What a Revolting Development…

By Michael Kaufman

Whenever things got to be too much for Chester A. Riley, played by William Bendix on the old “Life of Riley” TV show, he would exclaim, “What a revolting development this is!” I uttered those same words last week as a I came to the yellow blinkers and four-way stop signs that now disrupt the flow of traffic on Grand Street in Warwick. 

The stop signs and blinkers were deemed necessary thanks to the location of Liberty Green, the handiwork of millionaire developer Jonah Mandelbaum and enabled by his accomplices among the local powers that be. The name Liberty Green is something of a misnomer, sort of like the way they name places built in the broiling, treeless sunlight of South Florida: “Welcome to the Shady Maple Motel.” Take away green space and replace it with a garishly lit, hideous brown building and call it “Green.” Populate it with older women and men who are not at liberty to afford the more expensive adult condos at Warwick Grove and voila…the perfect name.

Mandelbaum, as noted in a previous post,  is a member of something called the Warwick Development Coalition, where he is joined by the likes of Robert Krahulik, vice chairman of the Warwick Republican Committee and head honcho of the Chamber of Commerce. Krahulik is a lawyer whose office handles real estate closings. What a coincidence. (His office also orchestrated the infamous “stealth” campaign that unseated Village Justice Richard Farina in the last election. )

More recently Krahulik published a letter in the weekly Warwick Advertiser in response to a brief letter by resident Jerry Sander. Sander wrote about the checkered and violent antics he had observed on the part of followers of Lyndon LaRouche in the 1970s. He did this after several LaRouche followers set up a table in front of the Wawick Post Office, brandishing pictures of President Obama with the word “Nazi” beneath it, and similar offensive materials. Near the end of his letter was this sentence: “Local Warwick Republicans might consider this before they offer these nuts their support.” 

Sadly, there had been more than a few passersby who signed petitions, donated money, and otherwise expressed support for the hateful depictions of the president, as well as a degrading poster targeting Nancy Pelosi. It is reasonable to assume that at least some of these passersby were Republicans, perhaps unaware of the history of the LaRouche cult, which Sander had briefly elucidated in his letter.

Krahulik responded with a sledgehammer.  First he accused Sander of attempting “to tie the Republican Party to the anti-Obama rhetoric of the LaRouche PAC.” This, he added, was “but a feeble attempt to advance his [Sander’s] agenda and that of the left. Those on the far left do this often when they can’t win an argument on substance. They resort to personal attacks or distortions of fact.” And, he added,  “I have faith in the intelligence of the reader to understand and comprehend the truth.” Me too. The truth is that anyone looking for personal attacks or distortions of facts will find them in Krahulik’s nasty letter…not Sander’s.

“Mr. Sander’s advocates did the same thing when they dismissed those of us who took time from work and family to spill onto our Nation’s Capitol Mall and Plaza to peacefully protest this government’s radical reform of our health care delivery system,” continued Krahulik. It seems like Krahulik thinks he deserves a medal for his sacrifice and heroism in going to Washington for a demonstration.  And what exactly does he mean by “Mr. Sander’s advocates?”

All that was just part of the opening sentence of a long paragraph detailing the demonstrators’ complaints about such things as “over regulation into major industries.” He also said, “They called us angry white racists rather than debating the issues.” And, “Of course we all would like to see health care reform, but at what price?” Funny, he didn’t mention tort reform anywhere in his diatribe. But just where does Jerry Sander’s letter fit into all this?

“Sadly, Mr. Sander and his minions don’t like dealing with the facts,” concluded Krahulik, “and worse yet, are now attempting to hide the facts and the truth from the American people.” Mr. Sander and his “minions”? All Sander did was offer a word of caution to local Republicans about associating with the LaRouche cult.

The last time Krahulik had a letter in the paper it was to announce the support of the Chamber of Commerce for the firing of school bus drivers as a way of keeping school taxes down. By then it was already a done deal but he couldn’t resist the opportunity to pile on, offering his sympathy (of course) to those of our neigbors about to lose their jobs and benefits… while  explaining that it just had to be done.

There’s an election coming up Tuesday. A local Republican campaign sign says, “Preserve our agricultural heritage.” These are the  same people who opposed PDR, the purchase of development rights, that has preserved some–but not enough–of our local farm land. (But notice how the elected ones always show up for the PDR photo ops?) And for all their complaints about large national issues, they have done nothing locally to help our dairy farmers stay afloat. 

With guys like Mandelbaum and Krahulik calling the shots for the Republicans, the only way our agricultural heritage will be preserved is in a museum. What a revolting development! 

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.


3 Responses to “What a Revolting Development…”

  1. MichaelKaufman Says:

    Here are some comments on recent posts sent via email. First, thanks to JOHN ARBO of Warwick for pointing out that despite the knee-jerk opposition to PDR from local Republican bigwigs, the work on behalf of PDR “was a bipartisan experience…some of the strongest workers for and supporters of the 2000 PDR bond act and the transfer tax of a couple of years ago are Republicans.” I am glad to be made aware of this and hope that the spirit of bipartisanship will continue despite the divisive rhetoric of leaders like Robert Krahulik…STEVE FLECKENSTEN of Wawayanda writes, “Great article. Why is it that no matter what political party is in office, they become full of themselves and forget why they were elected to the position in the first place? Politics and Power are an evil combination.” Great question, Steve. I wish I had an answer. I think some individuals do manage to retain their integrity after they are elected to office. I will vote for someone with whom I disagree on a number of issues if I am convinced of their honesty and integrety…VALERIE from Warwick writes, “Read your piece today and am also revolted at the Krahulik development (taken both ways). Right on!”…PENNY STEYER of Warwick sent a comment on our earlier post about Liberty Green and the Greg Ball fundraiser at the Jonah Mandelbaum estate: “Thank you so much for this very insightful piece, Michael. All the pieces fit so nicely together–from Kerik to Fleischer to Jonah to the Route 94 S. development. It’s good to see real, insightful reporting these days.” Thanks, Penny. I am sorry I didn’t work harder to get you elected when you ran for Town Supervisor. Warwick would surely be greener today if you had won…PETER BELL of Warwick wrote to say that he too misses Hunter Thompson. “His ‘fueled’ prose was magic and manic and he cut right through all to the heart of the matter.” Yep. I wish he were here now to write “Fear and Loathing in Warwick.”…MIKHAIL HOROWITZ of Woodstock took me to task for omitting Marv Throneberry from my list of Mets of yore who entertained their fans despite losing most of their games. “How can you not mention Marvelous Marv Throneberry? A ballplayer of almost mythical incompetence, the lovable Marv set a mark (since tied, by Cesar Cedeno) for the lowest fielding percentage of any first baseman in MLB history,” wrote Mik. He concluded with the “immortal words” of Jimmy Breslin, “Having Throneberry play for your team is like having Willie Sutton work for your bank.” Mik has an article in the fall issue of Jewish Currents magazine, which includes some of his hilarious baseball card collages. You can find it on line at http://www.jewishcurrents.org/pdf/2009_fall_funny.pdf
    (Mik’s article runs from pages 9-17.)

  2. carolegeoffrey Says:

    The episode of the dueling letters-to-the-editor was a missed opportunity for a bit of common ground between the Reps and Dems, the opportunity to jointly denounce the LaRouche folks. Too bad, because those opportunities don’t come around often enough.

    It’s not exactly the same (and not quite as revolting), but we once wrote a letter to the editor to express our reasons for disagreeing with Annie Rabbitt’s stand against same-sex marriage. Sure enough, the next week was a letter to the editor saying Rabbitt was to be commended for standing up for what she believes in (fair enough) and we shouldn’t make personal attacks. Huh?

    There was no personal attack whatsoever, merely disagreement. It’s important to know the difference.

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