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It seems Hempstead residents’ optimism for a less partisan, more transparent government was premature, as bipartisanship still appears to be “dead” in the nation’s largest township.
After Laura Gillen was elected as the first Democratic supervisor in the Town of Hempstead in over 100 years, a wave of hope washed over residents for a fairer and more responsive government. Shortly after Gillen’s first board meeting, however, many of her key reform initiatives have been blocked and accusations of political games have been fired from both sides of the aisle.
Gillen held a news conference in early August, where she condemned a resolution “negotiated in secret” between town board members and the town’s labor union which would’ve amounted to nearly $800,000 in raises for “politically appointed insiders.”
The board had already given away $200,000 in raises beforehand.
“An entrenched, corrupt majority wants to give away $1 million of taxpayer money, but said it’s too expensive to hold a $200,000 special election to let people choose who is going to be their representative,” Gillen exclaimed.
Town legislators once again exhibited their so-called “slash-and-burn approach” in response to Gillen’s Foreclosure Registry Town Ordinance Act. The proposal sought to improve maintenance of the 6,000 foreclosed homes in Hempstead, significantly reducing neighborhood blight, at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.
Currently, the town budgets $1 million for unsafe building maintenance, while Gillen’s plan would generate an estimated $3 million each year. Still, the proposal was barely even considered.
A legislative body that refuses to accommodate the will of the people is inherently corrupt. Town legislators need to stop putting partisan politics over the welfare of those who elected them, and start creating change.
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