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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

There was a time when people knew what they were eating. Frozen meals, fast food chains and ingredients impossible to pronounce were non-existent. Instead, simple ingredients and meals were all made from scratch.

Joann P. Magri, owner of The Divine Olive, is keeping this way of eating alive. Offering hungry customers with a choice in quality foods and ingredients, Magri encourages customers to make their own meals. With shelves stocked full of 18-year-old vinegars straight from Modena, Italy, to extra virgin olive oils infused with various herbs and flavors, the Divine Olive features a variety of organic and vegan products, all 100 percent natural. It even has handmade spaghetti and fresh bread, which perfectly pairs with all of their other products.

It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.

An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of LI designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.


Sports

It will be difficult to top the exhilaration of being crowned Nassau County Champs, but the 2014 Farmingdale Dalers will begin their defense of the title on Sept. 13 at rival Massapequa—whom they beat to claim the crown.

“The attitude is that we have to prove it again,” said Head Coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has been at the helm since 1993. “But I think we’ll be okay,” he added.

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.” 


Calendar

Board of Education Special Meeting

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Movies on the Green: The Nut Job

Thursday, Aug. 28

Warbirds Legends Weekend

Friday, Aug. 29



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