A Republican versus Democratic standoff over borrowing to finance big-ticket projects continued this week on the Nassau County legislature, with Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) targeting Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) for refusing to approve the final phase of a Sea Cliff sewer project.
In a letter addressed to Sea Cliff residents, Gonsalves said DeRiggi-Whitton was stalling construction of an underground sewer conduit to connect a new Sea Cliff Avenue sewer line to the Glen Cove sewer treatment plant.
“Despite posing for photos and announcing her support for the sewer program locally,” Gonsalves wrote, DeRiggi-Whitton repeatedly voted against financing the projects’ remaining $4 million cost. “On March 21, 2016 and again on June 6, 2016, Democratic Legis. DeRiggi-Whitton cast the deciding vote to kill the funding for the connection to Glen Cove.”
Actually, all seven Democratic legislators, including DeRiggi-Whitton, voted against the project as part of their plan to block borrowing until Republicans agree to create the office of an independent inspector general to review contracts. Borrowing needs the approval of 13 county legislators — one more than current 12-member Republican majority.
Republicans maintain Nassau already has sufficient oversight of county contracts after County Executive Edward Mangano hired a commissioner of investigations and a procurement compliance director. Democrats say they want an inspector general to have a fixed term rather than work at the will of the county executive.
In her letter, Gonsalves asks residents to call DeRiggi-Whitton “and urge her to keep her promises to your community” by voting in favor of the project on Monday.
DeRiggi-Whitton responded in a statement Friday, “”The constituents I have spoken with appreciate my efforts for trying to change the procurement problem in Nassau County and prevent continued waste, fraud and abuse of their taxpayer dollars. They agree waiting for the sewer for a little while is worth it if it means assuring the contract issues that cost taxpayer’s millions are addressed.”
Democrats have pointed to the conviction of former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam, on federal corruption charges involving a county contract. They are appealing their convictions.
Democrats also cite other investigations of county contracts that to date have not resulted in any charges.
DeRiggi-Whitton added, “I think people are most upset that presiding officer Norma Gonsalves has spent taxpayers’ money on this type of political letter — and I agree — it’s appalling.”