Friday, 02 August 2013 00:00
It was less than shocking to see former comptroller Howard Weitzman criticizing George Maragos in his July 3rd letter, but his arguments were certainly telling. Weitzman, who surrendered the Comptroller’s office in 2009, seeks to blame the current administration for the bond downgrades that were the inevitable result of his fiscally irresponsible 8 year reign that nearly bankrupt this county, had Maragos not stepped in to bring Nassau back from the brink. After taking office, Maragos quickly cut Weitzman’s albatross of a budget by 200 million dollars - a feat so impressive that even our Democratic Governor Cuomo awarded the Republican-run County 5,000,000 for its effective cost cutting initiatives.
Perhaps most telling is Weitzman’s attack on a bond rating downgrade, mere months after his Democratic party blocked efforts to issue bonds that could have effectively addressed the County’s debts and avoided this very result. Weitzman conveniently ignores the fact that those debts resulted from the severely inflated home property values that accrued under his watch, and under his misguided assessment formula. Unlike some politicians, George Maragos spent his first term correcting the problems of the past administration, rather than simply throwing up his hands and blaming his predecessor, and he was able to cut Nassau’s structural deficit to half of what it was when Weitzman left office in 2009.
The fact remains that under the NIFA standards Weitzman touts so fiercely in his letter, Nassau County recorded a negative $184.3 million negative result in Weitzman’s last year as Comptroller, a number Maragos has cut to negative $85.5 million since taking over, while simultaneously dealing with the worst economic decline since the Great Depression and damage from a Superstorm of epic proportions. I can only assume that when Weitzman refers to the “largest deficit in recent memory,” his recent memory begins the day after he left office, but even then his claims are demonstrably false.
In the end, Weitzman’s words are exactly what we should expect from his ilk: numerological gymnastics, and claims that returning to the old ideas that got us into this mess will somehow speed up the process of cleaning it up. George Maragos took office during a time of financial crisis, and has righted the ship in impressive fashion, despite unheard of obstacles both natural and man-made (mostly made by men named Suozzi and Weitzman). In the end, Weitzman is criticizing Maragos for not fixing in three years the fiscal disaster Weitzman manufactured over the previous eight. His lack of new ideas means we can expect the same old results should he take office: higher taxes, higher spending, and higher deficits.