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From The Desk Of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton: August 22, 2013

Questioning Comptroller Maragos

On Tree Cutting  

I want to submit a short note to my constituents who are undoubtedly upset over recent news reports, in which Comptroller George Maragos states that all tree cutting in Welwyn and other county areas was completely necessary.   The short version of his statement is that all trees needed to come down. Plenty people have raised a case to the contrary.  

Since Mr. Maragos has put out this report seeking to clear himself and the candidate for County Executive with whom he will be sharing a party line on the ballot this November, Edward Mangano, I need to respond.  

First, to me, the report raises more questions than it answers. It says that the comptroller sent auditors out to the sites. Were they certified arborists or his accountants? Further, if I read the report correctly, it suggests that “independent monitors” said the work was OK, therefore it was OK to the comptroller. My understanding is that the monitors were hired by Mangano – some may be campaign contributors, possibly even the sister of the Public Works Commissioner – therefore they are not necessarily independent. The comptroller’s office is actually supposed to be the independent office that verifies what the county pays. If they are relying on these companies that the county hired, I have an issue.    

Second, I met with the comptroller’s staff earlier this year to inquire into his process for reviewing and verifying the “emergency” tree work.  

When we visited Comptroller Maragos’ office to do this review, my Legislative Caucus attorney, my finance director and I were not satisfied with what we saw.  

We have spent subsequent months seeking follow-up information with so little success that we were forced into a prolonged Freedom of Information or “FOIL” process, which is still ongoing to this day. Legislators should not have to resort to FOILing – government offices are obligated to share information. If everything is so clear cut and above board, I don’t understand why there is not more transparency, and why Maragos’ office would avoid basic inquiries and force a legal back-and-forth. (Just this week, I had to appeal the comptroller’s denial of certain information, including the actual documentation Comptroller Maragos used to verify that all tree work was necessary and was billed correctly.)  

I have much more to say that will soon be relayed to you. I certainly have questions about the Comptroller’s report that I am looking into now. For today, I simply want to assure my constituents that my office is still deep in the process of investigating the issues covered in the comptroller’s report, which reflect the tree cutting ordered by County Executive Mangano.  

Also still investigating this entire issue of Nassau County’s post-Sandy debris work are the Nassau County District Attorney and the New York State Attorney General.

News

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com