Monday, October 03, 2005

Kate Cuts While Mondello Rakes 'Em In

Murray, Seniors Mull Money Woes

Remember those poor seniors in the Kate Murray TV spot? You know -- the folks rolling the pennies at the kitchen table, moaning and groaning how their property taxes have increased because of the reassessment, and, naturally, blaming everything from Hurricane Katrina to Athlete's Foot on Tax Assessor, Harvey Levinson.

Well, times have gotten soooo bad for Mr. & Mrs. Irate Taxpayer that they've had to gulp down the Geritol, leave the 1% under the mattress, and venture out with their trusty lawn mower to Kate Murray's humble abode just to make an extra buck or two to cover "HARVEY LEVINSON'S PROPERTY TAX!"

Good old Kate Murray. She cares. Offering a helping handout to her less well off neighbors. "Folks, I understand how tough times are. Tax Assessor, Harvey Levinson, has ruined things for all of us. Here's a chance for you to help yourselves, just like we do at Town Hall. Mow, rake, till, and I'll give you each five bucks, some lukewarm lemonade, and a Kate Murray Bumper Sticker." [Of course, Kate's Brother, a Physical Conditioner on the payroll of Town Parks, will Supervise the lawn maintenance -- from the beach.]

Not only an honest day's pay from Kate, but take a gander at that brand new Craftsman mower. Never used. Probably has no gas in it. Aw, but these good seniors should really have a riding mower, Kate, don't you think?

And do you see the clothes these people are wearing? Looks more like an evening out for dinner and a show than the garb of a grass grabber. Mowing the lawn in biege/tan pants and your Sunday-best shoes? Sure, you have to keep up with the Kates in Levittown, but this is ridiculous!

And, pray tell, why have Mr. & Mrs. Irate Taxpayer come out in their prim and proper, the shine still on the Craftsman, to mow a lawn that has already been cut -- and obviously, by somebody else? Day Laborers, breathe a sigh of relief. Your jobs are safe in Hempstead Town!

Sure, Harvey Levinson has ruined it for all of us -- well, at least for the insiders at Town Hall. He's exposed the failures on the Code Enforcement front, which have allowed the scourge of illegal apartments to metastasize. He's brought to light the inequities of the Special Districts, those semi-independent taxing jurisdictions that pick our pockets and laugh in our faces. He's rattled conventional wisdom by suggesting, for consideration and study, that a regressive property tax, one that threatens to drown every homeowner in debt, be replaced by a nominal income tax. He's uncovered what most of us already knew. That friends, family and party faithful have their hands in the cookie jar at Town Hall, costing taxpayers upwards of $36 million per year. Yup, Harvey Levinson has ruined it for all of us. The party is over!

But enough about Tax Assessor, Harvey Levinson. [If you want the truth about the reassessment and why your taxes have gone up, read Harvey Levinson's Income Tax versus Kate Murray's Property Tax.] Let's get back to Mr. & Mrs. Irate Taxpayer.

Tell us, Mr. & Mrs. T, exactly where do you reside? Give us your Section, Lot and Block numbers so we can go down to the Assessor's office and check the tax rolls. Let's track the change in your Assessed Value from the days before court ordered reassessment, when the GOP Assessors were content to let the system slide into the abyss, to the bungled ventures of Charlie O'Shea (who did for the reassessment process what Michael Brown did for FEMA), to Harvey Levinson's bold initiatives to straighten out this sloppy mess.

We're sure, in examining the record, we would find that it is neither Tax Assessor, Harvey Levinson, nor the reassessment, that has caused your taxes to skyrocket. Nope. Its the increase in the TAX RATES. Some, necessarily, by the County -- to get us out of the fiscal quagmire the Nassau County GOP got us into -- some, under guise of "holding the line," by the Town and the Town's Special Districts, and the bulk by the School Districts.

And what of the brand new Craftsman mower, the fancy duds, and this impromptu photo op with Supervisor Murray? Well, some will say its simply the softer side of Sears. Others, with whom we concur, call it staged!

Staged - like the throng from Sanitary District 6 at the Franklin Square Public Library, who barked down a public official and scoffed at his right to free speech in a public forum.

Staged - like the ads touting Greg Peterson as being "fiscally responsible," when, back in the day, before there was a County Legislature, Greg Peterson, as the Town of Hempstead's Presiding Supervisor, sat on the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, side-by-side with Tom Gulotta, rubber-stamping those "borrow and spend" County budgets, actively participating in the County's financial downfall.

Staged - Like the made-for-television, Crazy Eddie is alive and well TVads, that supplant fact with fiction.

Staged - Like Kate Murray telling us that the Town has "held the line" on taxes, while raising taxes again and again, including that 12.8% increase in 2005.

Mr. & Mrs. T. are looking good in their Sears' best, rolling those coins, checking out the Craftsman, weaving a tale of woe that places blame on all but those who are responsible. Kate Murray's lawn is looking good, the grubs apparently content to suck us dry at Town Hall, where the cleansing light of day is shuttered out by one party rule. And Kate herself is looking good, still smiling for the camera, making nice with her neighbors, and painting a picture of a perfect Hempstead Town.

Yes, all is well at Town Hall. The grass is green, the beds are turned and edged, and the weeds are kept a bay. It is just beyond Town Hall's white picket fence, that green grass beckons brownfields, neat beds turn the corner to reveal garish Main Streets, and the weeds are free to frolic along the sidewalks.



    That's all you people ever do is cry about what Kate Murray is saying in "Political" Ads!!!

    It's election season get used to it I'm sure the Democratic Party will becoming out with their own "truthful" Ads real soon; Like how Harvey Levinson makes the Sun shine everyday!!!


    I crack myself up just thinking about it; keep these post coming they give me such a good laugh every morning!!!

    By the way did anyone see Channel 12 news Sunday - Greg Petersen was being interviewed regarding his run for County Executor, where was Mr.Souzzi???

    Mr.Petersen actually through out the channel for him to come and debate him, why isn't Mr.Souzzi debating him????

  2. Look at the bright side. At least Kate didn't have her dad behind the Craftsman mower!

    You've hit the nail on the head here -- and folks are plenty angry at Town Hall, believe me, because they know what you are saying is true.

    Kate & Company are counting on voters to (a) listen with half an ear (or not at all), (b) accept lies as gospel, and (c) to stay home on election day -- except for the rank-and-file, who will get the call from party HQ to vote the party line, and these clones will sell their own mothers down the river (they've already sold their souls) to keep Mondello's Machine humming away at Town Hall.

    I'm a GOPer, tried and true, but the Mondello Machine is killing all of us in Hempstead Town (Joe couldn't care less. He doesn't live in Hempstead Town)! The only hope of saving our Town is to vote Kate out, for Mondello, too, will go out with that filthy bath water!

  3. As if I needed another reason to vote the GOP out of Hempstead Town Hall - ncres4change.

    "Mr.Petersen actually through out the channel for him to come and debate him, why isn't Mr.Souzzi debating him????"

    Are you speaking English? Clearly, there is a major disconnect between ear and brain, brain and mouth.

    I doubt seriously that anyone believes Harvey Levinson makes the sun shine. If nothing more, his presence at Town Hall in the top spot would assure that the sun will shine in that place, opening the blinds to the light of public scrutiny, and the windows for a breath of fresh air.

    Everyone is under the impression that Town Hall is in great shape. Well, remember we thought that about the County before the bottom fell out under Tom Gulotta's watch. [I had forgotten that Greg Peterson was the Presiding Supervisor, in cahoots with Golotta in the smoke-and-mirrors scheme, playing the tunes that Joe Mondello called out.]

    Fact is, Tom Gulotta, Greg Peterson and Joe Mondello are all interchangeable parts of the same worn down machine. Is that what we really want to go back to in Nassau County?

    If so, just give ncres4change your write-in vote. If we're going, we might as well go all the way!

  4. Sorry about the TYPO Greg Petersen through out the CHALLENGE to debate Tom Souzzi.

    And yes he was in the past Town Supervisor, why is he not qualified to run for County Executive?

    All you want to do is drudge up the same old line TOM GULOTTA, get over it how long ago was that?

    That was then this is now, mistakes that were made then will NEVER be repeated no matter what party is in office!!!

    What has Tom Souzzi done better?

    How much he raised taxes?? 22% inaccurate?

    You speak of interchangeable parts what about Tom Souzzi & Harvey Levinson, like they are not part of a master plan to take over, they'll do nothing more than change this County into the 6th Boro of NYC!!!

    Worn down machine that's a laugh we'll see how well that machine runs down the democratic line on election day!!!

    Face the facts already Tom & Harvey will not be part of the solution!!!

    Anyone that wants to send me their right in votes go right ahead

    The DEMOCRATIC party votes might as well just be flushed down the toilet!

  5. It always amazes me even when given the facts how people will always vote the same way. Why is that? Are they afraid to try something new? I just can't understand it, unless they have a vested stake like a job or a multi family illegal homes. Correct me if I am wrong but isn't the Republican Platform philosophy " Lower Taxes Less Government" Why aren't we the modle county in America? There would be only 2 Republicans I would consider for the top 2 jobs here in Nassau County one Giuliani and 2 McCain men with balls and new ideas. It is sad when the best Nassau Republicans can offer us is a return to the Grand Old Party days. Well the party is over your time is up there are to many issues such as property taxes illegal homes illegal day workers and so on to go back to the past The one thing you can say for sure Like Steve Levy in Suffolk the Democracts understand what the tax payers want, something that has been lacking for many years. Can we get one message from Kate about a plan? Or did Joe Modello forget to give her any new ideas. The lawn mower will not cut it for me and many others, try telling us how you will fix our problems and needs and leave the cutting to us.

  6. To Franklin Square Resident:

    You write:

    Everyone is under the impression that Town Hall is in great shape. Well, remember we thought that about the County before the bottom fell out under Tom Gulotta's watch.

    Let's not practice revisionist history. The county was in a freefall for a long time and Gullotta was just the icing on the cake. Remember, Nassau's bond rating didn't gain near junk status overnight - it took a while for that to happen.

    Compare that to the TOH's continued excellent bond rating by Moody's, S&P, etc. You can't tell me the Town is pulling the wool over the eyes of Wall Street.

    You can credit Suozzi for steering the County ship in a positive direction. You can even criticize Kate Murray for refusing to take responsibility for special districts and not offering creative solutions to control proprty taxes. But let's not make outlandish comarisons between the current town government and the mess that Gullotta created in the '90s.

  7. To jacob: How quickly we forget that the County, too, enjoyed high Bond ratings "before the fall." The excellent Bond rating under Gulotta (the "pre-junk bond years") was NOT based on the County's prudent fiscal management and financial strength. Simply put, it was based upon borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, while not raising taxes or having suffient reserves to pay back either.

    Essentially, the County's finances during the Gulotta years (and prior) was a house of cards. As long as the interest on the Bonds was paid - which it was, until the County owed more money than it could borrow or had saved - the ratings were high.

    Residents were told that all was well, no tax increases were needed, and, yes, that the County's finances were in excellent shape.

    All the while - due to mismanagement, increasing debt service, and continued borrowing to pay that debt (without additional revenues coming in from the taxpayers) - the house of cards was coming apart at the Aces.

    Check the data from Fitch and Moody's. The County's Bond rating was still up there at a time when the house was teetering and the crash was all but inevitable. No, you don't go to from excellent ratings to Junk Bonds overnight. And that's the problem. The "we never saw it coming" complex.

    Near Junk Bond status FOLLOWED the revelation that Nassau County was the most mismanaged County in the nation. By then, it was nearly too late.

    Don't be misled by the Town of Hempstead's creative accounting. The taking from one department to shore up the finances of another. The building of debt upon debt, year after year. [Even at today's low rates, the interest adds up.]

    That same smoke and mirrors is at play -- only the Town is several years behind where the County was 4 years ago, and had the benefit of annual tax hikes (they weren't as brazen as Gulotta) on top of a hefty surplus (a surplus that has now all but disappeared).

    In fact, you should look closely at Fitch Ratings analysis of the Town's finances, particularly its finding vis-a-vis Town Sanitation, which is operating deep in the red. When the foundation has cracks in it, in time, that water will come pouring through.

    We'd be naive to think that the principles (generally accepted, or otherwise)applied by the Nassau County GOP at the County Seat were/are any different than those in effect at Town Hall. Indeed, if you examine the players behind the scene, they are, almost to a man, the same. So, too, are the rules of the game.

    The Town piper will have to be paid, just as the County came a calling. Hopefully, if we can get some tranparency and open government at Town Hall, maybe we can fix those cracks before the house comes tumbling down!

  8. POINT OF INFORMATION: According to the report of Fitch Ratings as issued in the Spring of this year, the Town of Hempstead is $56 million dollars in debt, and plans to borrow even more - $33 million to $35 million per year from 2006-2009. {That wouldn't even cover payroll for the 323 GOP Committeemen on the Town's meter!]

    Also, the Town's largest revenue fund (Sanition – surprise, surprise) is running at an ever-increasing deficit.

    "franklin square resident" is right on the money as concerns the Town of Hempstead's financial picture. Sure, its all rosie cheeks and smiling faces today, but heed the writing on the wall (or in the Fitch Ratings analysis) - come tomorrow, that piper will, indeed, look to be paid, and guess who's going to have to pick up the tab?

    A sweet and peaceful 5766 to all who celebrate the Jewish New Year.

  9. Alright, we can argue ad infinitum about this, but let the numbers speak for themselves:

    In 1994, Moody's bond rating for Nassau was Baa1, the same rating it received in Nov. '03 after Suozzi turned the cunty around. 'Baa1' isn't particularly a good rating, only a couple notches above junk status - and that's how where it stayed until Jan.'99 where there was another downgrade and yet another one in Feb. '00 to Baa3.

    Please don't tell me the County was doing great through the late '90s until right before the Suozzi administration. The county played this game throughout the '90s of funding operating costs through bonding. Wall Street knew it then and that's why their rating was so bad.

    You can't compare that situation to the current fiscal health of the Town of Hempstead and its excellent bond rating.

    Criticize where appropriate, but let's also be honest and give credit to where credit is due.

  10. Bond ratings are Bond ratings. Debt is debt. Great bond ratings only mean that the Town can borrow MORE (granted, at more favorable rates).

    Sooner or later, though, the debt has to be repaid - with interest.

    That's where the taxpayer comes in, and the saavy homeowner moves out!

    You are correct. The numbers speak for themselves. Watch your mail for the next tax notice!

  11. FS Resident & Community Alliance:

    Now that you've backed away from your previous claims, i.e.:

    "...the County, too, enjoyed high Bond ratings "before the fall."

    ..As long as the interest on the Bonds was paid - which it was, until the County owed more money than it could borrow or had saved - the ratings were high.

    ...Check the data from Fitch and Moody's. The County's Bond rating was still up there at a time when the house was teetering and the crash was all but inevitable.

    ..Near Junk Bond status FOLLOWED the revelation that Nassau County was the most mismanaged County in the nation."

    ....let's first acknowledge the fact that you were dead wrong there. The TOH's current bond rating is very strong, four grades above where the county was from '94 to '99.

    So now you throw up your arms and say "Bond ratings are Bond ratings. Debt is debt", and 'Community Alliance' parrots your claim by quoting a Fitch report that the TOH is in terrible debt. But rather than pick and choose numbers that mean nothing in the absence of a context, let's take a closer look at that Fitch report last spring that, incidentally issued the TOH a 'AA' Stable Outlook rating. (The whole report can be found here but I will provide some excerpts):

    The 'AA' rating is based on the Town of Hempstead's strong financial position, a stable and diverse economic base, and a well-conceived capital program with manageable borrowing needs and rapid amortization.

    ...the town's financial position is strong, benefiting from conservative revenue forecasting, good cost control, and growth in non-ad valorem revenues...

    The town's financial position remains strong, with tax-supported funds showing multiple years of surplus, including the special revenue funds, which account for more than one-half of town spending.

    And the kicker:

    Future borrowing plans consisting of $33 million-$35 million annually from 2006 through 2009 should be manageable given the rapid debt amortization rate of 85% in 10 years

    So let's get off this whole debt business. Every municipality in the country borrows money. These ratings firms are not stupid - they wouldn't issue strong ratings if they knew the Town was in financial trouble.

    To be fair, the report does correctly point out the current mess at the sanitation districts, and as I said before, that is where the criticism should be directed, not at the Town's excellent finances.

    Ah, facts indeed are stubborn things, aren't they?

  12. Touche!

    We suppose time will tell whether the statistics or the "borrow and spend" play out.

    We do have a high Bond rating at the Town of Hempstead, no one can argue that. Of course, when you load up on the tax revenues by hiking local taxes every year, it kinda lessens the magic of "look how well we've managed your money!"

    Facts are, indeed, stubborn. So is the electorate. That's why we raise these issues, and offer this forum for EVERYONE to comment, spin, and present the facts as they may appear -- or at least as they see them.

    We move forward from here...