But requiring residency as a condition of employment is probably unconstitutional, as many another municipalities have learned.
Take Kingston. Please. At last look, at least half the police department lived out of town. City firefighter Mike Neilson is the (resident) highway superintendent in New Paltz, of all places.
Soon-to-be-retired New Paltz supervisor Toni Hokanson — rival Susan Zimet has every line except the Working Families Party — led the town board vote to set a public hearing on residency next month. Town councilman Jeff Logan, voting with the minority, had a better idea: Let’s focus on really important stuff.
Post-primary grousing had mayoral candidate Hayes Clement supporters accusing the Working Families Party of pouring $40,000 into the Shayne Gallo campaign in the last month. Official campaign spending reports showed Clement with about $15,000 in contributions, Gallo with about $4,500.
“Absurd,” laughed WFP local coordinator Jennifer Fuentes. “We spent no more than $5000, which is a lot for us. It was actually great if they valued our work at $40,000.”
The Working Families Party is generally considered an extension of organized labor, if not its tool. The party, with 94 enrollees in Kingston, usually supports pro-labor Democrats.
But why support Gallo, who has never held a public office? Fuentes, who is completing a term as Fifth Ward alderman, said party members were impressed by the broad support Gallo was able to generate among “working people.”
Conversely, she said the party regrets endorsing mayor Jim Sottile in 2007, given his frequent battles with city labor unions. “He went so far off the reservation that we really had to make things right [by backing Gallo],” she said.
Gallo, an assistant city attorney, is a member of Sottile’s staff and an advisor on labor issues. Go figure.
Fuentes confirms, as the opposition suspected, that Kingston was being targeted by the party. “It isn’t often that we get a Democrat (Gallo) that we can really believe in and at the same time make a difference,” she said. “You might say we were flexing our muscles.”
Indeed. There’s no way to be precise about this, but it appeared Gallo was treading water, maybe 200 votes down a month before the September 13 primary. A Working Families last-ditch push, which included door-to-door campaigning and phone banks, got the candidate to within half a dozen votes election night. Success has many fathers, failure none.
As a footnote, I’ve gotten some flak from the Clementines for calling Gallo’s the “best campaign” By that, I meant Gallo’s back-from-the-dead stretch run, detailed above, not his campaign tactics. In fact, Clement ran a positive, issue-oriented campaign while Gallo’s frequently devolved into class warfare and baseless innuendo. “Best” that wasn’t.
Watch out, Mo
With the New York congressional delegation losing two seats next year, the upset win by a conservative Republican in a heavily Democratic district in Brooklyn last week had to send chills through Maurice Hinchey’s 26th congressional district.
The early take on Bob Turner’s decisive win over David Weprin is that Democrat reapportionment negotiators — read: Assembly speaker Shelly Silver — might be willing to trade the now Republican Ninth District in exchange for a Republican district in the Buffalo area. But what if Republicans dig in their heels — read: Senate majority leader Dean Skelos — to retain a seat (Turner’s) they haven’t held since 1923? Could that leave Hinchey dangling?
With Hinchey recovering from cancer surgery, 73 next month and coming off an unimpressive win in 2010, the 26th could be on the chopping block. Locally, the forced retirement of a public official first elected in 1974 would be sad indeed. For the locally ambitious, the loss of an Ulster congressional seat would be cause for sack cloth and ashes.
Here and there
Just in time for the October 1 delivery of the 2012 county budget, the comptroller’s office issued a financial report indicting all is well with Ulster finances. At least it was in 2010, the year covered by last week’s report. County officials said a few weeks ago they feared a twenty million-dollar budget gap for this year. My, what a difference a year makes.
I asked county comptroller Elliott Auerbach if his rating fellow Democrat Mike Hein on fiscal acumen wasn’t akin to a father judging his daughter in a beauty contest.
“I get hit when I criticize [Republican] DA Holley Carnright,” he replied. “They’ll call it politics either way. As long as I can look myself in the mirror, I don’t worry about it.”
But of course he does.
I suggested that as the county’s “independent watchdog” he cease seconding the nominations of people — like Hein last June — over which he has fiscal oversight.
I had Democrats and Republicans holding their annual dinners at the same time in the same place last week. “There isn’t a room big enough to hold all those egos,” quipped Ulster supervisor Jim Quigley after phoning in the correction. Republicans will hold their annual dinner at Hillside Manor in Kingston next Tuesday, September 27, Democrats at the same place on October 2, the next Sunday.
One of the more striking front-page political photos in recent years — editor Dan Barton’s primary night shot of anxious faces at Shayne Gallo headquarters in Kingston — was marred only slightly by a mistake in the caption. The man on the left was misidentified as Rick Perry. In fact it was former alderman Mike Perry, 85, a.k.a. “Honey Brown.”
More here and there
Local Democrats will stage a party unity rally on the Rondout at Gallo Park on Saturday, September 24, from noon to three. Music will be by the Marc Black band. Announced speakers include Maurice Hinchey, Mike Hein, DA candidate Jonathan Sennett and “mayoral candidates.” Party leaders are expecting fire and brimstone from second-time candidate Sennett, whose campaign to date has been, to be kind, invisible.
And finally, condolences to the Garraghan family on the passing of Dave Gavitt, Julie Garraghan’s husband. A basketball legend, to those who knew him, Gavitt was a pistol.
Like the time they did a roast of retired mayor Ray Garraghan. Up until the time Gavitt took the podium it was a pretty dull affair. I know this because I was one of the speakers preceding the then-Providence College basketball coach.
(This is from memory.) “You all know Ray Garraghan as an accomplished man, banker, oilman, mayor, a kind and generous man,” Gavitt began. “I’m his son-in-law and I can tell you he is without a doubt the cheapest sonofabitch in the world.”
Garraghan, a renowned penny-pincher, almost fell off the dais laughing. From there, it only got worse, and funnier.++
Hugh Reynolds’ column appears weekly.