Archive for February 2014

The Nassau County Mangano-Kaiman Watch, February 25, 2014 – By George J. Marlin

February 25, 2014

The Jon Kaiman “Plan to Modify Wage Freeze”:

 A Review

Nassau County wage freezes imposed by NIFA, at the request of County Executive Mangano in 2011, 2012 and 2013, have saved the County approximately $230 million and has saved the County from financial insolvency.

In other words, instead of making additional spending cuts or renegotiating union contracts or raising property taxes, the County has saved its fiscal skin by taking $230 million from Nassau workers.

Because the County has not adequately addressed its projected operating deficit for 2014, it will have to request NIFA to impose another wage freeze in March 2014.

It is interesting to note, however, that ever since Nassau County PBA boss, Jim Carver, met with the Executive Deputy Secretary to Governor Cuomo in October 2013, NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman has been desperately trying to get a deal done that would lift the wage freeze on police personnel in 2014.

Kaiman’s “Hail Mary” effort was described in a memorandum he distributed to NIFA board members titled “Plan to Modify Wage Freeze” dated February 4, 2014.

What was most remarkable about Kaiman’s rambling memo was that it did not contain any financial numbers.  That’s probably because PBA proposals do not meet the goal of being cost neutral.

Time and again the PBA has put on the table proposals that have been rejected because its rosy financial assumptions do not hold up when analyzed by NIFA staff.  For instance, in October 2013, a NIFA analysis of a PBA proposed Memo of Agreement revealed that the document was not cost neutral but would cost the County “approximately $240 during the term of the Multi-Year Plan with additional expenses continuing during an extensive period.”

In addition, PBA proposals always insist on counting police force attrition which is already included in the County’s operating budget.  Attrition savings cannot be counted twice!

Proposals work if the projected savings are equal to or more than the wage freeze in real dollars during the life of the proposal.  A proposal fails if it costs even a dollar more than the wage freeze saves.

Time and again when the math did not work, the PBA threw down intangibles on the table—like morale.  And that’s exactly what Kaiman resorted to in his numberless memo.  Given police minimum manning and the extraordinarily high overtime, and that median police compensation is higher than the median compensation of Nassau taxpayers, it seems unlikely that the police are depressed.

Furthermore, to suggest that the wage freeze “has had a serious affect on morale and is leading to a crisis scenario”, does not speak well of the policies of Kaiman’s boss, Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Lest one forget the Governor has supported a “0, 0, 0” position on wage increases for state employees.

For Kaiman to argue that his numberless proposal, if implemented, could lead to a “permanent lifting of the wage freeze” is ridiculous and legally impossible.  NIFA under its statute cannot commit not to impose a wage freeze.

Then there is the issue of the union lawsuits against NFA that argue the wage freeze is unlawful.  The PBA’s offer to withdraw its lawsuit and waive future litigation if a deal is struck is equivalent to giving sleeves off a vest.  The unions know the case law on wage freezes side with NIFA.

Finally, Kaiman’s latest “Hail Mary” pass—counting $8 million of very rosy projected fines from additional red light cameras—just doesn’t cut it.  In the unlikely event fines reach projected amounts, it would not be enough to fund the PBA proposal.

The Kaiman memo is ultimately all gibberish without numbers.  To get headlines and his photograph in the press, Kaiman is willing to capitulate and to destroy the public integrity of NIFA.

The Nassau County Mangano-Kaiman Watch, February 24, 2014 – By George J. Marlin

February 24, 2014


I had the privilege of serving the people of Nassau County as a Director of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), a New York State financial oversight and control board, for four years.  During most of my tenure as a NIFA Director, Nassau was in a control period because the County had failed to adequately address its fiscal deficit.

Since the NIFA control period began on January 26, 2011, the County has failed to stop illusory budget practices and to stop juggling money to keep on the budgetary lid.  Instead of managing fiscal realities, County officials have governed by finger-pointing, issuing rosy press releases and attending ribbon-cutting events.

As a result of the County’s incompetence, negligence and indifference, the NFIA staff projects operating deficits of $157 million in fiscal year 2015, $190 million in 2016 and $255 million in 2017.

A control period is a Draconian measure that a locality should wish to avoid and if it occurs, to climb out of as quickly as possible.  But not Nassau.  It prefers to defer tough decisions and blithely go along la de da, tomorrow is another day.

The Nassau County Mangano-Kaiman Watch is dedicated to exposing fiscal and political shenanigans of County and NIFA officials and to waging a genuine reform campaign to prevent fiscal catastrophe and to restore taxpayer confidences.

‘Progressive’ de Blasio a boon for LI? – By George J. Marlin

February 20, 2014

The following appears in the February 14-20, 2014 issue of the Long Island Business News:

Most candidates who get elected running to the far left or far right of the political spectrum generally move toward the center once they’re sworn in.

This is not the approach of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In his first month in office, de Blasio made it clear he’s sticking with an extreme leftist agenda. He insists that free markets and trickle-down economics won’t reduce inequality, and to achieve a more “just society” his administration is preparing to take serious “actions” and make “substantial government investments” – aka increased welfare spending.

His progressive actions to date, as one New York Post wag wrote, appear to be about doling out punishment: “punishing the wealthy by raising their taxes, punishing [school] charters by depriving them of space, punishing cops by branding them as racist, even punishing workers whose only crime is to take folks on horse rides around Central Park.”

One policy he’s adamant about is raising the city’s income tax rates. During the campaign, he stated that the tax increase was to fund universal pre-kindergarten classes. But after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would provide the money to pay for pre-K programs, de Blasio admitted he still wanted an income tax increase. His war on “income inequality,” he said, requires it.

If de Blasio gets his way, a very small pool of people – about 40,000 out of 8.5 million – will be affected. These wealthiest, who presently pay about 50 percent of total city income taxes, will have to fork over considerably more: Those who make more than $1 million, on average, will have to pay an additional $7,793 annually; over $5 million, $33,518; over $10 million, $182,893.

However, the increased income tax revenue will not be sufficient to fund all de Blasio’s social welfare plans and to pay off his key supporters – public sector employees, who expect $7 billion in back pay and significant salary increases going forward. Hence, property tax levies will probably go through the roof.

Compared to Nassau County, taxes on NYC single-family residences are relatively low. In the borderline Village of Floral Park, for instance, a post-World War II Cape Cod home on the Nassau side pays about $9,000 in total taxes, while across the street a city resident pays about $3,000 on the identical house. This disparity exists because city folks have the additional burden of paying a local income tax.

But de Blasio doesn’t care about that. To pay for his redistributive programs, he’ll happily increase the property taxes on the very middle class he claims he wants to help.

There could be economic and financial opportunities for Long Island to reap if the cost of living in the city skyrockets and the quality of life declines (i.e. crime goes up), and the mayor increases the regulatory burdens on small businesses such as expanding wage laws and paid sick and maternity leave.

To escape the city’s progressive policies, a significant number of the top 40,000 may look to suburbia. Despite Long Island’s high property taxes, on a net-net basis, the city’s 1 percenters might pay less by making the move.

Some may move to LI to avoid the income tax while keeping their city apartments. Remember, people who relocate – to, say, Sands Point – can spend up to 180 days annually in their city apartments and still claim their Long Island home as their permanent residence.

Instead of the governor of Texas poaching New York’s wealthiest folks and entrepreneurs, maybe it’s time for Long Island’s elected leaders to put out the red carpet – particularly, for those who aren’t quite ready to move to the culturally barren Southwest.

Convincing them to relocate here could be a layup – even for our bumbling county officials.

Pope Francis’ Economics – By George J. Marlin

February 19, 2014

This article I wrote appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on February 19, 2014.

New Book Exposes Liberal ‘Social Snobs’ – By George J. Marlin

February 17, 2014

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on February 17, 2014.