Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance?
They say that what goes around comes around--and it appears to be true in the case of Suffolk County's lead Latino immigrant antagonizer Steve Levy.
It's well established that Steve Levy uses the power of his office to harass his county's most vulnerable residents: non citizen Latino immigrants. He's gotten away with his tactics thus far because none of the mostly white suburban--Republican and Democratic--politicians have had the courage or conviction to stand up to the populist bully.
That's why it was welcomed news when state legislators from his own party, appalled by his cheap nativistic tactics, sent Levy a message to back off or else.
A group of 30 state Assembly members joined in an effort to denounce Levy for inciting anti-immigrant sentiment. Recognizing yet another opportunity to stroke the local Knownothing chord, Levy basically told group of African American and Latino urban representatives to take a hike.
But Levy is counting on the state's legislature--among other favors--to renew a hike in the local sales tax. Apparently, that'll ensure an additional $500 million in funds to spend from a nearly $3 billion county spending budget.
The problem for Levy is that nativism in a state like New York doesn't go over very well with most Democrats--especially those representing districts of color. Additionally, Democrats control the statehouse and the legislature's lower chamber--and the minority caucus has a great deal of influence at both levels.
So Levy the bully needs the votes of the very legislators who are most opposed to his tactics against vulnerable immigrants of color.
The way New York operates permission to raise a local (or any) tax will happen. However, it'll be interesting to see how things play out between Levy and the group of minority state legislators. Levy has told the legislators this week to shove it.
In time we'll see exactly who ends up shoving it.
In the interim, one specific place to watch for a local response to the stand-off is in the re-election bid of Assemblyman Phil Ramos-- Suffolk's only minority state representative and a member of the group of 30. With the backing of the local Democrat, Republican, Conservative and the Independence parties, Levy could seek to toppled Ramos.
My guess is that Levy will find some way to appease the legislators, get his sales tax increase and continue stoking the chord.
Levy livid as Albany stalls tax (Newsday - 6.22.07) and
NY State Democrats Denounce Steve Levy's Anti-Immigrant Policies (American Taino - 5.08.07)