Letter: Former official resents comparison

Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman at a

Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman at a luncheon at the Milleridge Inn. (Credit: Newsday, 2008 / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

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After eight years of receiving consistent positive editorial support from Newsday for my actions and performance as the Nassau County comptroller, I was shocked and offended by the attempt in the July 2 editorial ["Maragos must get in the game"] to equate my record to that of the current county comptroller, George Maragos.

Newsday was right on the mark in taking Maragos to task for failing to speak out against the financial practices of the current administration. These practices are leading Nassau County down the road to financial ruin.

However, Newsday was wrong in dragging me into this morass by comparing me to the current comptroller in an attempt to appear balanced. Saying that I went "along with extensive borrowing and the ignoring of generally accepted accounting principles by [the] then-County Executive" is not supported by the facts.

Every financial statement issued by Nassau County during my eight years in office was presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, with an unqualified opinion from our independent auditors, Deloitte and Touche. Every financial statement we issued received an award from the Government Finance Officials Association for outstanding financial reporting. Unlike the present situation, our financial statements were always issued on time.

I am proud that I reported accurately on potential risks in proposed Suozzi administration budgets, when such risks existed. My reports on risks to the annual budgets were frequently used by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority as the basis for their reports. All of these reports were delivered personally by me to the Legislature, and reported on extensively by Newsday and other media. Newsday's editorial page and columnists also made frequent reference to my financial warnings.

Furthermore, the Suozzi administration's tax refund actions were not equivalent to those of the present administration. Suozzi reduced annual tax refund borrowings by paying $50 million annually out of the operating budget, a practice called "pay as you go." NIFA considered this plan feasible in its 2008 report and an important promise and obligation of the county. The current administration removed tax refunds from the operating budget in 2010, its first year in office.

Newsday's endorsement of my re-election in 2005 said that I consistently showed the independence, integrity and talent that Nassau needed. Their 2009 endorsement said I had earned their healthy respect. The New York Times endorsements said pretty much the same thing. To imply otherwise now is unfair, baseless and an insult to me and the members of my staff who worked so hard to get Nassau County's finances back on track.

Howard S. Weitzman, Great Neck

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