Donald’s Disasters


Donald Trump has dropped his lawsuit against me, or at least against the residents of Wantagh, N.Y. Wantagh is less a town than a housing development, built in 1950 as part of the post World War II housing boom. It was a collection of identical houses, 785 of them, selling for about $17,000 each. Over the years many of the houses have been remodeled, but the area remains middle to lower upper middle class, where the second car is a pick-up truck. Wantagh’s main claim to fame is that Jones Beach, one of the finest East Coast beaches, is served from the Wantagh Post Office, making the beach technically part of the town.

In the last days of George Pataki’s term as governor of New York, Trump signed a sweetheart deal to build Trump On the Ocean, a restaurant and catering hall on State Park Land. The business, being on a state park, wouldn’t pay town or school taxes, but expected to be serviced by the Wantagh Volunteer Fire Department and other emergency services. The town opposed the project, both in general, and because the plans called for a huge basement that would be dangerous placed so close to the ocean. In reply, Trump’s lawyers sued the town for the profits Mr. Trump was losing by the delay in approval

On Oct. 21, 2012, Superstorm Sandy reached the south shore of Long Island and demonstrated that Jones Beach was a lousy location for a full basement. On Dec. 30, 2012, the New York Times reported “… the storm that damaged so much has also inadvertently saved the magnificent beach from a development by Donald Trump that would have put an 86,000-square-foot catering hall and restaurant in one of New York’s greatest public spaces. Mr. Trump’s supporters said his building would have been better than what’s there now: a waterlogged hole in the ground. But we’re not so sure. When summer returns to Jones Beach, people will find hot sand, warm winds, dunes and crashing waves — a world that a giant catering hall could never improve ...”

Of course the Donald has been active in other areas:

On April 19, 1989, a 29 year old woman was beaten and raped while jogging in Central Park. In an example of shameful and shoddy police work, six black or Hispanic teenagers, the oldest 16, were charged, and five convicted of the crime. Headlines described the youths as a “wolf pack” and the term “wilding” was applied to groups of youths running through the park, randomly attacking anybody they met. According to the police report the group robbed a passer-by, threw rocks at a taxicab, chased two bicyclists, and hit a male jogger on the head with a lead pipe.

Donald Trump bought a full page in the New York Daily News, which he headed, “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” Mr. Trump wrote, “How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!” In a city already inflamed by tabloid headlines and graphic reporting, Mr. Trump did all he could to stir up hatred and anger, and since his ads and comments were repeated by the press, he was inordinately successful.

The accusations had been based on confessions, but the confessions were obtained after 24 hours of questioning without the presence of either parents or attorneys. None of the DNA samples from the accused matched samples taken from the victim. (Note that Linda Fairstein, a former prosecutor and Michael Armstrong, a former Queens District Attorney, among others, continue to dispute claims that the defendants were improperly questioned.) In 2002 it was learned that the DNA samples matched those of Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist and murderer. Mr. Reyes confessed to having acted alone in the attack on the jogger.

This year the City has agreed to a settlement of about $40 million to the five men who were convicted of the attack on the jogger, which comes to about $1 million for every year spent in prison – although attorney’s fees will take about one-third of the amount. And Donald Trump is back. The real estate developer whose fortune is built, in large part on manipulation of politicians to get special tax treatment for his projects, wrote in the New York Daily News, “Forty million dollars is a lot of money for the taxpayers of New York to pay when we are already the highest-taxed city and state in the country. The recipients must be laughing out loud at the stupidity of the city.” “These young men” Mr. Trump wrote, “do not exactly have the pasts of angels.” At the age of 14 they barely had a past, and convicted and imprisoned, they had no future to speak of.

It is hard to imagine a world made better by Donald Trump.

Sam Uretsky is a writer and pharmacist living on Long Island, N.Y. Email

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2015

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