Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics

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No "politics" allowed at Nassau budget hearing

Former Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman, a Democrat seeking to regain his old job, was shut out of Tuesday’s meeting of the county legislature’s Budget Review Committee.

Chairman Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) refused to allow Weitzman to speak when he approached the podium after Republican Comptroller George Maragos, who is running for re-election in November after defeating Weitzman four years ago, completed an optimistic report on the state of the county’s finances.

Kopel said members of the public are not allowed to speak at committee hearings. He told Weitzman he could make a statement at the Sept. 23 legislative meeting.

“We’re not going to provide a political forum here today,” Kopel said.

But Legis. David Denenberg, (D-Merrick) said residents have spoken at committee hearings in the past. And he pointed out that the public notice for the meeting states “attendees will be given an opportunity to sign in to address the legislature for a maximum of three minutes.”

“So we violated our own notice,” Denenberg said. “For purely political reasons, you wouldn’t let Mr. Weitzman speak.”

“We ought to amend the hearing notices,” Kopel said.

Denenberg responded, “Or perhaps you made a  mistake.”

Kopel said, “I think we’ve beaten this horse to death,” and adjourned the meeting.

"I think it was just a lame attempt by the Republicans to cover up" what he called "the manipulations and misstatements of Comptroller Maragos,” Weitzman said afterward.

Weitzman said he was putting out a release of what he had intended to say in his prepared testimony.

He added, ”Did you get a copy of the meeting notice? Incredible, isn’t it?"

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