Jacobs forms Blue-Ribbon committee to study pay scale for elected officials

Nassau County Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (Woodbury) today announced that she has formed a special Blue-Ribbon Committee to study salary compensation for all elected officials in Nassau County. Jacobs has appointed Bruce Blakeman, former Presiding Officer of the Legislature from 1996-1999; Patrick Halpin, former Suffolk County Executive; Mitch Pally, a partner in charge of the Governmental Relations practice of the Weber Law Group; Barbara Patton, former New York State Assemblyperson; Paul Tonna, former Suffolk County Presiding Officer and Roger Tilles, educator and Member of New York State Board of Regents. They will be charged with studying salaries that are commensurate with public officials’ salaries in other metropolitan areas. The committee will follow the study with recommendations to the legislature.

“Due to the fact that legislators here in Nassau have not received a pay increase since the legislature’s inception in 1996, I believe it is time to analyze legislative compensation,” said Jacobs. “If we are to attract people willing to serve their government, we must offer a realistic compensation. I have complete confidence that the members of the committee that I have selected will do a fine job of analyzing this issue. They represent a true cross section of outstanding individuals who have served the taxpayers of Long Island for many, many years.”

Any possible salary increases would not go into effect until 2008.

Bruce A. Blakeman was appointed to the Board of Commissioners by Governor George Pataki in 2001. Blakeman is a partner in the law firm of Robert M. Blakeman & Associates in Valley Stream, New York, and also has offices in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Nassau Lawyers' Association of Long Island, Inc. and is also President of Madison Strategies, Ltd., a strategic consulting firm also located in Valley Stream. Blakeman was elected to the Nassau County Legislature and served as its Presiding Officer and Majority Leader from 1996 to 1999. Prior to his legislative role, Blakeman served as Councilman on the Hempstead Town Board. In 1998, Mr. Blakeman was the Republican candidate for State Comptroller.

Patrick G. Halpin was the fifth County Executive of Suffolk County, New York. Elected in 1987, he served one term from 1988 through 1991. His career began at age 26 in 1979, when he was elected to represent the 13th District of the Suffolk County Legislature. In 1982, Halpin won the New York State Assembly seat for the 11th District. At the age of 34, Halpin was elected Suffolk County Executive, the youngest in the county's history. He is currently an Executive Vice President at the Institute for Student Achievement, located in Lake Success on Long Island. The Institute works in partnership with schools to help low-performing students stay in school, graduate and go on to college, work, other post-secondary education or job training. He has been with the organization since 1994.

Mitch Pally, a partner in charge of the Governmental Relations practice of the Weber Law Group, served as vice president of the Long Island Association for over 21 years. He previously served as staff to, and counsel for, the New York State Senate Committee on Transportation and the Legislative Commission on Critical Transportation Choices. Besides his work at the LIA, Pally is very active in the Three Village community, serving as president of the youth soccer program, youth coach, school board member and adjunct professor of law at Stony Brook University.

Barbara Patton is a former New York State Assemblyperson; former Commissioner for the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board; former Commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections; Vice president of Governmental Affairs for Bell Atlantic and a legal affairs professor at Hofstra University.

Roger Tilles is a Director of Tilles Investment Companies and a member of the New York, D.C. and Michigan Bar Association. He was Chair and a founding member of the Association for a Better Long Island, is the former Chair of the Long Island Regional Planning Board. He served as Chair of the Long Island University Board of Trustees, served on the Boards of WNET/Channel 13 and WLIW/Channel 21 and has been Executive Vice Chairman of the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, he served on the Board and Executive Board of the Long Island Association.  In April 2005, he was elected the Regent representing Long Island on the New York State Board of Regents.  He has also worked to form the Long Island Arts Alliance, bringing together the cultural institutions of Long Island.

Paul Tonna, is the former Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature and was recently named to the reorganized Long Island Regional Planning Board (LIRPB). Tonna serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Professional Evaluation Medical Group -- a preventive health care company. Before that, Mr. Tonna was Director of Personnel at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.