Monday, December 17, 2007

More Special District Shenanigans - South Farmingdale Again

Newsday is all over the little fiefdoms that get away with murder on the taxpayers dime. I missed this one yesterday when I posted about South Farmingdale Water District Commissioner Kurt Ludwig "South Farmingdale Water Commissioner Kurt Ludwig even charged his district $100 a day for attending a national water conference in Toronto with his wife for five days, including a day before the conference actually started.
Ludwig declined to be interviewed for this story."

Of course Ludwig declined to be interviewed. He just got re-elected after a huge push was made to get people to the polls by John Venditto and the N. Massapequa republicans. Ludwigs challenger Craig Heller made the local republicans pull out all the stops to save Ludwig.
Taxpayers must demand that Ludwig answer questions. Ludwig works for the taxpayers and a "no comment" is not sufficient. In the real world, when your boss asks you about your job performance, and you say you don't want to talk about it, you get fired.
Ludwig needs to be fired.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

South Farmingdale Water District Commissioners Soaking Taxpayers

Clever headline, no?
It seems that newly re-elected commissioner Kurt Ludwig who had the N. Massapequa Republican Club organization make a huge effort to get out the vote plays golf and charges the taxpayer for the privilege.
According to a report in Newsday, "On a sunny autumn morning last September, a number of water district commissioners, superintendents, engineers and others gathered for a breakfast meeting followed by several hours of golf at the Timber Point Golf Course in Great River.

A Newsday reporter and photographer observed the gathering, which by all appearances had no official agenda or purpose, other than to play golf. The players appeared convivial and relaxed -- at least five players who hit their balls into the rough picked them up and threw them back on the fairway.

Because the meeting was hosted by the Long Island Water Conference, a professional group of water suppliers, some of the representatives from the water districts playing golf also got paid for the day, records show. The outing was not listed in the group's schedule of monthly meetings."

South Farmingdale Water Commissioners John Hirt and Kurt Ludwig charged their district $100 per diem for attending the golf outing. Ludwig and Hirt declined to comment for this story."

Interesting that Ludwig ran under the banner of "Integrity." Not much "integrity" can be seen from Ludwig.

The question that needs to be answered now is what exactly was Ludwig who works full time for the Town of Oyster Bay doing at a golf outing on THURSDAY September 13, 2007.
Was Ludwig being paid by the taxpayers of Oyster Bay AND put in a per diem forom the water district taxpayers for playing golf on a weekday?
That's a double-dip on the taxpayers dime.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Out of State News: I Bet They're Re-Thinking that Whole Recall Thing

News out of California: Schwarzenegger Will 'Declare Fiscal Emergency' In Weeks

I wonder what all the supporters of the Gray Davis recall are thinking now. Arnold has increased spending by 40% since the recall.

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January to give him and the Legislature more power to deal with the state's growing deficit.
Schwarzenegger made the announcement Friday after meeting with lawmakers and interest groups this week to tell them California's budget deficit is worse -- far worse -- than economists predicted just a few weeks ago.
The shortfall is not $10 billion, but more than $14 billion -- a 40 percent jump that would put it in orbit with some of the state's worst fiscal crisis, those who have met with him said."
A fiscal emergency would trigger a special session and force lawmakers and the governor to begin addressing the shortfall within 45 days.
"What we have to do is fix the budget system. The system itself needs to be fixed, and I think that this is a good year, this coming year, to fix it," Schwarzenegger said in Long Beach, where he was promoting his plan for health care reform.
California is struggling with shrinking state tax revenue from the meltdown of the subprime housing market and the credit crunch on Wall Street.
State spending also has increased by more than 40 percent since Schwarzenegger took office after the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis.
Schwarzenegger in August signed a $145.5 billion budget that increased spending 11 percent due largely to the increased cost of bond repayments and special funds. General fund spending for day-to-day operations increased less than 1 percent, from $101.7 to $102.3 billion for the budget year that began July 1.
In August, Schwarzenegger's office projected the state would end its current budget year with a $4.1 billion reserve. Last month, the state's nonpartisan legislative analyst reported that the state would instead end the year in the red, and was on pace to rack up a staggering $10 billion deficit over the next 18 months.
Schwarzenegger and his top aides this week have privately told lawmakers and interest groups that the gap could top $14 billion and warned cities, counties and health and welfare agencies to expect cuts.
Last month, Schwarzenegger ordered agency leaders to draft plans for across-the-board cut as high as 10 percent.
State lawmakers have been criticized in recent weeks for pushing through a raise for themselves, despite the state's fiscal troubles."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ludwig Wins in South Farmingdale Water District

But the lawsuit about the misuse of taxpayer money for a campaign mailing goes before a judge tomorrow.
Heller comments in Newsday "Challenger Craig Heller, a Suozzi ally, conceded he had lost overwhelmingly in his bid to unseat incumbent Kurt Ludwig in the South Farmingdale Water District, but said some 1,100 voters turned out - relatively high for a special district.

"It showed we got word out that there was an election. We were successful in that," Heller said in an interview.
Heller said the relatively high turnout came despite the truncated voting hours in many districts. The two polling places in his district were open from 4 to 9 p.m., meaning people who traditionally vote in the morning might have been disenfranchised, he said."

Murray and the Gang Vote Themselves More Raises

$35,000 in increases over the last 3 years wasn't enough for Kate so she goes back for more...
"Town of Hempstead board members yesterday unanimously approved a total of $55,000 in raises for themselves and other elected officials but did not reach a decision on the fate of the much-criticized Courtesy Hotel after a seven-hour board meeting.

None of the about 200 residents in attendance commented on the resolution increasing the annual salaries of the town supervisor by $10,000; the tax receiver and town clerk by $7,500 each; and the six part-time board members by $5,000 each."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More on South Farmingdale Water District

Letters to the Farmingdale Observer...

SFWD Newsletter Is Waste of Tax Money

I came home from work late last night to find a newsletter in my mailbox from my local water district, the South Farmingdale Water District. What a waste of tax money. Who do these guys think they are? I just received one of these not three weeks ago and I remember because it had the same picture of the water commissioners with Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. I also happen to know that the election for water commissioner is next Tuesday, Dec. 11. I learned that from a gentleman handing out fliers the other day on behalf of one of the candidates, not from this newsletter. How can these guys get away with sending out a "political mailer" using taxpayer money right before an election and not even inform local residents that there is an election or where to vote on what day? What kind of corruption is this? I work two jobs to be able to afford my home and it's crooks like these that are the reason our taxes are so high. This mailing probably cost thousands to print in full glossy color and for postage. I could use my money back for the holidays or rent or just plain heating oil. I am outraged and I hope you will consider printing my letter so other residents know where their tax money is going. Thank you.

Carrie Frohling


I recently received the South Farmingdale Water District Newsletter. And I use the word newsletter loosely. It looked more like a piece of four-color campaign literature.

Generally speaking I don't agree with a lot of what Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi has to say, but on this issue of special taxing districts and 'mini-elections,' I have to say he is right.

These little elections that cause additional tax burdens on the residents of the Nassau County need to stop!

John Capobianco

South Farmingdale Water District Still in the News

From columnist Ellis Henican "South Farmingdale Water District commissioner Kurt Ludwig getting water-boarded for sending out campaign brochures at taxpayer expense. But has anyone asked the obvious follow-up: Why the heck is South Farmingdale Water District commissioner an elected position anyway?"

And in Newsday's Spincycle "As we've said in this space, special-district elections are to politics what craps games, basement bazaars and cockfights are to the economy. Tomorrow comes a cluster of them, and as always, you're on your own trying to find out the where and when. One race with partisan overtones that has attracted interest is the battle in the South Farmingdale water district between incumbent Kurt Ludwig and challenger Craig Heller, who's been on the phone trying to get supporters to the two firehouses that are hosting the election. He's also gone to court fighting mailings made at taxpayer expense touting Ludwig, though a hearing on his show-cause order is not due until Wednesday."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kate Murray Surprising Hire for Building Department Commissioner

After the last Commissioner for the Town of Hempstead was busted for renovating his house without permits just down the block from Supervisor Murray, Murray said there would be a "NATION-WIDE SEARCH" for a qualified candidate for the $109,000/year job.
After sixteen interviews, the most qualified candidate just happens to be:
What a freak'n suprise.
Congratulations John Rottkamp for getting job you probably knew you were getting anyway.

Newsday Story About South Farmingdale Water District Shenanigans

S. Farmingdale water district mailing heats up election campaign

The front page of a recent mailing from the South Farmingdale Water District to its customers touted the assets of commissioner Kurt Ludwig.

It boasted that Ludwig, a North Massapequa resident, not only "hit the ground running his first year in office... he crossed the finish line in first place!"

But Ludwig is running for re-election as commissioner for the water district, and the taxpayer-funded mailer that went out last week just days before Tuesday's election violates campaign laws, says his opponent, Craig Heller.

An attorney for Heller filed suit Friday in Supreme Court in Nassau County asking for the three commissioners of the water district to pay the costs of printing and mailing as well as to prevent them from sending out any other mailings that are political in nature.

"You can't send out a mailer a week before the election and say 'Look at what a great job this guy is doing. Congrats on a great first year. We wish you many more.' If that is not a piece of campaign literature, I have no clue what is," said Steven Schlesinger, the attorney representing Heller, the Democratic challenger.

Ludwig did not return a call seeking comment at his office in the public information office of the Town of Oyster Bay. Leonard Constantinopoli, business manager of the water district, said he had not seen the suit and therefore could not comment on it.

He did say the position is a part-time one, with two public meetings a month and commissioners are paid a $100 stipend per meeting. Their term is three years. They are also eligible for health insurance, he said.

According to the water district's Web site, Ludwig is serving his first term as commissioner for the South Farmingdale Water District.

Schlesinger, who serves as law chairman of the Nassau Democratic County Committee, said Heller has the support of County Executive Thomas Suozzi as part of his effort to consolidate these special districts.

The water district serves 5.4 square miles including South Farmingdale, North Massapequa, some areas of Bethpage and some areas in Seaford.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Scandal at the South Farmingdale Water District

Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman through his recent investigations has found corruption in special taxing districts all around Nassau. From Water to Fire to Sanitation, shenanigans in spending has been found.
Here is the most blatant use of public funds I have seen in a long time. The problem is that these districts have been flying under the radar for so long that they think they can get away with anything. Usually the elections are uncontested so there is no opponent to make some noise about what is going on. In the South Farmingdale Water District, Commissioner Kurt Ludwig is running for re-election after finishing the unexpired term of a former commissioner.
Ludwig who is also an executive member of the North Massapequa Republican Club is the coverboy for the new water district newsletter that has arrived a week before the election.
The cover story reads like a campaign mailing and it might as well be. The South Farmingdale Water District is using YOUR tax dollars in a campaign. Check out the newsletter - click on the image to see a larger version.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If this doesn't look like a campaign mailing, I don't know what does.
The South Farmingdale Water Commissioners should be ashamed of themselves... and quite frankly need to resign for approving this.
Maybe they thought they could get away with it.
Maybe they got away with it in the past.
This time they are not getting away with it.
Comptroller Weitzman needs to open an investigation into the South Farmingdale Water District.

What is the Value of a Petition?

We once again use our WABAC Machine for some research into the value of a Petition signed by voters.
We set the machine to... oh.... August 1999. Back then, the Nassau County Legislature was under republican control with a super-majority the Democrats could not crack. The fiscal crisis for Nassau County was more evident and something needed to be done to stop the bleeding. Deputy Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt and the Gulotta republicans again floated more one-shots that had no long-term solutions.
The Democrats had an idea for a "strict oversight board" for the next budget. Democrat Judy Jacobs complained "'Anything we propose goes into a black hole.''
And the Democrats were ignored.
But they had an idea!
The County Charter says that with enough signatures on a petition, the Legislature will be forced to have a hearing on the issue.
According to the NYTimes story, "
The idea was inspired by a marathon legislative session on Aug. 9, when a new 1 percent real estate transfer tax was enacted late at night, after most of the citizens who wanted to speak out against it had already gone home to bed. Tina Sackman, a financial planner from Manhasset who lasted until after 11 P.M., said the experience left her not only disgusted but despondent at the chances for real change.

Ms. Sackman, a registered Republican who has voted for Mr. Gulotta, and her companion, Scott Nigro, had collected 450 signatures in a few hours the previous Saturday for a spur-of-the-moment petition opposing the transfer tax. ''We had people standing in line to sign,'' Mr. Nigro, a salesman, said. ''They kept saying, 'We have to get Gulotta out.' ''

Now how did Deputy Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt react to petitions signed by the people of Nassau County?
Schmitt says "a petition would not be persuasive... I would have no problem getting 2,000 signatures. What does that say? I could get you thousands of signatures against the Bill of Rights.''

I'm sorry, what did Schmitt say? Oh yeah, he's saying he would ignore the petition and the voters should be ignored.

Now back here in the present, Schmitt is in the minority on the legislature and he wanted to push his reassessment freeze gimmick.
So what does he do?
Why he holds a petition drive!!!!

Schmitt says "We will go over the taxing Democrats' heads and go directly to the people who will tell Presiding Officer Jacobs to do her job and put this sorely needed tax relief measure on the legislative calendar for a public hearing,"

Hmmm... do we have to remind Schmitt how HE reacted to the Democrats petition drive?
In Contrast, here is Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs on the republican petitions "If presented with the legal number of signatures I will follow the charter and this issue will be brought before the legislature by the end of the year."

So who actually cares what the voters think?

Is it Schmitt who scoffs at petitions saying he could get thousands of signatures opposing the Bill of Rights or Judy Jacobs who said she would abide by the County Charter and the signers of the petition?

Why, that would be Judy Jacobs of course.

Schmitt is just a hypocrite.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blast from the Past: 8 years of Peter Schmitt Lying

This is from the October 3rd 1999 NYTimes Long Island section...
"On Tuesday, for example, Mr. Blakeman and Peter J. Schmitt, the deputy presiding officer, boasted that they had discovered the county was spending $1.1 million to print and mail 451,000 calendars celebrating the county's centennial to Nassau residents and vowed to cut the money from this year's budget. Mr. Schmitt said he had learned this by digging through receipts and invoices. And he said that the calendars did not even arrive in homes until March.

But Caroline Smith, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gulotta, disputed Mr. Schmitt's findings, saying the calendars had cost only $108,000. In addition, she said the county had no intention of producing the centennial calendars again this year, meaning they could not possibly be cut from the budget.

By late today, Mr. Schmitt conceded the calendars might have cost less than he had originally thought. He blamed administration employees for misleading him, but nonetheless promised to cut a full $1.1 million from Mr. Gulotta's proposed budget for printing and postage -- calendars or no calendars."

I started to hi-lite the important passages in red but when I was done I realized that I had pretty much turned the whole thing red.

The facts back then meant as little to Schmitt as they do now. After "
digging through receipts and invoices" Schmitt discovered it cost $1.1million to print calenders. But it didn't according to Gulotta's office.
Who does Schmitt blame for his lies?
Gullotta's people of course.

And the spokewoman for Gulotta really must have wanted to lay the sarcasm on but didn't when Schmitt "VOWED" to cut the money for the Centennial Calenders in the next budget.
Because, you know, Centennials happen every year.

Letter to Newsday on Town of Hempstead Raises

" Hempstead pay hikes 'ridiculous'

Twenty-five thousand dollars in raises from 2006 to 2008 ["Supervisor backs pay raise for self, others," News, Nov. 27]?
Where do you find such a job? Oh yeah - Town of Hempstead supervisor!
I don't disagree that raises are important, even for our elected officials, but this is ridiculous. It borders on bribery when the people who are going to approve such a raise are themselves receiving a raise. If the board members don't approve Supervisor Kate Murray's raise, they don't receive their own $5,000 raises.
Our government is supposed to be a system of checks and balances, but this really tips the scale toward the side of corruption.
Someone outside the realm of the Hempstead Town Board should be responsible for approving or denying these raises.
I wish I could approve my own raise!
Christine Gietschier

The Unknown Elections

Some local fire district and water district elections are coming up. It's almost a state secret to find out where and when. If you are lucky you can find a sign if the election is contested. If not, no voting for you.
My water district election is Tuesday Dec. 11th from 4pm-9pm...... Yes, that's 4pm to 9pm.
At my normal polling place?
At the North Massapequa Firehouse on N. Broadway.
Confusing Much?
Call your local water district and fire district headquarters to find out when you have an election.

Here is a story in Newsday that mentions the race for South Farmingdale Water District Commissioner.
"TAX TALK: With a cluster of sanitary and water district elections next week, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi is calling a news conference tomorrow on special taxing districts. In one of the elections, lawyer Craig Heller, who's been working on reorganization proposals with the Democratic executive's office, opposes Kurt Ludwig, a public information official for the Town of Oyster Bay, for a commissioner seat in the South Farmingdale Water District. Broader battle lines are forming; the district in a newsletter argues against the prospect of district consolidations, declaring that "hometown rule makes sense."