Members of Nassau’s financial control board grilled County Attorney Carnell Foskey — behind closed doors — Tuesday in a rare in-person showdown to explain his inability to provide comprehensive outlines of the county’s five major union contracts, despite repeated deadline extensions.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority also unanimously approved a two-year $42 million contract that will return the county’s inmate health care services back to Nassau Health Care Corp., which runs Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.
NIFA officials, frustrated with the county’s inability to provide a verified summary detailing all aspects of the unions’ collective bargaining agreement, compelled Foskey to appear at the Uniondale meeting.
The board said Foskey, the administration’s top lawyer, would be sanctioned and subjected to misdemeanor criminal charges and suspension from duty, if he did not appear. Foskey agreed to meet with the board in closed-door session, with officials citing an open-meetings law that exempts contract negotiations.
In a July 21 letter to the board, Foskey said a task force created by his office “made substantial progress in the difficult task of achieving comprehensive labor agreements.”
But NIFA chairman Adam Barsky said Tuesday in an interview before the meeting that Nassau provided thousands of pages of scattered documents, instead of a single document that incorporates all side letters, arbitration awards, memorandums of understandings and settlement agreements.
“They’ve made progress but more needs to be done to have the contracts summarized and condensed,” Barsky said.
Barsky said if the contracts were not provided “to our satisfaction,” the board would file suit to force the county to comply with its mandate.
NIFA first sought a “single discreet contract” of all labor deals shortly after it approved the existing union contracts in 2014. Those contracts expire at year’s end. In November, NIFA said the county had until January to compile an easily digestible copy of every labor contract, or it would not consider future union pacts. The control board extended the deadline multiple times, but board members said the information provided remains insufficient.
“Taxpayers are entitled to know what’s in the contracts,” said NIFA member Howard Weitzman, a former two-term Democratic county comptroller. “NIFA will be hard pressed to approve another contract going forward without that as a starting point.”
Labor leaders have refused to stipulate that the document submitted to NIFA is complete, arguing that some side letters and arbitration awards are three decades old and that others could emerge.
“I have 30 filing cabinets of contract documents,” said Jerry Laricchiuta, president of the Civil Service Employees Association. “What NIFA is asking for is impossible.”
Foskey said he cannot compel the unions to accept the agreements as binding.
The jail contract approved by NIFA allows NUMC to provide medical and dental services to inmates at the county jail beginning Sept. 1. Nassau is cutting ties with Armor Correctional Health Services, a for-profit firm it hired in May 2011 but which has been blamed by critics for a series of county inmate deaths.
NUMC, which provided inmate health care before 2011, will be paid $18 million per year, plus at least $3 million in administrative fees. NIFA also approved an additional $4.2 million over the next two years to cover contract overages.
The NIFA board Tuesday also granted 1 percent raises to its five staffers, totaling $7,500 annually.