Written by Steve Mosco Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00
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.”
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:29
A group of Levittown parents are voicing their concerns with letting their children walk to school, since it would mean they would continue to cross Hempstead Turnpike.
“My kid has to cross [Hempstead Tpke.] daily without a crossing guard,” said Division Avenue parent Wendy Lantigua.
For Lantigua and others, the dangers of Hempstead Turnpike became all to real after 13-year-old Brianna Soplin was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, last June. Not to mention the fact that another 14-year-old Levittown student suffered multiple injuries after being struck in hit-and-run, last February.
Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:00
On Sept. 14, Hempstead town officials joined family and friends of fallen New York City paramedic Rudy Havelka, to unveil the re-dedication of Birch Lane in Levittown.
While surviving the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Havelka wou ld later die of an illness related to his service at Ground Zero.
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:34
The annual One Love Long Island (OLLI) Yoga Festival takes place at the Sands Point Preserve on Sunday, Sept. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. All profits will be donated to organizations that support survivors of human trafficking, locally and globally.
The festival will unite 16 Long Island yoga studio communities in a round robin of the traditional yogic practice of 108 Sun Salutations from 9:30 a.m. to noon, whose offerings will look to create long-term and sustainable solutions to eradicate the human trafficking epidemic by raising funds and awareness for the cause.
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:33
As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which took place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”