By Village Justice, Tom Liotti
Experienced lawyers know that in all litigation there are plots and sub-plots. Going to law school and passing the Bar does not give you the intimate knowledge of our justice system and the players within it or the special interests hovering nearby. In the midst of a public controversy such as the casino, there are forces for good and evil everywhere. The solution to the problem is not played out on a single stage.
First there is the public outcry against the casino which in this case was huge and well organized. It translated into votes for or against elected officials. That’s one stage. The second stage goes past “lip service” into action if the public sentiment continues and does not stop at a single victory such as the defeat of the Fortunoff’s plan. It goes to the core of the problem administratively and legislatively where Home Rule was threatened by overriding state laws that never should have been passed in the first place. So now you see legislators for proposed legislation that creates the appearance of rescinding the laws, but which may not have any hope of passage because the blame, they will say, goes to some anonymous or collective entity in Albany. This is foolery, dishonest legislation, essentially offered for the sole purpose of deceiving the public in November. You can generally tell when this happens if the legislation is offered by a member of the Senate or the Assembly in the minority or if a member offers legislation without the support of his colleagues.
This is where a true reading of the integrity of representatives becomes all important and necessarily takes you to the third stage, namely litigation which is geared to forcing the law in favor of public sentiment which has either been ignored or placated by administrative, legislative and political machinations. OTB announced its abandonment of the Fortunoff’s site after litigation was commenced against it. The application for a stay by the village, towns and residents was adjourned but in light of their abandonment of the Fortunoff’s plan following the litigation, the stay no longer became necessary, right? No, OTB wanted to play some dirty tricks by seeking a further adjournment so that they might challenge the Town of Hempstead zoning law whose application would otherwise set a bad precedent for them at other locations.
So the legal committee representing the coalition of forces against the casino read through the deception. We have filed a voluntary discontinuance without prejudice to go at them again in case they try to renew their dirty tricks. In the meantime, the community should keep its guard up on stages one and two above. In other words, keep fighting!