Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) Friday called on County Executive Edward Mangano to cancel his antique car show and parade Sunday morning, branding it a "frivolous" expense at a time of financial crisis.
Abrahams said Mangano should show that he's trying to cut all unnecessary expenses after proposing to lay off 710 employees to help close a projected $310 million deficit. "We should be looking to control costs in all situations," Abrahams said. "We should set an example."
Abrahams and law enforcement sources say the parade will cost an estimated $75,000 in police overtime, with 78 officers assigned to the eight-mile route.
But Mangano aide Brian Nevin retorted in a statement that the event "does not cost residents a single dime as all costs, including labor, are funded by hotel/motel tax revenues collected from visitors who stay in local hotels. In fact, the car show generates sales tax revenue that helps hold the line on property taxes."
Mangano, who owns a 1969 gold Corvette convertible, started the "Nassau County Executive's Cruise to the Show Parade and Car Show" last year. This year's parade starts at 9 a.m. at Briarcliffe College in Bethpage and heads west on Hempstead Turnpike to Eisenhower Park, where the car show takes place. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be driving the Corvette in the parade.
This week, Mangano announced he will have to lay off employees, close museums, consolidate police precincts, and require givebacks from county unions to balance his proposed $2.63 billion budget.
Nevin accused Abrahams of "carrying the water" for the county's Police Benevolent Association. "We all know that Nassau's finances spun out of control, not due to a car show, but due to labor contracts that provide free health insurance and other costly perks," he said. Nassau's police unions are running commercials against Mangano's cuts.
But Abrahams said, "This has nothing to do with the PBA. This is strictly a budgetary issue." The hotel/motel sales tax revenues would be better spent to keep museums open, he said.
PBA president James Carver could not be reached. But Gary Learned, president of the Superior Officers Association, said, "If we had any chance of convincing our members to make further concessions, he almost negates it by wasting money on a combination car show/parade. In their mind, they think, 'If they can spend money on this type of event, how bad off is the county?' "