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Nassau reassessment: Attacking the messenger?

County Executive Laura Curran at first appeared to attack a Lynbrook homeowner who was unhappy with reassessment. Later, a spokeswoman said Curran was talking about Hempstead Tax Receiver Donald Clavin.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

County Executive Laura Curran appeared at first to attack the messenger Tuesday — a Lynbrook homeowner, unhappy  about Nassau’s reassessment.

Asked Monday whether Curran would comply with a state opinion that said Nassau should disclose information used to generate reassessment values, her spokeswoman said in an email Tuesday, “As the County Executive said on CBS earlier today: ‘this is a typical politician, having a political press conference, because he’s running for political office.’”

Huh?

The question to Curran was about the opinion received by Lynbrook homeowner Dennis Duffy, who went to the state Committee on Open Government after Nassau had denied his request for the computer algorithm used to calculate residential values.

The county told Duffy the algorithm was a vendor’s “trade secret” exempt from disclosure. But the committee, headed by Robert Freeman, said because the algorithm is used to make “important government decisions” — calculating residential property values — “neither the vendor nor the county should be permitted to claim trade secret status.”

Curran’s spokeswoman, Christine Geed, made no mention of the committee opinion, disclosure or trade secrets in her 5 p.m. statement referring to a “typical politician.”

Duffy responded, “I did serve on the school board 25 years ago for one term, so I don’t think that makes me a typical politician.”

He said, “characterizing people by their position, their particular agenda and so on and so forth is simply a way to avoid a question . . . They didn’t answer the question. What did they say about Mr. Freeman? Is he a typical something? He’s the one talking at this point.”

Duffy continued, “I think they were probably thinking of Clavin, but I initiated this before I ever spoke to Mr. Clavin.”

Duffy attended a news conference Tuesday with Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin, a Republican running for town supervisor and a frequent critic of Curran’s reassessment. Clavin and Duffy called for Curran, a Democrat, to comply with the state agency’s opinion.

“I have limited ways to get publicity for this issue,” Duffy said. “When he offered to give it some publicity that it needs, that it deserves for the people — you could argue Mr. Clavin is getting some publicity out of this, but somebody has to raise the question.”

Pressed about whether she was talking about Duffy, Geed subsequently issued a revised statement: “As the County Executive said on CBS earlier today: ‘this is a typical politician (Tax Collector Clavin), having a political press conference, because he’s running for political office.’”

Duffy said Nassau should make the algorithm public. He noted that at a legislative hearing about reassessment Monday night, "there were a number of people who stood up . . . and mentioned that they had significant expertise in using algorithms, statistical modeling, and would be happy to volunteer their time as a committee to make suggestions to the county as to how to modify the assessment system to come up with better results.”

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