Greetings from Village Hall-Special Report
Trustee Spery Attacks "Zombies"
I am very proud of Trustee Maura Spery and her initiative to bring together multiple state, county, town and other agencies under one roof for a meeting on dealing with the hundreds of bank-owned, boarded up homes known as “zombie” homes that continuously degrade and devalue our housing market in Mastic Beach.
Finally, after four years of no leadership in this area, Trustee Spery has started the ball rolling by bringing together multiple agencies from the state to help deal with the "zombie" housing crisis in our village so we can consider smart development for our future.
Maura Spery brought together representatives from Gov. Cuomo's office, County Executive Bellone's office, Legislator Kate Browning, Assemblyman Dean Murray, Bill Doyle representing State Senator Croci and Congressman Zeldin, John Kaiman and Zach Richter from NY Rising, Dina Levy from the Attorney General's office, Lori-Anne Casdia from Brookhaven Councliman Dan Panico's office, Adrienne Esposito, Habitat for Humanity, LI Housing Partnership, Rebuild by Design, The Nature Conservancy, The Regional Plan Associates David Sabatino, and Deb Tinniriello from Senator Gillibrand's office. Chuck Shumer was invited to attend but had no representatives there.
Trustee Spery has been in contact with the Attorney General’s office and has been seeking part of the bank settlement penalties to the state for the bank’s “predatory” lending practices during the beginning of this century which resulted in so many foreclosures. Trustee Spery’s idea is to have the state allocate some of these funds to Mastic Beach, purchase and repair boarded up bank owned homes which are out of the flood zone (we literally have hundreds of such homes) and either “swap” them with people who have had their homes destroyed in Sandy or sell them to first time buyers who will “homestead” and live in the homes. This idea would potentially remove dozens of families from the danger of flooding and remove these homes from a cheap rental market.
This is Maura's leadership ability in eight months, as a Trustee. The ability to bring these people together is why she will make a great Mayor.
After four years in office, the current leadership hasn’t presented any plan for the “zombie” homes let alone have the ability to bring these people together. The only plan to date, offered by our current leadership, is 24/7 Public Safety patrols for which there is no money in the budget. We have a “vacant homes” law that that has never been enforced to date and a “blighted homes” law which has not had any notices of tax liens sent out.
This is why our village leadership must be changed at the next election on March 17th, 2015.
Village Hall Shuts Down
In other news, our village hall building has experienced a “shutdown” due to carbon monoxide fumes from a faulty water heater and a potential fire hazard from a heating pipe that had broken and was “charring” wood under the building.
It seems there was never an engineer inspection done prior to the purchase of the Nutrition Center and I was informed by Village counsel that such a report was not required. I find this to be an amazing statement. I know of no one that would buy a building or home without having an engineer do an inspection to let you know what exactly you are buying.
Reportedly, our Fire Marshall and Village Administrator/Building Inspector did the inspection of the building prior to purchase. I have asked to see their inspection reports but I doubt there is anything in writing. What is most troubling is there was never any carbon monoxide detectors anywhere in the building. I would think that if an inspection was done, no detectors would be a glaring “red light” for our inspectors, but apparently not. Right now, Village Hall has temporary CO detectors in place and it will cost the village several thousand dollars to “retro-fit” CO detectors to be hardwired into our system.
Petty Cash Gone Wild
I had “FOILed” for all the checks made out to “petty cash” and their supporting documentation since the inception of the village. Finally, I have gotten the files. What I have found is a systematic use of public funds (about 65% of the petty cash) for pizza, donuts, coffee, hero’s, and burgers. I could understand the use of the petty cash funds for these items the week after “Sandy” or “Irene” hit when our village and people were working overtime and around the clock .
I have been trying to coordinate activities to match the expenses but after looking at the receipts there seems to be a “culture” present in the office that the petty cash fund is considered a “wallet” or “ATM” rather than public money.
What is particularly troubling to me is that there was $1,485.00 used without any documentation whatsoever. I have no idea of what nearly, fifteen hundred dollars was used for. Here's an example: On August 26th 2011, check #9210 was issued for “cash” to the tune of $1,000 yet only $123.37 was documented in receipts around that day, leaving $876.63 unaccounted. On February 8th 2013, check #10526 was issued for $500 cash with only $99.86 charged back to the account leaving a balance of $400.14, where there is a “hand-written” note stating that this $400.14 was re-deposited. I have asked the finance department to supply me with the deposit slip to verify the accuracy of this hand-written note and confirm that this money was indeed re-deposited as well as any other monies and will keep you posted.
Now the good news, since Maura Spery and I were elected there has been NO more use of the petty cash for french vanilla coffees or pizzas or any other unauthorized usage of public money. Maura Spery and Bruce Summa do not have a sense of “entitlement” towards public funds. We will continue to seek the best value for your tax dollar.
The next public hearing is on December 16th at 7pm at Village Hall
My very best to all residents this holiday season with a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas. May you all have a happy and healthy New Year.
The Mastic Beach Village Crier has been created to be your voice in a village that seems to have forgotten the wants of their own citizens!
We are here to remind our Village Board that their job is to listen to the residents, make Mastic Beach a better place to live, and NOT line their pockets!
Be sure to let us know what you think the Village of Mastic Beach should be doing to make The Incorporated Village of Mastic Beach a better place to live and work. Tell us how the Village has made your life better or worse.
If you have a problem with the Village of Mastic Beach, please let us know and we will do our best to take care of it for you.
Bruce Summa the editor and publisher of this site and is a Trustee in the Village of Mastic Beach.