Anytime politicians use taxpayer money to further a blatantly political message, it's wrong. When they do it just 30 days before an election, it's worse. And when the message is a blatant lie, well, the words we'd use to describe it we won't print here.
Last week, at least three Republican Nassau County legislators sent a mailer at taxpayer expense that claimed they have "holding the line on property taxes!" and had no increases for the past five years. That's false. The county had a 3.4 percent tax increase this year. Yes, the state sent checks to make up the difference for homeowners who earn less than $500,000. But that doesn't cancel out the tax increase. Homeowners still would have gotten the state rebate even if the county had not raised taxes, and the increase will remain part of tax bills after the rebates end.
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves of East Meadow and legislators Donald MacKenzie of Oyster Bay and Steve Rhoads of Bellmore sent the mailings. County Republicans have not responded when asked whether other Republican legislative candidates have mailed or will mail the big cards. In the past, they have said such mailings cost $7,250 per district. Mail is still a reasonable way to let people know about services the county provides or what to do in emergencies, but publicly paid mailings are an underhanded way to tout political achievements.CartoonDavies' latest cartoon: Nassau's got mailCommentSubmit your letterReader essaysGet published in Newsday
One way to make the process cleaner is to ban all mailings within 60 days of an election. Nassau's Democratic delegation brought up just such a bill this year. But thanks to Gonsalves, who controls the flow of legislation, the bill got nowhere. Now, again, we see why. She and her caucus members wanted to use the taxpayers' own money to campaign for those taxpayers' votes. And they ended up doing it with lies.