IN TAXPAYER FUNDED MAILING, COUNTY LEGISLATIVE LEADER GONSALVES ASSAILS DERIGGI-WHITTON OVER CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
July 15, 2016 -- In a taxpayer funded mailing to Sea Cliff residents dated July 7, Norma Gonsalves (R- East Meadow), presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, accused Legislator Delia DeRiggi Whitton, (D-Glen Cove), who represents the communities surrounding Hempstead Harbor from Glen Cove to Sands Point, of holding up $4 million in funding to connect the Sea Cliff Avenue sewer line to the Nassau County waste treatment plant in Glen Cove, and urged residents to pressure the Legislator to support, when it again comes up for a vote, the County’s 2015-16 Capital Improvement Plan which includes the project.
Although containing the language and in one section even the bold faced type of a political attack ad, Legislator Gonsalves’ letter was imprinted with the official seal of the County Legislature, and the US postal service postage permit number indicated that the mailing was paid for by the County and its residents - not by the County Republican Party or other political group.
After describing the benefits of a sewer line, Legislator Gonsalves writes, “despite posing for photos and announcing her support for the sewer program locally, Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton has repeatedly voted “NO” to fund this phase of this project.”
Dropping the suffix “-ic” from the opposing party's official name, the political right’s attempt at a slight, the letter continues, “Democrat [sic] Legislator Delia DeRiggi Whitton cast the deciding vote to kill the funding for the connection to Glen Cove.” All 12 Republicans in the Legislature, Gonsalves wrote, have voted for the plan. She does not mention that all of Legis. DeRiggi-Whitton's Democratic colleagues in the Legislature also voted "no."
Citing the Dean Skelos corruption case, which involved a $12 million county contract that was awarded to a company that had hired his son Adam as a consultant, and other investigations over the past couple of years as evidence of a corrupt procurement process, the seven members of the County Legislature’s Democratic caucus have said that they are withholding their support for the capital plan and other projects that require bonding until the 12 member Republican majority agrees to approve legislation appointing an independent Inspector General to oversee the County’s procurement and bidding process. Because the capital projects will be funded through a bond issue, a two-thirds majority is required for passage.
"I would love to have the sewer project completed in Sea Cliff,” Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton said to Northwordnews. “That is why I requested it and advocated for it , but it is also my job as a legislator to make sure we are protecting all Nassau residents from waste, fraud and abuse of their taxpayer dollars and we believe that an Independent Inspector General is really the only way we can ensure they are protected."
Since being elected to the Legislature in 2012, DeRiggi Whitton has been a strong advocate for measures to improve the water quality of Hempstead Harbor. In early 2014, she secured $2.4 million dollars in County funds for the Scudder’s Pond Revitalization Project, and later that year helped secure funding for a feasibility study for sewers in the Crescent Beach area of Glen Cove and Sands Point in Port Washington, as well as $1.5 million for the construction of the Sea Cliff Avenue sewer line which was completed in March 2015.
In response to questions from Northwordnews, Mayor Bruce Kennedy of Sea Cliff, who since his election in 2009 pushed for the construction of the sewer line, said that he would like to see the two sides work out a compromise so that the hook up can be completed.
The Mayor suggested that the funding for the sewer line be detached from other projects within the capital plan and be voted on as an independent item. Sea Cliff Village, he explained, was responsible for procurement for the first phase of the project, and the Village once again would be responsible for soliciting bids and hiring a contractor for the next phase. That, he said, should satisfy both the Democratic Caucus, which is concerned about the County hiring contractors without the oversight of an independent Inspector General, and Legislator Gonsalves, who in her letter to Sea Cliff residents described the sewer line as a “vital environmental infrastructure project.”
Not not only would it promote a healthier Hempstead Harbor, but also “improve drinking water quality,” “reduce local beach closures,” and “allow local business new opportunities to expand and grow,” Legislator Gonsalves wrote.
The third attempt to adopt the capital plan, scheduled for the July 11 meeting, was postponed.
Northwordnews reached out by phone to Legislator Gonsalves' office for comment but did not receive a return call.
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