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Nassau County Comptroller’s Report: January 6, 2014

Transparency In Government The Public Can See

Confidence and trust in government appears to continue to erode because of political infighting, and the perception of waste, fraud, and limited transparency. This is why my office has taken small yet significant steps to attempt to restore some trust through transparency.

Our latest step came last week when we made available to the public on the Comptroller’s Facebook page all 2013 Nassau County contracts with vendors as well as all the bills paid by the County. In keeping with my office’s prudent standards of controlling costs and promoting innovation, we used the latest social media tools to make this information available to the greatest number of residents by using Facebook, Twitter and Google Docs. Not a single taxpayer dollar has been spent for this important public service.  

Historically, to view this type of information a Freedom of Information Law request was necessary. Placing these contracts online provides taxpayers with a snapshot of how their money is being spent, and hopefully, generate feedback from residents if inefficiencies and waste are observed.

Nassau County spent over $700 million on contracts with hundreds of vendors in 2013 and processes over 50,000 payments to these vendors. The Comptroller’s Office receives hundreds of bills weekly and, after careful review, pays for the work or product that was performed according to the contract specifications. These vendors provide a range of essential services and products for taxpayers, including road paving, traffic light maintenance, fraud investigations, social services and transportation for seniors, the needy and children with special challenges.

My office always strives to get the most out of every tax dollar and makes every attempt to give the taxpayers all the information possible. In the last four years, we reduced government costs by over $300 million by demanding value in contracts, insisting on competitive bidding and verifying that services were delivered as specified prior to payments. In short, Nassau County is operating as you would expect an efficient business to operate.

You can expect us to continue to provide taxpayers with a snapshot of exactly where their money is going. We will be updating the information on a weekly basis and as always, we welcome suggestions as to how we can improve the County’s level of transparency. The Comptroller’s Facebook page is facebook.com/nccomptroller. Your participation and feedback is crucial in assisting me to keep costs down and uncover waste and fraud.

News

A group of like-minded local residents banded together and saved more than 200 area trees from the chopping block — for now.

A state judge ordered Nassau County and the Department of Public Works to stop cutting down trees along South Oyster Bay Road, granting a temporary restraining order to a group of residents spearheading an effort to save the trees.

State Supreme Court Judge Antonio Brandveen scheduled a hearing on Thursday, Oct. 16 for the county to address complaints from residents, in particular a group called Operation STOMP (Save Trees Over More Pavement) founded by Hicksville native Tanya Lukasik.The Public Works department had planned to removed more than 200 30-foot trees in communities ranging from Plainview, Bethpage, Hicksville and Syosset.

For the past 16 years, Lucia Simon has walked from her home in Hicksville to her job at the Hicksville Public Library. She enjoys her job as a librarian and says that the staff has become like family to her. But for the past three years, Simon and 56 fellow co-workers have been frustrated at what she says is the library’s board refusal to negotiate a fair contract.  

“We have had no contract in three years. They refuse to bargain with us. Every time they come back to us it’s not fair,” says Simon.

However, the board of trustees disagree, saying that it has made a “fair offer.”


Sports

The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization

— From Hicksville High School

Hicksville native progressing through Mets system

The Mets minor league system is enjoying a rare period of prosperity. For years, it was barren due to trading off high-ceiling players for major leaguers, or neglecting the draft in favor of the free agent market. Since General Manager Sandy Alderson took over, the organization has reversed course and put a much greater emphasis on player development. During his second-to-last season, however, former GM Omar Minaya took a chance and drafted a local catcher, Cam Maron, out of Hicksville High School in the 34th round.


Calendar

Spooktacular Halloween

October 17

Fall Festival

October 18

Veterans Casework Seminar

October 21



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