Construction workers finish floors on the second level of a...

Construction workers finish floors on the second level of a cell pod at the new Suffolk County Jail in Yaphank where work is still underway. The cell pod will hold 60 inmates. Credit: Craig Ruttle

I am writing in response to "How jail built Levy's war chest" [News, April 7]. This article does a tremendous disservice to so many people and organizations, it's hard to know where to begin.

There was no suggestion by anybody that any contribution was improperly given or solicited -- but you would not have known that from Newsday's presentation of a series of random dots it asks readers to subliminally connect. Contributions from contractors on any level of government -- whether federal, state, county, town or village -- are neither illegal, unethical nor uncommon. A quick look at any Long Island municipal official's records would confirm that fact. So why the double standard?

Newsday insinuated that the county executive sought exemption from the burdensome Wicks Law as a way to obtain more donations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our pursuit to exempt the project from the Wicks Law was done solely to minimize the costs to the county, despite the fact that such exemptions from the Wicks Law are often frowned upon by trade labor.

The Wicks Law exemption allowed the county to coordinate all the work under a single contractor, rather than four, thereby lessening costs. Poor coordination can lead to significant delays and extensive cost overruns -- and that was not the case with the Suffolk jail.

It was barely noted that this was the rare municipal project that came in on time and within budget.

Most upsetting to me was that Newsday glossed over the fact that this was a project that County Executive Levy did not want to build, and he fought strenuously to pare it down.

Finally, Newsday completely misrepresented the role of the project's consultant engineer. It is the Suffolk County Department of Public Works that bids and awards all work on capital projects, not a consultant. The people who I work with at DPW are hardworking, honest professionals who give their all on behalf of the taxpayers. To have their reputations and characters besmirched is completely unacceptable.

Gilbert Anderson


Editor's note: The writer is the commissioner of Suffolk County's Department of Public Works.