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NIFA member rips Jon Kaiman for 'reckless' behavior

NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman, center, during a meeting

NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman, center, during a meeting of the NIFA board in Uniondale on Dec. 30, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

An outgoing member of the Nassau financial control board has ripped into the board's new chairman, Jon Kaiman, for "reckless and irresponsible behavior" in dealing with the county's unions and for "vulgar" and "foul-mouthed" tirades against himself and staff.

George Marlin, whose four-year term on the board of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority was set to expire at midnight New Year's Eve, delivered a letter to Kaiman this week saying he was "alarmed by some of your public activities and instances of inappropriate public behavior since you joined the NIFA board of directors."

Kaiman shrugged off Marlin's complaints on Tuesday as false and "bitter," saying the letter "seems to be more about George Marlin than me or the board or what we're doing."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed Kaiman in September to replace longtime chairman Ronald Stack, a Marlin ally. Stack was seen by some as an obstacle toward reaching a new deal with the Police Benevolent Association, the county's largest police union. Under Stack's leadership, NIFA issued an unusual public statement that said the announced deal appeared flawed and possibly illegal.

Kaiman said from the start that he was there to figure out "what needs to be done and getting to a resolution."

In his letter delivered before a public NIFA board meeting Monday, Marlin accused Kai-man of negotiating with the county's PBA, which has proposed contract concessions in an effort to lift a wage freeze imposed by NIFA three years ago. He said a NIFA board member cannot be part of a negotiation because NIFA must judge any final contract proposal.

Marlin also said Kaiman's participation in a December negotiating session that included PBA lawyers, who are representing the union in a lawsuit challenging the freeze, demonstrated "reckless and irresponsible behavior."

Kaiman has consistently denied that he is negotiating terms. Tuesday, he said in an interview: "I'm facilitating a discussion. I don't have the authorization to make a deal. That's between the county and the union leaders. I do have the ability to bring them to the table and facilitate a discussion with the goal that we get to . . . a cost-neutral or cost-savings result."

Marlin also alleged in the letter that Kaiman directed a "vulgar and boisterous verbal tirade" at him within earshot of police and county officials when Marlin showed up at an October meeting between the county, Kaiman and the PBA.

Marlin said Kaiman "violated the rules of civility" by telling NIFA counsel Jeremy Wise to "shut the -- up" as he attempted to advise Kaiman during the December meeting with the county and PBA. Marlin said in the letter he had learned about this "from sources" outside NIFA.

"Your fescennine verbal abuse, in my judgment damaged the integrity of a state agency and diminished the reputation of a dedicated public servant," Marlin wrote.

Marlin said Kaiman should "offer a public apology" for his behavior and cease all negotiations.

Kaiman said he would not comment on the subject of the meetings but said: "I think the conversations generally have been high-end and professional. Whether I disagree with Mr. Marlin or he doesn't like my tone, I can't really address . . . I have a lot of respect [for Wise] and we're working together."

Wise declined to comment.

Kaiman added: "Mr. Marlin seems to be a bit bitter about the situation. That's beyond my control."

Marlin could continue to serve on the NIFA board as a holdover until Cuomo appoints a replacement, which by law must be recommended by the State Senate.

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