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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

“I didn’t know I needed my own Teddy Bear,” said a woman after the first annual Teddy’s Taste of the West dinner and fundraiser at Canterbury Ales on March 19.

Members were given an authentic Teddy Bear as a surprise gift at the end of the evening. As they say, membership has its privileges and that includes a June 11 event when Ken Burns will come to share a preview of his new film on three Roosevelts. Burns’ film explores the political and family ties between President Theodore Roosevelt, President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a Roosevelt in her own right.  

The preliminary 2014-15 school budget was adopted at last Tuesday night’s Oyster Bay-East Norwich school board meeting. The proposed budget, which came in at a figure of $54,578,478, is a 2.01 percent difference from the 2013-14 final budget figure of $53,504,111. With a budget to budget change of $1,074,367, it is the lowest expenditure increase in the last 15 years. No programs were cut as a result of balancing this budget.

“The biggest change in budget numbers is in the area of salaries and wages with a budget to budget increase of $683,428,” said School Superintendent Dr. Laura Seinfeld.


Sports

Muttontown resident and Kellenberg freshman Ceara Ann Conroy has been named an All-League athlete for Girls Winter Track. The title of All-League is awarded to athletes based on a vote of all the coaches in the NSCHSAA League. All of the Girls Winter Track coaches in the league vote based on the athletes performance during the season, and Conroy’s outstanding performance has earned her the title of All League this year.

The Girls Varsity Lacrosse program at Oyster Bay High School is just in its second year and already it is making a difference. Senior defender Danielle Maggi has committed to play Division III lacrosse at Albright College.

Last year Maggi was recognized as the “Most Improved Player,” and this year she is being recruited to play in college.

Maggi said, “We did very well in our first varsity season last year (12-2). This year we are 100 percent going for the conference. I’m excited we finally have a varsity team.”


Calendar

LI Sound Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Saturday, April 19

Annual Egg-stravaganza

Saturday, April 19

Palliative Care

Wednesday, April 23 



Columns

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

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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