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Day of swan songs at the Suffolk Legislature

It was a day of swan songs at the Suffolk Legislature Tuesday.

County Executive Steve Bellone made a rare appearance at the legislature building in Hauppauge to sign a bill that would name the Hauppauge North complex after the late Presiding Officer William Lindsay.

Presiding Officer Wayne Horsley ran his last meeting in his 36-day reign as official legislative leader, although he had unofficially shouldered much of the day-to-day duties for Lindsay during Lindsay's yearlong battle with cancer. Horsley will begin work the week of Dec. 23 as regional director of Long Island state parks.

And term-limited Legis. Lynne Nowick cast her last votes after 12 years as county lawmaker. She will start the new year as a Smithtown town board member, following in the footsteps of her late father, Eugene Cannataro.

Legislators all huddled behind Bellone as he signed Lindsay’s bill into law in front of the horseshoe, with Lindsay’s widow, Pat, and son, Legis.-elect Bill Lindsay Jr.,  seated on both sides.

Bellone praised Lindsay for “his leadership, his kindness, ability to listen to others and for his courage. ... He was not only the longest-serving presiding officer but, in my view, he was the greatest presiding officer we ever had.” He also credited Lindsay for making tough decisions arising from the fiscal meltdown.

“We’re moving out of the crisis to a better place because Bill Lindsay was here,” Bellone said.

Pat Lindsay said that when her husband became ill, “I really wanted him to step down because I wanted every minute of his time.” But she said “he really loved this job,” and toward the end, “it took his mind off” his illness to keep working.

Lindsay said his father would have loved the honor that his fellow lawmakers bestowed on him. “I know he’s looking down watching us now and he is as proud as we are,” Lindsay said.

Earlier, Horsley praised Nowick for always putting the interests of the county above partisan concerns. “She was the one always in the middle,” he said. “She’d say, ‘Hey guys, we’re here for Suffolk County.’ ... That’s a rare talent.”

Nowick said, “if you think I’m in the middle now, I’m going into the Town of Smithtown, and I’ll say nothing further,” referring to the ongoing battles between Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and town board member Robert Creighton and their allies.

Horsley, meanwhile, said stepping down was “bittersweet,” saying “the best deliberative body in the whole world is right here.” He quoted Theodore Roosevelt in saying that it’s not the critics on the sideline but officials “actually in the arena” who deserve credit.

“It’s been a great eight years,” Horsley said.

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