To the delight of the nosy, Nassau County’s assessment website allowed property searches by owner name for a while last week.
For example, you could call up and view Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder’s house along with its property description and his current and past tax bills by simply typing Ryder into the “Lookup By Owner” tab.
PBA president James McDermott’s house and its characteristics could be found by a simple name search. The same went for County Executive Laura Curran’s tax bills and assessment.
The owner identification was posted as part of the county’s efforts to provide residents with all information necessary to understand how Nassau generated new values during its countywide reassessment.
Although they're public record, property owner names and the owner search function have not been part of the county’s assessment website since 2002. Then-Assessor Charles O’Shea removed the information during the last countywide reassessment after police officers, judges and prosecutors objected to their private data being so readily available to anyone using a computer.
The same objections were raised last week by the same sorts of job holders, leading Nassau to remove all owner names and searches. The same property information is available online but only to people who know the address to search.
County spokesman Michael Martino said the owner information was never intended to be public.
"It was a firewall issue," Martino said. “In the interest of public safety, we’ve made the necessary change. Nassau County would not be the only municipality that provides that search ability, but it’s more important for residents to feel that their information is being protected.”