Shaking Up Senator Marcellino
Every year, between January and April, kids, parents, teachers, and administrators on Western Long Island all make an impassioned plea to their State Senator up in Albany: we need help. New York’s schools are suffering from a huge budget crisis. Classrooms are literally crumbling; afterschool programs are cut; teachers, nurses, and social workers aren’t getting paid.
Despite their pleas, every year, State Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay) says sorry, no can do, we don’t have enough money. I’m very sorry.
Then he turns around and votes for budget legislation that keeps open the carried interest tax loophole which gives millions of taxpayer dollars – that should be going to schools, hospitals, and infrastructure – to rich hedge fund managers in New York City. And, in exchange, the hedge funds spent nearly $1 million to elect Marcellino to the Senate in 2016.
Everybody wins! Except the kids in his district, who get screwed. Where’s the justice in that?
It’s that glaring injustice that motivated Cleanup Carl and a squad of protesters to shatter the calm of Oyster Bay, NY, where Marcellino keeps his district office.
On March 15th, a coalition of angry voters descended on Oyster Bay’s Main Street outside of Marcellino’s office to ask a very simple question: could he commit to standing up for his voter by closing the carried interest loophole?
As Marcellino’s neon-clad voters rallied, punk rock guitarist Samoa rattled the windowpanes of the usually sedate street with blistering guitar riffs. Oyster Bay’s two-lane Main Street was clogged with honking SUVs as drivers stopped to get in on the action.
Wielding a large megaphone, Carl’s Cleanup Crew Leader, Chris Tallent, laid down our challenge for the other Carl: “We’re here to ask Carl Marcellino to stand up to his hedge fund billionaire donors – it’s not too much to ask – and do the work of his constituents instead. That’s what he should be doing.”
Dennis Dunn from the Communications Workers of America called out Marcellino for contributing to the “runaway inequality” that’s destroying communities: “Carl Marcellino is a problem here on Long Island because he takes hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from those hedge fund managers that are behind this tax scam! So who is he really representing? Not you, it’s not me, it’s those billionaire hedge fund managers who are nothing but toxic – radioactive!”
Next, Blanca Villanueva, from Alliance for Quality Education, took the megaphone. She took Marcellino to task for demanded Marcellino stand up for public school funding: “It is time for the GOP state senators to stop taking toxic campaign cash that floods our elections and drowns the voices of the 99%. We’re asking Senator Carl Marcellino to close the carried interest loophole, creating revenue for our public schools.”
Afterwards, we went inside with a dozen activists to Marcellino’s office. It barely had a sign, was buried in a nondescript office building, and was up two flights of stairs (it’s as if he’s trying to avoid his voters. Could that be?).
Marcellino wasn’t there, but his staff were. We asked them our simple question: “Will stand up for voters, not donors, and close the carried interest tax loophole?”
The answer should have been an easy yes. EVERY Senator should be able to say they’ll work for their voters, not the people who give them money.
But tellingly, his staff refused to comment. After multiple times, we couldn’t even get Marcellino’s staff to commit to saying “I support voters.”
That’s enough proof for us. By failing to stand up to his hedge fund donors – and by not repudiating their money – Carl Marcellino’s proven himself contaminated by their toxic cash. After the office visit, activists posed with our “corruption contamination” caution tape.
Marcellino’s got a chance to clean up his act. The budget deadline’s coming up on April 1 – and he can make the right move by helping fix the schools in his district. Or, he can give more money to his hedge fund patrons.
Your move, other Carl.
Update: In addition to a headache from the guitar music, our visit to Marcellino’s office caused him a media headache, too. Check out our coverage in Newsday, one of Long Island’s biggest publications: “Cleanup in Long Island’s aisle”