Written by Howard Weitzman Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00
Threat of lawsuit, made at public expense, aims to silence political opposition
Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman announced that he received a letter from the law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, at the behest of the Nassau County Attorney’s Office, threatening a lawsuit unless he retracts a complaint he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The complaint, based on an investigative piece published by the Wall Street Journal, highlights evidence that Comptroller George Maragos’s annual financial report is misleading and that the County Attorney’s office colluded with a partisan Republican judge to ‘cook the books’ and misrepresent the county’s financial condition on the annual financial report.
“It is a new low for Mr. Maragos to use taxpayer dollars to hire an attorney to threaten his political opposition,” said Weitzman. “I have asked the SEC to look at the way Mr. Maragos and the administration manipulated county finances to claim that the county ended the year with a ‘miraculous’ surplus, when in fact the county has gone deeper into debt.”
This is the third attempt Republican leaders in Nassau County have made to keep Weitzman from disclosing the truth about the county’s financial reports. This month alone, Weitzman was twice denied the opportunity to testify at public hearings, even though the hearing notices explicitly stated that there would be time for public comment.
The thrust of Weitzman’s complaint is that Maragos and other county leaders misrepresented the county’s financial condition, thus misleading the public and county bond holders. The county’s 2012 official financial report prominently touts a surplus that is a total work of fiction. On the last business day of 2012, County Attorney John Ciampoli sought a controversial and highly unusual court order to push outstanding property tax refunds from 2012 to 2013, in order to make the county appear to have a budget surplus on its 2012 annual financial report, the last annual financial report before Maragos and County Executive Ed Mangano face re-election. Maragos has repeatedly defended the surplus, which he called “like a miracle,” noting that auditors have certified his report. Auditors never certified the claim of a budgetary surplus.
“Every CPA knows that you cannot hide behind the old ‘the auditors certified it, so it’s correct,’ line,” said Weitzman. “The county’s financial statements are the responsibility of the Comptroller, not outside auditors. Even so, auditors also certified statements by Enron, WorldCom, and Lehman Brothers before their misdeeds were exposed.”
The threatening letter received by Weitzman alleges that his complaint could have “the potential to seriously affect the County’s ability to obtain financing in the near future.” This claim is patently absurd because the only way the complaint could affect the county’s ability to obtain financing would be if the SEC finds that the financial statements falsely masked the County’s 2012 deficit. In that case, Weitzman’s concerns would be validated.
Counsel for Mr. Weitzman submitted a letter responding to the outside counsel hired at the behest of Mr. Maragos. In the letter, Weitzman’s attorney contends: “We will seek sanctions and attorneys fees in the event that you commence a frivolous lawsuit against Mr. Weitzman. We will be glad to use that opportunity to conduct discovery and expose the truth behind the ‘voodoo accounting’ upon which Mr. Maragos’ ‘miraculous’ surplus is based.”
County legislators have started to ask questions about the cost and appropriateness of Ciampoli’s actions. Concerns have been raised about whether it is appropriate to hire lawyers at public expense to intimidate critics of the administration.
Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00
The Farmingdale Public Library was recently the site of the rumbling feet and powerful roars of the mighty dinosaur, come to life in modern times... at least in the form of some dedicated actors playing the parts to the hilt for the sake of education and fun.
The Wildlife Theater, a part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s educational department, was on-hand at the library on April 17, bringing its unique form of lighthearted children’s entertainment containing vital information about the world in which kids live, and the fascinating creatures that share it with them.
The Wildlife Theater works out of the Central Park Zoo, traveling around the five boroughs of New York—as well as Long Island—to put on shows at venues such as elementary schools, libraries, and hospitals; they specialize in taking their conservation message along with them in the form of plays about animals and the environment, according to the Conservation Society’s Michael Birch.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00
Marc Anthony Bynum was able to make a prize-winning dish out of the ingredients in the “mystery basket”—matzah, salty peanuts, dried strawberries, and cocoa nibs—to win the Food Network's TV show Chopped in June 2010. Two months later, he returned to the show for a second time, where he excelled through the appetizer round with a combination of dandelion greens, Greek yogurt, liverwurst and catfish, which allowed him to move forward through the entrée and dessert rounds to win. But it was the combination of geoduck, Buddha’s hand, black radishes and waffle cones that did him in when he appeared in the grand finale of the Chopped Tournament in September that year.
Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00
The Over the Hill Gang softball league opened its 39th season Friday, April 11 with six games at Allen Park. Bar-Boy began with an impressive 25-8 win over Bethpage Pharmacy. After scoring one run in the first, BB exploded for 7 runs in the 2nd inning and never looked back. For the night, Ken Kuzman went 4 for 6 with 2 RBIs, Steve Kirk went 4 for 5 with 2 RBIs, Frank Badalmenti went 5 for 6 with 5 RBIs and a homer, pitcher John Czarnecki went 5 for 6 with 5 RBIs, rookie Jason Cinnelli went 3 for 6 with a homer and manager Ken Kohlmann went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs.
Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00
Farmingdale athletes Franklin Diaz, Billy Allen, and Chris Daily put on award winning performances during the 37th annual All Round Foods 10 kilometer run for ASPIRE, through the streets of Plainview and Old Bethpage on April 5.
Diaz crossed the finish line at the H.B. Mattlin Middle School in Plainview in 34 minutes and 34 seconds, for sixth place overall and first in the 30-34 age group. Allen finished in seventh place overall with a time of 35 minutes and 26 seconds, to earn the third place trophy in the 20-24 age group. Daily scored in 38 minutes, 45 seconds, in 17th place overall and first in the 50-54 age group, in what was one of the most competitive races on Long Island in the past year.
Boating Class - April 22
Board of Fire Commissioners - April 24
Earth Day Fair - April 27
On April 22, Captree Power Squadron will be holding boating classes at Howitt Middle School, located at 70 Van Cott Ave.,from 7-9 p.m. Upon course completion students will be issued certificates that are accepted by local police, bay constables, and the U.S. Coast Guard. All classes take place five successive weeks on same day as start. There is a fee of $50 to attend, which will cover the cost of books and materials. For more information call Gene at 631-242-6117 or Charlie at 631-957-8604.
The next meeting of the Farmingdale Planning Board will be held on April 22, at 7 p.m.
On April 22, the Farmingdale Bethpage Historical Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special Founders’ Day Dinner at 6:30pm at the Blue Lagoon Restaurant, located off of Rt. 109 in West Babylon.
The next meeting of the Farmingdale Board of Fire Commissioners will be held on April 24, at 8 p.m., inside Village Hall, located at 361 Main St.
On April 26, YES Community Counseling Center invite you to attend a special concert/fundraiser at the Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale.
The concert, “Getting By with a Little Help from Our Friends,” begins at 3:30 p.m. and will feature the dynamic music of Half Step, The Therapy Band, and Something In Between.
Tickets are $40 per person and includes a dinner buffet. Proceeds raised will go to help ensure the YES Community Counseling Center has resources to respond to anyone requesting their help.
On April 27, the Village of Farmingdale will be host Earth Day festivities at noon on the Village Green located along Main Street downtown.
On April 27, the Village of Farmingdale will hold its annual Baseball Parade. Beginning at 2 p.m., participants will gather outside the Howitt Middle School, located at 70 Van Cott Ave., before marching down Main St. to Allen Park, at 45 Motor Ave.
On April 27, Farmingdale High School’s Go Green Club will celebrate Earth Day from noon-4 p.m. on the village green along Main St. in Farmingdale.
St. Kilian Church along with the New York Blood Center will be coordinating a blood drive on April 27 from 8:15 a.m.- 2:15 p.m. The drive will take place in the St. Kilian Auditorium on Cherry Street in Farmingdale. For information on St. Kilian’s Blood Drive or to schedule an appointment, please contact Ray Redina at 516-523-7130 or Chris Hillier at 631-445-9026. Your donation will help to save up to three lives. Our community hospitals need your aid. Bring your ID with signature or photo. Eligibility criteria include you to be a minimum weight of 110 lbs., age 16-75 (16-olds need to have parental permission, 76-year olds and over need a doctor’s note), eat well, drink fluids and no tattoos for the past 12 months. For questions concerning medical eligibility call the New York Blood Center at 1-800-688-0900.
The next public work session of the Village of Farmingdale Board of Trustees will be held at 7 p.m., on April 28, inside Village Hall, located at 361 Main St. in Farmingdale.
The next meeting of the Farmingdale School District PTA Council will be held at 7 p.m., on April 29, inside Howitt Middle School, located at 70 Van Cott Ave. in Farmingdale.
The next general meeting of the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce will be held on May 1, at noon, at Dominican Restaurant 4, located at 305 Main St. in Farmingdale.
On May 1, Farmingdale High School’s technology honor society will hold its annual induction ceremony at the American Airpower Museum, located at 1230 New Highway in Farmingdale.
On May 3, Friends of the Farmingdale Public Library will be holding a “giant” Mother’s Day Family Fair, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Come buy a present for Mom or find just the thing you wanted for yourself or a family member. The Farmingdale Library will also be holding a book sale in conjunction with the fair. For more information, call 516-454-6813 or 516-244-0829.