During his initial 30-minute campaign speech at Thursday night’s session of the Rockville Centre Democratic Club, Adam Haber — the multimillionaire Democratic hopeful for Nassau County executive — did not speak against his party competitor for the job, former County Executive Thomas Suozzi.
Instead, he steadily bashed the post’s Republican incumbent, Edward Mangano.
But that changed after County Legis. David Denenberg, (D-Merrick), spent much of the 30-minutes in speaking time he was given defending and praising Suozzi.
Denenberg never told the audience why he was speaking. Earlier this month he had told Newsday that he would not challenge Suozzi for county executive but was still considering a run for county comptroller.
In a question and answer period, Haber came back firing at Suozzi and Denenberg. “I disagree with much that Mr. Denenberg said about Mr. Suozzi,” he said, adding that during the booming economy of the early 2000s — Suozzi first took office in 2002 — Suozzi never brought in any significant business to the county. “And he left Nassau with a $125-million structural deficit.
“Hey, Mangano is going to blame Suozzi, and Suozzi is going to blame Mangano, but I’m the new guy,” Haber said.
Suozzi declined to comment.
But Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, a Suozzi backer, said Suozzi "was elected just after September 11, 2001 and was county executive when the world economy crashed in 2008.
"You would think somebody who is running on his record as a Wall Street trader would remember how bad the economy was in the New York area when Tom Suozzi turned Nassau's finances around," Jacobs said.
Earlier, Haber had said the biggest problem facing the county is “tax certiorari,” the county’s repayment of excessive assessments and tax payments. By the end of this year, Nassau will owe $400 million to businesses in certiorari payments, he said.
Haber, a Roslyn school board member and resident of East Hills, said he would never let the burden of those repayments fall on the back of the school districts, which Mangano is in the courts trying to do. Schools get about 60 percent of all property taxes, but the county, which does the assessment, has to pay all of the refunds for inaccurate assessments.
Haber said he would increase the number of assessors, and “use technology like they do in the real world” to fix the system.
Haber also called for more business incubators, sponsored by the Nassau Industrial Development Agency.