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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

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.

Diamond Fitness held its grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 6. Members of the Historic Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce came out to meet Wendy Goldstein, her staff and her re-invented gym at 138 South St.

Goldstein said she was touched by the warmth of the people who came into the gym to welcome her, even before the official opening. “People came in to say hello, saying they had heard that the gym had changed hands. It warms my heart,” she said.

Goldstein attended a chamber meeting and is now a member. Nassau County Legislator Donald McKenzie helped Goldstein cut the red ribbon as chamber members Walter Imperatore and Michele Browner cheered the opening along with staff members and friends.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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