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Newsday letters to the editor for Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018

The Nassau County Office Building on Old Country

The Nassau County Office Building on Old Country Road in Mineola, home to the county clerk's office and other agencies. Credit: Jennifer A. Uihlein

The amount of payouts Nassau County taxpayers are responsible for with the retirements of three deputy county executives, an attorney and the sheriff is astounding [“Ex-Nassau appointees receive $2.5M payout,” News, Aug. 12].

Let’s save more than $500,000 by eliminating three positions. Drop the deputy county executive as spokesman and let the county executive we elected speak for him or herself.

Drop the deputy county executive for public safety, and let the police and the county sheriff do their jobs.

And drop the chief deputy county executive, another unnecessary layer of government, and let the elected county executive do the job intended.

There, that is a half-million dollars in salary saved without even factoring in the cost of health insurance, secretaries’ salaries and myriad other costs incurred by these excessive positions.

If the new county executive wants to make a real contribution to the taxpayers, let these suggestions be a priority for her administration.

Here is another one: Let a certified, unencumbered accountant go over county books to find and eliminate other repetitive job titles of political patronage — high-salary positions whose elimination would bring real savings.

Debra Gerrity, North Bellmore

Upon reading about these major payouts to outgoing officials, employees, etc., I can’t see why there is not a plan to use your vacation and sick days or lose them. I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a workable solution. Even unions could not argue with this, because the employees are getting what’s in their contracts.

Kimberly Carlstrom, Lynbrook

No private business would allow employees to accrue hundreds of days worth of time and then pay them at the rate of their last paycheck. Days accrued as a first-year employee are paid as if earned on the last day.

Look at the deal just given to the police chief in Amityville [“Village police chief gets 11 percent raise,” News, Aug. 16]: Village trustees bumped his payout on unused vacation and sick days already accrued by $50,000!

A better policy on vacation days would be to use them in the year they’re allocated or get paid for unused days at the end of that fiscal year. Sick time should be “use it or lose it” (abuse it and lose your job).

This is what you get when politicians are not held accountable. This is not anti-police or anti-union, just good fiscal policy. Getting paid for unused days at the pay grade they were earned and not carrying fiscal time bombs just makes sense.

Dennis Pekoff, Bellmore

Try school speed cameras this way

I agree with the need for speed cameras [“Speed cams’ return?,” News, Aug. 28].

Since their removal, I see cars speed past me at school zones all the time. I believe, however, that the cameras will be more acceptable to the public if the first ticket is a warning, and if all fines go to school safety.

In particular, schools should control warning lights and camera activation as children arrive and leave, versus the whole school day.

In Florida, I have seen a system where the schools control illuminated signs that indicate the speed limit based on when children might be at risk.

Rony Kessler,Franklin Square

Editor’s note: The writer is a former member of the West Hempstead Board of Education.

Misconduct panel can help falsely accused

Newsday’s editorial opposing creation of a commission on prosecutorial misconduct is misguided [“Misconduct bill should be redone,” Aug.15].

While the commission would not be a panacea for all that ails the criminal justice system, it might help deter improper prosecutorial conduct. Such behavior has resulted in more than 150 wrongful convictions in New York, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

In several cases, prosecutors unconstitutionally withheld favorable evidence, coerced witnesses to lie or tampered with evidence. Wrongful convictions significantly hurt the falsely accused, but also place communities at risk when actual criminals are not brought to justice. Further, taxpayers must foot the bill for prosecutorial misconduct resulting in the incarceration of innocent defendants by paying millions of dollars in judgments and settlements of lawsuits.

Existing grievance procedures against attorneys alone will not deter flagrant misconduct that results in the unlawful convictions. The proposed commission would engender accountability for such improper conduct. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should sign this bipartisan legislation to help deter misconduct, and to promote integrity in the justice system and the fair administration of justice in our state.

N. Scott Banks, Hempstead

Editor’s note: The writer is attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.