Nassau’s ‘Don Quixote:’ residents criticize Blakeman for ‘militia,’ focus on imaginary problems

Nassau’s ‘Don Quixote:’ residents criticize Blakeman for ‘militia,’ focus on imaginary problems
Jody Kass and Emily Raphael speak against County Executive Bruce Blakeman's emergency special deputy sheriff program and call for him to deliver on campaign promises. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

Nassau residents are pushing back against County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s recent actions and failures to deliver on campaign promises that some described as fearmongering and attempts to grab the spotlight.

“It seems like it’s all about trying out for Fox News. It’s all about getting those few minutes on Fox News,” Concerned Citizens of NY-03 member Jody Kass said. “But he’s used our tax dollars to get himself these cameos so maybe they’ll get noticed by Donald Trump. That’s what it looks like to a lot of people.”

They described his focus as directed toward mirages of problems, like that of Don Quixote, which has deterred his vision from the real issues of Nassau County – mainly his establishment of a resident emergency deputy sheriff group.

“Bruce Blakeman is Nassau County’s Don Quixote,” Concerned Citizens of NY-03 member Emily Raphael said, comparing the county executive to the fictional character who fought imaginary foes along his quest.

The rally on the steps of the county legislature building Monday was hosted by Concerned Citizens of NY-03, an organization formed to oust former Rep. George Santos from Congress. Since his removal from office, the organization has shifted focus to good governance overall.

Efforts to reach Blakeman were unavailing.

The list of Blakeman’s undelivered promises included the reduction of fees for red light violations. Red light violations in Nassau County are set at $150, which Blakeman has previously denounced, compared to neighboring Suffolk County and New York City, where tickets are capped at $50.

Other undelivered promises noted by Kass included fixing the county assessment system, lowering taxes and addressing the opioid crisis.

“He hasn’t done any of those things,” Kass said. “Why? He probably just simply hasn’t had the time because he’s fixing imaginary problems. And while he’s creating these imaginary problems, new issues keep emerging.”

Kass identified Blakeman’s actions as a “troubling pattern” of pledging to deliver to the needs of the county yet focusing on polarizing issues.

“If Bruce Blakeman can’t do the job because he’s stuck in a quagmire of his imagination, then the Legislature, Comptroller (Elaine) Phillips and the inspector general must act and they must act now to check these wasteful, inappropriate and dangerous actions,” Kass said.

The main issue at hand was the establishment of the resident sheriff group, commonly called Blakeman’s “militia” by the rallying residents.

“There’s simply no need for a militia – except in Blakeman’s imagination,” Raphael said. “We’re not living in a fairy tale where Blakeman can magically take gun-owning citizens, dub them his knights and fight his way to eternal glory.”

The emergency special deputy sheriffs are a group of gun-owning residents who would be deputized and deployed during declared emergencies.

Blakeman previously said at a press conference that the emergency special deputy sheriffs would be needed during an emergency, such as Superstorm Sandy. Raphael said armed residents were not what was needed during such an emergency, but rather power, food, blankets and gasoline when a political protest became violent.

“It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee the carnage that may follow,” resident Claudia Borecky said

Residents presented a multitude of questions they had about the sheriff program, many of which have gone unanswered.

County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D–Glen Cove) said many of these questions have also been asked by legislators and remain unanswered.

DeRiggi-Whitton said some aspects of the program are not founded in law, such as Blakeman’s proclamation that he can declare an emergency. She clarified that the sheriff can declare an emergency which is then approved by the governor.

Another aspect is the compensation of the residents, which was set at $150 a day. Deriggi-Whitton said the law permits payment of just $3 an hour and any other compensation would have to be approved by the Legislature, which has not been.

Kass said there are no plans for a lawsuit against the program as of now, but it is a possibility being considered.

Multiple residents spoke fearfully about the resident sheriff organization, questioning what vetting and training process they would go through.

DeRiggi-Whitton defended her previous comparison of the armed citizen group to the Brownshirts of World War II, an early Nazi paramilitary organization comprised of former soldiers and street fighters. She said her comparison was a reflection of what multiple residents expressed to her.

Blakeman has denounced DeRiggi-Whitton’s comparison, demanding she apologize and resign from the county legislature. He said the comparison trivialized the Holocaust and was an offense to Jewish people.

“What happened in Europe didn’t happen overnight,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “It was a gradual, slow progression. If [the resident sheriff group] is enough to remind people of it, I am more than happy to mention it and that it is causing anxiety.”

Kass said the special deputy sheriff organization is a “solution in search of a problem” and an example of his fearmongering tactics.

She argued that, in spite of Blakeman identifying a rising crime problem, Nassau County is one of the safest communities.

“It’s amusing to picture Blakeman on Don Quixote’s horse tilting at windmills, but let’s not participate in his delusion. It could be deadly,” Raphael said. “We’re not in La Mancha, we’re in Mineola and we don’t need this.

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  1. It’s about time to speak up about the fearmongering and the delusions. It’s everywhere and people are believing lies, most people can’t detect propaganda so we have to remind everyone to fact check


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