Realtors in Staten Island, New York, must have a lot of political clout — enough political clout to get disgraced Congressman Vito J. Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) to come out of hiding.
As the Staten Island Advance explained: “The married congressman has been in a virtual media lockdown since his arrest May 1 for drunken driving in Alexandria, Va., and his subsequent revelation that he fathered a child with the woman who fetched him from jail.”
Fossella was a no-show Wednesday at a scheduled meeting with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
Yet Fossella met on Thursday with several representatives of the Staten Island Board of Realtors in what was apparently his first official face-to-face meeting with Staten Island constituents since his DUI arrest and subsequent infidelity scandal.
Staten Island Board of Realtors’ president Dawn Carpenter reported that Fossella “appeared to be in good spirits and we had some community laughs with him.”
We’re not sure what either Fossella or the realtors had to laugh about.
Staten Island has been severely hit by the housing meltdown and foreclosure crisis. Single family home sales in Staten Island fell by 36 percent, and prices fell 6 percent from February 2007 to February 2008. In the past seven months, home sales in Staten Island have dropped 40 percent.
Foreclosures in Staten Island continue to rise. There has been a 400 percent spike in Staten Island foreclosures in the first quarter of this year. Houses are also taking longer to sell, and much of this growing inventory is coming from owners selling before they have to face foreclosure or a short sale.
We’re also not sure why realtors, who have their own extreme PR problems — realtors and agents have come in dead last in the Harris Poll survey of the prestige of various occupations every year since they were first included in 2003 — would want to be the first to publicly embrace the hypocritical Congressman.
Perhaps it’s because Fossella pushed for a $10,000 tax break for home buyers.
Or perhaps the realtors believe that Vito Fossella is a positive role model for the homeowner of the future.
If everyone did what Fossella has done — have two separate families at the same time — it would double the demand for housing.
That may be bad for wives and children, but it would certainly be good for realtors.
Fossella announced on May 19 that he would not be running for reelection.
Staten Island Republicans then selected retired Wall Street investment executive Francis H. Powers to run for Fossella’s seat in New York City’s only Republican Congessional district.
Powers, 67, died on June 23.
Republicans may not be able to field another candidate, since the process of collecting the signatures required to allow candidates to qualify for a place on the ballot ends in roughly two weeks.
Democrats Michael E. McMahon and Stephen A. Harrison have already announced their intention to run for the seat.
Don’t be surprised when Fossella puts his hat back in the ring.
Here is the New York Times report on the story.