After Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Legis. Jon Cooper took turns calling each other liars (via press release and to us) Monday and Tuesday, Cooper called us this afternoon to relay word that he'd reached something of a détente with Levy.
"It's to our benefit, it's to his benefit, it's to the benefit of residents of Suffolk County if the two branches of government can work together," Cooper said. "If the county executive can find a way to tone down the personal attacks and stop seeing every criticism of his policy as a personal attack against him, then I honestly think that we can find a way to work together cooperatively."
Levy, apparently, did not get the memo. About two hours later, he put out a press release with the headline (all caps his): "Levy Calls on Legislator Cooper to FINALLY Stop Lying about Public Safety Issues."
Cooper, who seemed genuinely surprised by Levy's release, said he'll begin working on a response to Levy's response (which is itself a response to Cooper's Tuesday response to Levy's Monday press release).
Suffolk County tax dollars ultimately pay for all of these press releases. Levy's latest is below.
NEWS RELEASE July 14, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Aug
July 14, 2010
Levy Calls on Legislator Cooper to FINALLY Stop Lying about Public Safety Issues
Hauppauge, NY -- “It takes a great deal of gall for Legislator Jon Cooper to suggest that more cops are being hired because I ‘finally’ listened to him,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. “The fact is, Cooper and many of his big spending allies ‘finally’ woke up to the budget deficit I have been talking about for months, and they ‘finally’ agreed to some of my cost saving measures to free up money for these hirings,” said County Executive Steve Levy.
Last week, the county legislature ended its opposition to the county executive’s early retirement plan and passed the resolution which Levy said will save millions in 2011.
Levy, though, was critical of Cooper and Presiding Officer Lindsay who unsuccessfully had advocated through their own resolution in late June to dilute the savings in the early retirement program by adding positions that would have to be refilled.
“Some of the more liberal spending legislators saw early retirement as a bonus program to make as many union employees as possible happy before they walk out the door,” said Levy.
Additionally, Levy noted, last week the county’s largest municipal union told legislators it would not pursue litigation to stop the county’s proposed sale of its skilled nursing facility in Yaphank.
“The sale of the facility would net us $20 million, and free up $8-10 million annually, which makes the hiring of a second police class this year more financially palatable,” said Levy. “Once again, it has been the legislature’s liberal, spending wing, led by Jon Cooper, who were behind many of the efforts to protect the union’s interest in not selling the home over the last several years.”
“He has supported measure after measure that would make it more difficult for the police commissioner to transfer officers away from desks and onto patrol in the Huntington Station area simply because the union did not support changes to the status quo,” Levy continued. “And he is fighting tooth and nail to keep an inefficient nursing home that loses for taxpayers $8-10 million a year, and which can be replaced with better care by a private entity -- enabling the county to transfer those dollars into more police protection.”
However, Levy was most critical of Cooper for what he called “spreading the big lie” to the people of Suffolk County by suggesting that the tax increase that Cooper championed last year had brought in enough money to pay for a new class of 200 officers.
Said Levy, “Jon Cooper’s lies about the police funding for 2010 were exposed at a budget committee several months ago when it was admitted that there was not enough money in the budget to fund the 200 officers that Cooper had represented to the public. The Cooper 3% tax increase brought $11 million into the county yet the budget office concluded that a class of 200 officers would actually cost $24 million over a one year period. Cooper implemented the ultimate fraud on the public by putting in only one week’s worth of salary for the second class of 100 officers who would start in the last week in December and supplied no money for the other 51 weeks thereafter. Consequently, there never was enough money placed in the budget for the 200 officers that Cooper said was there.
“My budget restructuring plan can bring us to the point where we cannot only maintain a balanced budget in these very difficult financial times, but also free up enough money to hire a second class of officers and avoid a massive tax increase. This is still contingent on Cooper and his liberal-spending allies supporting the sale of the nursing home which would provide us that money in the budget that Cooper never accounted for. The question is, will Cooper support the taxpayers and the people of his district who are seeking more police protection or will he once again pander to the unions?
“I have provided a plan to balance the budget, maintain tax stability, and provide for more police officers while, despite his title, Majority ‘Leader’ Cooper has provided zero leadership. The positive thing he can do is vote for the overall package and stop his partisan sniping. Cooper’s press release exhibited a new level of chutzpah where he noted , ‘I am really glad that Steve finally agreed to hire another class of recruits, but those officers won’t finish the academy and hit the streets until May of 2011.’ Ironically, the legislature’s bogus plan to hire a second class of officers was not going to start until December of 2010 thereby delaying them hitting the streets until May of 2011 as well.
“In typical Jon Cooper fashion, he reads reports that the commissioner and I have allocated additional nighttime patrols and on the weekends, and has the nerve to turn around and say in his press release “I now call on the County Executive to reallocate police officers and authorize more overtime particularly on weekends and the overnight shifts.” Cooper is calling on us to do something we already did for the sole purpose of him being able to take credit for a deed already done.”
“All of Majority Leader Cooper’s histrionics can be boiled down to the one statement he made in a political magazine where he conceded that his hostile remarks regarding our policy on public safety is a sudden reaction to my no longer being of the same political party,” Levy concluded.
As Cooper noted in an interview with The Capitol, regarding his bill to fire Police Commissioner Richard Dormer: ““Certainly, I wouldn’t have done the ‘Fire Dormer’ bill if Levy was still a Democrat.”