Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will venture out next week to deliver his State of the County speech at Newfield High School in Selden, despite a 2010 law that says he should make his annual report to the county legislature at a regularly scheduled meeting.
The charter law was enacted after the Democrat’s predecessor, Republican Steve Levy, took his annual State of the County message on the road, incurring extra costs for staff and security.
The law states: “When the county executive delivers his annual report to the county legislature he should do so at a regular meeting . . . in accordance with long-standing practice and common sense.”
During his first term, Bellone delivered his speech to county lawmakers at regular meetings. But last year, Bellone moved the event to the Leroy Van Nostrand Theater on the Brentwood campus of Suffolk County Community College.
Neither he nor the legislature called a special meeting to coincide with the speech, but lawmakers were invited to share the stage with Bellone.
“Once again, the county executive is thumbing his nose at the legislature, ignoring the law and costing taxpayers additional money we don’t have.” said Legis. Tom Cilmi of Bay Shore, the GOP caucus leader.
“While Mr. Cilmi might want a private audience for the State of the County, we think it’s best to open this up to as many people as possible,” said Bellone spokesman Jason Elan. “What better place than at one of our local high schools?”
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said Bellone will not be violating the law because nothing prevents him from giving a speech anywhere he wants, as long as he does not call a special meeting to deliver it.
“He’s not breaking the letter of the law,” Gregory said. “I guess he feels it’s important to have more community participation.”