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Nassau jail menu questioned by legislature

He wasn’t ordering from the big menu as he read off the items: “fruits, dessert, tapioca, rice pudding, tapioca pudding, nine different types of salad dressing, stuffed olives, croutons, nine different types of pasta and cereals.”

“What’s going on here?” Nassau County Legis. Peter Schmitt, the Republican presiding officer, asked Monday during a meeting of the Rules Committee after he stopped reading the grocery shopping list from the county jail.

Three officials from the county’s purchasing department and jail could not explain.
“It’s a blanket order,” one of them finally said into the microphone, a reply which did not please Schmitt.

“Why do you not know what is in this bid? And why is the correctional center seeking authorization for this type of stuff? Why would you not be familiar with that?” Schmitt asked. He got no answer.

(Aides to CE Edward Mangano said later the food was actually for the jail staff and detainees at the nearby juvenile jail.)

“So who sent you here?” Schmitt asked.

“The sheriff,” one of the officials replied, referring to Acting Sheriff Michael Sposato.

“The sheriff,” Schmitt said. “I would like when you go back to tell the sheriff that if the sheriff was paying attention six months ago or thereabouts, when an item similar to this came up, this committee in a bipartisan basis made known its displeasure with awards of this kind of magnitude, purchasing foods that in many instances our taxpayers choose to forego because they can’t afford it.”

“And it was changed, and now six months later it comes back,” Schmitt said, his voice rising. “It’s insulting for it to come back, and for him to send you, he’s doing you no service either. He should have sat you down and made you familiar with what’s in that bid. And you tell him for me the next this happens I will have him standing there.”

On Schmitt’s motion, the request to purchase $204.551 in groceries was tabled until the next meeting.

Rewind to February 2009, when Democrats ran the county, and jail officials submitted a grocery list that included chocolate layer cake and Sara Lee Danish.

Before that was straightened out, Schmitt and his GOP allies tried to show that the Democratic majority at the time, as well as Democratic CE Thomas Suozzi, were not monitoring costs in the middle of a fiscal crisis, and were pampering prisoners.

"These people eat better than our military does," Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown) said. "This is outrageous. I'm voting no."

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