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Not Guilty

Dear Editor:

I find it disappointing that County Executive Levy and his assistants would once again make false and misleading statements about a county legislator who disagrees with his style of governing. Although I have never made a disparaging remark about Mr. Levy, his representatives continue to attack me personally.

In their most recent diatribe, the County Executive's Office accuses me of wanting to hire "a thousand more people in Suffolk County government," wanting to hire more police officers, and allocate "more revenue for towns and villages." They further charge that I called for a $5.7 million dredge and a $6 million helicopter; voted for step increases for management employee salaries; and opposed a plan to end a system "that allows employees to cash out over $250,000 in sick leave upon retirement."

None of the above statements is true.

I did call for an honest budget that filled budgeted positions that the public was already paying for through their taxes. If the positions were not filled, I called for their abolishment and a return of the unspent funds to the taxpayer. I did call for a fair and equitable distribution of sales tax revenue earmarked for public safety for towns and villages with their own police departments. I never called for the hiring of additional police officers, but I don't see how more officers on the street is a bad thing. I did call for additional public health nurses since there are only three to service the entire East End and eastern Brookhaven. Although I did investigate the possibility of purchasing a new county dredge, when I learned of the actual costs, I looked at affordable alternate solutions. I did call for the county to opt into state reductions of sales tax for both clothing and gasoline. If both of these tax cuts are good enough for the state, why aren't they good enough for the county? Interestingly enough, I was not even a legislator when the County Legislature voted for step increases for management employee salaries, nor was I a legislator when the sick leave payout plan or the purchase of an additional helicopter was debated.

It's important to point out that Mr. Levy's "deficit reduction plan," which I did vote against, puts another burden on already overtaxed Suffolk working families by tripling filing fees in the County Clerk's Office and eliminating county funding for the tobacco cessation program. Both of which are being done while the county realized a $158 million surplus in 2005. Yes, that's $158 million.

I commend Mr. Levy for steering the county to annual surpluses, but these surpluses are created through smoke and mirrors budgets that tax for positions he never intends to fill and services he never intended to provide. The annual surplus, made even larger through the-sky-is-falling "deficit reduction plans," are used the following year as a one time revenue stream to ensure a token property taxes decrease when in actuality taxes could have been $158 million less in 2005 if an honest budget was presented. I hope the county executive will present an honest budget in 2007 that will include only positions he intends to fill and only services he intends to provide.

Let me make myself clear. I am proud of my record as a legislator. I will continue to fight for the people of the East End. I will continue to fight to reduce the tax burden on Suffolk's working families, while finding the proper balance that ensures the county provides services to those who need them most. Mr. Levy and I have a different point of view on some issues, but I am more than willing to work with him for the good of our constituents. In fact, I voted for the vast majority of resolutions he submitted to the Legislature, including all of his appointments, and reached out to his office several times in the spirit of cooperation.

The election is over, Mr. Levy. Petty and personal attacks on my character and misleading statements about my voting record do not serve the people of Suffolk County. Hopefully, you can move beyond bitter partisanship and we can work together in the future.

Suffolk County Legislator, First District

June 13, 2006

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