Spin Cycle

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Suffolk County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki has lashed out at a fellow Republican, County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, for misrepresenting his position on the pending legislative proposal seeking a voter referendum to merge the treasurer’s office under the comptroller.

In a June 6 letter to Carpenter, Sawicki said, “I appreciate you quoting me as an authority on financial matters ... However I must ask you to do so accurately and not misrepresent my position using a comment made more than eight years ago.” He said Carpenter also misstated the positions of the county’s outside consultants, auditors Ernst and Young and Capital Market Advisors, who now both support the merger.

Sawicki says he supports the current merger proposal, saying it will save $800,000 a year. Sawicki said Carpenter improperly used quotes about earlier merger plans.
The comptroller had opposed merger proposals by former County Executive Steve Levy in 2006 and 2008.

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But Sawicki, who is term limited and cannot run for re-election this year, had backed County Executive Steve Bellone’s merger proposal last year. The measure would have allowed Sawicki to serve as interim head of the merged department and run for re-election under a new title.

Carpenter successfully sued to keep the issue off last year’s ballot and the new proposal permits her to finish her to serve through 2017 until the end of her term. The new comptroller would take over the treasurer’s office in 2018.

“This is a nasty letter from someone who lately made an about face and never really gave a reason why,” said Carpenter Monday. While no longer affected personally by the proposal, Carpenter said she still opposes the merger to protect the county’s financial stability.

Sawicki in his letter also scored Carpenter’s testimony at a legislative hearing last week where she claimed she had in the past called on the comptroller “not to send out payments that they had sent over and authorized.”

The comptroller said Carpenter in nearly 12 years has never made such a request and the treasurer could not know if a payment is inappropriate since she “does not have access to the county’s bills or their supporting documentation.”