In her State of the Town message, delivered on Feb. 4 before the Port Washington/Manhasset League of Women Voters, North Hempstead Town Supervisor May Newburger stated that she would propose a change in town law that would create councilmanic districts, rather than at-large voting for all council members. Republican Councilmen James O'Connor and Angelo Ferrara will propose setting a date of March 14 for a public hearing to create such districts at the Feb. 15 town board meeting (after this newspaper went to press).
In an interview with the Manhasset Press about the State of the Town address, Councilman O'Connor said, "I think it's important to look to areas where Supervisor Newburger and I agree. For that reason, I found her call for councilmanic districts very appealing. As you know, the supervisor has long been on record in support of councilmanic districts. I join her in the call for councilmanic districts."
Councilman O'Connor said that although there are areas where he disagrees with Supervisor Newburger, he did not wish to "go line-by-line" through the State of the Town speech to criticize her. "That serves no benefit to anyone and, quite frankly, the public seems fed up with divisive and attack politics."
Mr. O'Connor did return to a theme that the Republicans stressed during last fall's election campaign, the fact that there was a $26 million judgment pending against North Hempstead as a result of a lawsuit brought against North Hempstead by North Hempstead Resources Inc., a private company that was operating its transfer station, after the company's parent went bankrupt. Mr. O'Connor said that the judgment is costing the town taxpayers approximately $6000 a day in interest alone and asked that Supervisor Newburger point out her plans on funding the liability. Supervisor Newburger has taken the position that the town expects to be fully vindicated and the judgment to be reversed on appeal. The result of the appeal, according to North Hempstead Town Attorney Howard Miller, will probably not be announced in the year 2000.
In their proposal for a public hearing on the creation of councilmatic districts, Councilmen O'Connor and Ferrara suggest that a public referendum on the topic be held "on or before June 15, 2000." The proposal recommends that the offices of town supervisor, town clerk and receiver of taxes continue to be elected town-wide. It proposes four districts be established. They would be:
District #1 shall include the northwest portion of the town (Great Neck and parts of Manhasset.
District #2 shall include the southwest portion of the town (New Hyde Park, Herricks, Garden City Park, Manhasset Hills and North Hills).
District #3 shall include the southeast portion of the town (Mineola, Carle Place, Westbury, the Willistons).
District #4 shall include the northeast portion of the town (Albertson, Roslyn, Port Washington, Greenvale, Glenwood Landing and parts of Manhasset.
Conceding that "the drawing of the lines for the districts has the potential to create great controversy," Councilmen O'Connor and Ferrara propose creating a Committee on Reform consisting of five members appointed by town board members. The council members themselves could not serve on the committee.
Although O'Connor and Ferrara acknowledge that the proposal will not result in a predominantly minority council district due to the fact that minority voters are not all located in one area of the town, they say that "it is hoped that the minority communities will feel more represented by their own individual town council member who they can bring their issues to."