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Henican: Fiscal responsibility can get a little dicey

Nassau Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt talks about the

Nassau Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt talks about the proposed raises being rescinded. (January 29, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

This whole fiscal responsibility thing can get a little dicey. Sometimes people actually hold you to what you say.

Just ask Peter Schmitt.

The new presiding officer of the Nassau Legislature, who swept in with County Executive Edward Mangano in November’s anti-incumbent wave, is a tightfisted, lean-government, no-waste conservative. Or so he’d been telling everyone.

Then on Monday, Schmitt got his fellow Republicans, on a strict party-line, to ram through a whopping pay-raise package for legislative leaders, including an extra 47 percent for himself.

Sweet!

But dumb!

On his way to the bank, he handed the Democratic minority a big fat club to beat him with. Mr. Tight Fist was suddenly Mr. Spend-Spend-Spend!

Still smarting from the unexpected success of Republicans’ tax-and-spend rhetoric, Dems were more than eager to pounce. Their leader, Diane Yatauro, knew an issue when she saw one and announced she would not accept the pay raise. If forced to by law, she’d hand the money to charity.

This was too easy, almost.


By week’s end, even Schmitt had seen the glaring light. He announced he would propose Monday that the raises be reversed.

With the straightest faces they could muster, Democrats kept milking the debacle into the weekend.

“It sounds like Rip Van Winkle just woke up,” Yatauro said, inserting the knife and spinning a few more times. “It’s as if he just found out that Nassau’s residents are faced with unemployment, foreclosures and low sales tax numbers.”

Lesson learned?

True Slogans:
1. Lean times, fat raises
2. Public service, where the money is
3 .Belt tightening is for wimps
4. This is a bargain compared to 50 percent
5. Fun with deficits

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Any welcome-home parties for soon-to-be-ex-con schools embezzler Frank Tassone? Nothing planned in Roslyn yet . . . A telemarketer? Accused of deception? You mean those super-aggressive police “charities” aren’t all on the up-and-up? . . . Gov. David A. Paterson thought he should discuss his marriage and infidelity on “The View” — why? . . . Anyone ready to say the 21-year-old drinking age isn’t working so well? Maybe it even encourages binge drinking by 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds? Is that one message from the Central Islip crash? . . . Measles in Nassau? What’s next? Mumps? Whooping cough? Are parents getting lax with childhood inoculations? . . . When Mariah Carey decided to prank husband Nick Cannon with a porn call to his radio show, did she really have to be “Debbie from Long Island”? OK, so she comes from Huntington . . . Another bum rap for Michael Lohan? Lindsay’s dad must be the unluckiest celebrity father in the world . . . Instead of opening a phony pay-stub factory, why not just open a factory that makes stuff and then pay the employees? . . . Turnaround any day now? How much patience does fourth-term Supervisor Jon Kaiman expect North Hempstead to show?

E-mail ellis@henican.com
Follow at Twitter.com/henican

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