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Peter Schmitt Watch

Keeping tabs on Nassau County Legislator Peter J. Schmitt. The truth is here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Schmitts Lawyer Defends Himself - Digs Deeper Hole

I give Paul Millus a ton of credit for commenting on my post about him yesterday. The problem is that his is a very lawyerly answer. He still does not see that his very squishy answer just keeps proving he is on both sides of the issue but uses clever phrasing to try to get out of it. He begins "Ah,the difference is my overzealous and biased friends, Mr. Mejias is a lawyer. As a lawyer he owes a duty to speak the truth and not to attack other lawyers when his facts and understanding of the law are plainly incorrect. So, (now read carefully) even if Mr. Mejias remarks might not qualify as defamatory under New York Law, a lawyer has an ethical obligation as well to not mistate facts for his own purpose and question a lawyer's integrity if there is no basis to do so."

1. Of course I am biased. Schmitt is a proven liar and it is about time he is made to pay for his lies. Sadly right now, the taxpayers of Nassau County are paying.
2. Schmitt, as an elected official charged with the public trust - and I'll paraphrase Millus here - "owes a duty to speak the truth and not to attack others when his facts and understanding of the facts are plainly incorrect." Heck, Schmitt knew damn well he was lying and he did it anyway. This is a pattern for Schmitt. Two years ago the REPUBLICAN Nassau D.A. rebuked Schmitt's scare tactics about soaring crime rates in Nassau but Schmitt continued and continues to this day to lie. Why is that Mr. Millus? Doesn't Schmitt owe the public the decency to tell the truth?
I'll paraphrase Mr. Millus again "an elected offical has an ethical obligation as well to not mistate facts for his own purpose and question a persons integrity if there is no basis to do so."
I have a basis for questioning Schmitt's integrity and the facts speak for themselves.
The point is that the taxpayers should not have to pay for Schmitts lies.
You should bill Schmitt directly, Mr. Millus. Let him pay for his own defense. Nassau County can't afford Peter Schmitt.
Now let's go further along the course of Mr. Millus' apparent reasoning. The defense of Schmitt is that his lies were said while he was wearing the hat of "Legislator" and not a private citizen. Again to quote Millus from earlier this year "Politicians have to have the flexibility to say things in the public interest." Legislator Mejias is speaking in the public interest when he questions why we the taxpayers are paying for Schmitts lies.
The long and short of it for Mr. Millus seems to be that as a lawyer, Legislator Mejias has to meet a higher standard but Legislator Schmitt sans a Juris Doctorate is in no way ethically or morally compelled not to lie.
I find that to be an interesting distinction.
I would hpe that Mr. Millus expects more from our elected officials.

Mr. Millus continues "For example, did you know that the amount billed to the county thus far has been $160,575? Mr. Mejias did."
Oh, I know that and so does Legislator Mejias.
I am going to assume that you meant to add that you will not be doing the rest of your work for Schmitt's defense pro-bono and that an additional $25,000 is being requested to pay legal fees. To quote Newsday reporter Celeste Hadrick "On Wednesday, Mejias voted against paying Millus up to $185,000, calling it "an outrageous waste of taxpayer money."
The tab most certainly will continue to rise. I ask Mr. Millus if he believes that there is an ethical obligation to not leave out inconvienient information.

I will get to the rest of the rebuttal of my post tomorrow.
To read the entire comment right now by Mr. Millus, please see yesterdays post.
Again I give great credit to Mr. Millus for responding.

The Unmitigated Gall of Peter Schmitt and His Crony

You really have to get a roadmap to follow all the players in Nassau County politics. You need the roadmap because the public doesn't know about all the little side roads that are out there. Take for instance the budget for Nassau Community College. The budget is being held up in the legislature because of a proposed $166 increase in tuition. Many NCC students work very hard and $166 might seem like a small sum to many but to students at NCC, that may mean dropping out or putting off taking more classes. I agree that the $166 increase should be eliminated. But how do you do it? Let's hear from Ed Ward, the $80,000/year spokesman for Peter Schmitt who is quoted in Newsday "Ed Ward, spokesman for Minority Leader Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), said yesterday that Schmitt wanted to see what the college presents as an alternative budget. Schmitt said he's most concerned about the $166 annual tuition hike."
Funny thing is, Ed Ward is an employee of NCC.. specifically Vice President of Legal Affairs. How much is he making there? Maybe if he quits, the college eliminates his salary and Ward survives on the $80,000 he makes on the taxpayers dime, there won't be a $166 increase. Oh wait, Ward lives off the taxpayers dime no matter what he does.
Let's ask for Ward to resign from NCC so they save his salary and pass that savings on to the students.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Schmitt Lawyer Proves the Case Against Schmitt

Paul Millus is a real character. It is costing Nassau County taxpayers upwards of $180,000 for Millus to defend Schmitt against a slander lawsuit brought by the firm of Crowe-Deegan.
The long and short of it is that Millus is arguing that Schmitt as a legislator is protected and can say whatever he wants and not be sued. The comes the Newsday story where Dave Mejias says "Paul Millus has milked the taxpayers for nearly $200,000. Now he wants to milk us for more."
Millus responds to my utter delight "If he says I'm acting unethically, I'll take action against him. ... He better watch his step."
Yes dear readers, Millus is threatening to go after Mejias the same way the Plaintiffs Crowe-Deegan are going after Schmitt. Millus will defend Schmitt right to say anything but doesn't think Dave Mejias has a right to question Millus' billing.
This is really very funny. Millus has now taken two sides on this case.. the Plaintiffs and the Defendants.
To quote Millus himself "Politicians have to have the flexibility to say things in the public interest."
And he says he'll take action against Mejias.
It's time for Schmitt to take responsibility not only for the words he says but for the bills the County is paying for him.
Nassau County Can't Afford Peter Schmitt.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Concerned Constituent Has a Question for Schmitt

From the Massapequan Observer...

Questions for Minority Leader

The Nassau County Legislator Minority Leader, Massapequa's own Peter Schmitt, is frequently quoted in the local daily newspaper concerning wasteful spending by the "other" political party, including the wasteful use of Nassau County cars.

For that, I say thank you, Legislator Schmitt, for regularly letting us all know.

So I'm sure Mr. "Let's Cut Wasteful Spending" Schmitt won't mind his Massapequa constituents knowing that he frequently uses a Nassau County car to travel to events in his own neighborhood.

If that doesn't sound wasteful, please consider this.

Mr. Schmitt attended last Sunday's Loyalty Day Parade in North Massapequa, less than five miles from where he lives, in a Nassau County car.

To have done this, he would have had to travel 14 miles from his Massapequa home to Mineola to sign out the car, then travel 14 miles back to Massapequa. After the event was over, Mr. Schmitt would have had to travel another 28 miles round trip to drop off the car and return to Massapequa in his own car.

That's a total of 56 driving miles (28 miles of taxpayer-paid-for, $3 a gallon gasoline, miles, plus 28 miles in his own car), for two Massapequa-Mineola round trips. For an event that's less than 10 miles round trip from Mr. Schmitt's Massapequa home.

So, on behalf of all of Mr. Schmitt's constituents who support his ongoing crusade to have Nassau County politicians spend County money as if it were there own, I ask Mr. Schmitt to please answer these two questions in your Letters to the Editor space.

• Why do you need a Nassau County car to travel to any event in your own neighborhood?

• How many times have you used a Nassau County car to travel to events in your district since you took office, with how many total miles driven?

Thank you in advance for your prompt response, Mr. Schmitt. Your constituents appreciate your continuing to fight for us.

Stanley Newman

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Newsday Editorial on Schmitt Gimmicks

Nassau GOP brain-fade

Freezing property assessments a bad way to address future tax increases

July 3, 2007

If it wasn't simply a cynical election-year stunt, a Republican proposal to freeze property assessments in Nassau is stupid public policy. The plan might sound good as a way to ease future tax increases, but it is far more likely to make a relatively small problem worse for a majority of the county's homeowners and its government.

Assessments are the value the county places on a home for property tax purposes. Every homeowner in a particular taxing jurisdiction has the same rate per thousands, and each tax bill varies based on how much the home is worth. So an accurate assessment is crucial to whether an owner pays his or her fair share of the burden.

But for decades, hundreds of thousands of homeowners paid too much or too little in taxes because the county refused to reassess homes to gauge how much they'd risen or fallen in value. This was a willful violation of state law that only stopped when a lawsuit forced a countywide reassessment. Now, the rolls are far more accurate.

Errors in individual assessments continue to crop up, however, and homeowners are miffed about paying some of the nation's highest taxes, accurate values or not. So they continue to file formal challenges in larger than expected numbers. They should, if they believe their assessments are inaccurate.

But freezing assessments for five years, as Minority Leader Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) proposed Thursday with non-incumbent challengers in tow, will only lead to a less accurate tax roll. And it will penalize owners of homes that fall in value or rise more slowly than those in neighboring communities: The laggards will be paying proportionately more than they should.

The county should do everything it can to value every home as accurately as possible. Homeowners should not hesitate to challenge assessments higher than they believe their home is worth. And the Republicans should find another issue - an intellectually honest one - in their zeal to win back control of a county that they once brought to the brink of bankruptcy.

Ironically, it was the GOP's gross mishandling of property assessments that did most to build up a sea of red ink. Its officials should know better.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Oh, And One More Thing

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Gas Tax Cap Full of Schmitt.... Again

Schmitt is always full of gimmicks and this time he is rehashing a gimmick he tried last year.... to cap the gas tax at $2.00.
Instead of repeating myself, I'll post what i wrote last year.....
The long and short of it is really that lost revenue from the $1.00 or so that the county makes on each fill-up will create a bad fiscal situation for the county.

What's worse than taxes?
A badly planned psuedo-tax cut.
Pataki and the NYS legislature passed a cap on gas tax which went into effect July 1st. The cap is set at $2.00/gallon.
Now Schmitt and his republican soldiers are proposing the same in Nassau.
"Minority Leader Peter J. Schmitt and members of the Republican Caucus to the Nassau County Legislature have filed a bill which would not only opt Nassau County into the elimination of State tax on gasoline passed over $2.00 a gallon, but also provides for Nassau County to eliminate its tax on gasoline over $2.00 a gallon.
Recent New York State legislation will cap the New York State Sales Tax on gasoline at $2.00 per gallon and Republican Legislators have introduced legislation to also cap County Sales Tax at $2.00 per gallon."

Sounds good right?
"Minority Leader Peter J. Schmitt stated, “We want to be ready to give much needed tax relief on the ever-increasing price of gasoline to our residents.”
“Legislation in Albany will soon be passed and we want Nassau County to be ready to not only join in eliminating the State Sales Tax over $2.00 a gallon but also the County tax on the same amount continued Schmitt.”
The higher price of gasoline has especially burdened Long Islanders who use their cars to commute to work. With the upcoming summer, residents are expected to vacation locally, and while good for the Long Island economy, they will be using their automobiles at a higher rate.
“If the Administrators of Nassau County would stop thinking about taxing our residents and proposing new tolls on our highways, they could begin to attempt to eliminate some of the taxes all our residents pay”, stated Legislator Schmitt."

Wow, a grand burden will be lifted from us taxpayers.
But Wait!
All is NOT what it seems.
While the proposed savings could be up to 8 cents per gallon, reality just happens to get in the way. Gas prices are still going up and the savings are lower than 3 cents per gallon if that at all.
But the the real problem is the cost - the REAL cost - to taxpayers.
It might make a nice sound-bite to motorists who are paying alot at the pump but a few pennies saved won't compare to the loss the state and the county will incur.
On the state level, Nassau is looking for more school aid which would bring down school taxes which are the bulk of our taxes. With this cap, the state will lose $450 million this year.
Wouldn't it be better to apply this $450million to alleviate school or property taxes instead of literally nickel and dimeing taxpayers with such a miniscule "tax cut" that will come to a few dollars over the year?
And where will the state make up this loss?
What gets cut next year and what gets increased?
Now Schmitt and company want to cap the Nassau portion of the tax.
We all know that the county, because of Schmitt and the Gulotta republicans, sank to near bankruptcy. Schmitt says “We want to be ready to give much needed tax relief on the ever-increasing price of gasoline to our residents.”
It's not the taxes but the actual cost of the gas that is hurting consumers. And by capping the Nassau portion of the tax, Schmitt will make the fiscal situation in Nassau worse.
Other counties in NYS are already seeing the problem with the cap "In Albany County, as Comptroller Michael Conners is prudent enough to point out, the loss of revenue is likely to be $2.7 million a year for the county itself, and $1.8 million a year in money the county shares with cities, towns and villages.

In Broome County "when (County Executive) Fiala found out the cap would cost the county about $2.3 million annually with current prices, she modified the proposed gas tax cap to $3 per gallon. That would help taxpayers if costs continue to rise at the pumps, although it currently affects only higher grades of gas.
Any county losses would have been made up by increasing property taxes, Fiala said.
"We didn't want to give with one hand now and take from the other later," she said."

Republican mayor Bloomberg in NYC said the city could lose up to $50million. From the Gothamist "Fifty million dollars a year is probably a thousand cops, close to a thousand cops, close to a thousand teachers," he said. "If we don't have the money, we can't have these things. What do we want to do without?
Reducing taxes when you're trying to end energy dependence on foreign cartels is not exactly a terribly smart policy
The long-term solution in this country, which nobody wants to hear, is to use an awful lot less energy and to get away from fossil fuels, particularly oil, that mostly comes from overseas."

What will Nassau lose?
How much revenue that could go to funding youth programs, hire more police or keep property taxes stable will disappear for a cheap stunt pseudo-tax cut?
Wouldn't it be better to use the gas tax revenue to continue to revive the county?

And wouldn't it have been smarter for our state legislators to properly fund our schools instead of trumpeting a "tax cut" that will hurt us in the long run?