On our minds: Seriously, Long Island? Get your act together
Newsday's editorial board spends all week striving to be a reasoned and pragmatic voice for Long Island and its values through our editorials and columns. We debate local, national and international issues and write on those we think will impact our readers.
Some topics come up that don't turn into longer pieces, but are part of the national conversation and worth bringing up. Here's how we're telling you about them.
Sick day policy is sickening(Credit: Newsday / Gordon M. Grant)
$403,714 -- That's the payout for the former Westhampton Beach police chief who retired June 30 after 15 years running the department. You can argue his pay last year, which totaled $226,000, can be justified, though we wouldn't. You can argue paying him for 221 unused vacation days and holidays can be justified, though we wouldn't. But the 300 sick days that make up most of his windfall? The perk itself is sickening. If workers are sick, they should stay home. But they shouldn't get a huge bonus for not being sick.
We can't wait to read this page turner(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)
For Nassau County and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the hits just keep coming. Nassau's Office of Legislative Budget Review has released a report showing the county is headed toward a disaster. The office is projecting a deficit of $70 million this year, plus $70 million in unpaid property tax refunds. Sales tax revenue is plummeting and lifting the county pay freeze, which NIFA facilitated, has led to higher costs. Then, Friday, we learned the county will refund or cancel $2.4 million in speeding tickets new cameras generated in school zones, because many summonses were issued when school was out. Revenue from those cameras, likely overestimated by County Executive Edward Mangano and NIFA, is supposed to pay the hiked wages.
Mangano must submit his proposed 2015 budget in three weeks. We're expecting a real page turner.
Time for Betty Cross to go(Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)
All legal papers are now filed in the case of alleged voter fraud in Hempstead's school board election.
And State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. has a ruling to make. Students return to class a week from Wednesday; he owes them a prompt decision.
At stake is the status of former school board President Betty Cross. A losing board candidate accuses Cross and her supporters of voter fraud with regard to absentee ballots and voter intimidation; Cross retained her seat by six votes. King already ordered Cross to step down pending his decision. Given the evidence in the case and her dysfunctional tenure -- including nepotistic hiring and backroom deals -- King should make his ban permanent.
When Hempstead's kids return to school on Sept. 3, Betty Cross should not.