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Weitzman Blasts Maragos Over Threatening Letter

Threat of lawsuit, made at public expense, aims to silence political opposition

Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman announced that he received a letter from the law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, at the behest of the Nassau County Attorney’s Office, threatening a lawsuit unless he retracts a complaint he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The complaint, based on an investigative piece published by the Wall Street Journal, highlights evidence that Comptroller George Maragos’s annual financial report is misleading and that the County Attorney’s office colluded with a partisan Republican judge to ‘cook the books’ and misrepresent the county’s financial condition on the annual financial report.

“It is a new low for Mr. Maragos to use taxpayer dollars to hire an attorney to threaten his political opposition,” said Weitzman. “I have asked the SEC to look at the way Mr. Maragos and the administration manipulated county finances to claim that the county ended the year with a ‘miraculous’ surplus, when in fact the county has gone deeper into debt.”

This is the third attempt Republican leaders in Nassau County have made to keep Weitzman from disclosing the truth about the county’s financial reports. This month alone, Weitzman was twice denied the opportunity to testify at public hearings, even though the hearing notices explicitly stated that there would be time for public comment.

The thrust of Weitzman’s complaint is that Maragos and other county leaders misrepresented the county’s financial condition, thus misleading the public and county bond holders. The county’s 2012 official financial report prominently touts a surplus that is a total work of fiction. On the last business day of 2012, County Attorney John Ciampoli sought a controversial and highly unusual court order to push outstanding property tax refunds from 2012 to 2013, in order to make the county appear to have a budget surplus on its 2012 annual financial report, the last annual financial report before Maragos and County Executive Ed Mangano face re-election.  Maragos has repeatedly defended the surplus, which he called “like a miracle,” noting that auditors have certified his report. Auditors never certified the claim of a budgetary surplus.

“Every CPA knows that you cannot hide behind the old ‘the auditors certified it, so it’s correct,’ line,” said Weitzman. “The county’s financial statements are the responsibility of the Comptroller, not outside auditors. Even so, auditors also certified statements by Enron, WorldCom, and Lehman Brothers before their misdeeds were exposed.”

The threatening letter received by Weitzman alleges that his complaint could have “the potential to seriously affect the County’s ability to obtain financing in the near future.” This claim is patently absurd because the only way the complaint could affect the county’s ability to obtain financing would be if the SEC finds that the financial statements falsely masked the County’s 2012 deficit. In that case, Weitzman’s concerns would be validated.

Counsel for Mr. Weitzman submitted a letter responding to the outside counsel hired at the behest of Mr. Maragos.  In the letter, Weitzman’s attorney contends: “We will seek sanctions and attorneys fees in the event that you commence a frivolous lawsuit against Mr. Weitzman. We will be glad to use that opportunity to conduct discovery and expose the truth behind the ‘voodoo accounting’ upon which Mr. Maragos’ ‘miraculous’ surplus is based.”

County legislators have started to ask questions about the cost and appropriateness of Ciampoli’s actions.  Concerns have been raised about whether it is appropriate to hire lawyers at public expense to intimidate critics of the administration.

News

Oyster Bay Town officials are mulling an override of the state’s 2 percent property tax cap for the second consecutive fiscal year. On Aug. 12, the town held a hearing to approve local legislation, giving the Town Council authority to pierce the cap.

 

However, according to Marta Kane, a spokesperson with the Town of Oyster Bay, Supervisor John Venditto and the members of the Oyster Bay Town Council are not certain if they will entertain a repeat of last year, when the board adopted a $277 million budget, increasing the tax levy by $15,964,647—or 8.8 percent. 

Village officials have teamed up with James Faith Entertainment—founders of the Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue—to organize Farmingdale’s first ever two-day music festival, this September 13 and 14. 

 

“Farmingdale is another town that is starting to move forward,” festival producer Jim Faith told the Farmingdale Observer, last May. “[The inaugural festival] will be small, but we’ll start growing it... music festival always take a few years to catch on.” 

 

Faith said that when he first started the Great South Bay Music Festival, back in 2007, it too started small, growing little by little each year. For its inaugural year, Faith booked folk musician Richie

Havens to headline the event. Now, more than eight years later, the festival has featured numerous big name musicians, including: the Doobie Brothers, WAR, Billy Squier, Taking Back Sunday, moe., and Blues legend B.B. King, to name a few. 


Sports

Register now as classes fill up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to join in trapeze workshops at Eisenhower Park’s I.FLY this fall.

 

“I.FLY was designed to give kids and adults the ability to fulfill their dreams of being in the circus,” says instructor Anthony Rosamilia.  “Flying through the air never gets boring.  At I.FLY, we help people create lifelong memories.” 

After more than a month of group play, on Aug. 16, fourteen teams went head-to-head for a shot at the 2014 Farmingdale Baseball League’s 9/11 Tournament Championship. Here are some highlights from Saturday’s championships. 

 

8U Finals

Long Island Rangers 8 - Farmingdale Greendogs 9


Calendar

McKevitt Mobile Office Hours - August 21

Artisan Market - August 23

Blood Drive - August 24


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com