Former Owner Speaks
I learned, last week, that Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer is leaving Albany for Sutphin Boulevard, to be Queens County Clerk. Wishing Ms. Pheffer well in her new post, offers me the chance to further correct a comment that I believe she directed at me, at a Dayton Seaside meeting, February 1, 1996, in the office of Borough President Claire Shulman. Ms. Pheffer remarked that “the rich get richer.” My recollection is that immediately after the meeting I went up to her and said that I am not rich and not getting richer. I can underscore my comment in advising Ms. Pheffer that I am now among the one in seven Americans on food stamps.
Ms. Pheffer, as far as I know, played a minor role in the Dayton Seaside property tax matter, a matter that remains covered up to this day. Still, unrelated things – unrelated to Dayton Seaside – have happened to some officials who knew or should have known the truth about the Dayton Seaside property tax matter. I think, for example, of subsequent difficulties experienced by then NYC Comptroller Alan Hevesi and GOP Senate leader Joseph Bruno, among the officials who ignored my entreaties.
Ms. Pheffer joined State Senator Malcolm Smith and Rep. Anthony Weiner in sending a letter to Judge Allan L. Gropper of the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan. This letter, sent on the congressman’s stationery that listed his committee memberships, including Judiciary, was not accepted by the judge. My hunch is that the letter was improper as 1) ex parte and 2) intrusion by legislators into judicial matters. The letter is dated December 7, 2000 – an ironic anniversary in that it amounted to a vicious sneak attack on the Dayton Seaside principals (including me).
My Dayton Seaside experience taught me that government in New York City is conducted of, by and for the insiders. This kind of government ordinarily comes in monarchical, aristocratic or dictatorial forms. In Egypt, for example, it might be regarded, today, as Mubarakism. In the USA, we have the form of democratic government – but the substance, our founding legacy, seems to have gone by the boards. Can government of, by and for the people be restored? That, I believe, depends on the people seeing through the lies, distortions and abuses of the insiders – and willing to stand up in defense of our founding legacy of liberty and democratic government. Perhaps the Tea Party movement is a step in that direction.
If Gov. Andrew Cuomo truly wants political reform in New York State, he could start by disclosing what he knew about the Dayton Seaside property tax matter (actually, property tax manipulation). He was HUD secretary during the significant Dayton Seaside events – and the Dayton Seaside property tax manipulation could not have happened without HUD’s cooperation. Then, too, others might disclose what they know about actual Dayton Seaside property tax facts –these others including, but not limited to, the signers of that letter from three legislators to the Dayton Seaside bankruptcy judge. It is my belief, all we have to lose from disclosure of the Dayton Seaside facts is insider government.
DAVID R. ZUCKERMAN
The writer is the former owner of the Dayton Seaside complex on Shore Front Parkway.