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Letter: Facts Over Opinions

I read with great interest, and then with dismay, the letter to the editor from my friend Norman Gersman, attacking long time Great Neck resident Howard Weitzman who is a former mayor of Great Neck Estates and former County Comptroller. It is important for readers to understand that Norman was one of George Maragos’ campaign operatives in 2009 and has held a series of County jobs ever since. Also, Norman refers so glowingly to the column by Mike Barry praising and defending Comptroller Maragos’ record … without indicating that Barry is a well-known and consistent supporter of Republican officials and candidates.

 In the interest of full disclosure, I serve as President of the Great Neck Democratic Club and am actively involved in Howard Weitzman’s campaign to regain his position as County Comptroller.

After reading Norman’s letter, and knowing his political leanings and employment history, I’m reminded of the adage that “you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.” In an effort to deflect attention from the horrendous state of the county’s finances, and a lack of any notable achievements by Comptroller Maragos, Norman has concocted fanciful and baseless claims about the state of the County at the end of the Suozzi administration in 2009 and places the blame on Howard Weitzman. Aside from the fact that Comptrollers do not control the County’s spending or revenue collections (if you accepted Norman’s statements, then Comptroller George Maragos is responsible for the growing deficits the Mangano administration has created), the deficit that Mr. Maragos claims then Comptroller Weitzman left is a figment of his imagination.

 There were no deficits in the County’s 2009 financial statements signed off on by Comptroller Maragos. What does appear in the County’s 2009 audited financial statements is a budget surplus of $2.6 million. In addition, after 13 bond rating upgrades during his time in office, the County was given a stable rating outlook by the rating agencies when Howard Weitzman left office. Today, four years later, after multiple bond rating downgrades, the County has been assigned a negative outlook by the same rating agencies. Who are you going to believe, Maragos, his supporters in the media and on the County payroll or the rating agencies?  Facts count for a lot more than opinions.

 Steven Markowitz