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Letter: The Real (fake) Gene Cook

Opinion / Letters November 1, 2021

Dear Editor,

For those who just like Gene Cook, his brashy style, his unnaturally bright teeth and the way mistruths just roll across his tongue…this piece isn’t for you. He’s your guy and you’re entitled.

For those of us who are purveyors of facts and students of history, there’s a reason why Gene Cook causes such a viscerally disgusted reaction. As it is with most things, and especially in politics, if you’re really careful and pay attention, you can actually see them change their stripes.

Such is the case with Gene in a multitude of cases.

The most clear example of this is with Gene Cook’s false “Stop LIPA” party line, and every breath and word he has uttered in the context of “fighting LIPA.”

For those of us who pay attention and have been around for a while, if we rewind nearly a decade, when LIPA had just begun it’s attack on our community, you’ll find the truth. When LIPA first filed its tax certiorari against the Town of Huntington the implications were devastating. The loss of revenue to the Northport-East Northport school district was going to be crippling, and community destroying. There was no question about this.

At the time, while the school district and Town of Huntington were grappling with how to present a legal fight, and the school district attorneys were valiantly developing their legal strategy, the ruling Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly developed a “deal” proposal that was designed to do away with what was widely known to be a catastrophic political problem to him. The utter destruction of a town and school district by a quasi state-run agency. He deployed members of both parties to descend on Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School District and force down our throats a catastrophic quick settlement. Some may remember an ashen Carl Marcellino personally meeting with the school district on a Saturday morning….to aggressively proffer the deal.

Fortunately, in that room at the time was school district legal counsel John Gross. Mr. Gross convinced both the school board, and ultimately the Town of Huntington that not only was it right to fight the lawsuit and reject the Cuomo “Deal,” but that it was a matter of our collective survival. Mr. Gross conceptually developed the novel but strong legal argument that would widely become known as “The Promise.” It was widely known then, as it still is now, that the plant was over-assessed but for the promise. The promise was the thing that allowed the overassessment to stand unchallenged. Everyone knew it. It’s why the promise argument became the leading strategy, and why the school district and its adept attorneys always maintained a presence and in large part led the legal battle.

At this time the entire school board, and the entire Town of Huntington board, agreed that the only path to survival was to fight. All except one town board member – Gene Cook.

Gene was the lone town board member who had joined himself at the hip to Andrew Cuomo and Carl Marcellino to foist the Cuomo developed “deal” upon this community. At the time he was running another failed supervisor’s race. He was part of the aggressive political push to accept Cuomo's bad deal. His entire campaign that year was based on this premise that we needed to accept the deal. Attached is [a portion of] his campaign letter aggressively arguing for everyone to just accept the deal. He notes without question that the plant was overassessed, that he supports Cuomo's bad deal, and that everyone else is wrong.

Fast forward to our current state.

The plant was overassessed. Everyone involved knew it from the start. Gene did and does.

What Gene Cook was trying to do then, would have cost this community, its town and schools, and its individual taxpayers BILLIONS OF DOLLARS by now had we just rolled over as Gene Cook wanted us to.

Of course he lost that supervisor’s race, as he will this one.

But then he realized his position was a bad one politically and he changed his stripes to become the big “LIPA fighter.” As most politicians do when they are catastrophically wrong, they become the loudest on the other side of any given issue.

In this case, Gene became a loud “LIPA fighter” to cover the fact that he was the original settle-the-case advocate, and was willing from the beginning to join Andrew Cuomo in completely selling us out.

Gene Cook, you are a fraud. You have stood against this community on LIPA, on our schools, on countless issues, in your own political interest, while smiling and telling false stories. Your snake oil isn’t welcome here anymore.

Your words, in your own letter, are history. History is something that you cannot change.History is also something that repeats, and one thing is as sure as your lies in this letter, you will lie again.

David Stein