(Howard Weitzman is the former Nassau County Comptroller.)
No matter who won the last county election it was clear the County would be going down a tough financial road. A difficult economy, falling tax receipts, an increasing structural gap along with the political difficulty in raising additional revenues have combined to create a perfect storm for all local governments. But the new Mangano administration seems to be drowning in a fiscal tsunami, without a tree to climb. His rescue plan is based on an old copy of Tom Gullota’s guide to County government – borrow, over estimate revenues, under estimate expenses, sell property, and if that’s not enough borrow more.
The budget press release heralds a no-tax increase budget without the use of one shots – and then, in a shocking and frightening return to the past, proceeds to call for the biggest revenue one shot of all - $350 million in new borrowing for real estate tax refunds. When added to the $86 million borrowed for early retirements and the 2010 capital plan, the County Executive will have borrowed or proposed to borrow close to $500 million – a half a BILLION in new borrowing in his first nine months in office, over 85 percent of which is for operating expenses. This is like borrowing on your credit card to pay for your living expenses. Even for Nassau County this is a huge amount to be repaid by our children and grandchildren, and will certainly earn a negative reaction from the rating agencies, increasing Nassau’s cost of borrowings by millions.
Hurricane Earl has raised some concerns about how LIPA prepares for major, forecasted weather events that impact our area. Like any responsible utility, LIPA and its service provider, National Grid, prepare for hurricanes and other major storms based on various sources of information, including forecasts provided by national weather services, local and regional government entities, media outlets, and prior operating experience.
When a major weather event is forecasted, such as Hurricane Earl, LIPA will activate its storm procedures to secure the appropriate level of resources and manpower it needs so that if outages occur, LIPA can respond swiftly and safely to mitigate the number and length of those outages. In order to achieve that objective, it is imperative that LIPA secure linemen and tree trimming crews while they are available and before they are contracted to other utilities, and then deploy those resources to the potentially impacted areas in a timely manner.
Fortunately, Hurricane Earl veered away from our shores and his damage was contained mainly to Long Island’s fragile beaches. Yet when he passed, those of us working in emergency services all wiped our brows and collectively let out a sigh of relief—because if this storm had veered only a few degrees to the west, Long Island would have felt its fury.
Sadly, most Long Islanders would not have been prepared for a direct hit. Many don’t believe a hurricane will ever come and others have forgotten just how bad it can get when one does. At the American Red Cross though, we know better. During the summer of 2007, we, the Nassau and Suffolk County Red Cross Chapters, re-examined our sheltering plan and identified 50 locations that could serve as evacuation centers. Working with state and local officials, we then pre-positioned the cots, blankets and other supplies we would need at these locations—greatly reducing the time it would take to open shelters if ever needed. And we’ve drilled, constantly, to make sure the plan will work.
While the mainstream media continues to function more and more like a U.S. version of Pravda, the American people are waking up to the out-of-control and unsustainable spending, and government intrusion into the lives of its citizens that, if not corrected, will enslave our children and grandchildren with a debt from which they can never recover.
We need to be concerned with these issues on the national level, but we should not forget that this same misguided agenda is present much closer to home. Our New York State Legislature is a poster child for lack of fiscal control. Rather than acting responsibly to reduce government, they cater to special interest and seek to impose even larger government spending programs. When they do talk about cuts, it is teachers and police they mention. Is there nothing else to cut, or is this designed to scare us into supporting yet more unsustainable spending? If one of us lost their job perhaps in order to cut expenses we would eliminate our cable TV or gym membership as opposed to dropping our health insurance or discontinuing fuel oil deliveries. Our legislature, however, can only suggest the opposite.
I’m sorry to hear that the Labor Day Parade and Drill will be cancelled this year. Yet it’s harder to hear that the parade and drill will be cancelled permanently. I can recall the good times I had when watching the parade and drill as a kid.
Being an American and military veteran, I support our cherished freedoms, especially freedom of religion. As a Roman Catholic of Irish descent I was raised to practice love of mankind and acts of charity. Family legend has it that my late grandmother carried hand grenades in her bicycle basket for the Irish Republican Army during the uprising. My family came to America and three generations have served in the military during periods of war. We love our nation and our community. We defend our nation against those seeking to murder innocents. We do not have a Holy War or Jihad against members of other religions. Instead we support them and recognize their contributions to our community and way of life.
I just wanted to write and say how sad it was for me to hear that the Annual Hicksville Parade and Drill have been permanently cancelled. This was so much a part of my life as a child. My sisters and I still reminisce about the fun we had at the parade and drill. My father was a fireman with the Great Neck Vigilants from his 20s until his death in 1976 (35 years).
Our family always went to this on Labor Day and us girls have told our children about it. We always get so excited when we talk about it. The family has even recently talked about going to one in the future on Labor Day when we could all get together. I guess this will not happen. I feel sad for the families who really knew and enjoyed this function but I know things do come to an end sooner or later. In my heart it will be missed and I know many others will miss it dearly also.
The Labor Day Parade and Drill was one of the many Hicksville Fire Department functions that kept many families going while times were tough.
Ann (Pritchett) Chelette
The story on the front page in the Aug. 13 edition of the Hicksville Illustrated News headlined “Town of Oyster Bay’s Hicksville Parking Garage Rises From the Ashes” contained the following statement:
“The Town of Oyster Bay awarded … a contract to build this vital infrastructure improvement and increase the number of parking spaces from 1,100 spots to 1,500 spots.”
What a surprise! That is not what the residents directly affected by the existence of the Hicksville parking garage, the homeowners whose backyards border on the parking garage, the homeowners of West Marie Street and Duffy Avenue and members of The Duffy Park Civic Association have been repeatedly told. In numerous meetings held with Town of Oyster Bay (TOB) officials to discuss first the demolition and then the reconstruction of the parking garage, we were consistently told that there were 1,400 parking spots in the old garage and there would be 1,400 spots in the new garage. When challenged by a homeowner who had counted only 1,200 spaces in the old garage, the TOB officials insisted on the 1,400 number.
Commander Greg Bennett and Post Membership Officer John Geiger invite military veterans to join Charles Wagner American Legion Post 421. Requirements are service during a period of war with an honorable discharge or current active duty.
For over 90 years the American Legion has lobbied Congress and State governments for veterans benefits. Perhaps you need assistance with veterans benefits. We volunteer to help needy veterans and their families. We volunteer at the VA hospital. On Veterans Day, Memorial Day and every day we remember and help our brother and sister veterans. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you. And we support and assist our troops. Bring your ideas and service to the Legion and your community. And above all Charles Wagner Legionnaires salute you for your service to our nation. For information contact Commander Greg Bennett at 338-6995.
Last week eighteen beds in a West Marie Street house were discovered by Hicksville firefighters. We could pretend that Sleepys’ extensive facility off Hicksville Road was inadequate for storage. Or we could say what we all know to be the truth: The dwelling was a flophouse for illegal aliens. Either case, I juxtapose this with the latest pro-illegal immigration, hate Arizona, Americans-are-racists ranting of Maryann Sinclair Slutsky which appeared in the same July 23 issue of The Hicksville Illustrated. Her angle: illegal immigration is good for the economy.
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