Taxpayers Suffering. Job Losses Climbing. Foreclosures At Record Highs. And Peter Schmitt Is Handing Out Raises To His Legislative Aides
Call it shameless. Call it chutzpah. Call it being completely out of touch with the reality of Long Island's economy. Or just call it Peter "Full Of" Schmitt doing the only thing he knows -- recklessly doling out the taxpayers' money to line the pockets of his political cronies.
The Republicans haven't even taken control of the Nassau County Legislature, and already the patronage perks are being handed out, at our expense.
So much for fiscal conservatism. So much for watching the taxpayers' backs. So much for "cutting spending and reducing the size of government". So much for the dawn of a new era in Nassau County.
Folks, you've been duped. But hey, you can't say you didn't see it coming.
To quote former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, after his electoral defeat, "The people have spoken, and now they must be punished!"
We've taken quite a bit of ribbing at The Community Alliance (gentle and otherwise) the last few days over what some have called the GOP sweep in Nassau County.
A sweep? We'd hardly call a 10-9 majority for the Republicans (9, 9 and 1, if Denise Ford continues to play both sides against the middle), and a race for County Executive that is still too close to call, either a sweep, or a resounding show of support for the Republican Party (Joe Mondello's temporary reprieve from life support notwithstanding).
Considering the Nassau Democratic Committee ran no campaign, and apparently saw no need to bother getting out the vote, and that GOP voters heeded the calls to come out to support the ticket, most races were exceptionally close. [But for the Town of Hempstead, where the Borg continues to control everything from the water on tap to the trash at the curb. Resistance is still futile (though we will make it our mission to resist, anyway).]
Not a mandate for the GOP, or necessarily a rebuke of the reigning Democrats. What was the difference on Election Day -- aside from the pitiful indifference of the electorate? It's the economy, stupid!
When times are tough, taxes through the roof, jobs difficult to come by, less food on the table, and the mood of the populace somber, the ins are out, and vice versa.
The message in Nassau County, if there is one, aside from finding a way to lower -- not cap, LOWER -- the property taxes, is that there is only one certainty in politics: To the victors go the spoils.
If the spoils of victory are evidenced by the pre-inaugural largess of Peter Schmitt, Caveat Emptaxor -- Let the taxpayer beware!
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After GOP win, Nassau Minority leader hands out raises
by CELESTE HADRICK / firstname.lastname@example.org
A day after Nassau Republicans won back the majority on the county legislature by campaigning to cut spending and reduce taxes, Minority leader Peter Schmitt handed out hefty raises to five members of his personal staff.
While Democrats cried foul, Schmitt said most of his employees were still making far less than the outgoing Democratic majority's staff even as they take on more responsibilities as control shifts.
"The Democrats have 30 people on their staff at a cost of $1,957,000. I have 20 people on my staff at a cost of $1,170,000," Schmitt said. "I'm not going to ask key staff to do additional work without compensating them."
Schmitt sent a memo to the legislative clerk Wednesday requesting that senior legal and financial adviser Dan McCloy's salary be increased from $143,000 to $150,150; Minority Counsel Christopher Ostuni's salary be increased from $107,000 to $117,700; Minority Executive Director Virginia Brown's pay be increased from $87,000 to $95,700; Deputy Press Secretary Cristina Brennan's salary be increased from $77,000 to $84,700 and her assistant, Robert Reill's pay be increased from $62,500 to $65,625. Ostuni is the son-in-law of Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello.
"I was surprised by the election results, but this doesn't surprise me," said County Executive Thomas Suozzi, an eight-year Democratic incumbent who is a few hundred votes ahead of Republican challenger Edward Mangano before the absentee ballots are counted. "These are the same guys voters kicked out of power years ago because of this type of behavior. Maybe this will cause the voters to have buyer's remorse already."
Mangano, a county legislator from Bethpage, said he didn't know anything about his fellow Republican's raises. "My race is about cutting spending and reducing the size of government," he said.
Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove), who will be turning the gavel over to Schmitt in January, said, "This is an outrage . . . For them to dole out huge raises just two days after an election dominated by the recession and a bad economic climate is unbelievable."
Bristling, Schmitt said that he never said a word against Yatauro when she became presiding officer two years ago and gave policy director David Gugerty a $150,000 salary, special assistant Gerry Twombly a $95,000 salary and finance director Roseann Dalleva a salary of $108,150.
"Ask them how a legislative assistant is making $82,400 a year," Schmitt said, referring to Luann Lima, who works for Legis. Joe Scannell (D-Baldwin).
Schmitt said as presiding officer he intends to restore independence to the legislature no matter who is elected county executive.
He said the legislature will hold more hearings into county operations, such as why so many ambulances are out of service at the same time, while refusing to pass last-minute county executive requests without sufficient review.
"I'm going to work very hard to repair the institutional damage that was done by the Democratic legislature," Schmitt said. "The days of rubber stamping stuff are over."
Coming Up: It's not only the universe that's ever-expanding. A look at the payroll at Hempstead Town Hall.
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