Monday, November 02, 2009

Million Dollar Garbage

Talkin' Trash In The Town That Murray Bilked

The Father. The Son. The Sanitary District Supervisor.

No, not some religious dogma adhered to by Monks bound to a vow of silence. Just the taking by the Town of Hempstead of public tax money -- your tax dollars -- to pad the payroll with cronies, hacks, and family members. A saga repeated in water districts, fire districts, and sanitary districts throughout America's most blighted township. We, the people, turning the other cheek while our pockets are picked clean.

How could it be that a Supervisor in the Town of Hempstead Sanitary District 7 in Oceanside (disavowed by that very Town government and its Supervisor, Kate Murray, as having any connection to the Town whatsoever), takes home $663,163 in salary and benefits, deferred compensation valued at $299,530, a Chevy trailblazer (and a Tahoe), and 5-weeks vacation per year?

Not to mention that, while some of us do without a new pair of shoes or eye glasses for our kids in this awful economy, this same Sanitary District Supervisor -- a public employee -- garners a $450 a year shoe and optical allowance?

Could it be that the Supervisor's Dad is a well-connected GOPer, the leader of the Oceanside Republican Club, who held the lucrative Sanitary District Supervisor spot before his son, and, on top of an annual public pension of $75,000 a year, returned to the Sanitary District after retirement as a part-time consultant, raking in another $62,000 per year, plus health benefits?

That's more than one million taxpayer dollars, folks, to support this one family, for one year, in one (and a half) positions, at a single Sanitary District.

Is it any wonder Town of Hempstead residents, served (or is it fleeced?) by the Special Sanitary Districts, pay as much (in some instances, more) for garbage collection as they do for police protection? [Yes, we know, Tony Santino. We enjoy paying more!]

According to Newsday, when told of the (Comptroller) audit's findings, Jeff Tierney, a director of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, said, "That's really a slap in the face. How does it get to this point? Who's in charge?"

Who's in charge? Why, that would be us, the homeowners, the taxpayers, the voters, right? As local as local government gets, or so the Town would dupe us into believing.

Or is it Kate Murray and her cohorts at Hempstead Town Hall, who not only sanction the shenanigans at the Town's Special Districts, but, through their own actions, in what amounts to blatant nepotism, inexcusable abuse of the public trust, and downright thievery, when it comes right down to it, hire friends and relatives for lucrative Town jobs -- and then, rehire them after they've "retired"?

Yes, Kate & Kompany have control of the Sanitary Districts. Do not attempt to adjust your recycling bins. Kate controls the patronage, and the Party -- the one Mondello built -- controls Kate!

And whose fault is that? Er. Um. That would be us, wouldn't it?

Yes, Joe Mondello may well have anointed Kate as Town Supervisor back in 2003, but it is we, the people, who not only elected Murray twice thereafter, but are poised to re-elect her again tomorrow.

Ahh. The Masochism Tango. The official dance of the Town of Hempstead.

Maybe its all those endorsements Kate has racked up.

The Editorial Board of Newsday -- Long Island's only daily -- gave its nod to Kate, "trusting that she will make the right decisions..." [Hey. If Kate hasn't made the right decisions during six years in office -- and she hasn't, by Newsday's own findings, in black and white -- what in the world makes them think she'll get in right now?]

Interesting. The paper blasts Murray regularly, and then turns around and tells voters to re-elect the smiling one. Perhaps the Editorial Board missed Sandra Peddie's eye-opening series on the Special taxing Districts, or neglected to read Eden Laikin's columns on the maladministration of government in Hempstead and other GOP strangleholds. [Newsday may ignore the writing in its own publication. Thankfully, others have duly recognized the groundbreaking investigative reporting of Peddie and Laikin.]

The Editorial Board must have been mesmerized by that effervescent smile. The hypnotic spell of Hempstead Town's very own Cheshire Cat.

Why, even the local, so-called "community" paper -- the Herald -- gave its endorsement to Murray, saying "it is hard to criticize Murray’s performance as town supervisor."

It is?

The Herald's own reporters and editors, when not simply regurgitating press releases emanating from Hempstead Town Hall, are repeatedly questioning Murray's actions -- and, most notably, inaction -- at the helm, as are the paper's readers.

For some reason, the Herald doesn't see Murray's opponent, Kristen McElroy, as "fully prepared to take on the job of manager of one of the largest towns in America."

What does it take to prepare for Hempstead Supervisor, anyway? A stint as Sanitary District Supervisor?

But no. As per the Herald, Murray has an "understanding of the issues residents face..."

Oh, Kate Murray understands the issues, all right. She just doesn't do a damn thing about them!

As for Newsday's claim that Kristen McElroy's "budgeting experience is mostly limited to running a household", making her unprepared to run a town with a 2010 budget of $386 million, isn't that just a bit disingenuous?

After all, Kate Murray has been running the town -- mainly, into the ground -- with budgets that give almost everyone in her household a piece of the public pie. Apparently, running a household budget counts for a heck of a lot more than Newsday's Editorial Board opines.

Is it us, or is it them? Have they lost their minds, or have we?

Are we missing something?

Oh yeah. OUR MONEY! Kate and her cronies at Hempstead Town Hall, and their cancerous tentacles that reach out into the Town's far too many special taxing districts, have taken our money away.

Have they also taken away our ability to think and reason? Have they relieved the good citizens of the Town's underrepresented and overtaxed unincorporated areas of rational forethought? Have Kate & Kompany disenfranchised us of our very right to vote in our own best interests? [No, only we could do that to ourselves!]

Just when will we take stock in ourselves, our future as Long Islanders, our stake in Hempstead Town, and, at long last, stop the insanity?

When will we have had enough of million dollar garbage?

We have no delusions that the old, tired, machine will crank on in Hempstead Town, there being little willingness on the part of the electorate to rage against the follies and foibles of an administration that, time and time again, decade in and decade out, has put its own selfish interests ahead of ours.

We will, in all likelihood, wake up Wednesday morning to the same old Murraygrams in our mailboxes, with little else to show for the millions of tax dollars we pour into the patronage pot.

Or maybe, just maybe, we will have that much-needed awakening on Tuesday -- Election Day -- realizing that they're not just stealing lawn signs out there, they're stealing our tomorrows!
- - -
From Newsday:

Audit: Oceanside son, dad earn over $1M from taxpayers

In three years, Oceanside garbage supervisor Charles Scarlata earned a whopping $667,163 in public pay and benefits, making him one of the most highly compensated public officials on Long Island, according to an audit by the Nassau County Comptroller's office.

The audit also shows that Scarlata, 51, will receive a $25,000-a-year payment from Sanitary District 7 for 15 years after he leaves the district -- a deferred compensation package currently worth $299,530.

Included in his pay package is a $450-a-year shoe and optical allowance. Scarlata also receives the use of a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer provided to him by the district and five weeks vacation a year. Thursday, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe registered to the district was parked in front of Scarlata's Oceanside home.

The audit is the most recent in a series of reviews by Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman of special districts, the tiny units of government that provide services such as garbage pickup and water hookups to specific areas. In recent years, special districts have come under fire for spending and patronage abuses.

Family tiesIf Scarlata has any questions about the job, all he has to do is turn to his father, Oceanside Republican Club leader Michael Scarlata, 75, who held the post before him.

Although Michael Scarlata retired from the district in December 1998 with an annual pension of about $75,000, he returned two days later as a part-time consultant for the district, making an additional $62,000 a year, plus health benefits, according to the audit.

All told, the father and son cost the taxpayers more than $1 million in pay and benefits from the sanitary district from 2006 through 2008, the years examined by the audit, Weitzman said. District taxpayers pay $676 a year in garbage taxes; the average in Hempstead town is $420.
"Taxpayers have financed a million-dollar family," he said.

When told of the audit's findings, Jeff Tierney, a director of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, said, "That's really a slap in the face. How does it get to this point? Who's in charge?"
Neither Charles nor Michael Scarlata returned calls for comment Thursday.

Resistance to probeWeitzman's audit shows his office's work in the district was not easy.

Auditors encountered stiff resistance from Charles Scarlata, who at times was "verbally hostile and abusive," according to the report.

Three auditors got flat tires while at the district, said Weitzman's spokeswoman, Carole Trottere. After finishing their review, they reported the flat tires and referred the audit to the Nassau County district attorney's office. A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the office is reviewing the audit.

Weitzman, a Democrat who is running for re-election, said the release of the audit has nothing to do with Tuesday's election.

He said he released it immediately after getting the district's response this week. In the response, district officials defended their operations, but agreed to consider some of the comptroller's recommendations.

The district's attorney, Jerome Cline of Lynbrook, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment for this story.

The audit highlights the district's extraordinary pay structure, which benefits select administrators, but pays far less to the people who actually pick up the garbage, Weitzman said.
For example, in 2008, Charles Scarlata was paid $224,569 to supervise roughly 55 employees. He was able to add $51,748 to his base salary of $146,245 by receiving payment for 92 comp days, which the audit said was for working extra hours.

Additional benefits -- among them a $10,000 bonus, and health and dental insurance -- boosted his total compensation package for that year to $240,769, the audit said. By comparison, sanitation workers make from $17,000 to $79,550 a year, according to records.

Moreover, district administrators are entitled to up to 800 days of termination pay -- or about 3½ years of salary -- when they leave. Laborers get up to 250 days, according to the audit.
Because Charles Scarlata was the only employee whose payments for comp time were included in salary reports to the New York State retirement system, his pension upon retiring will be approximately $124,000 a year, auditors said.

Scarlata's father, Michael, has long been active in the Nassau Republican Party. He has served on the party's executive committee and contributed to various Republican campaigns, according to records. One of the district's commissioners, Seymour Mensch, helps run the Oceanside Republican club with him, according to the county party's Web site.

Despite continuing to work as a district consultant, Michael Scarlata has no contract. Officials refused to provide auditors a written summary of his work, but said he fields requests from local community groups, responds to problems at schools and helps with labor negotiations, the audit said.

Nepotism is rampant, the audit said, with at least eight employees who appear to have family ties. "Sanitary District No. 7 has become the local family business on the public payroll," Weitzman said.

Joseph Troiano, who is active with Residents for Efficient Special Districts, a civic group pushing for reforms, said, "This stuff just has to stop. It's very unfair to the unsuspecting taxpayers."
- - -
Click HERE to read the Comptroller's Audit Report of Sanitary District 7, Town of Hempstead.


  1. What I'd like to know is who are the knuckleheads that are on Newsday's editorial board, and what in God's name were they thinking? Although I doubt it, perhaps one of them would like to defend their endorsement in this space.

    By the way, the link to Tom Lehrer is very apt. In one of his other songs he refers to "sliding down the razor blade of life." Not unlike living in Hempstead.

  2. Had it with Kate & KompanyMonday, November 02, 2009 1:41:00 PM

    In other corners of the world, civilized and not, they would round up the likes of the Sanitary District Supervisors, along with the fathers, the sons, and her holiness herself, Kate" the merciless" Murray, drag them to the public square, and hang them, in public display, by their toes.

    Maybe we're too squeamish in Hempstead Town, or possibly too dumb. Or could it be that almost everyone, and her father, is on the public dole at Hempstead Town Hall.

    No taxpaying Town of Hempstead resident, in his or her right mind, could possible vote for Kate Murray.

    Which probably explains why she keeps getting re-elected!

  3. You are 100% correct from the first sentence to the last word.

  4. Won't get fooled again....Monday, November 02, 2009 1:54:00 PM

    I'm a Republican, lifelong resident of the Town of Hempstead, and, must say, used to get miffed about this blog's constant harassment of the GOP, particularly at the town level.

    In fact, I myself voted for Kate Murray, and proudly so, the last two election cycles.

    Having been a living witness to this town's decline, as well as to the outrageous acts of nepotism and political favoritism at the hands of the Hempstead GOP, I will now tell you that this time around, Kate Murray will NOT get my vote.

    You can say I've had an awakening in Wantagh!

  5. What's with you people, anyway?

    Do you know how much in taxpayer-paid dental benefits it took to get Kate's crooked smile to look the way it does?

    Hey, I worked damn hard as a no show employee of the Town of Hempstead, and can guarantee that I will continue to do so -- just as I take my pension and reap health benefits -- long after the day I die.

    Re-Elect Kate Murray as Town of Hempstead Supervisor. [Do you think I need her moping around the house in Levittown, mouching off us?]

    Patronizingly yours,
    Stormin' Norman Murray

  6. wheres tony soprano when you need him >>>grin>>>

    all this just proves that these gavones are even greedier and more selfish than the average LI pol?

    "wont get fooled again" has finally realized that the GOP at the county,town and village level has been selling snake oil for decades. but this time arent looks like more and more folks arent swallowing.

    the community alliance deserves a huge thumbs up for bringing these outrageous acts of cronyism,nepotism,conflicts of interest and so much more then it has amounted to outright theft from the taxpayers.

    where is cuomo,where is rice? dont they have bureaus that deal with municipal corruption? why havent these gavones been hauled in front of a grand jury?

    somethings even more rotten than usual. a triple feh this time around.

  7. I agree with "had it with kate".

    hanging these gavones upside by their toes is too good for them. otoh where have the citizens of oceanside been? snoozing away? this is f--n unbelievable.

    where the heck is rice and cuomo,among others?

  8. The Republican Committee ChairMonday, November 02, 2009 2:22:00 PM

    If I was alive today, I'd high tail it over to The Community Alliance and stuff them all in your dufflebag!

    Vote for Kate to Keep it Great! (For us, that is)

    Joe Monelloid

  9. What's a gavone, anyway?

  10. If it's not worthy of your name -- or at least some form of identity -- maybe it's not worth saying!

    How about identifying yourselves in your comments, other than "Anonymous?"

    If you don't want to give your name, that's okay. Simply create a screen name for your postings on The Community Alliance blog.

    And please, keep your comments relatively clean, and at least no more abusive than are the blogposts themselves.

    Many of you have fantastic points to make. Unfortnately, the message is too often lost in the linguistic posturing.

    Thanks your writing, and keep those comments and e-mails coming.

  11. Okay. Okay. I'll post under my own name. Enough already!

    Kate, you and I have much in common. We both run dictatorships passed off of democracies. We both have family on the payroll. We both conceal from the public what we're actually doing in office. And we rely on the ever-popular poppy to keep our troops in line and the electorate in an opium-induced stupor.

    Afghanistan and Hempstead Town. Puppet governments, giving corruption the seal of legiyimacy once again!

  12. This is what Newsday discovered. How many more examples of this shameless greed exists that no one knows about yet. I'm sure plenty more exists.

    Based on this story, I will gather up my entire family tomorrow (the one's that live in the Town of Hempstead anyway) and personally drive them to the polls to vote for Kristen McElroy.

  13. Bring five people to the polls to vote, and ask them to take another five people to vote.

    E-mail and phone friends, relatives, neighbors. Knock on their doors. Tell them to come out to vote. Drag them by their fingernails, if you must.

    Our votes do make a difference, but only if we use them.

    The power is yours. VOTE!

  14. We have to get out there and vote because Kate and all of her special district friends have the day off tomorrow. Usually, Kate's special district friends and family come to the polls in droves to make sure their little "rackets" stay intact.

    Hopefully we can outnumber them tomorrow.

  15. Indicated below is the link for the NYS audit of the district from 2007. The Commissioners could not document nor provide details on what a comissioners typical work day consisted. Their are 5r commissioners and their salary ranged from $76,000 to around $120,000. I did not see the response from the Chairman of the Board, Michael Sullivan that was required within 90 days but will post it up when I get it. That should be pricelss.

    I love your blog very, very informative and amusing!

  16. hey community alliance,

    i used to be involved in my village's politics. let me give you one example of what is the real world.

    my block has 7 homes,approximately 27 adults,14 children not of voting age.

    of the 27 adults on my block,6 including me are registered to vote.guess how many voted in the last election? 2- me and my neighbor. what i asked the others why they didnt vote,their response is,"why vote-the guy/gal i want is gonna lose anyway"?

    how should we deal with this kind of attitide? should they sleep with the fishes?

  17. "hamid karzai"

    i am laughing so hard the tears are falling from my eyes. in both afghanistan and hempstead, "1984" is alive and well. the only difference is that there is no "telescreen" not yet.

    ay carumba indeed.

  18. Instead of trash talking Scarlata, lets take action against the 15 commissioners who voted him and themselves raises and impeach all of them. We need to combine sanitation districts to save our tax payers money. With today's economy Scarlata is just another bully rubbing his fists of money in all of our faces. Band together and take action to kick him out of office.

  19. Is this guy Charlie Scarlata the same guy who worked at the Oceanside landfill for years who hung in the scale house and never worked a day in his life?