Written by Delia DeRiggi-Whitton Friday, 08 February 2013 00:00
“Quite as important as legislation is vigilant oversight of administration.”
- President Woodrow Wilson
While I wasn’t looking for a fight during this recovery, I was elected to do a job. I am fighting to hold Nassau County accountable on how it spends millions of dollars after superstorm Sandy.
My concern started when constituents contacted me about major tree cutting in Nassau County nature preserves, like Welwyn in Glen Cove. While I was able to eventually stop the work, the devastation in Welwyn would pull me into a much bigger fight.
Taxpayers have nothing more to give. But, in trying to be careful with their money, I have met with total resistance.
As an elected official, sitting on the Nassau County Legislature’s Finance Committee, it is my duty to oversee how the county allocates over $200 million in “Sandy related” expenses. This includes: questioning how companies get multi-million dollar contracts; how we verify they are doing necessary work; and what happens when they make mistakes like Welwyn’s “chainsaw massacre.”
I kept getting shushed and told that expenses “should” be reimbursed by FEMA. Well, they have yet to confirm for me which expenses FEMA will reimburse. So Nassau could actually be spending money it simply can’t afford.
Regardless, FEMA dollars are taxpayer dollars. Getting FEMA’s money isn’t winning the lottery. Each dollar must carefully go to those who need it most. Does this include mowing down preserves and eliminating every tree along Searingtown and Shelter Rock Road?
Apparently, these questions are out of line. The Legislature’s majority leader called me “cruel” for asking financial questions… on the Finance Committee.
Politicians called my basic questions a “political” move to “derail” Sandy efforts. Would we really “derail” anything by watching for waste and corruption?
A quarter of a million dollars in emergency food contracts was awarded to a politically connected restaurant, where it is rumored that a Nassau County department commissioner has a direct relation. This rumor could have absolutely no basis. But wasn’t I elected to ask?
A company earning millions in Nassau emergency contracts – (the same one that damaged the preserves) – was allegedly involved in a 30-car, fatal auto accident. I have been asking whether their insurance is high enough to deal with this.
I also want this company to pay to restore the preserves. I was told that their subcontractors wrongfully caused damage (on the record during a public Legislative session and in a letter from the Legislative majority leader).
I have also pushed for this company to employ Long Island workers instead of out-of-state crews. When I asked if local crews were being replaced as possible and if the company could make this a priority, I received no answer and the topic was never revisited.
Not only did the politicians try to silence me, but this company actually threatened personal legal action for trying to “interfere” with their county contract.
Threatening the government shouldn’t be the way you get taxpayer-funded work. But, were they punished? No… they were awarded millions more!
I am calling for a Legislative hearing where we: analyze our emergency spending process; hold our contractors accountable for damage I am told they caused; and I am requesting that we bring in an outside accounting firm to do an audit of all of the work contracted and money spent.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Legislator Judy Jacobs, (D-Woodbury) attended the recent Plainview-Old Bethpage CARES Project PACE NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) Walk sponsored by the Mid Island Jewish Community Center in Plainview. This Wellness Walk was filled with family activities, including face painting and a bouncy house. There was a community expo, a 50/50 raffle, live music and refreshments.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come out, walk, get fit and have fun,” said Jacobs.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
The Plainview-Old Bethpage Board of Education unanimously approved of 15 tenure recommendations during a school board meeting last week. The boardroom was packed with family and friends of each tenure recipient. Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Timothy Eagen commended them for the employees’ “efforts, hard work with our children and professionalism.”
From JFK High School, guidance counselor Christina Rivas-Laline and teachers Owen Dugan, Michael Horun and Jennifer Santorello were recommended; teacher Linda Curran from H.B. Mattlin Middle School and JFK; teacher Amanda Gundling from POB Middle School and H.B. Mattlin Middle School; teacher Rachel Quattrocchi from POB Middle School; teacher Risa Henkel from POB Middle School and JFK High School; teacher Brian Gurney from POB Middle School; social worker Marc Galloway from Parkway School and Old Bethpage School; District Psychologist Jennifer Strangio-Lott, district teacher Jennifer Hoffman; teacher Dina Futterman from Stratford Road School; teacher Tara Gaudreault from Pasadena School and teacher Debra Lovett from Parkway School.