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Doomed From The Start

The disbanding of the Moreland Commission whose job it was to investigate corruption in State government and the ensuing investigation of its workings by The New York Times, is reminiscent of Watergate or even the recent debacle by Governor Christie’s staff regarding the George Washington Bridge. Governor Cuomo founded the Commission amidst much public relations stating that it would restore confidence in government. It did not do that but it did implicate the Governor in the corruption which he said the Moreland Commission would investigate.

While the Governor initially said that the Commission was free to investigate state government as a whole, he and his staff caused subpoenas to be withdrawn when they were issued to Cuomo’s campaign contributors and firms utilized by him for advertising. This smacks of the type of “stonewalling” engaged in by the Nixon Whitehouse and his hatchet men John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman. It reminds all of the firing of Archibald Cox or Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny.

It is the height of hypocrisy for the Governor and Commission members to raise and contribute millions of dollars in campaign contributions from individuals, corporations and special interests who either do business with the State or want some special favors from it. For all of their flaccidity, the members of the Commission and the Governor were on a course of self-destruction from the get go. Much like former Presidential candidate Gary Hart who famously said: “Follow Me”, the Moreland Commission, taking advice from Deep Throat, began to “follow the money.” They found it. It was in their and the Governor’s pockets — unbridled campaign contributions that corrupt officials at all levels of government. Tammany Hall has been moved to Albany and Washington, D.C.

Money buys you access, special favors and appointments. It creates appearances of impropriety and corruption, both direct and indirect. Attorneys who are also state officials may work part-time for a major law firm. They may not even have an office at the firm or do any actual legal work there. But they are so-called “rainmakers” who bring legal business to the law firms. The firm’s clients may need regulatory or other legislative help. They get it because they’ve made campaign contributions and/or provided business to the law firm. This is pervasive throughout state and national government.

Thank you Andy but public financing of campaigns is the way to go with advertising limited to actual records rather than attacks on opponents.

Tom Liotti, Westbury Village Justice

Moreno: My Offensive Defensive Driving Class

I’m sure many of you have taken a Defensive Driving class. Having driven on Old Country Road for a few decades, I think the course should be mandatory. Yes, it is a 6-8 hour day, but it’s well worth being reminded of the rules of the road and cautionary driving practices. As an added bonus, you also receive a 10% discount on your car insurance. So with all this in mind, my wife and I registered for the course. What could go wrong? Then again with me, nothing is ever easy.

Betty, the instructor, noticed my eyebrow shift when she an announced that she was Sister Betty and wanted to know if I was suffering from nunphobia. “Well, I was taught by nuns for eight years at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Brooklyn. All I can say is — ‘Regrets, I had a few.’”
“Why don’t you share with me one of those ‘regrets’, Mr. Sinatra? I mean, Fred.” she said. I told Sister Betty about the time when in the fifth grade I played the drums on my locker door during quiet time.

“It was actually the other Freddy in the class, but Sister Julia didn’t believe me,” I explained. “I had to write, ‘I must not play the drums on my locker door’ 400X’s and have it signed by my mother.”

I went on to tell Sister Betty that since I didn’t think this was fair, so I wrote the sentence once and then proceeded to fill the pages with thousands of ditto marks. I asked my mom to look at my “art project” depicting the weather conditions in the rain forest. She proudly signed it, but Sister Julia didn’t appreciate the dittos and now ordered me to write the sentence 800X.

After hearing this, Sister Betty said that if it were her, I would have had to write the sentence 8,000X – in capital letters. She looked at my wife with an, “I feel sorry for you,” expression. My wife simply uttered, “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Sister.”

During the class, Sister asked me to relate the details of the last summons I received. I felt like I did enough reminiscing for one day so I pleaded the Fifth Amendment and said I have the right to remain silent. Sister read me my rights and added that if I didn’t respond she would report me to the AAA as an “unwilling class participant”. In other words, no 10% discount on my car insurance. I immediately and enthusiastically shared my story.

“I parked in front of The Space across the street from the Dunkin’ Donuts on Post Avenue and left my flashes on. That was my way of saying that I would be right back. I sprinted to the store and ordered my favorite donut — a plain Big Stick. The lady looked in the back for one and returned five minutes later empty-handed. I chose another belly bomb and with an iced coffee in hand rushed back to my car where I found a $25 orange ticket on my windshield.

Of course I went to the Village Hall to protest the fine. My plan was to wear my tomato garden outfit and speak in a barely audible pathetic voice that would leave everyone with tears in their eyes. It worked! Even the officer who issued the ticket was weeping. He also thanked me saying, ‘If you didn’t leave your flashes on, I wouldn’t have spotted your car and met quota for the month.’ The judge asked for my proof of purchase from DD and immediately took $2.76 off the summons. I gladly paid the $22.24.”

Sister Betty stared at me for what seemed to be an hour. Then asked JoAnn to stand up, turned to everyone and said, “Class, repeat after me: St Christopher pray for her.” After I reminded Sister that good old Chris was no longer a saint, she asked me what I wanted the class to learn from my story. I rose to my feet tall and proud like the good nuns taught me.

“Well class, if you ever have to appear in court and want a successful outcome, you should do what I did – Speak softly.” Even Sister nodded in approval. Unfortunately, I continued like any wise guy would. “And when you go to Dunkin Donuts remind them that they should carry a big stick. Thank you Teddy Roosevelt.”

I wouldn’t say Sister Betty had a mood swing, but her nostrils looked like two bagpipes ready to explode. I thought she was going to crack my knuckles with a ruler or at least have me write, “I must not tell idiotic stories” 8,000X – in capital letters. Sister announced to the class that because of my long-winded stories there wouldn’t be enough time to see the film about head-on collisions.

Despite everything, the class was enjoyable until the last 60 seconds. That’s when Sister Betty uttered the most feared words anyone could ever hear, “JoAnn, see me after class!” A minute later I heard JoAnn saying, “Okay, Sister see you Monday.” When I asked what was Monday all about she gave me the bad news. “Sister Betty thinks that I need to take her Defensive Marriage class and when I asked her if you should attend she strangely answered, ‘Ditto.’”

What Am I Doing Here?

By Fred Moreno

The phone rang at exactly 11:42 a.m. with the good news that after weeks and weeks of intense negotiations, it was finally decided that I could commence firing, I mean writing, for The Westbury Times. The editor told me that that vote was 5-4 with one abstaining due to lack of interest and that the four people who voted “absolutely no” were familiar with the column I have been writing for The Carle Place Frog Horn for the past 20 years. One of them even added, “just don’t do it!” Wasn’t that the Nike slogan? [Read more...]

Avoid The Heroin Highway Detour

A recent article by Senator Jack Martins regarding “The Heroin Highway” touched upon some very important concerns for every parent in our community. And while most of our children do not find themselves on this “highway,” the statistics and trends for drug use and abuse are alarming. And sadly, in spite of our best efforts, they are not decreasing.
Drug use is not a problem we can arrest our way out of. It is not a problem that emerges overnight because of “bad parenting” as some have proclaimed. It is not a problem that emerges because of one choice in one moment, although we do know that for some, lives can be lost that quickly. More often than not, drug use begins because of so many things that have gone wrong or not enough things going right. It often begins not with the use of drugs but with the breakdown of those things we know to be vital for children growing up in today’s times. [Read more...]

Putting the “I” In Illness

In “This Illness Isn’t Treated Like An Illness” (The Weekend, April 9-15), Claudia Peters Ragni makes the case that substance abusers’ addictions to alcohol, pills, and heroin “should be treated the same as other diseases” (because) “treating addicts differently from how we treat people with any chronic disease isn’t okay.” While she briefly concedes that “substance addiction is a disease with a behavioral component,” she seems unwilling to admit what an understandable difference that makes in why “it’s not looked at in the same way.”
I don’t think it’s surprising that people tend to sympathize with “innocent victims” a lot more than with people who cause their own problems by their stubbornly-bad life choices.
Most people suffering from diseases such as muscular dystrophy, leukemia, asthma, sickle cell anemia, ALS, Parkinson’s, arthritis, rheumatism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and countless other debilitating conditions did nothing to cause it. Whether the “blame” is on bacteria, viruses or defective genes, these victims are suffering through no fault of their own. For them, it was unforseeable and unavoidable. [Read more...]

The Overworked American

I’m a journalist, author and psychoanalyst. I have written editorials and have been editorialized myself in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. When I read Michael Miller’s “Viewpoint” (“American’s Deserve a Life After 6 p.m.,” The Westbury Weekend, April 30-May 6), I recognized it as one of the finest editorial pieces I have ever come across.
I recall the first time I watched the infamous Cadillac commercial Mr. Miller referred to, and how persuasive and really evil it was. For those who have not seen the ad, it was a 60-second spot of a handsome actor walking through his luxury home, past his built-in pool and approaching his new Cadillac. All the while he discusses how ridiculous the lazy French are for taking off “all of August!” and how Americans are so smart to be willing to sacrifice all their time and energy to work and buy and work and buy. [Read more...]

A Community For All Seasons…Including A Marathon?

Hosting the LI Marathon right through our Community for all Seasons, what a great event! But, where were all of our villagers? As far as I can tell, Westbury is the only community through which the runners pass.
I stood on Post Avenue from 7:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, May 4 and saw about 30 bystanders to cheer on the runners.
I saw the first marathoner, a man in a wheelchair, followed by a wonderful cross-section of folks of all ages, even The Hulk and a few Superman-participants! Many runners thanked me for my support. I got a few “high 5’s” from runners, and a young boy standing in front of The Space at Westbury got more “high-5’s” than I did.
One fellow on-looker down near Rite-Aid mentioned to me that her son runs in many marathons, but his worst time is the LI Marathon, which he attributes to the fact that there are so few people coming to see the runners. [Read more...]