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.
Sunday, 28 September 2014 00:00
More than 2,000 Long Islanders enjoyed the festivities at Captree State Park as Assemblyman Joseph Saladino hosted the ninth annual Marine and Outdoor Recreation Expo on Sept. 15.
Attendees learned about sustainable sources of energy as well as ways to protect the planet, especially the island’s marine environment. There were demonstrations in camping, boating, water safety, renewable energy, wildlife and environmental education, fly fishing, arts and crafts, face painting, clowns, touch tanks, ballon animals and plenty of rock and roll.
Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00
The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Farmingdale.
With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born.
Thursday, 25 September 2014 13:43
The rivalry between the Farmingdale Dalers and the Massapequa Chiefs is a big one. So big that the school districts and the Nassau County Police Department had to take extra precautions to maintain security. Not everyone who wanted to see this game at Masspequa High School were allowed access to the game. In the past, there was some unruly behavior. So, if you were from Farmingdale you parked on the right side of the school and from Massapequa you were on the left. The stands on both side were full and hundreds standing along the fence to watch this game.
The Chiefs would score first in the first quarter with a 9-yard run by Paul Dilena for a touchdown. The Dalers had some problems moving the ball down field until Daler Danny Mckeon intercepted a pass and ran it back into the Chiefs side of the field. This would set up a 6-yard run for a touchdown for Michael Outing who had 19 carries for 84 yards. With the score tied 7-7, Zach Kolodny kicked a 22-yard field goal to put the Dalers up 10-7 shortly before halftime and the heavy rain that followed.
Thursday, 25 September 2014 13:45
It’s almost time to hit the ice again.
The Town of Oyster Bay Youth Ice Hockey Program will hold its registration on Monday, Oct. 6 and Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. on both nights. Registration takes place at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage.
“The Youth Ice Hockey Program provides youngsters, ages three to 13, with the opportunity to hone their skating and hockey skills under the guidance of ice hockey coaches,” Councilman Joe Pinto stated. “The highly regarded program has earned it recognition by the NHL, which has partnered with the Town to promote hockey programming and youth enrichment through its ‘Hockey is For Everyone’ initiative.”