Nassau Republicans Monday rebuffed a union request for immediate hearings on County Executive Edward Mangano's plans to reorganize the police department, sparking a contentious exchange between PBA president James Carver and Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt.

Carver, head of the 1,700-member Police Benevolent Association, asked the county legislature to review how Mangano's plan to redeploy 124 officers, reduce special units and eliminate one precinct house will impact public safety. "Once you lose the streets, you're going to lose the community," Carver warned. "You have to keep the residents safe."

But Schmitt (R-Massapequa) said it was too soon. "When a plan is sent to the legislature, you'll have your hearing," he said. "I don't know what he's going to propose to us."

Republican legislators, including retired police sergeant Joseph Belesi of Farmingdale and Public Safety Committee Chairman Dennis Dunne of Levittown, agreed a hearing was premature. "We're not going to have a hearing every time a rumor goes out," Dunne said.

Carver responded that Mangano had already submitted the plan to a state board controlling Nassau's finances, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

On March 22, at NIFA's direction, Mangano proposed various steps to close a $176 million budget gap, including reorganizing the police department. The letter to NIFA did not say how many officers would be removed from each special unit nor identify the precinct. Mangano maintains only precinct realignment needs legislative approval.

"I don't know what the county executive has sent to NIFA," said Schmitt. While Democrats pressed for a hearing, Schmitt said he doesn't act on "rumor and conjecture."

Carver retorted, "When we get a phone call saying somebody is going to kill them, we don't wait for them to be killed. We act on that call."

In other business, GOP lawmakers approved the sale of 30 years of rent from 18 Mitchel Field leases to RXR Mitchel Field Investor, a company headed by developer Scott Rechler. RXR will make a one-time payment of $37.5 million in return to the rights for more than $108 million in rent.

Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) said Rechler companies hold four of the 18 leases. The rent owed on those four leases alone over 30 years would be $54 million, Wink said. "This seems to me to be a deal of the century for [Rechler's company]," Wink said. "I am astounded by this."

Republicans said Nassau's fiscal problems force the move. Democrats voted against the deal, which likely will need NIFA approval.

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