Thursday, April 28, 2005

Meet Me In Malverne

If you take the Long Island Rail Road out of Penn Station in Manhattan you can be in Nassau County in less than an hour, even with the train change in Jamaica. My recommendation is you go straight to the Village of Malverne and try to do lunch with Mayor Anthony Panzarella. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like being lied to and he takes decisive action when he discovers he’s being played for a patsy.

According to the Nassau County Village Officials Association (NCVOA) newsletter Panzarella, who was also serving as President of the association, became “livid” after learning that while Verizon was trying to soft-soak the villages into granting it fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) permits it was simultaneously leading the charge to eliminate franchising authority at both the state and federal level.

I think what really steamed Panzarella was a statement by Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe:

“We don’t think we should be forced to crawl under barbed wire in terms of all the local negotiations we have to go through.”

Panzarella didn’t like being referred to as “barbed wire.” Can’t blame him. And it wasn’t just the forked tongues of the Verizon reps that put Panzarella out of sorts; it was also the aesthetics of the FTTP.

“In addition to being illegally placed, the ugly green boxes are visually blighting.”

So using his ability to communicate in the Village News, Panzarella wrote:

“Folks, we’d better not let Verizon lull us into a false sense of security by promising us the world on the question of cable TV service. Chances are we’ll get nothing, and in the process lose our franchising authority! In a nutshell, we’ve got a fight on our hands!”

Yes, Mayor Panzarella, you do have a fight on your hands and it seems to me you’re doing a pretty good job of it.

In a bold and wonderful move Panzarella issued a “stop work” order to Verizon demanding they remove all FTTP cable and boxes that may have already been installed and he urged every one of the 64 villages in the association to do the same. He even provided a sample letter for them to use. That’s the kind of behavior that makes me want to run up to Malverne this minute and pick up the tab for the lunch! It’s also the kind of thing that makes me wish I were a fly on the wall when Verizon consultant Paul Trane and Director of Community Affairs Janet Jones opened that letter. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching these big important corporate types get a poke in the eye from a guy who runs a village of 9,000 residents.

I have found over the years that often it is the smaller towns and cities that have no compunction about taking on the behemoths. Maybe because they don’t have so many lawyers on staff or maybe it’s because they’re closer to the accountability of the people. It’s tough to go grocery shopping and have somebody nail you in the frozen food section for being the wimpy mayor that cow-towed to Verizon. No matter, it’s just a huge lesson for all villages, townships, cities and counties, if Panzarella can do it, so can you.

I’m trying to think of a way we could all thank Mayor Panzarella. In my opinion he definitely deserves some kind of an award. Maybe we could start just by dropping him a line at and letting him know how swell we think he is.

See the Village News at

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