Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- The Nassau budget ghost story
- Anthony Weiner haunts again
- Quick hits to make your blood boil
Nightmare on Nassau street
Confusion and acrimony reigned at the Nassau County Legislature Monday afternoon when Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said lawmakers would consider and vote on the budget without dealing with the fee increases necessary to pay for the budget, notably the controversial $105 increase in parking and traffic tickets slated to raise $66 million annually.
Gonsalves said last week the legislative Republican majority would approve the fee, but she opened the 1 p.m. meeting by saying she and fellow legislators have been looking for every possible way to avoid the fee increase and would put off considering the move Monday as two more options are explored.
She pointed to a 2013 law the county passed to get more property tax revenue from commercial owners as one potential way to get the money, but also said County Comptroller George Maragos had ideas, too.
That wasn’t enough for residents who signed up to speak at the legislature. They want the $105 fee voted down immediately rather than tabled.
Maragos, who just became a Democrat so he could run for county executive, was another sideshow. He came to present his plan for increased revenue: an across-the-board budget cut of 3.8 percent in every department and category to raise the $82 million that would be garnered from all proposed fee increases. Maragos took blistering questions from members of both parties after his presentation: Republicans wanted to know why he waited 45 days, until the deadline, to share his ideas. Democrats wanted to know how he thinks such cuts can be made when contractual raises are promised to most employees.
In response to the ideas, administration officials pointed out that the 2013 income and expense law is caught up in a court battle, and they would happily have counted that revenue if they could collect it. As for across-the-board cuts, a spokesman for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said arbitration clauses in some labor contracts and the need of the county to provide public safety and other services made such sweeping cuts essentially impossible.
Meanwhile, amid the admittedly always-confusing budget deadline, the leader of the Democratic minority, Kevan Abrahams, pointed out that passing a budget without the revenue necessary to balance it is illegal under the county charter.
By then, it was only midafternoon.
Whining about Weiner
He was the laugh line Friday afternoon, the second wave of revelations concerning the FBI and renewed conversation about Clintonian emails.
Anthony Weiner, the former congressman, the former mayoral candidate, the documentary subject, the estranged husband of the woman behind the woman who wants the throne and more.
Reports in September of him allegedly texting with an underage girl resulted in an FBI investigation which led to the laptop he shared with Huma Abedin.
From the Rev. Al Sharpton to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, many have voiced their disgust at the Brooklyn politician who won’t disappear, perhaps speaking for all New Yorkers and most Democrats across the nation.
In Weiner’s old south Brooklyn City Council district, that sense of dismay is personal to some. The brash politician who once billed himself as a fighter for them has become the ultimate liability.
Eileen Dorensen, who lives just north of Homecrest, says she and her husband would see Weiner every weekend at Kingsborough Beach when he was running for office. Finally she felt compelled to tell him that he had their vote: “Take it easy, go somewhere else.” When the first sexting revelation broke, she was shocked. “I said, ‘Oh Anthony, what did you do to us?’”
“He came off as a typical New Yorker,” says Philip Presman, 35, of Sheepshead Bay. “Bluntly straightforward.” Now, he’s “a disgrace to his community.”
Presman is worried it will take away undecided voters from Hillary Clinton. “It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.”
In just over a week, we’ll find out if Weiner continues to add just a comedic touch to our politics or becomes the main character in a national drama.
Back from the dead
— On Halloween, millions of Americans will put on masks and pretend to be someone else. Just like our presidential candidates.
— The Cubs are still alive and have a chance to come from behind and win the World Series. And they didn’t get any help from James Comey.
— AP exams, produced by a private, nonprofit company, are considered the gold standard of academic achievement on Long Island. Wait a minute. Weren’t opt-out parents and teachers furious that a private company was writing the new state exams?
— New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledges that the city won’t reach his goal to rebuild all Sandy-damaged houses by year’s end. Late again.