Back home, a bootheel for the Garden City News

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I no longer read the Garden City News with any regularity, but when I was growing up in that Long Island community, everyone did. Everyone still does.

It’s the sort of community weekly that runs scores of village soccer games, hyperlocal news and social pages that namecheck people of prominence. Everybody loves the Office Cat column, which distills down the police blotter and combines it with rumors and eyewitness reports. It reads today just like it did in 1980.

Bob Morgan, father of current Editor and Publisher Meg Morgan Norris, got it at auction in 1974, but it’s been around since 1923, and has been the official paper of Garden City — villages are required by New York state law to designate an official paper for its legal notices and such — since 1924.

But on Jan. 17, Mayor Brian Daughney announced plans to remove that official designation. Norris is not exactly sure why.

“They never did say why they are doing this,” she said by phone to City Beat. “I write editorials every week, and most of them are what you would consider softballs. But every now and then something annoys me, and I write about it, and I guess it upset the mayor.”

Unlike in Guilford County, where revenue from legal notices can keep a newspaper afloat, the business model for village papers in New York is slightly different.

“[The legal notices are] not really that big a portion of our revenue,” she says, about $10,000 a year, “but the mayor of Garden City was also trying to block us from getting press releases and columns they normally give us — parks and recreation, calendar stuff. It’s kind of crazy actually.”

Doesn’t sound crazy to me.

This is a place where government is predicated on a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” — since named the “Community Agreement” — drafted in 1919, by which the four property owners’ associations take turns appointing the mayor, rendering every election a complete farce. Everyone in Garden City knows who the next mayor will be months before the election.

In a village of 22,000, “maybe a hundred people vote in that election,” Norris said.

“If it works right, the agreement can actually involve more people in the process,” she said. “But the way it’s been evolving lately, it keeps people out of getting involved with government.”

The change is scheduled for April, but a lot can happen between now and then.

Like me, Norris grew up in GC. We both understand that you don’t mess with the Garden City News.

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