2009-03-13 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Politics, An Ugly Horse Race

What makes us think we live in a Democracy? The Bill of Rights might be a hint if sleazy politicians and their lawyer hires were not insistent upon knocking out the competition so they remain the only choice. If you think the scenario I just described sounds familiar, then you can sit back, light up and watch the demise of Democracy in Rockaway.

Let us look at the recent City Council race as one would a horse race.

[There was] our female Democratic District Leader, Geraldine Chapey the old red mare, in post position, who by virtue of who she is and who her mother is and how long they both had been there, felt entitled to win. Her record with respect to the Rockaway community is sparse. Her veracity is continually in question. Her visibility with respect to attending meetings important to Rockaway, is questionable. Her ability to answer a question posed to her at an open forum was frighteningly non-existent. In short, her best attribute, her involvement in unresolved scandal, was alive and well; and, could be what was attracting her supporters.

Lining up in second position was the eternal race-runner and legend in his own mind, Lew Simon, the old nag. Is there not an issue that Rockaway has confronted in the last decade or two that Lew has not claimed to have resolved?

Has he ever completed his teaching degree at Brooklyn College? Perhaps if he got elected he could have voted himself an honorary degree? One reason Lew takes credit for everything good in Rockaway is that those who contacted him with their issues were not steered to our Councilman or Assemblywoman or Representative or Senators who could easily have done that which Lew has. If any among us can honestly believe Lew is solely responsible for everything on his palm card, then Lew deserved your vote and you deserved his embarrassing representation.

Running in third position was a young, aggressive Mustang, Republican dropout from the priesthood, twenty four-year-old stallion mainlander, Eric Ulrich. In a letter in the "Wave's Bag of Mail," an Eric supporter from either Rockaway Point or Rockaway Park wrote the following, "Eric Ulrich is the only candidate who has the values that are the same as ours." Which part of Ulrich's values are valuable to folks in Rockaway, the fact he was a near priest or the fact he dropped out of one corrupt bureaucracy or that he dropped into another one? Ulrich has no vision for Rockaway if you fail to count the bridge toll and lifeguards (ho hum); but, he didn't need one because all the votes were on the mainland.

Another mainlander in the race, claimer Mike Ricatto, lining up in fourth position, claimed in his "Wave" ad, "Queens endorses Mike Ricatto," which was not true. What he meant to say was, the same old business as usual political machine in Queens endorses him. Recognizing how much the Queens machine has done for Rockaway in the past is a clear signal that Ricatto would be no help for Rockaway. But, Ricatto is smarter than Ulrich because knowing he did not need Rockaway votes to win, Ricatto had not even reached out to our neighbors or proffered a viable idea for our future. He may have been the big cheese on the mainland, but, he was merely a claimer to Rockaway.

The fifth candidate in this fourhorse race was steady runner, Mustang, Glenn DiResto. Glenn is not a politician which for many of us seems like a good thing. In deference to Ulrich's Rockaway supporters, Ulrich was not the only candidate who had strong values and a strong sense of family. Glenn, a decorated retired police lieutenant, had such a strong set of values that he believed a non-corrupt, non-politician can actually effect change and present the electorate with a refreshing alternative to life-long politics as usual. Why were Chapey's supporters so afraid of Glenn scoring with our voters that they did everything in their power to get him tossed out of the race? Late Thursday, Chapey's Kool-aid swillers lost their bid to have Glenn legally removed from the ticket. Glenn's supporters rejoiced and he received a prized endorsement from "The Wave." Not satisfied with preventing him from receiving matching funds forcing him to deficit spend, they appealed the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday, at 4 p.m., and succeeded in ousting him from the race. How democratic was this? The candidate was given eight business hours from Friday at four o'clock to Monday at 5 p.m., to reach out to his followers and teach them how to write in his name on the ballot. This election law must be changed to disallow any legal challenges within one month of the election date.

How different was Glenn from the field? The nicest thing to be said for DiResto is that he is not a politician. His ideas about commuting, if enacted into law will speed up our access to Manhattan, thus, increasing our property values. Glenn's single defining attribute cannot be quantified. That is, he actually owns land in Rockaway and would most assuredly represent all of us Rockaway landowners on the City Council. Glenn ran a decent and honest campaign. He truly thought that a solid work ethic and family background, honor and strong values were enough to attract him to our voters. Instead, he became Chapey's piñata. How proud and misguided you Chapey supporters must be!

If politics is, indeed, a horse race, then the only factor that should differ from one horse to the other is their post position. Chapey Jr., for all intents and purposes, should have felt confident enough in her ability to win the race owning the best post position. For her, that wasn't enough. She had to kill DiResto's dream. For Simon supporters, you cannot vote for a candidate because he nags you to death, you feel sorry for him or you think it is his turn. Simonites wake up and vote for the candidate who represents Rockaway and will get the respect of the council when he speaks. Voters will have their first real opportunity to vote for Glenn DiResto for Council this September. As for choosing either of the other two warhorses, say neigh.

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