Friday, 02 March 2012 00:00The high taxes; reduced bond ratings and takeover by a financial control board has little to do with the closing of the 4th Precinct.
Nassau’s financial woes are far more global in that its politicians have mismanaged this County for years where political favoritism in every aspect of governance has been the modus operandi. The Tea Party has stopped short of a municipal revolution. These problems have been brewing for decades. They are not remediable by the closing of the 4th Precinct.
The closing of Nassau’s Police Lab and the re-testing of up to 9,000 cases will cost taxpayers several million dollars. So will the negligence of police in failing to properly respond to reports of domestic violence. Our police force has been the highest paid in the nation with some breath technicians being paid $160,000 per year and pension payouts and early retirement incentives making some of the senior brass millionaires.
Crime nationwide has been on the decline for 20 years, yet we are the most incarcerated nation on earth. We have overbuilt the number of prisons in lieu of job, drug and alcohol treatment alternatives. It costs us $35,000 to $50,000 per year to house a single prisoner and $20,000 for a program.
The Taylor Law has prevented strikes by municipal employees but also spawned mandatory arbitration with unions. Politicians looking for endorsements and contributions have caved into unions and arbitration awards have overextended the abilities of taxpayers to keep up with these costs. Political patronage rather than employment on the basis of merit or need has been the practice of both political parties. It continues today on many levels. We long ago reached the law of diminishing returns.
For example, the retention of outside litigation and transactional counsel by the County and some financial settlements that have arisen out of political ties have for many years caused payouts to be made to lawyers for legal fees and litigants sometimes undeserving of the millions given to them. In like manner, law firms handling tax certiorari cases in our flawed assessment system have cost taxpayers millions. There is no incentive to fix the system as long as power brokers control its purse strings.
There is a massive cover up of these problems by unions and politicians. It is time to talk straight to voters if we ever expect to bring this County back to where it belongs – a true diamond in the rough.
Thomas F. Liotti
Attorney, Garden City Village Justice, Westbury