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When good news is really bad news
Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman and his staff were celebrating Monday afternoon.
Schnirman, in his first year in office, delivered on two campaign promises: Nassau’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was released on time for the first time in seven years, and the report ended the much-criticized practice of reporting information that included borrowed money as revenue.
That’s how Schnirman’s predecessor, George Maragos, magically turned huge deficits into budget surpluses.
The numbers Maragos highlighted in any given year seemed to depend on how he was getting along with other county Republicans at the time. But when Maragos would count borrowing as revenue, it never failed to drive some members of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state control board overseeing Nassau’s finances, batty.
Said NIFA board member Chris Wright of Schnirman’s change, “That’s a major step forward, because diagnosing a problem has to be a precursor to finding a cure.”
So the good news is that the county’s financial numbers will be released in a way that makes sense. The bad news is the numbers themselves.
The county ran a $122 million deficit last year, depleted the rainy-day fund by $68 million, and had an unassigned fund balance, meaning cash on hand that it’s not yet obligated to pay out, of negative $68.8 million at the end of 2017. And the total debt of the county, including borrowing and the buildup of unpaid property tax refunds, has passed $4 billion.
The celebration itself was tame. Once the report was posted and a news conference held, Schnirman and his crew got together for lunch at Wild Fig in Garden City.
Jumping on the bandwagon
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has quickly become a shining star for progressives looking to pull the Democratic Party left. Less than a week after her primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley in Queens and the Bronx, other Democratic candidates have already cut dozens of Facebook ads tying themselves to Ocasio-Cortez.
That includes candidates in Connecticut, California, Delaware, Maine, Texas and Massachusetts, to name a few found in Facebook’s archive of ads with political content.
“Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we #RespectTheHustle,” says one ad paid for by James Thompson for Kansas’ congressional campaign, whose website says Thompson supports Medicare for all.
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was told from the beginning, ‘It’s impossible. You’ll never beat him,’ ” says an ad for Abdul El-Sayed’s campaign to be Michigan’s governor. El-Sayed was endorsed by Our Revolution, the Sen. Bernie Sanders legacy group. “Michigan is ready for it’s [sic] political upset,” the ad says.
Cynthia Nixon, who traded endorsements with Ocasio-Cortez in her run against Andrew M. Cuomo for New York governor, also ran Facebook ads last week noting, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proved that our progressive movement can win in New York.”
In Ocasio-Cortez’s home state, plenty of politicians are looking to capitalize on her platform, highlighting the shifting ground within the Democratic Party. After the primary, Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed Ocasio-Cortez’s call for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (he didn’t endorse her in the primary). At the Families Belong Together immigration rally, where thousands marched in NYC on Saturday, representatives for Zephyr Teachout (running for state attorney general) and Brooklyn City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (running for lieutenant governor) were out in force near the Brooklyn Bridge. They asked for marchers’ signatures “to help get anti-ICE coalition candidates on the ballot.”
Rowing vs. wading
The Point would like to congratulate readers Mary Ellen Mendelsohn, Janice Rohlf, Dolores Sedacca, Gordon Tepper and Thomas Suozzi (who was not included in the rhymes, but noted for next time!) who all emailed correct answers. Readers said the puzzle was fun, so look for more of them from Michael Dobie in future newsletters. Here are the answers:
1. Congresswoman Kathleen’s costs: Rice’s prices
2. Governor advertisement: Cuomo promo
3. Hempstead Town supervisor temporary replacement: Gillen fill-in
4. U.S. senator gossip: Schumer rumor
5. Late NYC mayor’s libations: Koch’s Scotches
6. Former master planner Robert naps: Moses dozes
7. Former Suffolk Legis. Kate fooling around: Browning clowning
8. State Senate majority leader’s hijinks: Flanagan’s shenanigans