Carousel Day School’s owner and director Eugene Formica, 65, and assistant director Kathryn Cordaro, 52, both of Hicksville, were indicted this week on charges related to the March 2009 choking death of 2-year-old Olivia Raspanti.
Nassau County Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, who in January had proposed pay raises that were approved for the three top leaders of the Nassau County Legislature, including himself, earlier this month expressed his desire to have those raises rescinded. On Monday, Feb. 22, the legislature voted unanimously on that request.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a jury has convicted Hicksville resident Harpal Hira of murdering his mother-in-law and stabbing his wife multiple times before leading authorities on a month-long manhunt that stretched from New York to Florida.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was joined Feb. 17 by Timothy Jaccard, president of the AMT Children of Hope Foundation/Baby Safe Haven Program, to announce that Nassau County will be the first county in the nation to implement a new program identifying ambulances as official “baby safe haven” drop-off sites. The ambulance signage program is part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the program, which allows for mothers to legally and safely relinquish their babies at certain locations.
The last words from a 20-year-old resident came from a text message sent to his dealer. It read, “i’m diggin’ this — my dude, best I had in a while. 4 real. Save my number, peace.” That was sent before he was found by his mother dead in the bathtub.
A special election was held in the 15th New York State Assembly District (A.D.) Feb. 9. Over 5,400 residents turned out to vote with Republican Michael Montesano of Glen Head defeating Democrat Matt Meng of East Norwich. Montesano, who also ran on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, received 3,868 votes; Meng received 1,539 votes.
Construction of the new Hicksville Parking Facility began Jan. 18 and, according to Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, the project should be complete by March 2011.
The 15th Assembly District (A.D.) is up for grabs with Democrat Matt Meng of East Norwich and Republican Michael Montesano of Glen Head scheduled to face off in a special election on Feb. 9.
The seat, which has been held by Republican Rob Walker since May 2005, became vacant as of midnight Jan. 2 when Walker stepped down to accept a position as Nassau County’s Deputy County Executive. As a result, the winner of next week’s special election will, under state law, have to run again in November 2010, which is when the seat would normally be up for re-election.
Thirteen residences on 14th Street between Meyers and Burns avenues were without potable water as well as gas for three days after a fallen power line struck a gas service line box, sending a 14,000-volt electrical charge through the gas service line and back through the gas main, on Sunday afternoon. `
On Jan. 25, at the first meeting of the Nassau County Legislature, that body voted to give pay raises to its three legislative leaders: Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, Deputy Presiding Officer John Ciotti and Minority Leader Diane Yatauro. The pay raise vote went along party lines, with 11 Republicans voting for the raise, and eight Democrats in opposition.
The next day, members of the Democratic Party caucus held a press conference, criticizing, in strong language, the pay increases.
At the press conference, adjectives such as “dumbstruck,” “deplorable,” “unacceptable,” “insensitive,” “sneaky,” “tone deaf” and “outrageous” were used to attack the pay raises, which are estimated to average 42 percent.
Yatauro, who earlier announced that she would not accept any pay increase, said that she would draft a letter to the Nassau County Comptroller, asking that the pay increase be stopped. Yatauro added that she would call on County Executive Ed Mangano to direct the county attorney to find a legal way to repeal the pay increase vote.
Immediately following the press conference, Mangano issued his own reply. “At the request of Minority Leader Yatauro, I have referred the question of the legality of the raises to the County Attorney’s office for review,” the release said. “The Nassau County Legislature is a separate branch of government and as such abides by its own rules of procedure. My administration will continue to lead by example through reducing the cost of government, and it is our hope that our colleagues follow suit.
In addition to Yatauro, those present at the press conference were Democratic Legislators Judy Jacobs, Wayne Wink, Dave Denenberg, Kevan Abrahams, Judith Bosworth and Robert Troiano. They were joined by representatives of the Tea Party Patriot and the Tax Revolt Association, who also opposed the increase.
The lawmakers all reiterated that at every legislative meeting, they plan to introduce a resolution calling for the repeal of the pay raise. In light of the increase, the lawmakers also took notice of the county’s ongoing economic problems, including high unemployment and house foreclosures.
Troiano (D-Westbury) said “At a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet and unemployment is at 7 percent, taxpayers should not be asked to reach into their pockets for raises for elected officials,”
Jacobs added, “With high unemployment and our County facing a budget gap of up to $38 million, a 47 percent raise for Peter Schmitt seems unconscionable.”
In his own press release, Schmitt responded to the entire day’s events. “The Democratic Minority are ethical hypocrites,” Schmitt said. “All I did was what former Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs tried to do three times. I didn’t see Democratic Legislators holding press conferences against her the three attempts she made to raise Legislative pay. Nor did I see Democratic indignation when they voted to increase former County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi’s salary by 60 percent.”
In response to Yatauro’s claims that the pay raise was put on the Legislature’s calendar at the last minute, with no public notice, Schmitt stated, “Minority Leader Yatauro was fully briefed on Friday, [Jan. 22] that it would appear on the Legislative calendar on Monday. I put it forth in the full light of day, allowing discussion and everyone had the right to vote. There was no back room dealing or attempt to deceive the public like in the past and I stand by my decision.”
The pay raise is in fact a stipend increase. Base pay for all legislators is $39,500. That salary is set by the County Charter and must be amended for all legislators to get raises. The presiding officer’s current stipend is $28,000. The legislation increases that to $60,000, making the total salary $99,500 (the stipend added to the $39,500 base salary).
Additionally, the deputy presiding officer’s salary increased from $62,500 to $84,000, by the stipend being increased to $45,000. And, with the stipend for the Minority Leader increased to $51,000, it makes that total salary go from $63,500 to $90,500.
At press time Jan. 28, it was learned that Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos had placed a freeze on the aforementioned pay raises until the county attorney is able to review them.
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