U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, in a letter to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, urged Google to set up shop on Long Island via a unique partnership with the cutting edge Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). Schumer said this groundbreaking public-private scientific partnership could provide solutions to major technological obstacles in genetics and cancer research as well as bring Google scientists and innovators to Long Island.
Nassau County is heading closer and closer to its demise. Following a national Republican trend, the administration is targeting government workers and their unions as the main reason for the county’s financial collapse. It implies our county is being destroyed by overgenerous labor agreements, and if those aren’t amended, massive layoffs will occur.
But a lack of transparency on the county’s part clearly exists. The administration complains that Nassau has the second highest taxes in the nation, yet if the county got rid of all 6,000 of its Civil Service Employees Association workers, Nassau would still hold that regrettable status. In fact, in a $10,000 property tax bill, only $300 is for the services provided by CSEA members.
Although I am a month behind the news cycle, I have hurricane hangover. The soundtrack of my life during the build up to Irene was like the theme from Jaws, that universal jingle of impending doom. I live in Long Beach, close to the bay and canal and a few blocks from the ocean.
I am not one of those who thought the warnings were overhyped or unjustified. I think it was the right thing to do, to warn people and issue orders for mandatory evacuation. I did evacuate my family. And, although we did not suffer any damage I do not regret evacuating. I felt the same way decades ago when hurricane Gloria blew in. I wanted my children then, who are young adults now, to know that they should take hurricanes seriously.
It is important that I share with you the fiscal challenges facing Nassau County. Nassau faces a projected $310 million deficit for 2012 resulting from unaffordable labor contracts, coupled with a broken assessment system and a stagnant economy that have collectively created a fiscal storm. Today [column submitted Sept. 14], I will submit a budget for 2012 that reduces year-over-year spending by $63 million. This is the first time Nassau has done so in over a generation. My budget changes the culture of taxing and spending, which has brought us to where we are today. First, let me say that my budget for the second year in a row does not include a property tax hike as our problems are not tax-driven. Nassau’s problems are spending-driven. As such, my budget significantly reduces the workforce, cuts tens of millions of dollars in spending and reforms unaffordable labor contracts.
Hurricane Irene packed a great punch as it blew across the district but the spirits of our students and staff were not dampened in its aftermath. We have all returned to open the 2011-12 school year with enthusiasm and renewed commitment to preserving excellence. Despite challenging economic times, we have an engaging program planned for our children and the community. Building on the incredible successes of the past school year, where we once again were able to graduate a class with astounding credentials and send them off to some of the most prestigious places of learning, we intend to create even more opportunities for our children to thrive and succeed.
I had the pleasure of welcoming the district’s faculty and staff back to school on September 1 at the Roslyn High School for the start of the new year. It only happens once or twice a year that all of the members of our school family have the opportunity to come together in one place. On these occasions, I always try to communicate some important information about the direction of the school district and the state of public education in general. The theme of my talk this year was “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly – and the Good”.
First, some good news. Roslyn’s many educational initiatives continue. We are expanding the Teacher’s College literacy program in reading and writing from the elementary grades into the middle school. The “Algebra for All” program has been a great success, with exceptional scores on exams by our middle school students. This past spring, we saw outstanding results from our students on Regents and Advanced Placement exams. All of these results are a testament to the hard work of many outstanding teachers.
The Long Island Water Conference (LIWC) continues to assure residents that Long Island water suppliers are committed to providing the highest quality drinking water possible, while managing the region’s water resource.
Contrary to recent erroneous media reports, which have indicated that the quality of our water is gradually deteriorating, Long Island water suppliers have been at the forefront of managing our environment for decades. For many years, safeguarding Long Island’s water supply has been – and will continue to be – the number one priority for water providers throughout Long Island. Long Island water providers have held polluters accountable for their actions and will continue to be proactive in their fight to maintain clean water.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene’s path of disaster, Long Islanders have risen to the occasion to stand together, help each other out, and represent the true community spirit of our region. As a local resident, it is truly inspiring to see neighbors stand together to assist one another. I am honored to represent such a strong community.
I applaud the efforts of Governor Cuomo, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and other local leaders who were out here quickly and efficiently to protect lives, property and restore our communities. They defined true leadership in the wake of Hurricane Irene for those in the Long Island community. I am honored to work with these people and I am proud to watch as everyone comes together to rebuild after the storm.
Thanks to various community efforts, the pending expansion of the Harbor Hill Road firehouse was recently put very publicly before the residents of East Hills, as it should have been two months ago, prior to the single brief zoning board hearing that gave it the go-ahead.
Many facts were finally made available to the public. Our local environments are badly stressed, and responsible citizens need to pay attention. Maybe this woke people up a little.
(Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released the following statement.)
“Again we are reminded by State Comptroller DiNapoli about the up to 26 percent increases in 2012 Pension contributions and 19 percent further increase for 2013 demanded by New York State from Nassau County taxpayers to meet its commitments to retirees. This increase will cost the Nassau County taxpayers an additional $32.1 million in 2012 and then an additional $29 million in 2013.
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