The question is not so much “why do politicians do unethical, immoral, and selfish things?, the question is, why do we put up with it?
The recent news that Supervisor Frank Petrone is collecting his pension and his salary has caused quite a stir. People are writing letters, blasting him at town hall, and discussing it at the dinner table. In the end, the outrage will die down and Frank will continue laughing all the way to the bank, Literally. Some politicians know full well that they have worked the system in a way that they can pretty much get away anything.
What bothers us more than the fact that Mr. Petrone is legally collecting two salaries, is that apparently two salaries wasn’t enough for him. He recently voted himself a raise and supported layoffs, pay cuts and benefit cuts for the employees who work for him. He did this before he was re-elected and still managed to prevail. It’s hard for us to relate to the mindset of an individual that feels so entitled. How does someone justify asking others to do more with less and at the same time justify a raise for himself?
The arrogance of the current administration is mind boggling. Whether it be giving jobs to their friends; breaking zoning laws for cronies; harassing individuals who stand up to them; or taking credit for other individuals good deeds and achievements, they have learned over the years that they will pretty much get away with anything.
So how do they have such bad behavior and still get support? The answer is complicated and simple all at the same time.
The well established relationship with most of the local media plays a big role in the arrogance of Huntington’s administration.
Until recently, Michael Schankler ran the Long Islander Newspaper. In his goodbye letter in the Newspaper, he wrote that what he looks forward to most is having more time to hang out with his friends Frank (Petrone), Mark (Cuthbertson), Stu (Besen) and Fonti (Bob). The paper is now run by several new individuals including Bob Fonti.
Other local papers survive primarily due to them being paid to publish legal notices. And you know the old saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” This is a huge problem because truthful reporting and honest media are an integral component to a free society. The town board majority determines which papers the legal notices are published in. In the town of Huntington, this is never rewarded to a paper that criticizes those in the political majority.
Because Petrone, Cuthbertson and Berland have had the media under control for so long, they are easily miffed by anyone who dares to criticize them. In the case of The Huntingtonian, they refuse to interact with us in anyway. They even withhold emergency information that we would otherwise share with our readers. This is another example that demonstrates their disregard for their constituency.
The current majority has posed for endless photo ops for ground breakings that never happen. They twist the facts knowing full well they will not be challenged by most local newspapers.
Recently, the town abused a property owner and took over their property by eminent domain. It led to a very costly legal battle. The facts of the case were sorely misrepresented by other local newspapers. We wonder if they simply didn’t have the correct facts, or they were intentionally trying to cover up for Mark Cuthbertson and Frank Petrone. In the end, the town board felt it was in the best interest to settle for a payment of 1.2 million to this property owner. This 1.2 million was bonded and we will all be paying for it back for years.
During the past election season Newsday had daily coverage accusing Nassau County Executive Mangano of manipulating his petitions. There was overwhelming evidence that Frank Petrone was doing the same thing in a far more extreme way. Newsday had little to no coverage on the story. Why?
When political hacks who are under the thumb of the local politicians report on these same people, the safety, security and freedom of all of us are threatened. We hope more local reporters will come to realize their responsibility and begin to report the facts more accurately. If they don’t, they should realize they are hurting innocent, hard working people who have no voice to stand up for themselves.