Friday, January 04, 2008

Braces Instead Of Picket Fences

Orthodontics For Wife Of Plainview Water Commish Just One Of Multitude Of Abuses

Different year, same scandalous waste of taxpayer money at the special taxing districts.

While the names and political parties may have changed -- mostly not -- the gall of the commissioners, their spouses, children, and fourth cousins thrice removed, seems to have escalated to new heights, the brazen theft from the public till in broad daylight outdone only by the uncanny and almost laughable attempts of the special district denizens to justify their misdeeds, as well as the continued existence of these mini-monarchies.

To say there is something terribly wrong with the way we provide for and oversee the delivery of essential services -- whether water, sanitation, or fire protection -- is a gross understatement.

The violation of the public trust is reason enough to scrap these fiefdoms, and all who rob the house of John Q. Public under name and color of the special districts.

That our pockets are being picked clean even now, is a more compelling justification for the eradication of the special taxing districts as we know them, the raison d’ĂȘtre for maintaining these vestiges of a bygone era -- local control -- not so much a half truth as it is a thinly veiled guise under which the privileged few may take with abandon from the overtaxed many.

When does it end? As soon as we, the people, clamping our wallets shut, open our mouths and say so!
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Special Districts: The story so far

Since last spring, Newsday has been reporting on the privileges offered to officials and employees of special taxing districts, as well as to appointees to town and county boards.


APRIL -- Newsday found that more than 100 appointees of various appointed town and county boards, such as Nassau Board of Assessors and the Suffolk OTB, were given free health insurance for part-time work. All but one board later voted to rescind or reduce the benefit. Read full story.


JULY -- Newsday reported on the Great Neck Park District, one of the many special districts that with scant governmental oversight or attention from residents supply Long Island communities with services such as parks, water and garbage pickup. The story described how the Great Neck Park District provides top-of-the-line amenities like clay tennis courts and a newly renovated water park and pool complex while spending more per resident than any other park district on the island. Read the full story.

DECEMBER -- Newsday detailed how special districts spend thousands of dollars on cars, health benefits and travel for its officials and employees. Two weeks later Newsday further explored the pay and perks given by special districts, compensation that often dwarfs that offered in state and county government. The story told of Robert Graziano, superintendent of the Water Authority of Great Neck North, and his son Gregory, the assistant superintendent. The elder Graziano supervises a staff of just 27 people but in 2006 made $183,283 year -- more than the governor -- while also enjoying use of a car and fully paid medical, dental, vision and pension benefits. His son got $95,700 and an SUV complete with a DVD player. Read the first and second story.

JANUARY 2 -- Newsday focuses on the exceptionally generous health benefits offered by special districts. It tells the story of the Plainview water district board, which voted to retroactively expand its free dental coverage to spouses of employees and its part-time commissioners after the wife of one of its commissioners got herself braces. Read the full story.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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