Make no mistake–things are tough on Long Island and in Glen Cove. We’re all either looking elsewhere or are surrounded by people who talk about leaving due to lack of business opportunities or the cost of living. A recent report by the nonpartisan group Reclaim New York shows that most working people have little left over (if anything) to save as a result of the nation’s highest property taxes and the cost of living.
That’s why we felt compelled to honor the deeds of a group of locals (Reggie Spinello, Mike Famiglietti, and Joe Capobianco) running for re-election who have fought for labor contracts–which are the largest cost-drivers in the City’s budget–which have been seen as fair to both future employees and taxpayers. While Albany stacks the deck against reformers with provisions such as the Taylor Law, Spinello and his team along with Famiglietti have been the exception to the rule.
But the City’s finances are a slow-turning ship–the turnaround of Glen Cove’s finances won’t be seen overnight. And while we wait, we’re being fed the same old, mealy-mouthed sales pitch. Spinello’s opponent, Tony Gallo claims to be a fiscal conservative and promises to target “10 percent” spending cuts. But when asked department-by-department what he’d like to cut, it was “of course not” for each one. Remember that contracts are the cause and budgets are the effect. Gallo literature says that he suggested implementing boilerplate NYS Comptroller suggestions such as increasing the budgeted spending for tax certs and termination payments–liabilities which technically don’t exist yet. But he calls this “fundamental change.” Nonsense. His suggestions if implemented would’ve meant over a 15 percent tax hike for residents and businesses.
The most recent revelation about his ideas are that he would “absolutely” consider breaking the agreement with RXR related to the Garvies Point redevelopment. This would cost at least $30 million plus the City would have to reimburse the state and federal governments for grants which it wouldn’t have done its part. He says this is better than the so-called TIF, but he seems to misunderstand the fundamentals of that plan. By definition the proposed infrastructure financing would not be an obligation of the City but the developer. In the case of a default, the recourse would be to the development, not the City.
This isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted the contradictions in Gallo’s promises. For example, he recently pulled a political stunt to “try” to avoid borrowing for tax certs (even Spagnoletti was reluctant to support him) which amounted to a few hundred thousand. Contrast this to his inclination to default on the Waterfront agreement which could mean borrowing over $40 million. Another obvious contradiction is that both Gallo and Spagnoletti praised the proposed 2015 budget and voted for it.
But undecided voters should look beyond fiscal matters in choosing their candidate. We had to issue a mea culpa for reporting Councilman Spagnoletti’s tall-tale that the mayor tried to raise his salary in executive session. Then Spagnoletti’s choice to lie about being the source lead to our report on Mineola1, an anonymous account that he had access to which posted personal attacks on his personal rivals. Gallo’s plead of ignorance regarding threats of legal action and other tactics lead to us labeling him the “What, Me Worry?” candidate. By the way, Tony Gallo knew about all of this.
Most recently, several supporters of the Gallo campaign along with Spagnoletti were accused of libeling an Iraq War Veteran–one accused him of having post traumatic stress disorder, and anonymous callers filed frivolous complaints with his employer, a large bank.
What can we expect if Gallo wins? Will dissenters at council meetings be shut down by Gallo cohorts reading from the dossier Spagnoletti seems to carry with him? Would there be a massive exodus if Gallo defaults on the agreement, possibly putting Glen Cove into junk-bond status?
It’s not worth the risk.