Susan Berland – Thin Skinned At Best
At the January 10th Huntington Town Board meeting, Mr. Larry Kelly addressed the members of the Board regarding this past election and the malicious campaign waged against Herb Morrow, Gene Cook, and Liz Black. Mr. Kelly, an attorney from Islip and a consultant to the 2010 Congressional campaign of John Gomez, is no stranger to the impact of sleazy, political mailings. After having sounded off against the biased attacks waged against John Gomez in 2010, Mr. Kelly let the Town Board members know how they failed to condemn the biased mailings against the three Huntington candidates this past fall.
Mr. Kelly focused on the mailings directed against Herb Morrow, Gene Cook, and Liz Black. Of the three, the most disturbing was the distortion of the record of Mr. Morrow who has been the Mayor of Huntington Bay for the past 16 years. The mailings accused Mr. Morrow of using Village funds to cover questionable expenses at various restaurants and bars. In one mailing which I found most illicit, Mr. Morrow’s integrity was juxtaposed to a glass of beer on a bar leaving the impression that this typical Irish-Catholic “Paddy” could not be trusted. Sadly, none of what was implied was true. Even more distressing was the fact the mailings were paid for by the New York State Democratic Committee!
But what seemed the most disingenuous moment of Mr. Kelly’s time was when newly re-elected Council Member Susan Berland turned the focus to her. Huntington’s own self-declared full time Council Member interjected on how she was the target of anti-Semitic mailings during the campaign. If this fact is true, I would call upon Ms. Berland to present these mailings to the public. I believe she will be hard-pressed to do so.
As a volunteer in both the Morrow and Cook campaigns, I saw no evidence of any kind of mailings. Most of all, no sanctioned mailing from the Huntington Republican Committee nor any Suffolk County Republican organization personally attacked Ms. Berland. Both Mr. Morrow and Mr. Cook would never have permitted such a sleazy and disgusting tactic. Instead, her record on supporting Avalon Bay in Huntington Station, deepening the debt of the town, and her business expenses were called into question as it should have been.
And in a further assessment of these so-called attacks on her, there were handouts produced by individuals claiming to represent unknown organizations in Huntington. I saw examples of these items at the Fall Festival and on my car one evening after a meet the candidates night. As was mentioned, the focus was on Ms. Berland’s record and not her gender or religion. Sadly, Ms. Berland is incapable of separating the facts from fiction and interprets any question or challenge about her record as a personal attack on her. Is that fair or merely deception at its best.
Lastly, Mr. Kelly asked Ms. Berland point blank whether her campaign was aware of these mailings or approved them. She stated – on the record – her campaign had nothing to do with any of the mailings. I’m very skeptical about this response. I find it hard to believe any mailing produced by the New York State Democratic Committee attacking an opponent of Ms. Berland could have been sent without her approval or her campaigns approval. Coincidentally, there were several mailings by the same NYS Democratic Committee which were mailings in support of Ms. Berland. I know as I have them in my possession.
What this suggests is one of two things. The first is Ms. Berland was the target of a few nut jobs who will stoop to any level to attack someone and if so, their materials must be produced for the public to validate these claims. The second, and more likely scenario, suggests Ms. Berland will distort her party’s tactics while making false accusations to garner sympathy and distract the public. I applaud Mr. Kelly for having the courage to step forward and bring this shameful behavior to the public and I urge him to continue pressing for the truth. If in fact the Berland Campaign and the New York State Democratic Committee orchestrated these malicious attacks, it validates my own decision to stop supporting the thin-skinned Ms. Berland and her party many years ago. Only time will tell just how much she knew, and when she knew it. And I believe she knew it.
James E. Martin
For those who wish to see the interaction, click here.