Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newsday Calls for State Control Board Take-over of Nassau County

Newsday joins NYPost in pointing out the failure of Mangano. But the control board take-ver will effectively end Mangano's term as County Executive and put the republicans in the legislature back into the minority.

Mangano needs NIFA control board

"The longer you wait to fix a problem, the worse it gets and the greater the damage. The same scenario applies to a leaky roof or to Nassau County's looming 2011 budget gap.

The speculative budget approved for next year is unsafe for taxpayers. It could put bond ratings at further risk and result in tax increases or draconian cuts in services. But who should execute the fix? Should it be done now or later?

County Executive Edward Mangano doesn't yet have the situation in hand. The Nassau County Interim Finance Authority, the state oversight board, sidestepped a decision last night on taking control. That was the right call. By next week, NIFA should make public its justification for a control period and the urgency for it.

Yet while a NIFA control period isn't the desired solution, it might be the only one.

Mangano's contradictory behavior is eroding confidence in his skills. He alternately claims the budget is balanced and then turns around the next minute to shake his tin cup. His efforts to get concessions from the police unions have been amateurish. He got slapped down by his fellow Republicans when he sought a sales tax increase.

NIFA, which was created for a much greater fiscal crisis in 2000, remains, but with reduced powers. It's clear that state law requires NIFA to take control of the county's finances when there is a substantial likelihood that the budget is out of balance by 1 percent, which amounts to $26 million for next year. While there are estimates that the budget is out of whack by more than $60 million, the law is vague about when the control period is triggered.

A control board would give Mangano the hammer power he needs to freeze wages, reopen contracts and cut staff. Besides, the leaders of the police and civil service unions are reluctant to make any givebacks unless NIFA gives them cover.

Mangano working with NIFA control could be effective. But politically, it's a hit the GOP doesn't want to take in the New Year, when the county legislature is up for election. If Mangano refuses to work with NIFA - or if the legislature refuses to cooperate - NIFA can turn the screws by halting all short-term borrowing, the county's fiscal lifeline.

NIFA has armed itself with a powerful law firm and auditors. Mangano responded by hiring his former law firm. Republican leaders are sending out Comptroller George Maragos to bang the partisan drums and discredit NIFA. What we don't need is an ugly, partisan battle and costly litigation. That's a fight the taxpayer loses no matter who wins.

After Tuesday's NIFA meeting, Mangano said he would partner with NIFA unless he got union concessions. That's a step in the right direction. If NIFA needs to execute a hostile takeover, however, it must make a persuasive case that a control period is urgently needed and justified. A control board actually controlling the county puts us in uncharted waters. But a county executive who finds himself lost at sea would be worse. hN"

NY Post Rips Mangano

Naughty in Nassau

Last Updated: 10:09 AM, December 20, 2010

Who does Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano think he's kidding?

Mangano is scrambling as a state monitoring board eyes a takeover of his county's finances. The board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, plans a key meeting tomorrow; if it believes Nassau is likely to run a budget deficit, it can act.

Things are iffy: Mangano's budget contains "ongoing structural deficits" and $158 million in risks, warns Moody's, the credit-rating agency. And NIFA declines to declare Mangano's budget balanced.

So, on Thursday, Mangano announced $23 million in new budget "cuts," including a hiring freeze meant to "save" $15 million.

But wait.

The so-called "freeze" follows an early-retirement buyout program funded with $86 million that Mangano issued bonds to cover.

That temporarily cleared 500 employees off the books (though at a cost of as much as $600,000 per departee), but Mangano never ditched the payroll slots themselves. And he apparently was preparing to fill some of them with the $15 million he "froze" Thursday.

Good government?

Three-card monte is more like it.

Mangano told The Post he kept the

jobs to preserve an important "managerial tool" and that he may need to

fill them again one day.

No wonder NIFA's growing impatient.

Let's face it: Nassau is a wealthy county; its taxes are among the highest in America. A revenue shortage is not Nassau's problem.

"The county raised spending to unsustainable levels during the boom years," and then used stimulus funds to spend even more, the Manhattan Institute's E.J. McMahon wrote here recently.

Sweetheart deals with labor under Mangano's predecessor, Tom Suozzi, now have Nassau hemmed in. The agreements call for wholly unaffordable compensation for county employees -- cops alone average $126,000 a year -- and no layoffs through next year.

But rather than, say, actually slice jobs once and for all, Mangano wants to preserve his options.

Rather than play hardball with the unions, he offers generous -- unnecessary -- buyouts.

It gets worse: Though he took office vowing to cut taxes amid nationwide anti-tax fervor, he's now eyeing a hike in Nassau sales taxes in 2011.

Anything to avoid real reform.

NIFA needs to make it crystal clear to Mangano that it no longer will abide such flim-flammery.

Tomorrow would be an excellent time to deliver the message.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/naughty_in_nassau_STsEmkb9aQDC8BydyvizfM#ixzz18mkndg2t

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Always Good to Remember Who You Represent. I'm Looking at YOU, Legislator Belesi

Seems the Legislator from the 14th District (Joe Belesi) doesn't quite remember that he's Legislator from the 14th District and...well... not the 13th District (pssst... it's Norma Gonsalves).

Belesi sent out one of his e-mail "newsletters" and, well, it's always good to give an e-mail a once-over before sending it out.... to hundreds of constituents.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Mangano has MORE Plans to Raise Taxes

From the NY Post:

That's the depressing message coming from Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who's reportedly pushing for a hike in the county's sales tax, perhaps by a quarter of a point.

That would bump the local rate from 8.625 percent to 8.875 percent -- tying New York City for the highest levy in the state (and that's saying something).

If that happens, it would stab Nassau residents in the back. After all, they dumped the prior county exec, Tom Suozzi, precisely because they were sick of high taxes -- and Mangano ran on a staunch anti-tax platform"

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/tax_first_cut_maybe_zqccCRvzB4miwh4ny4XIMN#ixzz175ksUjQk