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Northport Needs a New State Senator

Editorial Board
The Observer

Of course the presidential election has stolen the spotlight this campaign season and that is the most critical decision Americans will make November 8, but down ballot there is another important decision to make in the race for New York State Senate in the Fifth District, which includes Northport.

Republican incumbent Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) is being opposed by Democratic challenger James Gaughran, of Eaton’s Neck, a Northport homeowner. There is a lot that can be said on behalf of Mr. Gaughran, but we will save that for another day. For now, what is most important to emphasize is how poor a state senator Carl Marcellino has been for us, and how important it is for local voters that he be replaced.

There is a long list of compelling reasons why Mr. Marcellino has to go, and this election is the time for it. He has been there too long, and his record is replete with actions that have hurt us far more than he has helped us here in Northport. The list includes public education and taxes, the LIPA tax lawsuit over the Northport power plant, Albany corruption. All of those are issues where Mr. Marcellino has let us down.

This week, Mr. Marcellino mailed to voters a piece of campaign literature entitled “Reforming Education…” which is so fraught with half truths and downright misinformation as to be outrageous and should galvanize voters behind a movement to get rid of this guy. The lit piece, as political insiders refer to these mass mailings, features artwork of a shiny red apple atop a pile of textbooks. The true imagery though should be a barrel of rotten apples.

In the mailing Mr. Marcellino claims that he “delivered another record school aid increase,” and that he “came through on his promise to permanently end the school budget crushing Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).” That is so nonsensical that it is shocking that MR. Marcellino would even raise this as an issue.

First of all, state aid to the Northport-East Northport School District has eroded over the decades from 30 cents on the dollar to less than 10 cents on the dollar now, and during periods of Mr. Marcellino’s tenure state aid to Northport-East Northport School District has fallen below eight cents on the dollar. The difference has to be made up by local property taxpayers. So the state has been grossly negligent in living up to its obligation to its public schools.

As for the GEA, for years Mr. Marcellino, along with the Republican caucus in the New York State Senate beholden to Governor Andrew Cuomo and along with the Democratic majority in the New York State Assembly, has voted for state budgets that included the GEA. As a result of Mr. Marcellino voting for the GEA budgets, public schools in his senate district which includes the Northport-East Northport School District, have been shortchanged by $73,751,967.

“Delivered another record school aid increase,” is a lie. Senator Marcellino got us shortchanged in the Fifth Senate District by $73.75 million in state aid. It is money that had to be made up for by property taxpayers, people with homes, owners of small businesses, large corporations, large commercial real estate holdings all had to pay $73.75 million more because Senator Marcellino didn’t bring home the state “foundation aid” to which we were statutorily entitled.

As for his promise to permanently end the GEA, it is boastful after-the-fact rhetoric that he had nothing to do with. Again, he was just a yes-man of the Republican majority and Democratic Assembly led along by the governor. The legislation that he was part of to eliminate the GEA, money that was supposed to eventually be repaid to the district, only gave back $1.2 million of the $73.75 million which public schools have been shortchanged in the fifth senate district.

So, when it comes to Carl Marcellino “Reforming Education…” there is no shiny apple, there has been no benefit to us. He has been a dismal failure when it comes to education finances.

Mr. Marcellino’s “Reforming Education…” literature also claims that he “led the fight to ensure federally imposed state tests are grade appropriate” and that he “demanded greater transparency and reduced testing time.” Again, terrible drivel and nonsense.

Standardized state testing of public school students in grades three through eight in math and English Language Arts, to which Mr. Marcellino is referring in this piece, has been one of the worst boondoggles in state and national history. It costs millions of dollars, the tests are a laughing stock of educators, and in an act of civil disobedience parents have repudiated them. More than 60% of Long Island students, and 67% of students in the Northport-East Northport School District, refused to take the tests, rendering the results, useless.

The fight Mr. Marcellino boasts of to make the state tests “grade-appropriate” and to “reduce testing time” was insignificant and did nothing to change public opinion against the failed state policy. Certainly, there is nothing here that is a credit to Mr. Marcellino.

The overarching slogan in the Marcellino mailing is “Fight for Our Long Island Schools.” No he didn’t. There was no fight in this guy and his record reflects that.

A subject that hits closer to home for Northport-East Northport residents, Mr. Marcellino also let us down miserably when it comes to the property tax lawsuit by the Long Island Power Authority on the Northport power plant. Mr. Marcellino was part of an Albany cabal that included the governor and State Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), who tried to sell us out.

They backed a settlement that would have cost Northport-East Northport School District taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year, and would have had lesser, but significant impact on town and county taxpayers. Not only did they go along with this terrible deal, but Mr. Marcellino and Mr. Flannagan then set out to try to compel the Northport-East Northport School Board to buy into the deal. Remember that they went behind closed doors and lied through their teeth about how the Northport power plant is failing and two units don’t work, that it can be turned off any day now in favor of some phantom merchant plant in Yaphank.

It was all self-serving nonsense to advance them, not us. The Northport power plant is one of the most important electricity generators in the United State of America. It is a multi-billion dollar facility and it should pay its fair share of taxes like every other property owner. And, we should have state representatives who will fight to the death for us on this issue, not guys who will fall in with the Albany interests and sell us out.

One last note. The Marcellino “Reforming Education…” lit piece says he “is listening to parents and teachers to discover new ways to allow every student to succeed.” When two parents met with him earlier in the year, Mr. Marcellino threw them out of his office. He’s listening to political bosses, not parents and teachers.

Mr. Marcellino has been a disaster for us here. There is a clear and tested alternative in this race. Mr. Gaughran.