Who Not to Vote For NY Governor: Steve Levy

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Steve Levy is county executive of the county within which I live, Suffolk, NY. As of now, he officially aligns himself with the Democratic party. Yet, as is evident from an article in Newsday, he is just a politician willing adapt whatever label that imparts upon him the best chance of climbing the ranks of political power.

One must always be cautious of the politician who cannot effectively veil their deep penchant for power rather than focus on governance.

Here is an excerpt from the Newsday piece:

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy was meeting with state Republican vice chairs at the storied Fort Orange Club Tuesday morning to pitch his case to be the GOP candidate for governor.

Steve Levy is looking for GOP support because he will not be able to succeed running as a Democrat.What gives, here? It is because his stance on immigration would not pass muster with Democratic voters.

Instead of focusing on all of his policies, this entry will analyze the most damning. A rotten piece can foul the whole.

Levy’s Demagoguery

Many a politician implement a dangerous yet effective strategic tool to become elected officials: demagoguery. In other words, the politician will target the emotion of a voter in order to be more appealing as a candidate. While the politician may not actually care about the issue with which it uses emotion, the politician uses it anyway solely out of political expediency. Levy‘s emotional crutch is Immigration, or as he would correct me, Illegal Immigration.

Here is a recount of what Mr. Levy has done with regards to immigration in Suffolk County, from the New York Times:

He pushed through a law to deny county contracts to businesses that can’t prove they have a legally pure workforce, a redundant overlay of federal immigration laws. (Critics point out that companies could violate other laws — tax-code or wage-and-hour rules — and still get contracts.) He tried to have county police officers deputized as federal immigration agents, a waste of resources and an unwise police tactic. He once had to defend a disastrous raid of an overcrowded rooming house whose immigrant tenants were sent, without warning or recourse, into the street.

In his spare time, he co-founded an organization called Mayors and Executives for Immigration Reform and invited representatives of hard-core anti-immigration groups to speak to it. He has branded his critics as extremists, once ludicrously depicting an exemplary group, The Workplace Project, as a den of “Communists” and “anarchists.” (It’s a grassroots organization in Hempstead that defends its members against wage and workplace abuses. Its founder is a MacArthur genius and professor at Fordham Law School.)

That is correct, Mr. Levy tried to make the Suffolk County Police into agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE). I will further explain the poor police tactic quote from the NY times. An integral component of policing is cooperation with the public. The rationale is that if the community is fearful of the police, crimes cannot be as effectively prevented or solved. In this context, if the undocumented population is being deported by the Suffolk County Police, they will not report crimes and generally not cooperate with the police in solving and/or preventing crime. Lawrence Mulvaney, the police commissioner of Nassau County, has been adamant in stressing the need for local police to stay out of immigration enforcement. Clearly, Steve Levy has not learned his lesson; recently, many of his quotes in relation to immigration have shown undercurrents of this irrational anti-immigrant(emphasis added) behavior.

The Comments

Mr. Levy directly insulted American citizens, implying they were not as worthy of medical treatment.  He claimed that the Southampton Hospital was closing its maternity ward because of a glut of uninsured “anchor babies”. Right, those “anchor babies” are as American in as anyone else in the United States. They are citizens.

When the tragic hate-inspired murder of Marcelo Lucero took place in 2008, Levy’s first public response was not to extend unadulterated heartfelt apologies to Lucero and his family; instead, Mr. Levy deemed his political well-being more important. He said that if Marcelo Lucero had been murdered in Nassau County, it would be a “one day story”.

He said this, most likely, out of what he expected to hear from his critics: that his anti-immigrant policies and inflaming rhetoric were a contributing factor to Marcelo Lucero’s death. What Mr. Levy should have done: made an unequivocal apology with an attached guarantee that he would no longer engage in any sort of anti-immigrant speech. But his rhetoric continued.

From Newsday:

According to several people who attended the event, most of the evening’s jokes fell flat until Levy took the microphone. During several minutes of rapid-fire, off-the-cuff joking, he turned to David Manning, an attorney who had teased the notoriously frugal Levy for being cheap.

Levy asked Manning, who was born in Canada, whether he was a U.S. citizen…One said he heard Levy say how it was a good thing Manning was a citizen, because otherwise “I’d have to deport you, like the guys back there in the kitchen.”

This was said after the murder of Marcelo Lucero, in August of 2009. Considering Levy’s history, a statement like that above is a clear indication that his anti-immigrant thought process has not changed. As a note, I have worked in the kitchen of a restaurant in Suffolk County. Many assume that just because an employee is Latino and has a poor command of English that they are “illegal”. Yet, half of the kitchen was entirely legal while being indistinguishable otherwise from the “illegal” workers. Hence, Mr. Levy’s comment pervades with the prejudice that just because a worker is Latino, they are “illegal”. (Most kitchen workers in Suffolk County, from personal observation, are Latinos). Alarmingly, when Steve Levy has been called out for much of what is written above, he made concerted efforts to silence the press.

Levy’s Attempted Censorship

This week, Media Matters issued the results of an investigation into Steve Levy’s attempts to silence Newsday in the guise of “correcting” bias in several of their reporters.

In simplified form, Steve Levy has written several lengthy letters to Newsday requesting that reporters–who wrote critical articles on him–be reassigned to posts that would not include coverage of him. The reporters in question: Bart Jones and Chau Lam. After Steve Levy complained about Jones and Lam, the two reporters were reassigned. Granted, it is not clear whether the reporters’ transfer was due to Steve Levy or unrelated reasons. Yet quotes taken from other Newsday reporters on Steve Levy are illuminating and add credence to the conclusion that Steve Levy has succeeded, to an extent, in silencing critics of his policies.

Carl MacGowan, a reporter for Newsday, stated that Levy “absolutely takes exception with stories he doesn’t like in ways that are remarkable” and he is “more vindictive than other politicians” Another Newsday reporter, who requested anonymity, stated: “I think that we are too deferential to local elected officials too often. There is a lot of pressure to get a lot of reaction from them up high”.

Do we want the New York governor to be a man who freely blurts out populist, inflaming anti-immigrant rhetoric, which can lead to more strife within our communities in the form of hate crimes and violent ethnic tensions? Do we want the New York Governor to  lean towards bigotry? (bias towards Latinos) Do we want the New York Governor to feel he has the right to chill the free speech of major Newspapers, who for many are the outlet of much critical political information? I certainly do not, and I urge you to do your utmost to oppose Steve Levy as Governor for New York.

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5 Responses to “Who Not to Vote For NY Governor: Steve Levy”

  1. Who Not to Vote For NY Governor: Steve Levy « Life Through the … · Legal News – Your Source for Legal News and Advice Says:

    […] The rest is here: Who Not to Vote For NY Governor: Steve Levy « Life Through the … […]

  2. Yolanda Guerra Says:

    What is going on in Suffolk County?!?! Ugghh! It’s infuriating!! 😡

    Thanks for the “heads up” — he definitely won’t be getting MY vote, though I am usually more wary of Republican candidates than I am of the Democrats.

    • bjohns15 Says:

      No Problem. He has said/did some pretty messed up things re immigration, and it brings into question the rest of his character. A county executive should focus on the county, not the federal government.

  3. Maria Says:

    I think you need to get some of your facts straight – Levy doesn’t always do the popular thing, but that’s because what’s right isn’t always popular. His treatment of the Hispanic population has come off as harsh, but in reality, he’s just trying to protect the undocumented workers in this county that get taken advantage of every single day – by being paid under minimum wage, and being forced to live in squalid conditions. Party lines don’t matter to him, because he was cross-endorsed by every party on the ballot last election! That’s pretty impressive, no matter who you are. He had a plan, which is something Cuomo and Lazio are lacking.

    • bjohns15 Says:

      Hi Maria,

      I don’t believe that deputizing Suffolk Police Officers to aid Immigration and Customs Enforcement in arresting and deporting undocumented workers is in their best interest.

      Granted, too many employers underpay their undocumented workers. However, there are other employers that pay their undocumented workers fair wages.

      Moreover, his own words belie any “concern” he has for the well-being of undocumented workers. He uttered the “anchor baby” term, which is almost exclusively used by anti-immigration groups.

      I do not doubt that Levy had a plan and I don’t trust either Lazio or Cuomo either. Problem is that Levy’s plan involves an anti-immigrant agenda.

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