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At the poker table that is Nassau County's (Credit: Martin Kozlowski)

At the poker table that is Nassau County's finances, the important thing is that the game not break up. If any faction suffers too much, or wins too big, everyone loses. Including the taxpayer.

The game Nassau can't afford to lose

At the poker table that is Nassau County's finances, the important thing is that the game not break up. If any faction suffers too much, or wins too big, everyone loses. Including the taxpayer.

At the poker table that is Nassau County's
(Credit: Martin Kozlowski)

At the poker table that is Nassau County's finances, the important thing is that the game not break up. If any faction suffers too much, or wins too big, everyone loses. Including the taxpayer.

It might seem Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan
(Credit: Martin Kozlowski)

It might seem Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams has little to win, or lose, here, but that's not the case. Abrahams has been able to exercise some power lately by stymieing the Republicans, since Democratic votes are needed to approve any county borrowing. An election is just months away, and if all goes his way, Abrahams could be the county's next presiding officer. That's only a useful job if Nassau isn't entirely broke. To have a chance of making his hand, Abrahams needs a few tweaks to the new legislative districts, and in this he is in concert with the county's Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs.

County Executive Edward Mangano is caught between the
(Credit: Martin Kozlowski)

County Executive Edward Mangano is caught between the PBA and NIFA. The wage freeze saved $80 million and counting, so NIFA won't lift it unless there's a deal that really saves money. The wage-freeze ruling bolsters his case for a renegotiated contract that realizes the same savings as the freeze -- but makes the union drop the case, to avoid the risk of the county having to cough up $80 million in back pay. He's also trying to convince NIFA that will create more savings later. Mangano will need the approval of Democrats to borrow and could use the offer of better lines for them in the county's redistricting. His bust card is Republican Chair Joseph Mondello, who wants a total advantage for the GOP on the new maps.

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The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, chaired by Ron
(Credit: Martin Kozlowski)

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, chaired by Ron Stack, fears the proposed deal has imaginary savings and no real concessions. It wants Mangano to put his math in writing and endorse it. NIFA is confident that the wage-freeze ruling will be overturned by a federal appeals court, a decision that could be months away. There is the risk, however, that it stands — and drowns the county in a tsunami of back pay. NIFA is willing to advise the county, but it refuses to enter direct negotiations with the PBA. Behind NIFA is Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who needs Nassau’s problems contained. If control boards can’t work here, other stressed municipalities will bring a tin cup to Albany or face bankruptcy.

Police Benevolent Association President Jimmy Carver saw his
(Credit: Martin Kozlowski)

Police Benevolent Association President Jimmy Carver saw his bargaining hand strengthened when a federal judge ruled against the wage freeze. NIFA will appeal and the dispute could languish. Still, his position is much-improved. His problem? The court win may make it harder for Carver to sell a deal the county and NIFA can live with to members who have visions of court-ordered back pay. Carver's ace? The cops with less than eight years on the job, who are caught below full pay and pushing hard for a deal that would end the freeze now. Watching his hand is labor's favorite arbitrator, Martin Scheinman, who may be asked to recoup the chips Carver gives away now in a future game.

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