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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

In Nassau: the silence of the legislators

The frazzled Republican presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature may have used the “mute” button on his master switch Monday to cut off a Democrat during debate.

Aides to the presiding officer, Legis. Peter Schmitt of Massapequa said at the meeting that he was unsure whether he had hit the button, but his annoyance at Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) was obvious during the hearing — and for several years before.

“Mr. Denenberg! Let him answer his question!” Schmitt said at one point as Denenberg grilled a witness.

“You’re jumping on me ...” Denenberg said.

“Yes I am!” Schmitt said emphatically.

There was no doubt in Denenberg’s mind about what happened.

“He muted me!” Denenberg said afterward. “Whattya mean he was unsure?”

Schmitt’s Democratic predecessor, Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove, made her mark when she cut off the microphone of two Republicans during her first full session as presiding officer in January 2008.

Yatauro was asked a couple of months ago is she thought Schmitt might follow her lead. “If we don't behave ourselves, yes. You cannot interrupt,” she said. “We have someone doing transcripts, so you have to wait your turn.”

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