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Haber’s Hat In Ring

County executive candidate

sits down with Anton Editors

Though he has to contend with Tom Suozzi to challenge Ed Mangano for the Nassau County seat, Democrat Adam Haber said he knows what will happen.

“I’m not going to get the nomination,” he said in a sitdown with Anton Newspapers last week. “I’m going to run a primary. I’m going to do exactly what Suozzi did against [Thomas] DiNapoli. He didn’t get the nomination. He ran a primary and I’m going to win the primary.”

Haber, a Mineola restaurant owner and Roslyn School Board member, feels his “unique skill set” is right for Nassau County, ranging from 22 years in finance, commercial real estate management, and stumping for job creating “business” incubators in Long Island.

Downtown revitalization, a smart growth initiative across Long Island, is a key element to bringing prospective homeowners and businesses into the area. Plans are in place in numerous areas, including Elmont, Hempstead, Inwood, Glen Cove, Great Neck and Uniondale. Haber in particular thinks Mineola, Hicksville and Freeport are on the rise.

“If you create a scenario where small startup companies can have a place to start a business space, sometimes for free for a period of time and become tenants to stay and thrive, you have to redevelop cores of communities.”

LaunchPad LI, a Mineola-based business that gives start-up companies works space, opened on Feb. 13 and is a stone’s throw from the Mineola train station. Investors Andrew Hazen of Jericho and Rich Foster of New Hyde Park brainstormed this idea.

“From seed funding, to a prime location for entrepreneurs to grow, to premiere event space, LaunchPad has it all,” Foster said.

Startups can attain workspace for $15 per day or $250 per month. Private offices are available from $650 to $1,500.

A Hicksville incubator like LaunchPad named Canrock Ventures, opened last year. Haber is an investor in Canrock, the largest incubator company in Long Island.

“You have to create an environment where young kids can be in the same area, in a huge open room where you can have people working and build off of that,” said Haber. “Once you have the influx and the businesses come, and the redevelopment happens, you have to fast track that in all those areas.

Inexperience in the political arena is a seeming red flag in Haber’s candidacy. The Roslyn resident disagreed, leaning on a self-described ability to run things as cheaply as possible while still maximizing revenue. Efficiency on the county government level is a major factor he consistently hammered away on regarding the woes of the county supervisor. When it was pointed out that unions might be one of the main causes of inefficiencies, Haber was quick to disagree, elaborating on his working relationship with the teachers union in his hometown.

“I think unions get a bad rap and I think that they want success because they realize that they’re going to get laid off if things don’t get better. And I think that we’re at a perfect crossroads where people want to work together,” he explained. “Stop vilifying unions. I’m more than happy to work with every union. I work very well with the Roslyn Teachers Union and the thought of collective bargaining went very well. We ended up having a great agreement. And keep in mind that of all the school [districts] in Nassau County, Roslyn hasn’t cut services to special needs kids. We’re actually adding programs. We have one of the lowest tax increases of any school district in Nassau County and we haven’t laid off a single teacher.”

For as fluidly as he handled negotiations with the Roslyn Teacher Union, another area he dealt with that needs fast-tracking, according to Haber, is school busing. In Roslyn, he spearheaded an intermunicipal busing initiative, which he says would be countywide should he win the seat and save Nassau $10 million annually. Roslyn worked with neighboring schools in transporting students to offset costs.

By law, school districts must provide students with bus service, even to a private school, if that school is within 15 miles of a school district.

“We would share resources and costs,” he said. “Instead of it going to an outside vendor, the money stays in the schools.”

Of all the current economic threats hanging over Nassau County school districts, the tax certiorari issue is front and center. With the county deciding to push off payment of improperly assessed properties onto public education rolls, many schools that may have been on the precipice of a balanced budget instead have to account for the potential of state-mandated expenditures not exempt from the tax levy cap. It’s a situation that gives Haber grave concerns and one he has a plan to address that he was unwilling to reveal until before the election.

“Pushing tax certiorari on the schools right now is the worst possible thing you can do,” he stated. “What the county executive is saying is that he balanced his budget but then each of these 56 school districts is going to have to hire its own infrastructure to deal with these tax certioraris. There’ll be more layers of government and it’s going to cost more money administering it than if the county did it. There’s $400 million of tax certiorari that is not paid back. If the county wins [in court], God help us. I’m a strong advocate of our school systems. We destroy that, we’re done.”

Late last week, the state appeals court rejected Nassau County’s attempt to shift the cost of property tax refunds to school districts.