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Civics Host Comptroller Candidates

Forum serves as preview for debate on Oct. 10

The Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations hosted the candidates for county comptroller—incumbent George Maragos and challenger Howard Weitzman—in a town forum at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library last week.

Each candidate was granted five minutes of speaking time, followed by a question and answer session with residents in attendance.

Broadly speaking, Maragos said the county has “held the line” on tax increases and not burdened Nassau County’s homeowners, while Weitzman said the county can not sustain the debt t has accrued during the current administration’s time in office.

In order to make it a truly democratic forum, the Coalition wanted the candidates to flip a coin to decide who would speak first—but with Maragos running 20 minutes late, the Coalition decided to let Weitzman speak first.

Weitzman said that residents can expect to hear two different stories about Nassau County this election year. He said the Democrats will say the county’s finances are horrible and changes need to be made immediately; while Republicans will say the county is on the right track and needs to keep moving forward in the current direction.

“Don’t listen to the politicians. They lie,” he said. “I’ve never considered myself a politician. The truth can be discerned by looking at what people on the outside are saying. During my time in office, the county had 13 bond upgrades and an honestly balanced budget for eight years. I left when the country was in the depths of a recession and the county still had a stable output, according to Standard & Poor’s.”

He said that Maragos’ tenure has been marked by three bond downgrades, a negative outlook rating from Standards & Poor’s and the highest level of debt in county history.

Weitzman said taxpayers can expect to feel the consequences of the current administrations’ actions when property taxes are raised in October.

“[Maragos] betrayed the purpose of the office. It is supposed to be a taxpayer watchdog, independent from the current administration,” said Weitzman. “Instead, he’s shown himself to be a spokesperson for the administration.”

For his part, Maragos said the county has seen significant improvements from what the administration inherited in 2009. He said he is especially proud that the 2014 budget contains no property tax increases.

“No other county in the state has been able to hold the line on spending, reduce costs and make government more efficient by rooting out waste and fraud than this administration,” he said. “I come from the private sector with 35 years of experience. I brought business principles to this office. Simply, you cannot spend more than the revenues you bring in. The people have to live within their means and we insist the government do the same.”

Maragos said raising property taxes is the worst thing an elected official can do because it pushes residents to leave the county and keeps businesses from setting up shop.

“The cost of living is too high in Nassau,” he said. “We have to be aggressive in keeping our young people here.”

The forum turned contentious when Weitzman requested a chance to issue a rebuttal against some of the comptroller’s statements. This request was denied by the Coalition, which said both candidates would have an opportunity to respond to claims at a debate to be hosted by the League of Women Voters of Nassau County at Molloy College on Oct. 10.

Residents in attendance pleaded for transparency above all.

“There is no way for the people to know where the money is going and what work is getting done. There is no transparency,” said Trisha Kearney from the Bay Park Civic Association. “There needs to be a way for people to know. There needs to be a paper trail online.”

News

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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