The Suffolk County Legislature last week sought to flex its muscle with Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone as it passed legislation to add a fourth member to the committee that approves contracts that bypass the regular competitive bid process.
The bill would give the legislature’s minority leader a pick on the county waiver committee. Currently, the county executive has two picks and the legislature’s presiding officer has one. Minority Leader Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) sponsored the bill.
A tie vote on the committee would result in rejection of a proposed contract.
“For me, this is about empowering the legislature. It just makes sense to have one member from the minority caucus and one from the majority caucus,” Cilmi said.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said he backed the bill because it would balance the influence of the executive and legislative branches.
“The waiver committee is used more and more frequently. As the legislature, we’re an equal branch of government,” Gregory said.
Gregory and Cilmi said the Bellone administration lobbied Democrats to vote against the bill.
Bellone spokesman Jason Elan said the bill is under review.
Asked about the lobbying, Elan said, “As with any bill, we solicit input and discuss proposals with legislators and stakeholders.”
The bill passed by a margin of 12-6 — enough votes to override a possible Bellone veto — although Democrats in the past have been unwilling to join in to override his vetoes.