As part of its ongoing tradition of pro bono and community legal assistance, the Nassau County Bar Association along with Nassau/Suffolk Law Services is inviting all Nassau County residents to a free legal Pro Bono Fair offering free assistance, information and referrals, to be held on Thursday, October 27, in celebration of national Pro Bono Week. Any Nassau resident is invited to come to the Bar Association’s headquarters at the corner of 15th and West Streets in Mineola, between 3 and 7 p.m. with a question and meet with an attorney one-on-one for legal guidance.
Nassau County is heading closer and closer to its demise. Following a national Republican trend, the administration is targeting government workers and their unions as the main reason for the county’s financial collapse. It implies our county is being destroyed by overgenerous labor agreements, and if those aren’t amended, massive layoffs will occur.
But a lack of transparency on the county’s part clearly exists. The administration complains that Nassau has the second highest taxes in the nation, yet if the county got rid of all 6,000 of its Civil Service Employees Association workers, Nassau would still hold that regrettable status. In fact, in a $10,000 property tax bill, only $300 is for the services provided by CSEA members.
Although I am a month behind the news cycle, I have hurricane hangover. The soundtrack of my life during the build up to Irene was like the theme from Jaws, that universal jingle of impending doom. I live in Long Beach, close to the bay and canal and a few blocks from the ocean.
I am not one of those who thought the warnings were overhyped or unjustified. I think it was the right thing to do, to warn people and issue orders for mandatory evacuation. I did evacuate my family. And, although we did not suffer any damage I do not regret evacuating. I felt the same way decades ago when hurricane Gloria blew in. I wanted my children then, who are young adults now, to know that they should take hurricanes seriously.
There is a house two doors down from mine on Division Avenue in Massapequa that has seemingly been abandoned for at least two years. The house has been boarded up but is covered with mold and mildew due to wind driven rainstorms and because for the most part, has been left unattended for years.
It is important that I share with you the fiscal challenges facing Nassau County. Nassau faces a projected $310 million deficit for 2012 resulting from unaffordable labor contracts, coupled with a broken assessment system and a stagnant economy that have collectively created a fiscal storm. Today [column submitted Sept. 14], I will submit a budget for 2012 that reduces year-over-year spending by $63 million. This is the first time Nassau has done so in over a generation. My budget changes the culture of taxing and spending, which has brought us to where we are today. First, let me say that my budget for the second year in a row does not include a property tax hike as our problems are not tax-driven. Nassau’s problems are spending-driven. As such, my budget significantly reduces the workforce, cuts tens of millions of dollars in spending and reforms unaffordable labor contracts.
Calling it a “step in the wrong direction for New York State,” State Senator Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) has criticized The Port Authority’s recent decision to raise tolls.
Fuschillo, who is chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, said that under the plan approved by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners, drivers would face toll increases each year through 2015. He also called on both Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to reject the toll increases and instead “order an independent forensic audit of the Port Authority’s finances, and re-evaluate the Port Authority’s current leadership.”
It astonishes me to how mean-spirited we are becoming. President Obama has been criticized for taking a week’s vacation in August to spend time with his family. I have heard media pundits even criticize him for spending his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard even though past presidents, most recently Bill Clinton, have vacationed there. Even more disturbing were some Massachusetts residents holding signs indicating that he is not welcomed to vacation in their state. The level of griping about Congress, the president, the stock market and the economy is depressing, but our problems persist.
(Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos release the following statement.)
“Again we are reminded by State Comptroller DiNapoli about the up to 26 percent increases in 2012 Pension contributions and 19 percent further increase for 2013 demanded by New York State from Nassau County taxpayers to meet its commitments to retirees. This increase will cost the Nassau County taxpayers an additional $32.1 million in 2012 and then an additional $29 million in 2013.
Massapequa Park’s Brady Park Senior Center is looking for new members. The center offers many wonderful and exciting events for both men and women. For those of you who love to read, the Book Club meets once a month; enjoy a movie on the beautiful flat screen television or challenge your skills to a friendly game of pool. Some of the many other organized events include trips to see plays, exercise classes, bingo, mah-jongg, other exciting card games and informational seminars covering various senior issues.
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