Nassau Legislature Regroups After Sandy, Schmitt


Legis. Norma Gonsalves, shown here holding a copy of the Long Island Press at an earlier meeting, was officially named the new presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature on Monday.

The Nassau County Legislature resumed bitter partisan bickering in its first full meeting since Hurricane Sandy and a special election to replace the chamber’s Republican leader, who died seven weeks ago.

Michael Venditto, son of Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, was sworn in Monday as the new Republican legislator from 12th district, a seat previously held by the late Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa). Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) also officially replaced Schmitt as presiding officer of the 10-9 GOP majority. The newly reconfigured panel’s first proposal to borrow millions failed to pass along party lines.


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Democrats and Republicans boisterously disagreed over Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposed borrowing of $165 million to pay outstanding property tax grievance settlements. Proponents say it would help many Sandy survivors but opponents call it a “blank check” disguised as aid.

“One would have thought the first emergency after the hurricane would have been … to address the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant,” said Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick).

The plant, which served about 40 percent of the county, failed during Superstorm Sandy and has been spewing 65 million gallons of barely treated sewage into Reynolds Channel each day for the past three weeks while emergency repairs continue. Health officials last week declared a state of emergency for Baldwin and East Rockaway homes flooded with backed-up sewage.

“Those issues will be addressed,” Gonsalves said. “We are doing the best we can under the circumstances.”

Republicans said that Democrats didn’t provide at least three votes—bonding requires a supermajority of at least 13 to pass—because of objections to the redistricting process. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) countered that Democrats plan to vote for bonding to fix the sewage plant and other storm-damaged infrastructure.

Borrowing also requires the approval of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board that took control of the county’s budget last year, citing excessive deficits.

Schmitt died of a heart attack during an Oct. 3 budget meeting in Mangano’s office.

Gonsalves reportedly agreed to hold hearings on the Bay Park sewage crisis at a later date.

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