Some blamed the outburst on anger that Ms Petraro Bastardi had left the Republican party. But this is just not true. Claims of intimidation have surfaced again, this time made by Carrie Solages, a local attorney who is running for the Nassau County Leigslature in the 3rd district against incumbent John Ciotti, the same contest Ms Petraro Bastardi attempted to win previously.

Does the man calling for “animal control” to come and take away the Black people look familiar?

John Ciotti denies that he knows Vinnie Prisco. But that’s patently false. In this followup video, it’s reported that Mr. Prisco’s mother said that he’s John Ciotti’s right hand man. In addition to the coverage by WPIX, ABC also gets the story right, putting it into context with past racism and voter suppression. NBC interviewed John Ciotti, and he insisted it was “an isolated incident” but the video from Nina Petraro Bastardi’s campaign announcement above, her statement, and statements from Patrick Nicolosi and others who have campaigned in Nassau prove otherwise.

Kudos to those who got the story right. It would be easy to let this devolve into a “he said/she said” story, but the evidence is clear – the actions of the Nassau County Republicans have been despicable and show a clear pattern of racism and voter intimidation. It’s time we started calling them out for it.

And if John Ciotti cares so much about justice, if he really was sickened by these events, then he should stop worrying about Vinny Prisco and start worrying about all of his other thugs. If Mr. Ciotti has seen the light, and really wants a fair election, then he should support Carrie Solages call for for Federal Election monitors on November 8th.