(Editor’s Note: This letter from County Executive Edward Mangano is in response to the Dec. 23 letter “Setting the Record Straight” from Dr. Ranier W. Melucci, President of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents and Superintendent of Schools in the Merrick School District.)
Merrick Superintendent Dr. Ranier W. Melucci recently wrote about my invitation for all Nassau County school districts to join the Long Island Purchasing Council (LIPC). Unfortunately for taxpayers, school districts chose to spend our money obtaining an incorrect and bias legal opinion that tells residents his school district is not permitted to save taxpayer dollars. The Superintendent and his attorney’s couldn’t be more wrong!
Taxes throughout Long Island are too high and spending is out of control. Although I removed $485 million in County tax burden over the next four years by eliminating the home energy tax and 16.5 percent in planned property tax hikes, residents will still face high taxes since the County bill is only 17 percent of their total tax burden. Because schools make up 60 percent or more of a homeowners tax burden, schools must begin to rein in spending and work with local governments to save tax dollars. For 2011, I right-sized County government by cutting $148 million in spending, consolidating departments, streamlining functions, achieving energy efficiencies, forming a purchasing consortium, and by reducing the workforce to the lowest level since 1950.
On a recent holiday trip to New York City with my beautiful wife Lorraine, we were confronted by a few problems, which we overcame by sheer fortitude.
Let me explain.
We took the Long Island Rail Road because we saw on TV that the streets had not completely recovered from the most recent devastating snow and windstorm. We were going to visit my son Gregg, who lives on 83rd Street near Park Avenue.
As we emerged from the bowels of Penn Station onto 7th Avenue, we were shocked and disillusioned. The taxi lines were almost two blocks long on both 7th Ave. and 8th Avenues. What to do? What to do?
In recent days there has been much speculation that the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), a so-called watchdog agency, which sat idle for much of the past decade, will attempt to take control over Nassau’s finances. Yet this watchdog, appointed by Albany politicians, slept silent for the past eight years as the former County Executive mismanaged finances, spent recklessly and gave away indefensible union contracts, which run until 2016 that taxpayers simply cannot afford.
Miraculously NIFA awoke when I, a Republican, became County Executive. I inherited a $286 million deficit – the equivalent of a 43 percent property tax hike - worsened by these labor contracts that promise wage increases which exceed the cost of living standards by hundreds of millions of dollars, guarantee no layoffs, and ensure that employees continue to make no contribution toward health insurance.
My friend, Ralph Kolodny, professor emeritus at Boston University School of Social Work, commented on the brutality of the schoolyard in children’s lives. He said, “We tend to forget the pain that normally characterizes interaction among children. Oddly enough,” he added, “the work of the imaginative journalist or novelist often provides a more accurate picture.”
At year’s end we all get introspective and philosophical!
Resolutions and persistent statements are flying all over the place and directly into our lives. Most will be forgotten and misplaced sometime in January, but their value is unmistakable.
Nestled in a group of stores with white facing and red trim sits one very unique store. I know because I go there twice a week and see the magic. Above the store it says Anita Greenhaus, Physical Therapist.
“Be careful- don’t fall, we can’t afford it!”
These are the words of warning that my beautiful wife Lorraine blesses me with every day. Whether I am going out to bring in the newspapers, or take out the trash or the yellow recycling barrel, these warnings ring in my ears. Usually I am watchful and circumspect in my approach to the dangers and hazards of suburban living, so these cautionary words are not necessary.
“The strange, uneven bill of the skimmer has a purpose: the bird flies low, with the long lower mandible plowing the water, and snaps the bill shut when it contacts a fish.”
In a few weeks my wife and I will be on Longboat Key, Florida for our sixth winter. Almost every morning during the past winters I’ve crossed the street to Whitney Beach. After walking for one-third of a mile there is practically always a collection of shorebirds that I call the “assembled multitude.” This mass includes gray-headed laughing gulls, royal terns with long orange bills, some sandwich terns with yellow on the tips of their black bills, a few Forster’s terns and black skimmers.
Fresh from a “shellacking” (his own words), the United States and its President moved into a congressional Lame Duck situation. This is not good for either party.
Many of the congressman and senators will be gone as we start the new political year. Yet according to our Constitution, they are still active in the legislative process. Each party is trying to fulfill its standard position. It is a matter of living up to stereotypes that are centuries old. It is almost a heritage of the past.
At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2010, doctors who treat Medicare patients are scheduled to absorb a 25 percent pay cut – a cut that threatens the ability of seniors to see their physicians and receive the care they need. It is up to Congress to stop this pay cut and ensure that doctors are not driven out of Medicare.
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