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Opinion

Long Island's past influences the present

Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta talks with Nassau

Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta talks with Nassau legislator Ed Mangano (17th LD) outside Northrop Grumman headquarters today. Cablevision is considering moving to this site. Feb. 2, 1996. Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Daily Point

Acting in his best wishes

Former Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta died in August, but his political committee lives on. 

Gulotta, a Republican who was eulogized from both sides of the aisle this year, had used his campaign account to support both Republicans and Democrats after he left office in 2001. That included Democrats like Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Since his death, however, the donations have been more partisan.

Only four contributions show up in state filings since then. They include $10,000 to Joe Saladino’s Oyster Bay Town supervisor campaign; $5,000 to the Nassau County Republican Committee; $10,000 to Don Clavin’s winning bid for Hempstead Town supervisor; and a $1,000 charitable sum to the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, which Gulotta was instrumental in establishing and on whose board he served for many years.

Thomas Dickson of Glen Cove, the person authorized to sign checks for the Gulotta campaign committee, explained the contributions this way: “trying to carry out [Gulotta’s] wishes.”

The committee has two years from the death of a candidate or former candidate to dispose of funds. That can be done by reimbursing contributors; donating to CUNY, SUNY, charity or the state’s general fund; or transferring to other candidates, parties, or committees, according to State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin.

So there are more wishes to carry out. The committee has a closing balance of $205,848.79 as of post-general election filings made public this month.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Getting to the root of housing discrimination

As three State Senate committees prepare to hear testimony Thursday at Hofstra University on discrimination by Long Island real estate agents against minority homebuyers as presented in Newsday’s Long Island Divided project, the editorial board dove into its archives to find echoes from eight decades ago.

On Dec. 10, 1940, the board wrote about “extreme overcrowding” in a part of Hempstead Village known as The Hill. It began by reprinting a section of a village survey (our apologies for the language used in those days):

“It is a well-known fact amongst house owners that they can get more rent from the colored people with less upkeep expenses than they can from the whites.”

The report then noted that many black renters had to take in roomers to meet the higher rents, resulting in overcrowding.

The board was clear in its analysis, presaging some findings in the Long Island Divided project.

“The reason for this is obvious: colored people are restricted to one section, not by any village ordinance, but by unwritten law even more inflexible,” the board wrote. “And when colored people move into a house it is common practice to ‘milk’ the property for all it is worth by spending nothing to maintain it, and meanwhile charging all the rent the traffic will bear. Landlords figure that the resale value of the property is nil and therefore make no attempt to keep it up.”

Newsday’s board termed the problem a social and humanitarian issue, as well as an economic one: Deteriorating homes in one part of the village depreciate the value of homes in other parts of the village — “just as gangrene in your hand will inevitably spread its poison to other parts of your body,” the board wrote.

The board did not, however, explicitly condemn the landlords or their practices other than to note that black people were “paying too much for too little” compared to whites.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Pencil Point

An impeachment carol

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Final Point

Another spotlight on LI housing bias

Ahead of Thursday’s State Senate hearings about housing discrimination on Long Island was a town hall Tuesday night that drew more than 100 attendees.

The event, sponsored by EOC Suffolk, Erase Racism, NAACP and Urban League of Long Island, included a discussion with Newsday investigative team members Olivia Winslow and Keith Herbert about what went into producing Long Island Divided, the three-year investigation of real estate practices. Erase Racism president Elaine Gross opened the town hall with a history of housing discrimination in the region and the event concluded with a panel that included Gross, LIA President Kevin Law, developer Les Bluestone and NAACP’s Gary Johnson. 

Attendees participated by answering texting answers to questions posed by Gross and others. Responses then appeared together on the screen.

The word attendees most often texted about how they feel in regard to housing discrimination on Long Island?

Angry.

Watch the full event at this link.

—Amanda Fiscina @adfiscina

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