Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams addresses people gathered at the...

Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams addresses people gathered at the Faith Baptist Church Cathedral during a ceremony that followed Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. From left, Abrahams, Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall, Ray Thomas, representing Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's office, and Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick. (Jan. 16, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Maybe they should have called it a memo of misunderstanding.

Last June, Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano signed an unusual pact that called for the county to send Hempstead Village and the Village of Freeport an extra $500,000 each from countywide tax revenue.

The agreement, signed and notarized, also called for Mangano to undertake "a thorough review of the historically inequitable distribution" of county revenue to both villages.

Mangano's signature on this "memorandum of understanding" was the price of getting Hooper, with the title of deputy speaker, to stop blocking a key bill allowing the county sales tax to be reauthorized.

Today, sales tax revenue is flowing to the county. But extra funds to the villages are nowhere to be found, let alone a peep from county officials about any historic practices.

Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall, while no ally of Hooper, declared Friday, "The county has to live up to its agreement." Hall and Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, both Democrats, submitted claims, seeking the combined $1 million, to the county comptroller's office, citing the June 20 memo. They were rejected.

Deputy Comptroller Francis X. Moroney described several deficiencies in the claims. In addition, he noted the agreement called for "the diligent efforts of the deputy speaker to obtain passage" of the tax bill, yet on June 21, Hooper voted against both the county's sales tax and hotel tax extensions. Said Moroney: "A 'diligent effort' to get the bill passed implies something other than voting 'no.' "

Hall replied, "Even though she voted 'no,' it still passed," having finally reached the Assembly floor with her consent. Sponsored by Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa), the bills carried 92-49 and 90-51 -- after Hooper told the chamber: "I vote in the negative, in contradiction to the discriminatory practices of Nassau County" which were "long-term" and "most heinous."

Hooper didn't return a call Friday. A vague statement from Mangano said: "This appears to be an issue between the county comptroller and deputy speaker."

Freeport Village Attorney Howard Colton called the rejection a "unilateral and improper action" by GOP Comptroller George Maragos and urged him to "put politics aside" for the villages' taxpayers. Colton called on Hooper and Mangano to help resolve the issue.


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