Leg. Roger Corbin of Westbury was a racial pioneer of sorts — a status that may be forgotten or diminished with his guilty plea Monday on federal tax charges.
Corbin, a Democrat, and Darlene Harris, a Uniondale Republican, were the first two blacks to sit on the Nassau Legislature when it was established in 1996.
When black officials and citizens came before the legislature, Corbin was often the one they looked to, and he was often the one who spoke most forcefully on their behalf.
One of those moments occurred at the Oct. 19th session of the legislature, when Eric Naughton resigned as head of Nassau’s Office of Legislative Budget Review to go to work as Steve Levy’s budget director in Suffolk.
“Legislator Corbin,” Naughton said as he stood at the podium to say his farewells. “What’s up my brother?”
“You were part of the Charter Revision Commission that created the legislature, the budget review office and Office of Minority Affairs,” Naughton said to Corbin. “You have worked hard to make sure that the legislature was an equal branch of government, and I leave knowing that the budget review office has fulfilled your vision. Good luck to you.”
Corbin was under the indictment at the time, and there was no good political reason for Naughton to say what he did, or to personalize it by referring to Corbin as, “my brother.”