Who Will Save The Rest Of Us?
Gotta love those stories of human drama at their best. Girl lodged in the bottom of one hundred foot well. Miners trapped 3 miles below the surface in cave in. Worker stuck in the muck of a Long Island cesspool.
No worries. The cesspool worker, waist deep in debris, was successfully pulled from below, and will likely fully recover. We wonder how many fire districts had to respond to the scene, and query whether yet another sewer district might have obviated the need for a cesspool.
Speaking of cesspools, how's your "Main Street" and "downtown" business district looking these days? If you're in a village, you might say, "pretty cool." On the other hand, for those in the unincorporated areas of Long Island's townships, where brownfields abound, and "VACANT", "FOR LEASE," and "OUT OF BUSINESS" are signs of the times, the response is, "not so hot."
Ahh. Too bad the county, the town, and the local municipalities have no money at hand to improve facades, revitalize "downtown," and transform "Main Street."
No. No money for public works, creating not only jobs but a more liveable, sustainable suburbia. "We're tapped out. It's not in the budget. We're cutting everywhere we can."
And we suppose that's why every Tom, Dick and Murray, from the Town Supervisor down to the lowly Sanitary District Commissioner, is getting a raise.
Oh, let the taxpayers suffer. We need five or six commissioners per piddly district. Why shouldn't they be on the public dole, raking in $200,000 per year, plus benefits and pensions? Who cares if a city of 8 million can run on a single fire department with but one commissioner? We deserve it!
Apparently so. The sad truth being that residents, armed with the knowledge and seized with the power to abolish all forms of special district chicanery, are, with all too rare exception, content to sit back, do nothing, and pay, pay, pay.
The stinking cesspool is overflowing, and we yell out, "Hey, let's jump in and go for a swim!"
Oh yeah. Yesterday was election day in many of Long Island's fire and water districts. How many of you bothered to vote? A show of hands? Hmmm. Not many. [Then again, there is hope. In Gordon Heights, two outsiders who want to dissolve Long Island's most highly taxed fire district beat three opponents, two of whom were incumbents. Bravo!]
In Garden City Park, on the other hand in our pockets, a single candidate, Chris Engel, was elected to the posts of Fire Commissioner AND Water Commissioner. [He could start the fire and put it out at the same time!] Did anybody care? Reminds us of the I Love Lucy episode where the traffic cop also served as the judge, the jailer, and the bail bondsman. And why not?
They tell us the grass is greener over the septic tank, and we believe them.
Folks, as long as we allow them to carry on this charade that passes for government, to take every last penny in the name of the public good where no good is served, the cesspool will continue to bubble up, suck us in, and drag us down.
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Oceanside garbage district gives supervisor raise
by SANDRA PEDDIE / firstname.lastname@example.org
A week after county auditors harshly criticized the extraordinary pay package of the Oceanside garbage supervisor in October, district commissioners gave him a merit raise, officials said Tuesday.
The $40-a-week raise, which was given to all 15 administrators and office workers beginning Nov. 7, will bring the pay of sanitary district No. 7 supervisor Charles Scarlata to at least $199,750 this year. That includes his base pay of nearly $155,000, plus payments largely for accrued comp time, and it will make him one of the highest-paid public officials on Long Island, according to records. His regular annual increase, plus the merit raise, add up to a nearly 6 percent jump over last year.
READ: Past coverage of Charles Scarlata
That does not include the extras he gets, such as a leased 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, a $15,000 payment for life insurance and post-retirement pay of $25,000 a year for 15 years on top of his pension, among other items, according to the audit, which was released Oct. 29.
"It's outrageous, and it underlines how little we can do about our government," said Oceanside resident Carl Flatow.
"It just shows the arrogance and the feeling that they can get away with it," said Omar Henriquez, a community activist who has researched special districts and their impact on taxes. "The special district is designed so that it doesn't encourage [public] involvement."
Commissioners approved the raise, despite the audit, because they felt it was deserved, said Thomas Dapolito, one of the five district commissioners. "He really deserves it because he works very hard."
Scarlata was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
Another commissioner, Louis DeVito, said Scarlata was not overpaid. "I think it's in line with what other people with that experience are making."
In fact, records show, Scarlata earns more than supervisors of the other 10 independent sanitation districts in Nassau County. Currently, his base pay for 2009 is $2,978.99 a week, or $154,908 a year. The district serves 10,950 customers and has 57 employees, in addition to the commissioners.
By comparison, annual salaries for district garbage supervisors range from $2,600 for the commissioner-run Glenwood garbage district in North Hempstead, which contracts out its garbage collection, to $140,790 for the superintendent of sanitary district No. 1 in Lawrence.
In addition, Scarlata is allowed to get payment for comp days added on to his salary, a $450 shoe and optical allowance, salary "adjustments" or bonuses and post-retirement pay after he leaves the district. He also gets a new car for personal and district use, two $300,000 life insurance policies and health and dental benefits worth $16,200 a year, according to the audit.
Records show that other district supervisors don't get all those extras. While some get cars and benefits in the larger districts, none get post-retirement pay on top of pensions. And smaller districts often are run on a shoestring.
"We get nothing," said Joanne DelVecchio, commissioner of the Carle Place garbage district, where commissioners handle the administrative work and contract out for garbage collection. "We pay for our own gas, use our own car, use our home phones, our own cell phones, get no benefits."
She added, "I think they abuse the system."
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Footnote to comment by fellow sanit commish Louis De Vito -- Right. We're paying for "experience." Yeah. The experience of being duped, ripped off, and made to look like fools, all in the same breath. Now that's what we call a consolidation of services!