Nassau County layoffs truly a 'lose-lose'
Last week's layoff of more than 260 Nassau County employees richly deserves to be labeled a "lose-lose."
Consider Laura Dermody, the single mother of two, and pink-slipped employee of the Department of Social Services who told Newsday's Robert Brodsky she expects to file for unemployment, food stamps and Medicaid.
That's Exhibit A for the lose-lose. When public jobs are shed en masse, cost savings are offset in part by an increased burden on public benefits, heavier overtime expenditures and service disruptions that come with reshuffling civil-service workers into lower slots.
County Executive Edward Mangano never claimed a win, of course, as those fired and demoted trekked home Thursday. Months ago, he targeted the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which his office blamed for allegedly trying to make him raise taxes. Now that things have been smoothed over with NIFA, the official index finger points toward the Civil Service Employees Association.
Mangano, approaching the halfway point of his elected term, noted he'd warned county unions "that layoffs would occur if they did not provide the concessions needed." When CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta called Nassau "the embarrassment of New York State," the lose-lose in labor-management relations was clear.
"It happens in a situation where you have to, in effect, make big cuts in a short period of time." The question becomes "why the situation got to the point where there were no other choices," he said.
Executives reach for personnel cuts in an emergency because "that's generally where a lot of the expenditures are," said Doug Turetsky, spokesman for New York City's Independent Budget Office.
Another 175 employees lost their jobs in November over at the Nassau University Medical Center, which faces rising pension costs, reduced Medicaid payments and other problems. By chance, Legis. John Ciotti (R-North Valley Stream) that month received his own dismissal notice, from voters, in the form of his close loss to Democratic challenger Carrié Solages.
Did these separate events also add up to a lose-lose? Not quite. As Newsday's Celeste Hadrick reported Friday, Ciotti got a $300,000-a-year counsel job -- with the Nassau University Medical Center and its affiliates.
Looks like Ciotti won after all.