Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin, a Republican, has been a nonstop critic of Democrat County Executive Laura Curran’s reassessment — holding news conferences, convening community meetings and sending town-paid mailings that demand Curran be more open about the new property values issued Jan. 2.
Clavin’s most recent mailing — a full-color piece with screaming yellow-and-black stripes and a traffic-style warning signal stamped four times on its pages, saying “ALERT! Nassau County Assessment Changes Ahead” — was too much for Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs.
The Democratic chairman accused Clavin in a news release this week of abusing taxpayer dollars for political purposes, and said the mailer “deliberately misinforms” residents.
“The Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes has time and time again used the Nassau County reassessment plan as a means of perpetuating mistruths and falsehoods about the county executive’s efforts,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs estimated the mailer cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” while Hempstead spokesman Michael Fricchione said the townwide piece cost $55,000.
“This mailer is a clear attempt at self-promotion and in no way shape or form informs the residents of anything other than his own shameless attempt at political posturing,” Jacobs said. “Clavin should be ashamed of himself.”
Clavin, who is up for re-election this year, responded in a statement: “You can tell that Nassau County’s administration is getting nervous about being held accountable for its error-riddled and nontransparent reassessment project when they have to call out the partisans at a political campaign committee to defend the indefensible. Neighbors deserve answers to their questions on reassessment. Why does the Nassau County Executive still refuse to hold public reassessment forums so the homeowners may have their voices heard?”
Clavin’s mailer asks Curran to hold taxpayer forums across Nassau. It also poses questions about reassessment and answers them.
Jacobs called on the Hempstead Town Board to “determine whether this reckless abuse of taxpayer funds violates any ethical or legal standards.”
However, a resolution passed by the Republican-controlled town board authorizes such mailings.
It notes that “communication with and dissemination of information” is vital for elected officials, stating: “except by the order of the town board, no mailing by a town councilperson, the town clerk or the receiver of taxes may be prohibited and the mailing need not be approved in advance.”
Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, a Democrat, was the only member of the town board to vote against the resolution.