Monday, July 31, 2006

Welcome To The City Of Hempstead

Bill To Turn Village Into City Lingers In NY Legislature

The "justifications" for allowing the Incorporated Village of Hempstead -- the most populous village in the State -- to become a "city" (Nassau's third, behind Glen Cove and Long Beach) are set forth in the legislative memorandum prepared by the bill's sponsor, Senator Kemp Hannon:

JUSTIFICATION: A city is, by law, a municipal corporation and a unit of local government. Simply put, a city is what the State Legislature determines it to be. It is governed by many state laws including thegeneral city law, the local finance law and general municipal law.Unlike towns and villages, a city does not have a general State law.

Instead, a city charter, designed specifically for a particular city, performs the function of the village and town law. The city charter is tailored precisely for a particular city, unlike the "blueprint" laws applied to villages and towns.

Hempstead is the largest village in the State, and it is larger than 49 cities. The Village of Hempstead was incorporated 152 years ago in 1853.

The village structure is intended to accommodate smaller populations; since its inception, the village of Hempstead has grown to such an extent that it would be better served by a city structure. There are a number of advantages to becoming a city including: cities traditionally and historically receive greater state aid benefits than do other local governments; cities have the ability to preempt a portion of the county sales tax or enact their own sales tax; taxable real property in a city is taxed only by the city, county and school district, not the town; the local court is a city court which is funded by the state which includes salaries, benefits, etc. of court personnel; a city may create its own civil service commission; a city may create its own Public Employees Relation Board to deal with employee contracts and organization issues; municipal services will be furnished on a city wide basis; and perhaps most significantly, the government is specifically designed for the city and is not governed by a general state law.

The legislation, S4800, has been languishing in Albany since its initial introduction in 2004, last being referred to the Senate's Committee on Cities in January of this year, where it failed to be voted out to the floor for a vote.

Without much apparent interest to move this legislation through the Senate, and there being no companion bill in the Assembly, it seems unlikely, for better or for worse, that we'll see a City of Hempstead anytime soon.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing -- for the people of the village and/or those who reside in the encompassing township -- cannot be said with any particular resolution. Surely, that real property in a city is taxed only by the city, the county, and the school district, and NOT by the Town, can't be a good thing for taxpaying residents of the TOWN of Hempstead, who would, in all likelihood, have to dig still deeper into their pockets to make up for millions of dollars in town tax receipts lost from the village.

On the other hand, with a greater influx of State aid to the "City" of Hempstead, perhaps the municipality wouldn't have become indebted to the bond market in order to pay off deficits now totaling $6.5 million dollars.

Whatever and whenever the outcome of this proposed legislation, the debate over the pros and cons of giving Hempstead village "city" status should be debated thoroughly -- a matter of full and public exploration -- and should be placed on the table for discussion and digestion, sooner rather than later.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Today Is Election Day

Town Of Hempstead Sanitary District 2 Holds Contested Commissioner Vote

It has been a year now since community advocate and South Hempstead resident Laura Mallay raised a stink amidst the garbage by running for Commissioner in SD2. Her bid was rejected by the few who actually came out to vote, but that did not curb her enthusiasm -- or that of many other community-minded citizens in the special district -- from seeking to redress the longstanding grievance of disparate and often exorbitant taxation for trash collection without either competent or adequate representation.

Mallay went on to found Residents for Effficient Special Districts (RESD), a grassroots organization comprised of local civic leaders from across the Town of Hempstead who are dedicated to making our Special Taxing Districts, including the Sanitary Districts, more efficient in the way they spend our tax dollars.

This year, Wilhelmina Funderburke, a co-chair of the Roosevelt chapter of the NAACP, stands in as challenger to both incumbent Commissioner Leroy Roberts, and to what many describe as the injustice of the status quo. Ms. Funderburke is running on a platform to curb and eliminate wasteful spending and mismanagement.

Sanitary District 2 covers Baldwin, Roosevelt, South Hempstead, parts of Uniondale, north Rockville Centre, parts of Oceanside and Freeport.

According to a press release received from RESD (which supports the Funderburke campaign), the challenger is making some inroads on the issues, with polling reportedly showing the incumbent with only a narrow lead among those polled of 46% to 41% (the remaining 14% of those polled apparently do not have any garbage to be collected.) [The Community Alliance made inquiry of RESD earlier this week as to the poll's methodology, attempting to ascertain how, from whom, and in what manner the polling was conducted. Other than advising that the results were based upon "internal local polling," no information was forthcoming.]

Regardless of the outcome in today's election, it is clear that the pot is being stirred (albeit too often with a toothpick rather than with a serving spoon).

More and more, residents are beginning to see that the special districts are not all they are cracked up to be, and that the findings of the Nassau County Comptroller -- among them, the "lack of internal controls" and "poor administrative, financial and operating practices" in TOH Sanitary District 2 -- do not enure to the benefit of the taxpayers.

Maybe one day, these residents will actually come out to vote!

Voting will take place today, Thursday, July 27th, from 2-10 pm at:

Sanitary District # 2 headquarters, 2080 Grand Avenue, Baldwin

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, 197 W. Centennial Ave, Roosevelt

Covert Elementary School, 379 Willow Street, South Hempstead

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Great Debate

Suozzi, Spitzer Square Off In Westchester

It may not have been at twenty paces (in fact, it was at just one -- Pace University in White Plains), but it was, in no uncertain terms, a debate.

The Nassau County Exec, throwing punches from the first bell, attacked the New York State Attorney General, who remained largely unfazed, and evidently unscathed. The candidates offered views on school funding, property taxes, and marijuana use. [Both admitted to having smoked the weed. After watching the debate, maybe we should, too!]

The debate was broadwast live on NY1, a New York City cable station (we wonder if they were watching on portable TVs in Astoria?), and rebroadcast on News12 Long Island. No Gabe Pressman, for those of us who remember when gubernatorial debates were big deals and actually meant something -- or at least meant enough to be broadcast, statewide, on the networks.

While The New York Times called the debates "fiery," this observer considered the exchange as standard fare. Suozzi jabbed and barbed. Spitzer defended, even managing a smile now and again.

The best moment in the entire debate, in our opinion, came when Suozzi, quoting his dad in Italian, offered a comeback to what he apparently perceived as Spitzer's glibness. "Don't watch the mouth, watch the hands," Suozzi said in translation. Sure, it sounded alot better in Italian.

Those interested -- and each of us should be -- can listen to the debate (or even watch, if you have REAL Player) via Suozzi's website. [To be fair, and in the interest of equal time, we looked at the Eliot Spitzer site for a debate link. Nada. Guess the AG doesn't want to give Tom Suozzi anything more than the meager exposure offered by the media.]

For the record, and as reported on the Newsday blog, Spin Cycle, Suozzi hasn't been inside a supermarket during the past month, Spitzer has. Spitzer owns an I-pod, Suozzi does not. Suozzi admits he'd like to be President, while Spitzer professes no such ambition. And Spitzer says private schools top public schools, while Suozzi favors the public. [Thank goodness we got that I-pod question out of the way!]

Meanwhile, the GOP candidate for Governor, John Faso, prepares to debate himself. Watch for the empty chair to make significant gains against Faso, who has, for all intents and purposes, been ignored in this campaign by press and public alike. [The latest Marist Poll had the empty chair beating Faso by better than 2 to 1.]

Whether Tom Suozzi gained any ground against Eliot Spitzer by reason of last night's debate remains to be seen (even unconventional wisdom, applied liberally here, says "no"). On the other hand, one thing is absolutely certain: A year from now, you still won't have a clue as to who Scott Vanderhoef is!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Look Who's Talking High Taxes

Al D'Amato, in a Long Island Information Network blog post, opines on taxes, the forgotten middle class, and the dragon rearing its ugly head

A better spokesman for change to the status quo there couldn't be!

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Alphonse D'Amato:

Forgotten middle class needs new tax system

By Alfonse D'Amato

Twenty-five years ago, when I began my Senate career, the burning economic issue of the day was inflation in all its ugly manifestations, including sky-high interest rates that were crushing home owners. The forgotten middle class was being squeezed out of the housing market on Long Island by economic forces that threatened the very American ideal of home ownership. Yet with diligent leadership and prudent fiscal management the inflation dragon was slayed and home ownership soared on Long Island.

Today, a dragon is rearing its ugly head again. This time the middle class is being devoured by the enormous increases in property taxes on Long Island. It is not uncommon today for a family that was able to buy a house in the 1980s to find itself in the untenable situation of paying property taxes that dwarf their mortgage payments. A young family just starting out faces the twin demons of astronomical housing prices and stratospheric property taxes.

Now, the forgotten middle class is searching for leadership at all levels – federal, state, and local – to address the most basic of questions: how long will I be able to live in my house when property taxes are spiraling out of control? How did we come to this scary state and how can we get out of it? Here are some observations:

Local governments and school districts have incurred long-term obligations that are clearly unsustainable. Pension and health-care costs are threatening to roar out of control and saddle Long Islanders with a mountain of “unfunded liabilities.” One of the greatest urgencies is for municipalities and school districts to put the brakes on these runaway costs by requiring new hires to accept much more realistic pension and health-care benefits. The taxpaying public should not be asked to pay confiscatory levels of property taxes to support benefits for public employees that are more generous than those they have for themselves.

We must also realize that the inordinate dependence on property taxes to fund education is no longer defensible. A fairer system of taxation must be devised that bases school funding on the broader economic measurements of ability to pay instead of home values and property taxes. And these reforms should be tied to clear restraints on the possible future increases in levels of taxation on Long Island, so that we do not eventually price ourselves out of competition with the rest of suburbanized America.

Local governments and school districts must also face the responsibility to tighten their management and their spending to reflect the limits on taxpayers’ ability to pay. Recent audits of Long Island schools in particular have traced a troubling pattern of sloppy financial oversight, outright fraud and inattention to management practices that can save hard dollars without compromising their core educational mission.

If we do all these things to restrain the growth of property taxes on Long Island, we can eventually replicate the stunning recovery and growth that characterized our area in earlier trying fiscal times. Voters expect the best: uncompromised essential services, thoughtful management, and recognition that their ability to pay is not endless. They will surely punish politicians who fail to deliver a more equitable taxing structure for education and local government. But they will reward leadership, vision, and creativity with yet another burst of economic growth that will lift all Long Island into the forefront of America’s mighty store of prosperity and well being.
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Is this Senator Alphonse D'Amato, icon of New York's Republican Party, suggesting that we replace the onerous property tax with "A fairer system of taxation must be devised that bases school funding on the broader economic measurements of ability to pay instead of home values...?" That sounds like an income tax to us, Al. [Please don't let your colleagues in the GOP hear such talk!]

And did we read Al correctly when he writes, "(voters) will surely punish politicians who fail to deliver a more equitable taxing structure for education and local government?" Nah. Then we'd actually have to vote the bums out come November.

Of course, Al touches but the tip of the fiscal iceberg in his brief foray into high tax New York. Still, it is a step in the right direction and a refreshing change from the rhetoric of failure that has long plagued New York.

Al D'Amato. Dragon slayer and defender of property tax reform. Who knew?

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Man Who Would Beat King

Nassau County Legislator David Mejias Aims Slingshot At An Angry Goliath

Can an upset of Peter King -- the Congressional answer to burning witches at the stake if they float, and saying "oh well" if they drown -- be in the making?

We can only hope!

Our friends at the Long Island Press give a frank and compelling portrayal of Dave Mejias as he embarks on the race of a lifetime -- challenging the very nemesis of democracy, Congressman Peter King. [Click HERE to read, The Next King?]

Forget about King's view that the First Amendment is but a mere recommendation, or that the King treats constituents -- particularly those who question him on the issues -- worse than peasants. If we needed a single reason to support Mejias for Congress, we got one -- Gary DelaRaba (pronounced Dela Robber), the President of the Nassau PBA, endorses Pete King.

Les Payne of Newsday recently took a stab a Peter King, calling him out on his vocal opposition to a free press in America, and admonishing, in the strongest terms, "For his outrages, King should be marched to the blackboard and made to write 500 times the following excerpt from the First Amendment: 'Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press.'" [Click HERE to read, Rep. King tries to terrorize the press.]

We've certainly been no fan of Peter King here at The Community Alliance -- and we have quite a few nasty e-mails in our archives to show for it. Shame, 'cause King is such a congenial fellow, and a leader in the forefront of the fight to preserve our liberties and protect individual rights.

While King chairs the Homeland Security Committee (read as, America's answer to the Keystone Cops) in the House, we see him more comfortable chairing the House Committee on Un-American Activities. After all, Joseph McCarthy had nothing on good old Pete King.

Dave Mejias has an uphill climb before him, to be sure. Still, to those who understand that you do not protect the freedoms of Americans, or defend and promote those freedoms around the globe, by either stomping on civil liberties or putting the press on ice, the choice in New York's 3rd CD is clear.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nominees Sought For TOH 'Make A Difference' Awards

Town of Hempstead Looks to Recognize Citizens' Contributions to Community

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and the town board have announced that nominations are now in order for the Town's 10th Annual "Make A Difference Awards."

Residents of the township, as nominated by their neighbors, will be recognized in the fall for service to their local community.

Does it help if you are a registered Republican, son or daughter of a registered Republican, recent donor to the GOP, and/or a past or present Republican Committeeman? Well, let's just say, it couldn't hurt! LOL

Levity aside, this prestigious accolade is doled out by the Town of Hempstead to spotlight those who go above and beyond in helping others, and in working to build a better community for all. A well deserved "thank you," if you will, for the few who selflessly serve the many.

"Our Make A Difference Award recipients have made a profoundly positive impact on the lives of others," said Supervisor Murray at last year's award ceremony at Town Hall. "While we can never hope to adequately repay these men and women for their efforts on behalf of those in need, we are honored to have this opportunity to thank them."

And here in Hempstead Town, we are all "in need." So there's plenty of room for good deed doers to do their good deeds, and certainly no better time or place to recognize those who, day in and day out, put community before self.

If someone you know has made a difference in your community, enjoys residency in the Town of Hempstead (at twice the going rate, or otherwise), and would welcome a photo op with Ms. Murray (and a Councilmember of his/her choice), send a bio and brief resume of this person's accomplishments to:

Town of Hempstead
10th Annual "Make A Difference" Awards
Town Hall
1 Washington Street
Hempstead, NY 11550

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Does Anyone Know What Day It Is?

July 20, 1969 ~ First Manned Moon Landing

Many readers of this blog were but twinkles in their parents eyes when Neil Armstrong took that one small step for (a) man, and even among those who vividly recall watching man's first foray onto an extraterrestrial body, few remember that our Long Island played a vital role in putting us on the moon.

It was Long Island based Grumman Corportation, after all, that made lunar exploration a matter of science fact, developing and building that odd-looking, bug-like Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM.

Aside from making it possible to land man on the moon during four Apollo missions -- and returning him safely to Earth -- LEM served as a lifeboat for the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 13, making Grumman, and our Long Island, an historic and integral part of the exploration of both space and human endurance.

Grumman, as Long Islanders knew it in the 60s, is no longer an economic force here, the site from which F-14 Tomcats once came off the line now home to more mundane ventures, like Goya Foods, Inc. And the landscape of suburbia is as different today as the Sea of Tranquility is from the Long Island Sound.

Still, if one listens very carefully, you can almost hear Walter Conkrite as he narrates the first lunar landing, as he describes the starkness of the lunar surface, as the LEM kicks up dust at four feet, three feet, two feet from the moon's surface.

Yes, some 37 years have passed since a "giant leap for mankind" was taken on that desolate, pot-marked plain. We wonder, sometimes, as to the strides mankind has made since that day -- a day that, in the minds of many, seemed to bring the whole world together, every eye glued to a television set, and every dream heaven-bound, constrained only by the limits of our own imaginations.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Empire Zone Wants YOU!

Nassau County plans Empire Zone Information Meetings In Freeport, Elmont

The Office of Economic Development and The Office of Minority Affairs has announced a series of information sessions to educate and inform community residents and local businesses about the Nassau County Empire Zones Program. The series of 10 panel sessions was kicked off on July 11th and 12th with meetings in Roosevelt and Hempstead ["Hellooooo. Is anybody there?], respectively, with eight others to follow over the next few months. All sessions are open to the public.

There are 76 zones in New York State designated as Empire Zones, one of which is Nassau County. Despite pockets of affluence in Nassau County (notably, NOT along the island's forgotten South Shore), there are other areas where economic growth is stagnant. Empire Zones were created to restore and revitalize these downtown areas by stimulating economic growth in communities using a variety of tax incentives. These incentives are designed to draw new businesses into the area and allow existing businesses to expand and create more jobs.

The designated areas within Nassau County’s Empire Zone include parts of Bethpage, Elmont, Freeport, Glen Cove, Hempstead, Inwood, New Cassel, Roosevelt, Uniondale, and West Hempstead. Certified businesses in these areas may potentially be able to operate on a nearly tax-free basis for ten years with additional savings for another five years following the ten-year program.

Here is a list of upcoming public meetings:

Monday, July 24th at 7 PM
Freeport Memorial Library
144 West Merrick Road
Freeport, New York 11520

Tuesday, July 25th at 7 PM
Elmont Public Library
1735 Hempstead Turnpike
Elmont, New York 11003

Residents, and in particular, civic leaders, are encouraged to attend these sessions, and to report back to the community at large. What happens at Empire Zone meetings -- with the potential for significant impact upon the local economic scene -- should not stay at Empire Zone meetings!

Then again, aspects of "local control" -- whether over zoning, economic development, monitoring of the water supply, or garbage collection -- are highly overrated. Certain things, like deciding the fate of the community in which you live, are sometimes best left to the professionals (or to the political appointees -- your pick). . .

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

You Ain't Heavy, You''re New York's Tax Burden

Public Policy Institute Finds New York's Tax Burden Highest In The Land (But you already knew that, didn't you?)


ALBANY—New York's overall state-and-local tax burden remains the heaviest in the country, and the state ranks at or near the top in property, income and sales taxes, a new data compilation by the Public Policy Institute shows.

The Institute, the research affiliate of The Business Council of New York State, updated its Just The Facts statistics on state and local taxes in New York and elsewhere. The analysis uses U.S. Census Bureau data for fiscal 2004 that were released recently, as well as other authoritative sources.

State and local taxes averaged $5,260 for every New Yorker in 2004, according to the Institute. That figure was the highest in the nation, 53 percent above the average for all states. Even after adjusting for personal incomes in each state, taxes in New York are still the highest, 32 percent above average.

Property taxes in the Empire State average $1,677 per capita. Only three states impose a heavier property-tax burden.

The average combined sales-tax rate in New York, 8.25 percent, is fourth-highest among the 50 states, the Institute found. That figure is 39 percent higher than the national average of just above 5.9 percent.

Personal-income taxes in New York are the highest in the nation, and over twice the national average, on a per-capita basis. Combined state and local corporate-income taxes are third-highest in the country.

Overall local taxes in New York are also the highest in the country, on a per-capita basis.

State-level taxes imposed by Albany average $2,280 per person, eighth-highest among the states and 20 percent above the national average.

Gasoline taxes in New York total more than 32 cents a gallon, one of the highest levels in the nation and a key reason gas prices are higher than those in neighboring states, Just The Facts shows.

New York's high taxes reflect high levels of government spending. Overall state and local spending in the Empire State averaged $10,392 per person. That figure was thousands of dollars higher than those in states such as Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Vermont, the Institute found. The state is also a leader in spending on individual programs such as welfare and education.

In addition to taxing more than other states, New York and its local governments borrow more heavily. State and local governments in New York have accumulated more than $11,300 in debt, on average, for every resident. That figure is 71 percent more than the national average.

The Institute's Just The Facts statistics are available at
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Information courtesy of

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Wind Storm Over Turbines

From The Editorial Board At Newsday, Cooling Breeze or Ill Wind On LI Wind Farm?

The 4.5% solution
Costs and benefits need weighing for LIPA's proposed windmill farm

A very important process began this week on Long Island: the nation's first attempt to devise guidelines for leasing part of the ocean to those who want to harness the wind. Department of the Interior officials came here for two "scoping" sessions to learn the public's concerns about the Long Island Power Authority's application to place giant wind generators off Jones Beach.

Supporters and opponents want the federal agency to study the project's environmental consequences, its safety, the reliability of the nascent technology to be used and, most important, how much it will cost. These findings will answer the critical question: Is this experiment to provide 140 megawatts of alternative energy - about 4.5 percent of the average peak demand - worth the risk of damaging the beaches that define Long Island?

Whether, at the end of what is likely a two-year process, the Minerals Management Service will recommend a lease for LIPA is uncertain. What must be certain, however, is that this precedent-setting regulatory review be comprehensive and transparent, and that the policy debate about it remain informed and honest.

That can start with LIPA chairman Richard Kessel, who risks insulting all Long Islanders when he frames the choice in stark cartoonish terms: Take the wind project or risk the nation's security; all opponents are selfish NIMBYs who live near Babylon and Massapequa. Kessel asked the federal agency to hold hearings on the North Shore. Does he presume residents there are less concerned about ocean views, the environment, the navigational safety of ships and planes, or whether this is a sensible investment?

The concerned citizens at the sessions on Monday and Tuesday had a more sophisticated take on this very difficult choice. Those concerned about the planet - about global warming, dirty air and a dependency on foreign oil - seem to be on both sides. Migrating to renewable wind power is a worthy goal that has few dissenters. But this debate is also about a specific place on the planet - Long Island, which has jealously protected its water, birds, fish and shoreline. The turbines would be placed about 3.6 miles offshore, and with their rotors would rise 440 feet above the Atlantic - visible from land, although how much so is disputed. The Jones Beach water tower, for now the icon of our shoreline, stands at 200 feet.

Soon LIPA will finalize its contract with FPL Energy, which would build and operate the wind facility. That's when we will know how much exposure LIPA will assume in a project already estimated at $400 million. That will be a start toward weighing its real costs.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Are You Happy To See Me, Or Is That Prozac In The Water?

Just read Jennifer Smith's Newsday piece, The dirt on groundwater. My first reaction was, "Duh! Our water comes from below ground and there's all kinds of crap in it? Tell me something I don't already know..." Then I read on. "Caffeine, nicotine, Prozac -- all these things are starting to show up...," reports Smith.

Prozac? Now you've got my attention. Forget the bottled water, folks. Turn on the tap, put your mouth under the faucet, and drink to your heart's content. Boy, imagine how depressed and unhappy us Long Islanders would be if we didn't have Prozac in our water?

Now, if we could only get some Lipitor in there, all would be well, here above the aquifers!

It has been a rough couple of weeks at The Community Alliance blog. What with MTBE in the water (please don't adulterate my Prozac!), Nat Swergold mouthing off (proving yet again that the Town of Hempstead should institute mandatory retirement for the hopelessly brain dead), and all this talk of wind farms off of Jones Beach. [Hey, you need wind? Attach a turbine to the NYS legislature. There's enough hot air blowing from Albany to light up a thousand suns!]

Anyway, with all that's been going down on our Long Island, your blogger-in-chief has decided to blow this popcorn stand (What? No butter?) for calmer climes (I was thinking Beirut) for a week or so.

For those concerned about blog withdrawal, have no fear. We will pre-post an entire week's worth of blog material. Sort of like "Tomorrow's News Today," the mantra of the old Night Owl edition of the Daily News. [Unlike Long Island's main stream media, which typically brings us last week's news two weeks from now. Oh, oh. We've angered the press. There goes my free subscription to the Elmont Herald!]

While we're away -- sans either laptop or cell phone -- we'll be collecting Guest Blogs from the masses, with the goal of posting at least 2 such Guest Blogs every week during the dog days of August. [We have the feeling it is going to be a LOOOOOONG month...]

Enough of the potted plant, "let someone else do it," "what difference can I make" mentality. Add your voice to the choir and, at the very least, make some real noise out there. [After all, you can either take back your town, or let guys like Joe Candella run it into the ground for you. Your choice.]

So, check the batteries in your wireless mouse, look around town for what's wrong, what's right, and what could be, and start pounding that keyboard.

We know there's at least one blogpost in each of you (and you thought it was gas), and this is your opportunity to share your inner self with the world (Pat, zip up your fly!!!).

Remember, it takes unity to create community. And it takes lemons to make lemonade. Plenty of ice, too. Make mine pink.

Take care of our Long Island while this blogger is away. Don't forget to put your garbage out (in securely covered containers). And if you should be looking for the sunscreen, I've got it with me. [Hey, can somebody get my back?]

Onward, upward, and, for now at least, seaward!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Listen To The Voices Of Community

With Town of Hempstead Sanitary District 2 Elections on the Horizon, Community Activist Speaks Out in Favor of Change

My name is Laura Mallay, and I ran for Commissioner in Sanitary District #2 in July of 2005. Although I was defeated, the election itself was a tremendous success. Over 600 people heard my message loud and clear. The residents of Sanitation District #2 are being overtaxed for services. We are paying almost twice the amount of money for the same quality of service that the majority of the residents of Nassau County receive. At a time when people are leaving Long Island in droves, this is unacceptable.

As taxpayers it is our duty to start paying attention to the issues and the election of these Sanitation Commissioners. Many people do not realize the impact that these Commissioner positions have on our wallets. These "special districts" were set up in the 1930s to provide the residents with a local form of government. Unfortunately, they have manifested into patronage clubs that benefit the few as opposed to the many.

I and many other concerned citizens have banded together to form a group called Residents for Efficient Special Districts (RESD). For the last year, we have been working together to find solutions to this problem.

We will continue our fight, but we need your help.

I urge all taxpayers in Sanitation District #2 to vote on Thursday, July 27, 2006, for the Sanitation Commissioner position. Please cast your vote for Wilhemina Funderburke and give the taxpayers a voice on the Board of Commissioners of Sanitation District #2.

Mrs. Funderburke has been a member of RESD since it's inception. She will fight to curb the overspending and the "spend it while we've got it" mentality that exists within our sanitary district right now.

Please stand up for your rights as taxpayers. Don't allow yourselves to be manipulated and intimidated into believing that change will leave our district under-serviced. It is time to stop the madness of allowing ourselves to be taxed out of our homes!
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Right you are, Laura. "Local control" begins with you, the voters. Get out there and let your voices be heard!

Did you say "Efficient Special Districts?" Isn't that an oxymoron? Oh well. We suppose you have to start somewhere. :-)

Click HERE to read Nassau County Comptroller's Audit Report for SD2
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RESD is a grassroots organization comprising local civic leaders from across the Town of Hempstead who are dedicated to making our Special Taxing Districts more efficient in the way they spend our TAX DOLLARS. RESD can be reached at

On Thursday July 27th, there will be an Election for Commissioner of Sanitary District # 2. RESD is Supporting Wilhelmina Funderburke for Commissioner.

Why Wilhelmina Funderburke?

She Has Experience & Gets Things Done
· 40 year resident of Roosevelt
· 25 years management experience at Nassau Downs OTB
· 15 years of Community Advocacy
· 15 Years on the Board of Long Island Youth Foundation
· Old Westbury BS Business Administration

She's a Resident-Taxpayer Like YOU, not an Insider
· Mother of 3 children and 6 grandchildren raised in the community
· Call Wilhelmina, she answers the phone
· Ask Wilhelmina a question, she gets you an answer
· Bring Wilhelmina a problem, she gets you a solution
· Give Wilhelmina a dime, she makes it count twice before leaving
· She owns her own home and pays property taxes like most of us. HER opponent does not.

On Thursday, July 27th COME OUT & VOTE!
How long will you be able to pay your ever increasing property taxes?

Voting will take place from 2-10 pm at:

Sanitary District # 2 headquarters, 2080 Grand Avenue, Baldwin
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, 197 W. Centennial Ave, Roosevelt
Covert Elementary School, 379 Willow Street, South Hempstead

"Look What They've Done With The Schools"

Comment By Counsel For Town of Hempstead Sanitary District 1 Sparks Controversy, Concern

We already knew, well before last week's election for Commissioner in Sanitary District 1, that anti-Orthodox sentiments were running high in the Five Towns, this on the heels of the defeat of the Lawrence School District budget, and the election to the School Board of what amounts to an Orthodox majority.

Still, even we were taken aback by comments made to the local press by counsel for SD1, Nat Swergold, after sitting Commissioner Joseph Candella handily defeated challenger Jeremy Merrill, a member of the Orthodox community.

Swergold, of "extra trucks in service to collect bread during Passover" fame, is reported to have told the Nassau Herald that "The Orthodox are very well organized. It could be a continuation of other voting patterns. Look what they've done with the schools."

"I'm shocked that counsel for a public entity would make such a remark," said one Woodmere resident. "To even intimate that the 'interest' of the Orthodox is to 'take over' the sanitary district, and that the goal of Jeremy Merrill was parochial in nature, borders on the anti-semitic."

If Nothing more, the latest "Swergoldism" crosses the line of that which is appropriate.

While we at The Community Alliance take issue with the motives of the Orthodox community in Lawrence in voting down a sensible budget and in "packing" the School Board, we can see no such inclinations here, where the issues -- including financial oversight and public accountability -- were clearly the motivation for Mr. Merrill's run.

On the other hand, we do not, and should not discount the anti-Orthodox vote that obviously came into play in last week's Sanitary District 1 election, which, concededly, turned a tide in favor of Candella into a tsunami.

"I find it rather odd," said one Lawrence resident who offered comment for this blog only on condition of anonymity, "that a sanitation district operated, more or less, by the modern-day equivalent of fascista, would, through its attorney, accuse the Jewish community of looking to take control of the district. You are damned if you take an interest in your community, and damned if you don't!"

As there is no place for hate on our Long Island, there is no place for casting aspersions or attributing false motives. Certainly, words that conjur up memories of an earlier time, when hate wore a Swastika, and blame for a nation's woes fell upon the shoulders of minority populations, have no place in the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary Districts.

For Nat Swergold, a public employee serving on our tax tab, to use language such as "look what they've (the Orthodox Jews) done with the schools" to rally resentment and foster fear is nothing short of reprehensible. For us, as citizens, to have let such a remark pass without either notice or rebuke, would have been unconscionable.

More than eyebrows should be raised here, and the reverberations should reach far beyond the confines of the fiefdom known as Town of Hempstead Sanitary District 1.
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SEE also, Newsday's Incumbent Wins Election

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hope Floats

And So Do School Buses, Apparently

From the strange to the downright bizarre.

News12 Long Island reports that, thanks to a New York State grant of $250,000 (is this the infamous "member item" at work again?), the Syosset-based Pontiphian company, a division of Inspecto, Inc., will begin manufacturing a prototype of an amphibious school bus.

The bus will be able to go from land to water, and back again, much like the amphibious vehicles used by the military. Presumably, Long Island's school children will now be able to be transported from classroom to full scale assault on the north shore without stopping at a single boat crossing. [Click HERE for the News12 report and to see the video.]

The idea of a floating school bus was the brainchild of one Tony Caserta, a former Grumman employee, who is of the opinion that, in the event of an emergency or terror attack, residents could be transported to, say, Connecticut, on a fleet of pontoon buses. [Caserta hopes to one day replace all of Long Island's 7,000 school buses with his floating buses.]

Never mind being a "sitting duck" for terrorists in a yellow pontooned school bus. Just imagine being ferried off Long Island and into the churning waters of the sound during a natural disaster -- like a category 5 hurricane.

Preposterous, you say? Not to the folks in Albany, who have earmarked a cool quarter of a million in taxpayers' dollars for the Pontiphian company to build this banana boat, banking that this soggy venture will actually hold water.

In fact, State Legislators give these floating school buses such high water marks that, in addition to your money, they sent two representatives to be among the dignitaries at a ribbon-cutting ceremony recently held at the Syosset factory -- State Senator Caesar Trunzo (R-Brentwood), and Assemblyman Joeseph Saladino (R-Massapequa). Both Trunzo and Saladino praised the project.

Dumb idea and a terrible waste of scarce tax dollars? Not for Tony Caserta and the Pontiphian company!

Two questions:
(1) Who is Mr. Caserta related to or in bed with?
(2) Do you think Albany would toss any money our way for a prototype of a floating blog?

A floating blog. Call it a flog. Hmmm. Next legislative session, we "float" that proposal for a grant before our friends in Albany. Don't laugh, folks, given pressure in the proper quarters, and some $2 million in government subsidies, we could all end up being FLOGGED by the time next year's State budget rolls around!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"I Can Do It, Because I've Done It!"

Can Nassau County Exec "Make Cut" In Governor's Race?

Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), seen here with members of the Kiryas Joel polo team, prepares to perform a ritual circumcision as part of his campaign for Governor of New York.

"Spitzer had one," declared Souzzi, "and came up short. Faso won't disclose, but we have our suspicions about a guy who calls himself a 'physical' conservative."

The young boy in the right of the photograph, a yeshiva student from Brooklyn, "volunteered" as Suozzi's first-intended circumcisee. "I asked the County Executive to give my sister (seen at left) a 'kiss,'" said the startled youth, "not to try his hand at a bris."

In recent months, circumcisions have come under scrutiny in the U.S., with the medical profession and others questioning their efficacy.

Suozzi scoffed at such rubric, saying that circumcisions are a rite of passage, as American as using public tax dollars to fund kosher lunches at parochial schools.

In an unusual showing of bipartisan support, Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino, a Republican. offered Suozzi words of encouragement. "I can't speak for people anywhere else in New York State," said Santino, "but I can tell you that, here in Hempstead Town, young boys thoroughly enjoy being circumcised, and their parents would gladly pay twice the going rate to have Tom Suozzi do the cutting."
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Submitted by M. Gold, Oceanside, New York
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Beating The Tom Tom!

In recent weeks, there have been discouraging words for Tom Suozzi, with everyone from the politically astute to the Peanut Gallery, urging him to quit the Governor's race.

Badly behind in the polls, and unlikely, in the realm of electoral knowledge, to win his party's nomination, Suozzi labors on, crisscrossing the State, trying to get the message to voters that more than a few spokes on Albany's wheels are broken, and the taxpayers are getting soaked to the bone by the entrenched powers-that-be just to keep that rickety old wagon rolling through the mud.

With Suozzi down, should he bow out? We say, "NO SIR," not while there is still a single New Yorker who hasn't heard the message on property taxes, Medicaid fraud, school financing, and the mounting State debt.

Tom Suozzi has a tale to tell. A tale, while not as tall as those woven by the folks who make Albany, of all places, their winter home, that speaks of the need to fix a dysfunctional government, mired in stalemate, and moved only by the delusion that the elected are actually serving the best interests of their constituents.

John Faso, the self-proclaimed fiscal conservative ala the George Pataki fiscal conservatives, offers more of the same in Albany; another small-town power broker with small-time ideas, rehashed from the failures of a 12-year ride that took us from the grapevines of Peekskill through the tangled webs of Neverland-on-the-Hudson.

As for Eliot Spitzer, sure, he'll make a fine Governor, but it will be governance as much by the established status quo as it will be for those who are beholden to Albany's inner circle.

True, Eliot Spitzer has taken on Wall Street. Commendable. Tom Suozzi, on the other hand, speaks from the heart for Main Street -- and on the issues that impact on that Main Street (particularly here on Long Island), where the message must be heard, and should, by all rights, be heeded.

Not all messengers get their due, and not all messages reach the eyes and ears of those who have the power to turn mere words into decisive action.

Does that mean the messenger should remain silent, or the message should fall by the wayside, undelivered? Not a chance.

Keep on battling the way things are, Tom Suozzi, and show us the way things could be. Bring on the debates! You may not get the chance to fix Albany on this go 'round, but at least New Yorkers will have had the opportunity to hear your views, share in your vision, and to make a reasoned choice at the polls (perhaps sending a message of their own), and every one of us will be the better for it, win, lose or draw.
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Have something to share with your neighbors -- about the Governor's race, property taxes, special districts, our schools, or anything else that impacts upon our quality of life here on Long Island?

The Community Alliance would like to hear from you, and would be delighted to consider submissions for publication on this blog. [All submissions for publication MUST be accompanied by the name of the author and a phone number for verification. Names will be withheld upon request.]

Write us at

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sanitary District 1 Residents Get What They Vote For. . .


Incumbent Sanitary District 1 Commissioner Joseph Candella, whose special district operations came under fire from the Nassau County Comptroller for alleged improprieties and glaring fiscal irresponsibility, and continue to be under scrutiny by both the NYS Comptroller's office and the Nassau County District Attorney, defeated novice challenger to the status quo, Jeremy Merrill, proving, yet again, that, as Abe Lincoln so aptly declared, you really can fool most of the people (among them, the ignorant, the indolent, the complacent, and the perennially duped), most of the time.

"If people want garbage, are willing to watch their tax dollars squandered, and can live with incompetence at the wheel," said a Cedarhurst resident who asked that her name not be revealed for fear of reprisal, "then they deserve what they get -- garbage!"

The final vote, 1606 for Candella to 691 for Merrill (includes all absentee ballots), was more a homage to the ability of Machine politics to herd the cattle and prod them to the polls than it was a referendum in support of the manner in which the district conducts business.

Truth be told (and don't look to the Commissioners of the Sanitary Districts to tell it), in a district that serves some 18,000 homes, with more than twice that number in registered voters (approximately 40,000), clearly a turnout of a mere 2200 (or 5.5% of registered voters) can hardly be said to be a referendum on anything -- except, perhaps, the apathy of the electorate, who would rather continue to dig deep into their pockets to pay for trash collection than to switch horses -- even when the district is being run by the horse's other end!

Ahh, P. T. Barnum would be proud, indeed, of the residents of SD1!*

A sad day in Sanitary District 1? Not really. By our count, nearly 31% of those who came to the polls on a sultry summer evening for a barely noticed election have said with their votes that they've had enough. Enough of the lies, the mismanagement, the patronage appointments, and the cavalier notion that public officials can engage in conduct that is tantamount to stealing from the taxpayer.

Jeremy Merrill, contacted by The Community Alliance, expressed thanks to his supporters. [Thank YOU, Jeremy, for having the courage to challenge this Goliath that bullies from garbage dump to recycling bin!]

Joseph Candella, who told Newsday that his victory over Merrill "...tells you that the general public was pleased with the sanitary district service and myself," could not be reached for comment.

We suppose Commissioner Candella is out celebrating his lopsided win, perhaps with a $700 steak dinner at Morton's!

Could be that keeping Candella in the Commissioner's seat is a good thing, really. This way, should indictments be handed down by a Grand Jury, we can all watch News12 as the Sanitary District 1 co-conspirators are carted away to jail from the district's headquarters in Lawrence.

That will be the day residents can give a new meaning to the term, "taking out the trash!"
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*An honest man who arrests public attention will be called a "humbug,"' but he is not a swindler or an impostor. If, however, after attracting crowds of customers by his unique displays, a man foolishly fails to give them a full equivalent for their money, they never patronize him a second time, but they very properly denounce him as a swindler, a cheat, an impostor; they do not, however, call him a "humbug." He fails, not because he advertises his wares in an outre manner, but because, after attracting crowds of patrons, he stupidly and wickedly cheats them.

P.T. Barnum--"Humbugs of the World"

How long will residents accept the failure "to give them a full equivalent for their money?" How many times will they allow themselves to be swindled, cheated, and patronized by those whose actions serve as "imposters" of the public good?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Shoulder High In Trash And No Place To Cart It

Long Island's Garbage Comes Home To Roost

From Newsday:

LI must act now to avoid coming trash crunch

By R. Lawrence Swanson

Long Island has been managing its solid waste reasonably well for the last 15 years. But that won't be the case in about five years unless the citizens of the Island and their political leaders
courageously address the problem now.

How much longer can we assume that our municipal solid waste and recyclables will be collected and that the services will cost the same?

The size of the waste stream continues to grow, the agreements and contracts that manage that waste are about to expire, and the impact of New York City's waste management is unknown but likely to be significantly negative.

We Long Islanders are generating more waste than before and managing less and less of it here on the Island. In 1997, the commercial and residential waste stream was about 3.5 million tons per year (about 7 pounds per person per day). In 2002, that waste stream had grown to 4.6 million tons per year (about 9 pounds per person per day). Given current projects, the waste stream could be about 6 million tons per year by 2009.

In 1997, because of waste reduction, yard-waste composting and recycling programs, Long Island diverted about 38 percent of its waste. Waste-to-energy facilities at Hempstead, Islip, Babylon and Huntington/Smithtown handled 45 percent, and 17 percent was transported off the Island. Today, garbage-burning facilities handle 35 percent of the waste stream, and we now ship 30 percent off-Island to places in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.

By 2009, when many of our current intermunicipal agreements and contracts begin to expire, Long Island will likely transport 38 percent (2.3 million tons per year) of our waste off-Island, since the incineration facilities' capacity will remain fixed and the waste-diversion rate will be about the same. In other words, some 290 18-wheel trucks carrying 22 tons each will leave Long Island every day to haul raw garbage to Pennsylvania, Ohio and possibly even Indiana - if the Hoosiers will have it.

Of course, those 290 trucks have to return from wherever they empty their loads. The negatives associated with this transportation are considerable - increased air pollution, wear and tear and traffic congestion on roads, and the unavailability of long-haul trucks. Imagine the public outcry when garbage backs up in one of our towns because trucks aren't available.

Right now Brookhaven sends its solid waste to the Hempstead facility in exchange for ash that is placed in Brookhaven's ashfill at Yaphank. At nearly the same time that agreement will expire, the contract between the Town of Hempstead and the commercial company operating the facility, American Ref-Fuel (now COVANTA), expires. It is possible that neither Brookhaven nor Hempstead could use the Hempstead facility, which now handles the waste of almost half of Long Island's 2.8 million people.

Many other agreements, including those with the other three Island facilities, also expire between 2009 and 2018. In other words, we could become almost totally dependent on environmentally insensitive, costly, resource-limited, long-hauling to distant venues.

Meanwhile, the city's waste management practices will also have a pronounced effect on Long Island's facilities and waste treatment agreements. Basically, the city has no plan other than to transport its waste somewhere else. Thus, the city may be competing for some of the same out-of-state facilities as Long Island, and the city may also be willing to pay considerably more than we do now.

Thus, as now perceived, Long Island could be relying on more off-Island transport, not only for its increased waste generation, but because it may not have access to existing facilities. From management, infrastructure and environmental perspectives, it is not good for Long Island to be increasingly dependent on long-hauling our waste.

The Island must plan now to avoid a waste crisis in 2009. Planning, siting and construction for new facilities require at least five years. In the meantime, we must restructure the existing contracts, re-examine the costs of off-Island transport, revitalize our recycling programs and reassess the Long Island Landfill Law, to say the least.

Long Island is clearly facing a looming crisis. We don't need another barge lugging unwanted Islip garbage up and down the East Coast to sully our image. We must deal with these issues now.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

R. Lawrence Swanson is director of the Waste Reduction and Management Institute at Stony Brook University. His colleagues, Michael Cahill and James Heil, contributed to this article.
- - -
This article first appeared in Newsday on July 20, 2004, nearly two years ago. The problems discussed, yet largely unaddressed by officialdom, remain at hand. The situation threatens to get entirely out of hand, and the doomsday clock continues to tick down at the garbage dump. . .

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SEE, The New York Times, A Long, Long Haul From The Curb

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Answer Is Blowing In The Wind

Feds To Hold Public Scoping Hearings On Offshore Wind Farms

The Long Island Offshore Wind Park is a proposal to construct 40 wind turbines that will be located 3.6 to 5.5 miles off the south shore of Long Island. The slow-spinning turbines would generate 140 megawatts of pollution-free, safe, renewable power. This is enough to provide electricity for 44,000 homes on Long Island!

The federal agency, Minerals Management Service (MMS), will be holding Public Scoping Hearings on the Wind Park July 10th and 11th.

Monday, July 10, 2006
7 pm-11 pm
W. Babylon Senior School
Performing Arts Center
500 Great East Neck Road
West Babylon, NY 11704

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
7 pm-11 pm
Massapequa High School Auditorium
4925 Merrick Road
Massapequa, NY 11758

For more information, please contact Citizens Campaign for the Environment at 516-390-7150 or visit or
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Click HERE to read Newsday's, Wind Farm's Turbulence

What's In Your Wallet?

Banking On Legislature's Property Tax "Rebates" Won't Get You Too Far

Newsday has analyzed the property tax rebates to be offered to New York residents this fall (courtesy of our friends in the NYS Legislature, who, apparently, favor throwing your money at problems, rather than making real efforts to solve them). [SEE A range of rebates for LI homeowners.]

Anyway, as it turns out -- based on a school district by school district breakdown -- Long Islanders are not likely to get that much money put back into their pockets as they may have anticipated, and certainly nothing that will make even the slightest dent in that ever-escalating property tax bill.

The average rebate for the Long Island homeowner (based not on taxes paid, but rather, on school district tax rates), will be in the neighborhood of $200. [Seniors, benefiting from the so-called "enhanced STAR" credit, will see a slightly higher rebate.]

So, by way of example, if you reside in the Long Beach school district, your rebate will average $166.87. Those in the Glen Cove school district will receive $189.49. Westbury school district, $316.10. Garden City school district, $166.70. Elmont residents will average $258.51, while those in the Great Neck school district will get a check for (or can claim a credit on their 2006 NYS Tax Return in the amount of) $139.43.

The average "rebate" amount for Nassau County is $235.56. In Suffolk, where tax rates are, on average, lower, the number drops to $185.51. [If you happen to reside in the Sagaponack school district in Suffolk County, your likely "rebate" will total a whopping $7.49.]

The highest "rebate" on Long Island will go to residents in the Hempstead school district, where the tax rate is $21.42 per $1000 in assessed value.

Click HERE for Newsday's district by district analysis.

The problem with the "rebate" formula, according to a Newsday interview with Frank Mauro, of the Fiscal Policy Institute in Albany, is the inexorable link between the rebate and the State's STAR program. [In theory, homeowners should receive a "rebate" equal to approximately 30% of the STAR credit as appears on their property tax bills.]

The problem, Mauro told Newsday, is that the rebates are based on county and school district averages, not individual property tax burdens or incomes. As a result, he said, two homeowners with hugely disparate property taxes and incomes could receive the same rebate.

Keep in mind, too, that this "rebate" is treated as a refund for State tax purposes and, therefore will have to be treated a such (i.e., reported as income) on subsequently filed tax returns. Ahh, the State giveth, and the State taketh away...

So, shortly before election day -- when every State Legislator in New York will be asking for your support and your vote -- watch your mailbox for a rebate check from Albany.

Then, after you vote, but on or before April 15, 2007, get out your check books and write a check to NYS Income Tax. [Contact your local Receiver of Taxes for applicable deadlines for payment of your "enhanced" property tax. Statements will be mailed to homeowners accordingly.]

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Showdown In Sanitary District 1

Race For Commissioner's Seat Heats Up As Status Quo Is Challenged

The Community Alliance Endorses Jeremy Merrill

Transparency. Accountability. Financial control. Not words that readily roll off the tip of the tongue as concern Nassau County's Special Districts. Certainly not what comes to mind when one talks about the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary Districts, in general, and the now notorious Sanitary District 1, in particular.

Readers of this blog, and the civic-minded beyond blogdom, will recall the findings of the Nassau County Comptroller's aborted audit of Sanitary District 1 which, despite stonewalling by the District's Commissioners, exposed a "near total lack of financial control," calling the District's operations "an invitation to fraud."

Among other improprieties at Sanitary District 1, the Comptroller cited the following:

-Extravagant spending on travel and meals. Over the two-year period examined, the district spent a total of $14,610 to send four district managers to a waste conference in New Orleans and three managers to a similar conference in Dallas, "an amount that appears to be unreasonable for government officials exercising official duties." At these conferences, the managers treated themselves to exorbitant dinners. A steak dinner for four at Morton's Steakhouse in New Orleans cost $676; other dinners on the same trip cost $446 and $379. During the two trips, the employees also racked up $536 in limousine charges and $710 in lounge/bar charges. Also, the district spent $4,300 to provide coffee service in its administrative offices as well as $2,300 on catering for board meetings. The district has no written policy on travel or meals.

-Inadequate timekeeping. The district requires no timesheets to be filled out by any of its employees. Instead, the timekeeping process consists of a supervisor checking off employee names on a list when he sees them arrive at work. The auditors observed limited attendance by several highly compensated employees during the three months when Comptroller's staff were on site. In addition, the hours that sanitation workers are required to work are not clear.

-Excessive and unexplained payments. Compensation for commissioners in SD-1 (and other districts with budgets exceeding $800,000 per year) is limited by county law to $7,500 per year. Since commissioners are not regular employees, they do not ordinarily receive paid leave. Yet one SD-1 commissioner received an unexplained $5,000 payroll payment, which was coded as "sick pay." With this payment, the commissioner's total compensation for the year was brought to $4,000 more than the legal limit. Auditors who reviewed a pay period at random also found that that nearly 50 percent of all union members' base salaries exceeded the union pay scale.

-Controls over cash receipts were alarmingly absent, the Comptroller said. "District 1 receives nearly $900,000 a year in fees from contractors seeking to dump construction debris and yard waste. Only cash is accepted," he said. "When we compared 'tip-fee' receipts to cash register records, the books simply didn't add up.

-The lack of proper bookkeeping, and the concentration of such duties in the hands of one individual (the treasurer), with no oversight, represents an invitation to fraud," Comptroller Weitzman said.

That District Treasurer, by the way -- a gentleman by the name of Sal Evola -- not only held his position with the Sanitary District, but, simultaneously, 3 other public posts, reporting to the State Pension Fund a total of 733 days of work during calendar year 2004.

The laxity at the Sanitary District has become the subject of an ongoing audit by the New York State Comptroller, Alan Hevesi (with findings due out in August), and of a criminal probe by the District Attorney of Nassau County.

Officials of Sanitary District 1 maintain that there was no malfeasance, let alone criminal conduct, with incumbent Commissioner Joseph Candella -- who serves as Chairman of the District's Board of Commissioners, and is now seeking a third term of office -- telling The Jewish Star, "there is no wrongdoing, and never has been."

We believe you, Mr. Candella. Sure, others might not, questioning what has become a grim fairy tale among the Sanitary Districts -- that residents "enjoy" paying twice as much for garbage collection than that paid by those served directly by the Town of Hempstead Department of Sanitation. Indeed, as the facts bare out, residents typically "enjoy" paying more for garbage collection than they do for police protection.

Candella proudly proclaims that Sanitary District 1 can boast "100 percent pick up 100 percent of the time, " telling the Nassau Herald, "We have something very, very good, and at the lowest tax rate of any District."

"Very, very good" for commissioners by cronyism, perhaps, but certainly not for District 1 residents, who, according to the Nassau County Comptroller's Report on Special Districts, paid a tax levy (residential) in 2004 that, on average, was $187 per year greater than the levy on residential properties served directly by the Town of Hempstead's Sanitation Department, and, assertions by Commissioner Candella to the contrary notwithstanding, higher than each of Nassau County's 13 Sanitary and Disposal Districts, save one (residents in Sanitary District 6 had the privilege of paying the top tax levy in 2004, averaging $598 per parcel).

Okay. So Mr. Candella apparently does not have much of an aptitude for either facts or figures. So what? Its experience that counts, after all, right?

Well, if experience at hoodwinking the public, maintaining shoddy records, and dining at Morton's Steakhouse count, then surely Commissioner Candella deserves another term at the helm at Sanitary District 1.

If, on the other hand, residents are keen on fiscal oversight, managerial control, and conduct that avoids, at the very least, the appearance of impropriety, then clearly it is time for a change at the Sanitary District.

On Monday, July 10th, elections for Commissioner will be held in Sanitary District 1 (6 PM to 10 PM at District headquarters, on Bay Boulevard in North Lawrence).

Taking up the challenge to the status quo, and to the reign of Commissioner Candella, is Cedarhurst resident Jeremy Merrill.

Merrill, a newcomer to the political scene, is the Director of Operations at Weill-Cornell Medical College, and currently a candidate for an MBA in Management at Baruch College of the City University of New York.

A registered Democrat, taking on what has become a bastion of GOP patronage, Merrill sees issues larger than political affiliation at stake. “This is not an issue of Republicans against Democrats, this is not an issue about party association. Our sanitation district is in desperate need of reform and it affects everyone, regardless of their party affiliation. Bringing about reform is rarely a simple feat, but there is an immediate need in our district.”

No 'simple feat" indeed. You know that the Nassau County GOP Machine will bring out the big guns in order to keep Candella on the District's Board of Commissioners. If history is a guide, residents can expect to see the District "employ" its own workers in the last days of the campaign to stymie the opposition and get out the vote of those whose marginal authority -- not to mention patronage jobs -- depend on the maintenance of the status quo.

Watch for the rallies of the party faithful, the mud-slinging, and, if all else fails, the 11th hour intervention of the Board of Commissioners themselves, ala the antics of the Sanitary District 2 Board in last year's election.

Watch, too, this litmus test, not only of the effectiveness of a political Machine that, by all rights, should have gone out with the wooly mammoth, but of the resolve of residents to free themselves of the longstanding chokehold of Special District taxation.

If, as the old saying goes, "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing," then look for a light turnout at the polls on Monday for this off-year, off-month Sanitary District election, and expect the return of Joe Candella for another term as Commissioner.

If, on the other hand, residents are sufficiently fed up with over-the-top taxes, gross mismanagement, and fiscal fictions, and take little "enjoyment" in paying twice the going rate for sanitation services, then look for an upset on July 10th.

Jeremy Merrill is a breath of fresh air in the otherwise stale and putrid environment of the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary District 1, where the shades are drawn to public scrutiny under the guise of "local control," and windows are rarely opened to let in either a refreshing breeze or the cleansing light of day.

Yes, there will be an election for Commissioner in Sanitary District 1 on Monday, July 10th. The real issue on the ballot, however, is whether voters -- who generally disenfranchise themselves as concern mundane matters such as the trashing of their tax dollars -- will favor more of the same, or take up arms at the ballot box to begin to regain actual control over what County Comptroller Howard Weitzman has called "a hidden government that drains taxpayers' wallets."

The choice in Sanitary District 1 is as clear as the need for true reform is evident. The Community Alliance endorses Jeremy Merrill for Commissioner.
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POINT OF INTEREST: Although the Office of the State Comptroller requires "Special Districts" to file annual reports providing detailed data and information on such matters as revenue vs. expenses and fund balances, upon information and belief, the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary District 1 failed to file such reports for calendar years 2000 through 2005.

And they say "absence makes the heart grow fonder. . ."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Around The Town's Sanitary Districts

Summertime, And You Think Collecting Garbage Is Easy?
[Or -- How Many Sanitary Districts Does It Take To Pick Up The Trash In Hempstead Town?]

Here's a quick tour at the various garbage collection units "at work" within the Town of Hempstead. [We'd post the respective collection schedules, but that would make your head spin!]

The following communities are served directly by the Town's Sanitation Department:
Barnum Isle-East Meadow-Merrick-South Westbury-Bay Park-Harbor Isle-North Lynbrook-Seaford-Bellmore-Levittown-Point Lookout-Uniondale-Bethpage-Lido Beach-Salisbury-Wantagh


Sanitary District 1 - Serving the Five Towns, Green Acres, Valley Streem South, and Inwood
(516) 239-5600
Board Meetings: 1st & last Wednesday each month
Upcoming Meetings: July 5th 5PM (cancelled); July 10th (after election); July 19th 6 PM
Next Election of Commissioners: July 10 6-10 pm
Number of houses serviced: 30,000
Total budget: $14.3 Million
105 employees
59 trucks

Sanitary District 2 - serving Baldwin, Roosevelt (part of Uniondale), and South Hempstead
(516) 223-3207
Board Meetings: 1st & last Wednesday each month
Upcoming Meetings: July 5th 5PM; July 19th
Next Election of Commissioners: July 27

Sanitary District 6 - Serving Elmont, Franklin Square, Garden City South, Lakeview, Malverne Park, South Floral Park, and West Hempstead
(516) 481-7110
Board Meetings: every 2 weeks
Upcoming Board Meetings: Wednesday, July 5th 5PM; Wednesday, July 19th

Sanitary District 7 - serving Oceanside
(516) 766-8700
Next Board Meeting: Thursday, August 3

Sanitary District 14 - serving East Atlantic Beach and Atlantic Beach Estates
(516) 239-0663 (answering machine)

INCORPORATED VILLAGES within the Town of Hempstead are responsible for the collection of refuse and recycling in the communities listed below. Contact the village for collection schedules and recycling information.


Atlantic Beach Village
(516) 371-4600
Bellerose Village
(516) 354-1000
East Rockaway Village
(516) 599-4211
Floral Park Village
(516) 326-6300
Freeport Village
(516) 378-4000
Garden City Village
(516) 742-5800
Hempstead Village
(516) 489-3400
Island Park Village
(516) 431-0600
Lynbrook Village
(516) 599-8300
Malverne Village
(516) 599-1200
Rockville Centre Village
(516) 766-0300
South Floral Park Village
(516) 352-8047
Stewart Manor Village
(516) 354-1800
Valley Stream Village
(516) 825-4200

Now, what day is bulk pick-up on YOUR block? [There will be a quiz Friday, so study up!]

Further information, including specifics as to elections (whenever and wherever they may be held in a Sanitary District near you), budgets, tax levies, and expenditures for steak dinners, to follow this report.

NOTE: ALL Sanitary District Board Meetings are open to the public. You pay the bills. Consider checking out how your property tax money is being spent!