By Rockland County Legislator Charles Falciglia – January, 2016
Many people have asked me to respond to the comments of Dov Hikind regarding his recent statements regarding Anti-Semitism in Rockland County and those directed at Legislator Laurie Santulli, who I sit next to in the Legislature.
Laurie Santulli and her supporters are easily capable of defending themselves against Dov Hikind, who is largely irrelevant; a person, like Chris St. Lawrence, Al Sharpton, Harley Doles and Dan Rather, that the general public has long since dismissed as an objective source on the issues of the day.
Calling on him to apologize is a worthless exercise because he never will. How dare a career politician chastise a teacher, firefighter and someone who still has time to serve in the Legislature.
While there is nothing wrong with being on guard for discrimination of any kind, Dov Hikind hardly fits the description of the credible messenger for Anti-Semitism. During his career he has milked it for a great deal of political mileage. Mr. Hikind knows that Rockland residents are no more Anti-Semitic than he is. Most people are so busy with their day to day lives that they hardly give a second thought about race, religion and ethnicity. True, there are people who are intentionally antagonistic and pre-occupied with the subject, and there are legitimate haters, which is part and parcel of the history of the United States. But hate grounded in a one dimensional reason that evolved from birth is rare in the tri-state area. What people are interested in is the economic reality of 2016 America. A dislike of how the bread is spread is at an all time fever pitch.
Whether acting alone, or in concert with others, Dov Hikind has tried to pull one of the oldest political tricks in the book. It’s called blending. The way it works is you take your complaint and proceed to incorporate another person or issue into the mix in order to create the illusion of the problem being much deeper, serious or widespread. Usually it is someone selected out of the blue who no one equates with your base complaint.
There seems to me to be a movement, in my opinion, to lay the groundwork for a case for the 2017 County Executive race against Ed Day, that he is responsible for creating a culture responsible for a tidal wave of Anti- Semitism, since there is little else to attack him on.
So why has Dov Hikind interjected himself into this? Probably because he was asked, but also because of whom he is. Mr. Hikind has the luxury of saying and doing whatever he wants because like so many of our elected officials he has no accountability.
Mr. Hikind has been a member of a dysfunctional New York State Assembly since 1983. He is a staunch defender of Israel and takes care of his district, similar to many other elected officials, which is fine and admirable. Hikind, however, is also a by-product of a failed New York State political system, at the same time embracing that system for his own economic survival. There- in is the heart of our problem. One look at his campaign financial disclosures will give you some insight.
Like elected officials across the United States, Hikind is the beneficiary of a continued homogeneous vote, which allows for a safety net, further allowing him to morph back and forth between his district and non-district issues as he sees fit. A man, who could use his position to promote term limits and campaign finance reform, he chooses not to. In fact, for someone who has been in the Assembly for over 32 years his record on rhetoric far surpasses any legislative achievements.
Calling on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Anti-Semitism is like asking Bill Clinton to manage a Bordello.
Several years ago Schneiderman donated over $100,000.00 from his campaign finance account to charity after Moses Stern, who defrauded Citibank out of millions of dollars, alleged that he was the source of funding for contributions to Schneiderman through the use of straw donors, which is a felony on the federal level. The source of the donations was individuals residing in Monsey.
For his career, Mr. Hikind seems pre-occupied with race and ethnicity. After being acquitted in 1998 on Federal corruption charges, he saw fit to point out the racial make-up of the jury, lauding, as he put it, the four black people and Pakistani that acquitted him. Several years later he again was in the limelight for an incident involving the beating of a Muslim youth by a group of Jewish teenagers, claiming the Muslim man, who was eating ice cream at the time, provoked them. I believe four of the five teenagers later pled guilty. Hikind has supported racial profiling of Middle Eastern men by the NYPD and of course everyone is familiar with his Al Jolson routine.
Since Mr. Hikind has interjected himself into the conversation that always prompts me to take a look at an elected officials campaign finance disclosures. Over the last decade most candidates could only wish they had Dov Hikind’s friends. His January 2016 periodic disclosure reported a balance of $568,435.00 and his campaign finance account has generally ranged from anywhere between one-half million dollars to a lofty 1.4 million.
Between January of 2011 and January of 2015, his six-month periodic statements averaged about 1.1 million dollars, this for an Assemblyman. By contrast, Friends of Ellen Jaffee reports a balance of $33,952.00 on her January 2016 report and the account for Ken Zebrowski shows a January 2016 periodic balance of $66,943.00.
Hikind’s base strongly supports him monetarily, with large individual donations from what seems like a cast of thousands. Between December 1, 2014 and January 9, 2015, a 40 day span, 81 individuals donated over $123,000.00 to his campaign. Seventeen of those individuals donated $1,800.00 each; ten people donated $2,500.00 each; nine $1,000.00 each; five $4,000.00 each; and four donated $4,100.00 apiece.
One of the aspects of our campaign finance system that I loathe is the flexibility allowed for campaign finance expenditures. Everything becomes a campaign expense from buying donuts to taking out an ad in a journal wishing some organization a Happy Anniversary. Consultant fees are always troubling and a candidate favorite, since it presents an easy avenue to create a funneling situation from one person to another.
One of Mr. Hikind’s expenditures is for a GPS system for a vehicle. There is a monthly $436.00 auto lease payment and another expense, which people will jump all over in Rockland County, but be careful if you have no proof, is a double-decker bus for Election Day.
Over the last 18 months, the account has earned over $10,000.00 in interest, a contribution created from contributions. A campaign finance version of IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts) seems to me a good avenue to pursue. But don’t expect Mr. Hikind to make that suggestion. That would fall into the category of major positive legislation.