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Bellone Saves Fired St. James Santa

The politician uses personal money to restore the seasonal position after Suffolk County Steve Levy cut it out.

The is getting its Santa back.

Democratic candidate for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has paid $660 out of his own money to cover the salary for David McKell, an 83-year-old whose gig as the St. James Santa was cut, according to a Newsday report.

Suffolk County executive Steve Levy eliminated the position Friday to save costs at the county-run General Store.

From the Newsday report:

But Bellone's bid to play Santa for Santa -- five days before Election Day -- brought an immediate humbug from a spokesman of his Republican foe, Suffolk Treasurer Angie Carpenter. GOP County Executive Steve Levy, whose budget office initially decided to dump McKell after the last nine years, called Bellone's donation "showboat grandstanding."

What do you think? Are you thankful, or do you think this is grandstanding?

Ginny November 05, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Angie Carpenter is really upset that the Democrat beat her to it!!!! Seriously, every politician "grandstands" and while this is a political act, it saves Santa! One of the many perks of living where we live is that there are many family oriented activities. St. James General Store and Santa at Christmastime has always been a family favorite, so with all of the budget cuts, the cutting back of services and activities for Long Islanders, this act showed that Bellone was also thinking about the quality of life issues, and that is important.
Ellie C. November 05, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Of course it's showboating, but he thought of it and no one else did.
stella November 05, 2011 at 07:55 PM
a very nice gesture angie is just bitter and doesn't understand goodwill
Dave Achultz November 05, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Ginny, Stella, and Ellie, so far have all missed the point. Are there any real people left in this world, or does everyone think this was a good gesture? This whole thing makes my skin crawl. Greedy selfish people.
Richard S. Macellaro November 06, 2011 at 03:25 AM
According to a Newsday article, entitled; "Cheers, Jeers for Gift," it was reported that Steve Bellone made a generous offer, from his own personal account, as a one-time funding measure, to hire back a seasonal, part-time job Santa, to maintain a long standing tradition, at the St. James General Store, in Smithtown. Carpenter's campaign manager suggested it was "a cheap... stunt." In addition, the lame-duck County Executive said, "that he (Bellone) has to learn that he is not going to able to write a check" to fund future Suffolk County budget deficits. Why not? I guess he (Levy) never applied one-time budget fixers to his budgets, either??? Then again, he (Levy) did give a “one-time” $100,000 check to a political party, from his $4.1 million campaign fund? Moreover, the only "cheap stunt" was laying off a public servant, (a former police officer) at Christmas time! While the Republican leaders talk about preserving and protecting jobs, they do not practice what they preach! I plan to visit Santa at the St. James General Store and donate “$4.10” this year and every year, so that Santa Claus will remain in Smithtown. Save Smithtown's Santa! Richard S. Macellaro
Check Mark November 06, 2011 at 03:52 AM
if he really cares about Santa and not his bid to be elected, as he claims, why not pay for Santa for the next ten years...it is a cheap stunt...he held a PRESS CONFERENCE??????..despicable
Greg Martinez November 06, 2011 at 05:20 AM
How precious. Hey, what about others who have been laid off? I think Bellone should shell out some dough for them. Nah, what am I thinking, never mind, the other folks won't generate the media coverage a Santa would. Just imagine, if elections were in another season, it might have been somebody who plays an Easter Bunny.
G.Lavecchia November 06, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Many hardworking people in upstate New York have become completely homeless and jobless due to the floods of Hurricane Irene. I think it is unconscionable for the county to pay $600 for someone to dress up and play santa when there are so many in dire need. Why can't Mr. McKell volunteer his services if it is so important to him. What happened to the spirit of volunteerism? My husband, who works two jobs, took one week off from work to go upstate to help the people of Prattsville clean up and try to help repair their homes. He used his week's vacation time and also paid to stay in a hotel because that's what people do for their fellow human beings who are in need. Shame on Mr. Bellone for calling a press conference to make his $600 dollar donation - Big deal! I didn't see anyone knee-deep in mud up in Prattsville calling press conferences - they were too busy working.
Nick Metrowsky November 06, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Wow. Did anyone think: 1. This guy is on a fixed income and $600 would help him. 2. That the county, and state, may have laws from preventing him from working for free? 3. The liability laws that if he did work for free for not being on the county's, or state's, payroll and he got hurt? OK. More than 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago, know would think twice of a person playing Santa Claus at the St. James General Store. Getting paid or doing it fro free. because, the last thing on people's minds was suing someone else. Well, today it is different. So, if he can work as Santa, the county, and state, deals with the liability issues, and to placate taxpayers he donates the $600 to a charity of his choice, I do not see this as an earth shattering issue. Finally, by some of the comments, somehow politics has even tarnished the Christmas season; so what else is new?
G.Lavecchia November 06, 2011 at 09:48 PM
I don't think that the liability aspect is the issue - Levy suggested volunteers as a solution therefore I don't believe it would be against the liability laws.
Check Mark November 07, 2011 at 09:36 AM
stop arguing guys...it's about Bellone...he doesn't care about Santa; it's all about him!
Candyee November 07, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Cheap shot , Mr Bellone .. He he going to now pay everyone out of his pocket? Santa should not be on county payroll .It should be volunteer.. There are many volunteers in other county places.BTW , Mr Bellone, I lost my job need a few bucks to pay utilities,.Could you write a check out for me?
Dave Achultz November 07, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Hey Nick, your question #1. Yes I thought about it. I personally know what a retired cop on a fixed income makes. He does not need the $660. There are thousands of people out of work and have NO Fixed income. He should Volunteer and keep his hands in his pockets. They should have taken up a collection in the store and they could have made $660 in a few weeks. I will play Santa for Free. I am sure you could find 50 other people that would also do it for free. Greedy selfish scum is what they all are.
Candyee November 07, 2011 at 03:41 PM
I understand "Santa" has a few pensions coming in ... My hubby is a retired NYC Correction Captain , so we are aware of what a retired cop makes . All I see is greed.,,I will NOT take my grankids there .. What a negative lesson for kids. If someone won't pay you then you don t do it...
Fred Stewart November 07, 2011 at 05:58 PM
wow... there isn't one photo-op any politician is at that isn't grandstanding... making sure a retiree has a little extra cash for the holidays isn't the worst thing someone could do... go Bellone!
Candyee November 07, 2011 at 07:34 PM
YES , it is all about Bellone .. of course.. Who else will he be paying off ? He gives me the "creeps" ... @ Dave, If you play Santa for free, I will be Mrs Santa for free... now we need "elves"
Dave Achultz November 07, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Mr. Stewart, You think a retired cop with a cops pention and full medical needs to take $660 from the county? well Mr. Stewart, you are an idiot!
Candyee November 07, 2011 at 07:44 PM
We LIVE on that pension !!!
Dave Achultz November 07, 2011 at 07:56 PM
We paid for the retired cops pention and we are also going to pay for him to play Santa? Stop the insanity! Maybe Steve Ballone and David McKell never saw the movie called, "It's a Wonderful Life" You call yourselves "Men"?
Candyee November 07, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Dave .... NYPD , FD , and Corrections , pay there pensions, health care, for uniforms, service pistol, etc.. NC and SC PD , corrections do not pay a dime.. we the taxpayers do ... great perks ..... I agree with you ... 100% I understand Santa has more then one pension. ,
Dave Achultz November 07, 2011 at 08:37 PM
Camile, This is the main point I have been trying to make people understand. David McKell is 83 years old and been collecting a cops pention and heath care for how many years? God bless him if he can be healthy and live to 110. I do not wish any bad will on anyone. The question here is does this man NEED $660 of the Tax payers money he collected for 9 years I am told? We already have established that many people are without jobs and health care and mortgage money and food money. I am not a great fan of Steve Levy either because this kind of useless spending has been going on for so long? At least he was forced to do something about it now. I have yet to meet an Honest polotician. That is very sad.
Candyee November 07, 2011 at 08:56 PM
I agree .. $660 should of gone to a needy family . The right thing to do was for Mr McKell to refuse it and tell Bellone to give it to a family who needs it. Honest politician? HA!!! All we do is vote for what we think is "the lesser of the evil" . If Bellone paid off this man , who else is he willing to pay? Do you see how many friends and family members working in the Town of Babylon? If he wins , they will have County jobs ,
lucilu November 08, 2011 at 12:29 AM
You have no idea how little the pension of a retired NYPD officer who probably retired 40 years ago is. It is so small, that poor man could use more than the $ 660. Also, the "full medical benefits" you talk about....is horrible. I know. I am living it.
Candyee November 08, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Yes , I do..11 yrs into pension . Hubby works another job . I am currently unemployed . I do NOT collect unemployment and too young for SS .., several more yrs .. I understand that he has more them one pension, but that is besides the point .. I still believe Santa should be out of the goodness of your heart. What kind of message does that send the children?
lucilu November 08, 2011 at 05:38 PM
There are plenty of volunteer Santa's that do it out of the goodness of their heart and the spirit of the holiday for the children and that is wonderful, but many take the job as Santa simply because they need it, as in all the department store Santa's. Just imagine what your hubby's pension will be worth in another 30 years. He works another job now, as does my husband and probably will need to for a very long time. If there is an opportunity to volunteer, then by all means, I am sure, those that can will. I too, am currently unemployed and I do volunteer work also, and keep praying that I will find work soon. These are not easy times.
KKM November 09, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Why is Colbert saying he'd pay the $660? Didn't Bellone already pay it?http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401791/november-08-2011/the-blitzkrieg-on-grinchitude---fired-santa-claus---colbert-super-pac-christmas
Candyee November 09, 2011 at 03:30 PM
I have seen in the past 11 yrs. The COLA raise is a JOKE. ! We are very frugal. We have to be . I wish we could leave LI , but family obligations keep us here. I am worried what Bellone is going to do . He has a big problem with the budget here in Suffolk Co. They raise taxes like we have a booming economy . My hubby will also be working for many yrs.He works with men who have retired for many yrs and have no choice to work.. This is what Long Island has done to us ... No one really cares
lucilu November 09, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Camille, I know and I agree with all you have said. It's really a sad problem for Long Island.
Candyee November 09, 2011 at 05:56 PM
lucilu .. My family moved to "the country" (East Meadow) in 1959 when I was 7 from Queens. I loved growing up on LI .. I moved to my home i here in what was the boondooks to me..to raise my 3 kids in a quiet , safe place.The tractors used to cross 347 . And cheaper then Nassau co more property. My dream home is now my nightmare .. I want to cry. My grandkids are here..I babysit so parents can work full time to live here.. Property taxes up again .. When will it stop?
myra naseem December 01, 2011 at 11:33 PM
I so totally agree with you and couldn't have said it better

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