Legislator DeRiggi Whitton

From the Desk of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau County 18th LD

To my constituents in Nassau County’s 18th Legislative District, (which encompasses Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, Bayville, Locust Valley, Brookville, Glen Head, Greenvale, Jericho and Old Westbury), I wanted to discuss two items of  local significance this week.

Hate Crimes and Vandalism

I was honored to be involved in a very moving event this past Monday. As hate crimes and racist vandalism have been spreading throughout the metro area and into Nassau County, I was proud of the multi-community response coordinated by Mayor Bruce Kennedy of Sea Cliff. He assembled clergy representing various faiths to stand with residents and their elected officials against intolerance. With recent fire bombings in the city and Menorah desecrations in Plainview, it is so important to make a unified statement that our communities do not accept hate.

The local racist / anti-Semitic vandalism that spurred this event included Swastika graffiti. Several people, including Glen Cove Rabbi Irwin Huberman, were right to say that it is simply never OK, even as a prank, to use this kind of imagery.    

As the Ranking Member of the Towns, Villages and Cities Committee on the Nassau County Legislature, I commend all those involved in the forum. This is what our towns, villages and cities should be about – people uniting as a community to stand up for peace and tolerance. We must educate our children about the Holocaust and teach them to have compassion for all people. There are wonderful resources locally for this, especially the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove. 

‘Sick’ Financial Practices –Nassau’s Health System

As I wrote in my first column to you, our county is in serious financial trouble and I blame irresponsibility on the part of current leadership. Already, in just my first few weeks in office, I am continuously saddened as news just keeps unfolding about how questionable Nassau’s financial practices have become.

One new development: both sick people in need of treatment and hard-working medical staff are suffering from cutbacks while the politically connected seem to be landing big paydays. As I serve on the Nassau County Legislature’s Finance Committee, I am very alarmed by the buzz surrounding recent changes at Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC).

NUMC, the county’s only public hospital, has recently found it necessary to lay off 175 workers. This was then followed up by an announcement that the system would close detox centers that have played a crucial role in getting people off drugs. The story here, however, is not simply that bad finances now mean less staff for hospital patients and less ways to keep our communities free of addiction. What concerns me even more is how financial decisions like that can be immediately followed up with a $300,000-a-year hire for a new lawyer.

It is bad enough that, in these trying times, this new general counsel hired by NUMC is getting a $40,000 increase over what his predecessor made ($260,000). But, what is worse, the last counsel was a legal expert in the medical realm, whereas this new hire is a divorce lawyer. How this arguably unqualified person came to be the best choice out there to replace an expert… and make $40,000 more… on the heels of layoffs and cutbacks, is of great interest to me.