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Crotonblog's Picks in the Coming Election

March 15, 2008

Croton-on-Hudson Political Battleground.jpg

At about this point near the end of every political campaign, it is customary for newspapers to endorse candidates for election on the basis of their qualifications. We’ll now try our hand at this, making endorsements of candidates for Trustee.

Candidate Joe Streany makes his argument that his 38 years as a volunteer firefighter makes him eminently qualified to serve in the Village Board of Trustees. If that reasoning were valid, the Village Board of Trustees would be entirely composed of a majority of veteran firefighters year in and year out.

A major problem posed by Mr. Streany’s candidacy is that he comes before the public with a load of unsavory baggage trailing behind him. In his employment as an executive of the Metro North Commuter Railroad, he was not above putting the arm on contractors whose contracts with the railroad he supervised. He claims that the money squeezed from them went to a nonprofit organization he had formed, the high school booster club, but that organization was not recognized as a nonprofit organization by the I.R.S. until long after he had squeezed graft from the contractors (See: “Will the Real Joe Streany Please Stand Up?”).

Moreover, in discussions about the settlement he made with New York State’s Ethics Commission, he insisted that he was forbidden to discuss the case. The settlement agreement he signed with the Commission to avoid prosecution told quite a different story. Mr. Streany isn’t even a good liar (See: “Joe Streany, P.O.P.* A True Story”).

Given the opportunity to look out for the Village’s environmental interests in a dispute with the railroad over chemically treated railroad ties dumped by the railroad in the Croton Marsh, Mr. Streany defended the railroad’s refusal to remove them (See: “Joe Streany, Environmentalist?”).

Instead of allowing four young women to join a program designed to integrate young people into a raining program for firefighters, in contravention of New York State’s civil rights law Mr. Streany as First Assistant Fire Chief engaged in outright sexism and expelled them from the program because they were women. Only a determined campaign waged by the young women and their mothers forced Mr. Streany to obey the law and allow them to join the program (See: “Joe Streany, Sexist Opponent of Women’s Rights”).

Mr. Streany has shown himself to be a veritable bull in a china shop in other situations.

In 2000, when a bond providing much-need expansion of facilities in the school system was put before taxpayers for a vote, it passed but by a narrow margin. A small group of citizens, unhappy with the vote, called attention to a letter improperly written on school letterhead by the schools’ Athletic Director, William Thom, and mailed to voters urging them to vote in favor of the improvements. Unfortunately, Mr. Streany had added his flourishing signature to the Thom letter endorsing its forbidden sentiments.

Citing the Thom-Streany letter, opponents of the bond were then able to use the judicial system to delay the improvements for years. By the time construction was ready to begin more than three years later, increased labor and materials costs forced the school system to scale back its plans. Thanks in part to Mr. Streany’s ill-advised efforts, Croton’s school system paid out more money and got less than it had wanted in the way of improvements. Unlike King Midas for whom everything he touched turned to gold, everything Mr. Streany touches turns to you-know-what. Given Mr. Streany’s litany of sins, we feel that electing him to the responsible position of Trustee would be a gamble no one in Croton should be willing to make. Croton simply cannot afford Mr. Streany’s elastic moral code.

Now we come to Joann Minett. She has little knowledge of Croton’s geography (she thinks 1A Croton Point Avenue is directly on the Hudson River), municipal affairs or Village infrastructure—you name it, she knows little or nothing about it, but is always quite willing to expound on it. Her campaign is based solely on her ten years of contrariness and ill-informed opposition to whatever the Village Board is considering doing. In the words of Groucho Marx, “whatever it is, I’m against it!”

A vote for Joann Minett would consign the Village to two years of totally misinformed opinion, wildly expressed at Board meetings and accompanied by arm-waving theatrics. Admittedly, it would increase the audience for Board meetings in the same way that the crowds attending the funeral of Harry Cohn, much-despised President of Columbia Pictures, caused Red Skelton to observe, “As Harry used to say, ‘Give the public a good show, They’ll turn out for it!’” Mirroring the nation’s economic problems, Croton’s troubles are growing too big and too fast for us to afford a two-year period of comic relief.

There are two seats open on the Village Board. Deliberations about Croton’s future need the presence of a “loyal opposition” to offset the Republican majority, which is going to do what it wants anyway. The remaining choices, Ann Gallelli, up for reelection after several terms, and first-timer Richard Olver, whose life experience and practical, no-nonsense outlook hold much promise for Croton, are both eminently qualified for the Trustee openings. In nautical terms, the best course now is “steady as she goes,” and we endorse the candidacies of Gallelli and Olver, and urge their seating as Trustees. Dyed-in-the-wool Republican readers who can’t bring themselves to vote the Democratic line can always pull the levers for the Croton Taxpayers Party.


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