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From The Desk Of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton: October 10, 2013

This week I would simply like to share the fact that again I have asked Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos to appear before the body meant to provide oversight over your tax dollars, the Nassau County Legislature. Many have hoped you forgot about Superstorm Sandy cleanup work done at your expense which directed $70 million to County Executive Mangano’s campaign contributors. I handed this letter to each legislator – on the record - at Monday’s public session:

Dear Presiding Officer Gonsalves and Legislator Nicolello:

All of our members must fulfill our responsibilities as legislators by demanding meaningful oversight of the millions of dollars in contracted work that was awarded and paid in connection with Superstorm Sandy cleanup. I strongly believe that we are failing our constituents if we continue to simply rubber stamp the actions of the executive branch on this matter of critical importance to the residents of Nassau County.

As you are both very much aware, I have consistently expressed concern on behalf of myself and our constituents over the cleanup and debris removal contracts that County Executive Mangano’s administration issued last year in response to Sandy. I have stated repeatedly that I believe we as a Legislature need to examine how the county awarded the contracts and how the contracted work was monitored and paid.

I have stated my position to you and our fellow legislators during numerous legislative sessions. I have reiterated my views in letters to each of you, to County Executive Mangano, to Comptroller George Maragos, and through FOIL’s to the Nassau County Departments of Emergency Management, Purchasing, Public Works and the Comptroller’s Office. I have even filed proposed legislation that would enable us to better understand Nassau’s emergency spending process and answer many of the questions I have raised – legislation which has been permitted to languish in the Clerk’s Office.

Today I am specifically writing to again insist that Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos appear before the Legislature to address the many unresolved issues which remain in connection with the huge amount of public funds that have been committed to the Sandy clean-up process. We still lack a definitive explanation of the County’s procedure for vetting and paying for Sandy-related work. There also continue to be serious concerns about whether the Sandy contractors have been required to maintain sufficient insurance coverage to adequately protect the County from liability arising out of their contractual performance. Indeed, I understand that the Comptroller went so far as to hold up Sandy payments because of insurance questions. These are just a few of the issues which must be explored.

When I first requested the Comptroller’s appearance many months ago, I was assured by each of you - on the record during session - that he would appear and discuss Sandy contracts as soon as he concluded his own analysis and investigation and issued his report. That report was issued almost two full months ago, on August 1, 2013. However, the Comptroller has yet to appear before the Legislature to explain and justify his conclusions that Sandy debris removal was properly performed. I am disappointed that you have not lived up to your public assurances.

I am therefore compelled to once again ask that in your capacities as Presiding Officer and Chair of the Finance Committee, you formally request the Comptroller to appear before our oversight body. It is in the interest of all 19 legislators that we perform our duty to voters and to taxpayers, by demanding our own oversight of county spending. Our government cannot function properly if we abdicate our role to provide the necessary checks and balances on executive branch expenditures.

Finally, as we are now analyzing a proposed budget for next year, there are numerous related issues, most importantly, the deficit that could result from rejection of Sandy claims by FEMA. I understand that to date, we have only received a relatively small fraction of the reimbursement we were supposedly seeking. I believe we are remiss to not ask why, especially from the office responsible for paying out claims.

Accordingly, please confirm that Comptroller Maragos will be at the October 21, 2013 Legislative session to address these important issues.

News

The Raise The Roof Concert, held at Christ Church on Nov. 9, was an intergenerational event to benefit the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay’s seniors.

Board member Suzanne Paolucci explained the center’s wish to get iPods for the seniors as a source of musical therapy. She brought the idea to the center from a talk by social worker Dan Cohen, the founder of Music & Memory. He has produced a film, Alive Inside, that tells the story of music as being restorative. Music is like therapy for the elderly, in particular for those with dementia, as it has been shown to awaken memories of happier times in life, when energy and enthusiasm were boundless.

Driving rain and an early start time did not deter 600 people who arrived at Crest Hollow Country Club recently to celebrate the Women’s Fund of Long Island’s 20th year and to honor four exceptional women.

The breakfast started with a meet and greet and a chance to showcase Women’s Fund contest winner Patti Hogarty, designer of “Women as Bamboo.” Inspired by her neighbor’s bamboo, she entered the contest drawing a design of the bamboo, which Ambalu Jewelers of Roslyn then turned into various pendants of which 40-percent of the profits would go to WFLI. Hogarty wrote a short essay comparing women to bamboo in that they are strong and can weather difficult storms, yet remain graceful and continue to grow sending out new shoots.


Sports

On the weekend of Nov. 8, the Oyster Bay High School Boys and Girls Cross Country teams traveled to the State University of New York at Canton just a few miles from the Canadian border to compete in the New York State Cross Country Championships.

Alex Tosi became the first Bayman since Joe Jazwinski and Justin Nakrin (2008) to become All-State, placing 16th with a time of 16:53. Most runners ran about 20 seconds slower than their Bethpage times because of the muddy conditions on the course. Tosi’s time was basically equivalent to his best Bethpage time, as he powered through the toughest parts of the race. He led the Baymen to a seventh place finish in the Class C race, an improvement from their 11th place finish last year, which ties the highest place at the New York State Championships of a Baymen team since 2009.

In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.


Calendar

Annual Turkey Trot

Thursday, Nov. 27

Turkey Detox Workshop

Friday, Nov. 28

East Norwich Holiday

Sunday, Nov. 30



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