Remember the Bizarro World episode of Seinfeld? It was a parody of a fictional planet htraE, “Earth” spelled backwards, is a fictional planet appearing in DC Comics, where everything valued is the opposite of all things valued on Earth. In the “Bizarro Jerry” episode, Kramer gets a job at a real company just by showing up and going to meetings.
When Jerry asks Kramer what he does at work, Kramer responds: “TCB – you know, taking care of business!” This is followed by brief clips of Kramer taking care of business at work – shining his shoes at the water cooler, diving into bags of crackers at his desk and telling jokes at a bar.
Here in Westchester, we have a similar situation. Unfortunately, it isn’t a parody: it actually affects our lives. It is called “Burrows World,” starring Gordon Burrows. Bizarro Gordon has been a Yonkers City Councilman and a Westchester County Legislator for the better part of his adult life. Yet, he is harder to find than Waldo.
He has never had a town hall meeting or any similar event in which his constituents can ask questions. Phone messages left with his aide enter a wormhole that collapses upon hanging up, never to surface again. His emails to constituents are solely public service messages, i.e. “Construction – Central Ave on Tues”; “Police Tests in Yonkers”; “Heavy Rain Advisory”; etc. One would need an electron microscope to find a policy statement or a request for constituent input on a policy issue.
Bizarro Gordon brags that he is engaged with his constituents. Yes, his four newsletters in his 12-year tenure are perfect indicators of how engaged he is. Actually, his newsletters deserve special mention in Bizarro Gordon’s world. You see, Gordon extolls his fiscal prudence (not raising taxes) and his votes against grant money. But in his newsletters, there are photos of Bizarro Gordon, preening like the peacock he is, and patting himself on the back for grants that he likely opposed and took certainly no part in obtaining.
Of course, the most striking part of the Bizarro Gordon façade is his espousal of moral values. When he speaks at a local community event (“No questions, please – this is a fun gathering!”), his fire and brimstone at the “fun gathering,” could rival Elmer Gantry. In many ways, his personal life outdoes Elmer Gantry. There is no offense too small for him to be outraged by, but this segues us right back to Burrows World.
In October 2002, Bizarro Gordon was charged for the third time with violating an order of protection for his ex-wife. In court, the judge chastised him for his awful behavior.
On Feb. 5, 2010, Bizarro Gordon was seen snorting cocaine while behind the wheel of a parked car. The sheriff responding to the scene saw him brushing cocaine off the seat and found cocaine in the car. Bizarro Gordon was still about an hour’s drive from his Vermont ski destination. Got that? Had he not been arrested, he would have driven almost an hour from that gas station, putting the life of anyone else on the highway, at risk. After that incident, Bizarro Gordon went into hiding. There were strong indications that he had emigrated to htraE.
Back on real earth, it seemed as if we were on htraE too. Bizarro Gordon got re-elected – then re-elected again. (How many voters knew about the orders of protection? About the cocaine incident?) But, he hasn’t changed his moralizing. His vehement opposition to Westchester’s Immigration Protection Act showed his ugly side. He didn’t care about protecting undocumented immigrants who haven’t broken any laws. His only concern was a possible loss of federal grant money – the grant money he says he opposes — until it comes his way.
In “Bizarro Jerry,” Kramer was fired (even though he wasn’t getting paid) because he wasn’t doing anything of worth. In Burrows World, we have a chance of Escape. Fire the absentee career politician who makes a mockery of what we value on Earth. Let’s say goodbye once and for all to htraE.
Fred Polvere, former national political columnist for the Westchester Guardian spends his days climbing, hiking and reading, reading, reading.