As I read Peter Schmitt's Legislative Minority Report ('So Much for Open Government', October 31, 2002), I was struck by the combined arrogance and hypocrisy he expressed. First, Mr. Schmitt complains that the legislative majority proposed (and since passed) a county budget that would result in higher taxes. While it is true that few people are happy that property taxes are being raised, Mr. Schmitt does not acknowledge that our current county executive, Tom Suozzi, was elected to office with a clear and overwhelming public mandate. To refresh Mr. Schmitt's memory, Mr. Suozzi never promised that taxes would not be raised when he ran for office. In fact, to the contrary, Suozzi's campaign was based in large part on saving the county from the fiscal debacle that became his predecessor's legacy. Mr. Schmitt arrogantly complains that we only have now to sit back and watch our tax bills turn steadily north.
Mr. Schmitt goes on to complain about the lack of Republican oversight of the proposed budget. This is the same member of the county legislature that complained mightily about the Democrats and their efforts at including fiscal responsibility when previous budgets were proposed under Tom Gulotta. Further, Mr. Schmitt and his fellow Republican legislators have repeatedly taken the obstructionist approach to government since they have been knocked out of the majority and unseated from the county executives' office. Part of Mr. Schmitt's complaint is hypocritically based on a lack of 'open, bipartisan government.' This is the same legislative representative who vehemently blocked and ridiculed previous proposals by the Democrats when they were in the majority of the legislature but had yet to take the county executive office. At that time, the notion of a bipartisan effort was to demean the elected Democrat officials until they came to the Republican side of the argument.
Before Mr. Schmitt offers criticisms of the current legislative majority, he might consider developing a proposal that will realistically help revive the fiscally strapped county, and he might also become better acquainted with real bipartisan negotiations. Then we might be interested in his complaints.