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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

It’s official: Oyster Bay is a town of tree huggers. For the 25th year in a row, the town has been designated a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation, a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America.

“This designation, given to communities which have developed and implemented comprehensive tree planting and preservation programs, is a national recognition that is very gratifying to the Town Board, as we have made the care of our community tree resources a top priority,” says Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.   

Drop by the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Koenig Center, 20 Summit St., to see their newest exhibit, It’s Time for Tea. The juried art show features ceramic works of art related to tea and its accouterments, on display now through June 8. The work was created by the members of the Ceramic Media Group of the Long Island Craft Guild, and features a selection of both functional and sculptural pieces.

A special bonus at the show is “The Juror’s Corner,” a display of several on the miniature teapots made by renowned ceramist Fong Choo, who judged the show online by viewing jpegs. They demonstrate the breadth of possibility in his approach to the utilitarian shape.


Sports

Students at St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay raised more than $3,300 during the week of April 7, also known as “LAX 4 LOVE.”  

LAX 4 LOVE was started by the Defeo family three years ago when Amanda (class of 2013), Matthew, and John Defeo came up with this outstanding cause. LAX 4 LOVE is a non-profit organization ultimately designed for less fortunate athletes who cannot play the sports they love due to financial setbacks.  Through LAX 4 LOVE, potential athletes will have access to the equipment needed in order to safely play the sports they love.

On Monday, May 12, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Long Island (SVDPLI) will host its 11th Annual Golf Classic at the Tam O’ Shanter Club in Brookville. The event raises money and awareness for people in need on Long Island. This year’s honoree, Theresa Kelly, executive vice president of business banking at Flushing Bank, will join attendees in celebrating SVDPLI’s 65 years of dedicated service to the Long Island community.

The event’s chairman, Frank Pelliccione, VP of business development for Flushing Bank, said, “We are extremely proud of our efforts in the community and look forward to the continued involvement of the sponsors and players who help make this event such a success every year.”


Calendar

Women Minding Their Own Business

Thursday, April 24

Dance Concert

Friday, April 25

Harbor and Beach Cleanup

Saturday, April 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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