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It seemed at first that Nassau Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves had decided to end the furious bickering between Republicans and Democrats at Monday’s legislative meeting by simply shutting off lawmakers' microphones.
As Democrats Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, of Glen Cove, and David Denenberg, of Merrick, pressed for legislative hearings on superstorm Sandy spending, both their microphones went dead.
DeRiggi-Whitton has been asking questions about the county’s tree removal company, Looks Great Services, since its crews chopped down more than 100 trees in the Welwyn Preserve a month after Sandy. Denenberg said he had received complaints about late payments to contractors that did emergency work at the county’s Bay Park Sewage Treatment plant.
But Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said again Monday that it is premature to hold hearings until Comptroller George Maragos finishes his review of payments to the major Sandy contractors. When he is completed, she said, she will consider whether hearings are needed.
The debate grew heated as Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said she was more interested in people than trees.
Legis. Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) demanded that DeRiggi-Whitton provide evidence of wrongdoing while Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levitton) contended Democrats were responsible for the Bay Park problems.
“You’re lying,” Denenberg could be heard retorting even without a microphone.
Then Nicolello’s and Dunne’s microphones went dead, too.
Would Republican Gonsalves have cut off her Republican colleagues?
Gonsalves aide Frank Moroney said afterward the legislature’s communication system shut them off, not the presiding officer.
When lawmakers press their microphone buttons simultaneously, they cut out, he said. “You can only have so many microphones hot at the same time. That’s the reason.”