Town Clerk Post Mortem

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By David Freedman

Over the past week, we the residents in the Town of Hempstead have seen our Town Clerk, Mark Bonilla arrested and charged with multiple counts of alleged sexual harassment . Along with those charges, he was accused of possible attempts at blackmailing his accusers, by attempting to obtain intimate photos of one of the female accusers by forcing her ex-boyfriend to provide them to him. Kate Murray the TOH Supervisor has called for his resignation and to date, he has not resigned, rather, he has reported to work.

Last year, I supported Steven Anchin in his run for the Town Clerk’s position. I believed that new blood was needed in the Town Clerk’s office. For that matter, I believed new blood was needed in all of the Town offices. The Democratic candidates ran on a mantra that 100-plus years of one party rule in the Town of Hempstead was corrupting. Although, I agreed that the mantra was correct in its assessment of creating corruption, I stated in an article last year, that I felt that the repeated discussion by Democratic candidates had little traction with the voters and that November, the Republican incumbents were swept back into office rather handily.

The reality is that 100-plus years of one party control in a town the size of Hempstead is corrupting inherently. Entrenched politicians tend to gain a sense of entitlement and tend to show preference to their friends in public works projects as well as patronage positions. No surprises there!

But the arrest of Mark Bonilla now brings the “obvious” to light in a clear and convincing way. Even Mr. Bonilla’s closest supporters are running for cover. With Mr. Bonilla delaying what may be an eventual resignation, those in power must feel that an ugly spotlight is being pointed at the whole Republican apparatus in the Town of Hempstead. People are now starting to see with a newly opened eye, the wasteful spending going on in the Town. This light now shows clearly on shuttered business districts in villages like Woodmere, or even in downtown Hempstead itself. It illuminates the lack of support for real development of affordable housing. The existing town government has failed for generations to see that Hempstead is really a large city, with real urban problems.  Why is Hempstead providing passport services, when anyone can walk into any post office and get the exact same service? Why does a person have to take off from work to obtain copies of birth or death certificates at Town Hall when other municipalities provide those services online with payment by credit card?

We live this way because entrenched political cronyism permits it. Up until now, very few people felt energized to complain about our lack of services. Now we see the coziness that exists in our town government. It is a coziness which allows a public official to actually contemplate making a $10,000 payment to make a “problem” go away.

So what do we do about it? First we must recognize that Hempstead is at the breaking point. Economically, we cannot survive the tax structure, the waste and the indifference by our elected officials. We need new blood. Second, we need a comprehensive plan for redevelopment. This includes low and middle income housing. We need to make tax abatements and credits available to support new business growth and to bolster existing businesses to survive and grow. The Town of Hempstead must modernize its processes, especially in the building department as well as how we manage development to make it easier to get things built.

How do we do all this? We have to get to the polls. We cannot abdicate this responsibility. If we want to get the entrenched politicos’ attention, we need to speak out and speak out loudly and most importantly, we must vote.

 

Filed Under: David FreedmanOpinion

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