Posted on July 13, 2005

Housing Issue Gets Heated

Bart Jones, Newsday (New York City), July 12, 2005

An angry Suffolk Executive Steve Levy yesterday lashed out at the news media, including Newsday, for its coverage of the Mexican day laborer evictions in Farmingville and said they are missing the real story — the many residents who support the crackdown on illegally overcrowded houses.

Flanked at a news conference by about 10 sympathetic residents and Joseph Caracappa, the Suffolk Legislature’s presiding officer, Levy pointed to a posterboard of Newsday stories and exchanged heated words with some reporters as he accused the media of focusing too heavily on ousted tenants. He disputed accounts that some had been left homeless.

Caracappa, a Republican, said the media “should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Levy, a Democrat, said residents of Farmingville “cheered” the housing crackdown that started June 19, but their happiness “changed to dismay when they saw in the media the focus of the attention . . . This is not an issue about race or immigration or long-term housing. It’s an issue about the integrity of neighborhoods.”

During one heated exchange, reporter Mike Xirinachs of WCBS-880 AM suggested the issue did involve race and asked Levy if he could provide the name of one white immigrant evicted by authorities in Suffolk. “Unbelievable,” Levy replied to Xirinachs’ comments. Caracappa defended Levy. “Newsday, wrong. News 12, wrong. New York Times, wrong. And every other media outlet that’s here that has criticized this man for standing up for me and others, absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong,” Caracappa said.

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He also said he doubted the media would cover the story if officials shut down a fraternity house near Stony Brook University because “it’s not sensational news and you’re not pulling the race card.”

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