Rick Brand Portrait of Newsday reporter Rick Brand taken on

Rick Brand is a longtime Newsday reporter who writes about politics and government on Long Island.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has resorted to having seven executive aides process thousands of tickets from new red light cameras - after his maneuvering in the battle over the county's nursing home kept him from hiring a half-dozen lower-paid clerks to do the work.

These $54,000-a-year assistants have been trained for the task and reviewed data on 3,400 possible violators.

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Levy created the problem by sending layoff notices Dec. 8 to six clerical workers at the home, as part of his failed lobbying to sell the nursing complex. Had he postponed the layoff notices until this month, he could have filled the new $29,200-a-year clerical jobs. Now, the state must first OK a closure plan and judges must lift an order blocking the shutdown.

- Rick Brand