TODAY'S PAPER
Overcast 35° Good Afternoon
Overcast 35° Good Afternoon
Opinion

More uncertainty in Nassau

Carrie Solages speaks to supporters during his campaign

Carrie Solages speaks to supporters during his campaign for Nassau County Legislature (Nov. 5, 2011). Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The inconclusive election returns in Nassau that will determine which party controls the legislature do have one clear result: more turmoil.

As absentee and provisional paper ballots are counted in two districts, generally surrounding the areas of Glen Cove and Farmingdale, the lame-duck legislature must not allow the uncertainty to hobble it even more.

The usual political maneuvering in a county with no money is now heightened because County Executive Edward Mangano postponed difficult votes until after the election to protect Republican legislators in the majority. Even with the next election two years away, the narrow victory margins are making some of them jittery about doing what is necessary. To implement the fiscal choices they approved in the 2012 budget, the legislature will decide whether to close two police precincts, approve a contract to privatize Long Island Bus, authorize $450 million in borrowing for tax refunds and approve layoffs.

Against this backdrop, the administration will be trying to extract big concessions from the county's public employee unions. In key races, the unions either backed Democrats or withheld their support from GOP candidates, such as John Ciotti, the deputy majority leader from North Valley Stream who was ousted after serving for 16 years. The bad blood is now thicker among all parties. The union leadership is expected to delay making big concessions -- and why shouldn't it if Mangano doesn't have the votes to implement the layoffs?

What is certain is the one new face in the legislature: Carrié Solages of Elmont, a Democrat who deposed Ciotti in an increasingly diverse district on the Queens border. Fear of losing this district was a major reason the Republicans tried to redraw its boundaries in time for Tuesday's elections. The courts stopped it. Solages still may not have won if the GOP machine in western Hempstead -- nasty operatives by any measure -- didn't do themselves in by making racially charged comments about the challenger's supporters.

So Solages' victory comes with a message. There's no uncertainty about closely monitoring next year's redistricting process to make sure it's nonpartisan.

Columns