“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice deceiving!” (Sir Walter Scott, 1808)

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Scott’s epic poem Marmion well describes the marathon of political ineptness and folly experienced by Nassau County residents over many years. To quote E.J. McMahon, a fiscal policy contributor at the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy:

“Budget deficits are papered over with borrowed money, as were unaffordable union contracts, pension contributions amortized into the future, retiree health benefits promised but not funded, corruption, accountability blurred, responsibility shirked, and hard decisions avoided again and again in the affluent corners of New York’s archetypal suburb, Long Island.”   

Place in a blender all the nouns, verbs and adjectives, mix well, and you have the stuff James Patterson novels are made of. 

In writing this column I do not mean to suggest “the sky is falling;” but you may want to duck when the county, in my opinion, becomes insolvent. Comparable examples are textbook specific in a Duke Law Journal report titled “A State Saves a City: The New York Case.” This report details how then Gov. Hugh Carey convinced the legislature to provide funding while establishing an independent control board that applied draconian measures that vanquished the crisis, and restored a balanced budget within three years.

Hey, I have an idea! Why not write a letter to Adam Barsky, Chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, an oversight organization, asking him to ratchet-up his resources, to save a County? He responded, as follows:

First of all, he took exception to any reference that NIFA has not, as I wrote, achieved its chartered goal of “ensuring that the county implements the steps necessary to close financial budget gaps.” Two, he did not agree with me that the county’s problems were as harsh as what the city experienced years ago i.e. the county is not going (it can’t) go bankrupt. Three, he assured me that adequate plans will develop, with the help of NIFA, to place Nassau County ‘financially’ on a more secure footing, and four there is no need for any extraordinary intervention regardless of how well it worked 45 years ago.

In closing I stated some of his answers fell short of what I see as necessary. I mentioned a main rule of economics that cannot be forgotten, something that can’t continue, won’t continue.   

When I started writing my columns www.refromalbanynowregistry.com a good friend asked why? I answered, for two reasons. One to keep my readers informed and try to influence change. I leave to your judgement what I accomplished? 

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