33° Good Morning
33° Good Morning
Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Gerard Terry case shows intersection politics and patronage

Why would people be upset about Democrat Gerard Terry, the former North Hempstead political leader who lost four of his six part-time, publicly funded jobs last week?

Maybe because he’s more than $1 million behind in his state and federal income tax obligations?

Or because he managed to get, and hold, six part-time jobs with local governments?

Perhaps it’s a bit of both. Or maybe it rankles that Terry’s insider status brought him rewards many of us can only imagine.

Take the $1.4 million in tax debt, which Terry said he’s been working to resolve.

That amount alone might have been enough to discourage some government and private-sector employers — many of whom now ask prospects to sign off on background checks — from offering a job.

Some employers view debt and a resulting bad credit score as an indicator of candidates’ responsibility and decision-making skills that could impact job performance.

But in the ecosystem that is Long Island politics, such things appeared not to have mattered — until, in Terry’s case, his debt and multiple public jobs were disclosed in stories by Newsday’s Scott Eidler.

Terry, 61, an attorney in private practice who lives in Roslyn, has stepped down as North Hempstead’s Democratic committee chairman.

He did everything from screening candidates for office to collecting nominating petition signatures — all in an effort to keep North Hempstead in party hands.

It was North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth— rather than county Democratic leader Jay Jacobs — who asked Terry to step down.

Terry also has $74,000 in contracts to serve as the town’s special counsel and attorney for the board of zoning appeals. Bosworth said she would have the town review and, where necessary, recommend changes in the town’s screening process.

In short, she wants to know, and well after the fact, why Terry — who will not be renewed for the contracts — wasn’t vetted the way so many other employees are these days.

The answer may be what it always seems to be on Long Island — that Terry, like so many others, gained and kept jobs controlled by the Democratic Party because of politics and patronage. That’s the dynamic duo that funnels so much taxpayer money to the connected few.

Terry, for example, represented North Hempstead during a January zoning board meeting — even though his annual contract had yet to be approved by the town board.

Terry also failed, for three two-year cycles, to register with the state as an attorney — an oversight he fixed by filing retroactively.

Then there are at least five lawsuits against him, mostly involving unpaid debt.

Last week, in quick succession, Terry lost the two town contracts, a job as Democratic commissioner at the Nassau County Board of Elections and a post representing the Roosevelt Library Board.

As of now, Terry still has contracts with the Long Beach Housing Authority and the Freeport Community Development Agency.

Which brings him from six public jobs, to two.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Latest Long Island News