The trial of Sanji Francis, the Melville doctor, accused of selling prescription drugs to Massapequa area teenagers, that was set to begin Feb. 8 has been adjourned until at least next Tuesday, Feb. 16.
After facing a hail of criticism and a possible legal action, Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt has decided to ask that the pay raises for the Nassau County Legislature’s three top legislative leaders be rescinded. Schmitt had proposed the raises.
“After much personal reflection and many conversations with residents of Nassau County, I have determined that the Legislative Leadership stipend increases introduced and passed on January 25, 2010 will be rescinded,” Schmitt said in a statement delivered last Friday.
“I’ve based my decision on three factors. First, as reported today our County Executive faces a predicted shortfall of $89 million in sales tax receipts to Nassau County for 2009. Second, I am influenced by the announcement that LIPA has rescinded its plan to give 2 percent raises to its employees this year. Lastly, the U.S. Department of Labor has reported that the average increase in compensation for U.S. workers reported in 2009 was the lowest in decades.
“My belief is that the Legislators and the leadership of the Nassau County Legislature are woefully under compensated,” Schmitt maintained. “However, now is not the time and I am not immune to the plight of my Nassau County neighbors, friends and businesses in this economy.”
In response to Schmitt’s decision, Minority Leader Diane Yatauro said, “Mr. Schmitt reversed himself on his raise because he heard loud and clear from his constituents, taxpayer organizations and our caucus that the timing for this raise was totally out of line. The public will long remember his shameful money grab attempt.”
The pay raise was approved, as noted, on Monday, Jan. 25, during the first meeting of the Nassau County Legislature. The raises went to Schmitt, Deputy Presiding Officer John Ciotti and Minority Leader Diane Yatauro. The pay raise vote went along party lines, with 11 Republicans voting for the raise, and eight Democrats in opposition. A vote on rescinding the pay raises is expected to take place the next time the legislature meets, which is on Feb. 22.
The pay raise amounted to a stipend increase. Base pay for all legislators is $39,500. That salary is set by the County Charter and must be amended for all legislators to get raises. The Presiding Officer’s current stipend is $28,000. The legislation would have increased that to $60,000, making the total salary $99,500 (the stipend added to the $39,500 base salary). The Deputy Presiding Officer’s salary would have increased from $62,500 to $84,000, by the stipend being increased to $45,000. And, with the stipend for the Minority Leader increased to $51,000, it would have made that total salary go from $63,500 to $90,500.
The day after the pay raises were approved, members of the Democratic Party caucus held a press conference, criticizing, in strong language, the pay increases. Ms. Yatauro, who earlier announced that she would not accept any pay increase, said that she would draft a letter to the Nassau County Comptroller, asking that the pay increase be stopped. Ms. Yatauro added that she would call on County Executive Ed Mangano to direct the County Attorney to find a legal way to repeal the pay increase vote. And in fact, Comptroller George Maragos did put a freeze on the pay raises until the county attorney was able to review them.
Immediately following the Democrats’ press conference, County Executive Mangano issued his own reply.
“At the request of Minority Leader Yatauro, I have referred the question of the legality of the raises to the County Attorney’s office for review,” the release said. “The Nassau County Legislature is a separate branch of government and as such abides by its own rules of procedure. My administration will continue to lead by example through reducing the cost of government, and it is our hope that our colleagues follow suit.”
Last Thursday evening, Jan. 28, Drug Free Massapequa (DFM) welcomed local businesses and legislators to its first Open House held at 5023 Merrick Rd. on the north side of John Burns Park.
The meeting was marked by good cheer but also a determination to confront and defeat the drug problem in the Massapequas. Many of the faithful were present, including State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, Town Councilman Joe Pinto, Seventh Precinct P.O.P. Detectives Gary Fujarski and Janet Gallagher, and activist Vic Ciappa, father of Natalie Ciappa, and architect of Natalie’s Law.
The 13th season of The Challenge kicks off with all-star student scholars from Plainedge High School and South Side High School competing against each other in round one of this award-winning high school quiz show.
New parklands may be coming to the Village of Massapequa Park. Recently, the Town of Oyster Bay board voted to make “findings and determinations” on what to do with property in Massapequa that has been set for condemnation.
The New York State Public Service Commission recently adopted a three-year rate plan for New York Water Service Corporation that will result in three annual revenue increases of $1.9 million, up 8.47 percent; $.4 million, up 1.6 percent; and $.5 million, up 1.95 percent, effective February 6, 2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively.
Not even a week into his new term as County Executive, Ed Mangano received a letter from the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) questioning his plans for the county’s fiscal situation.
Politics and sports were the big stories coming out of Massapequa in 2009.
In politics, Massapequa, a village at the heart of the Republican coalition in Nassau County, will see one of its lawmakers play a major role in the governance of the county. That will happen in the person of Peter J. Schmitt, the longtime county legislator representing Massapequa. When the GOP lost control of the county legislature in 1999, Schmitt assumed the role of minority leader. He held that post throughout the 2000s and when the GOP won back control of the legislature in November 2009, Schmitt became majority leader for the legislature that convened in January.
“We are thrilled to be taking over the majority,” a happy Schmitt said after the GOP won control of the legislature. “We look forward to doing what we told the residents we would do. We are going to repeal that home energy tax and we’re going to cut spending and we are going to repair the institutional integrity of the legislature.”
No arrests have been made in a bizarre chase, one in which larceny suspects fled the scene of an accident, leaving a four-and-a-half year old child alone in their vehicle.
In what a Nassau County detective called “despicable behavior,” the entire incident occurred in Massapequa on Monday, Jan. 11 at 3:54 p.m. when a stolen vehicle struck a residence.
Detectives said that a Fifth Precinct Police officer, while on routine patrol in the parking lot of 941 Carmans Ave., attempted to stop a 2008 Hyundai stolen from New York City on Sept. 11, 2009.
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