Democrats are accusing Republicans of crossing a line by using violent rhetoric in their reaction to a New York State-appointed watchdog panel taking over Nassau County’s finances this week—especially in the wake of the Tucson massacre.
Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, told the Press “I’m just going to enjoy hitting them on the side of the head with a baseball bat,” while discussing his plans to release details of alleged conflicts of interests surrounding the six-member Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA). The board unanimously voted Wednesday to enact a control period out of a concern that there may be a $176 million deficit in the county budget.
“We don’t need vulgar, threatening language from elected officials especially following the violence in Tucson,” Minority Leader Diane Yaturo (D-Glen Cove) said in a statement Friday, referring to the Jan. 8 shooting that left six dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). “This is not the time or place for inflammatory rhetoric or partisan pandering.”
County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican who is one year into his first term, said he plans to take NIFA to court. He has insisting the $2.6 billion budget is balanced but NIFA leaders say it is required to step in whenever there is potential for a 1-percent deficit, or $26 million.
Schmitt scheduled a news conference for Monday morning where he plans to outline allegations of conflicts of interest against NIFA board members. He declined to directly respond to Yaturo’s criticism Friday.
“I will not reply to Yaturo’s rambling statement because she’s already had her chance and she struck out,” he said in a statement. Yaturo was the presiding officer until the Democrats lost the legislative majority in November 2009, when former County Executive Tom Suozzi, also a Democrat, was unseated by Mangano.
NIFA Chairman Ronald Stack did not return a call seeking comment.
The panel gave Mangano until Feb. 15 to submit a revised budget that closes the gap. He declined to comment for this story through a spokeswoman.
“I urge Mr. Mangano and Mr. Schmitt to calm down and speak reasonably,” Yaturo said. “Let’s leave the baseball bats on the ball field.”