08/22/13 8:00am
08/22/2013 8:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO  |  County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, center, listens to a 2012 presentation on the county's fiscal situation.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, center, listens to a 2012 presentation on the county’s fiscal situation.

Suffolk County’s plan to merge the elected comptroller and treasurer positions into one job with one staff is supposed to save more than $800,000 annually. Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone, now with the overwhelming support of the county Legislature, has been pushing the measure, saying it would eliminate duplicative jobs.

The consolidation proposal goes to voters countywide through a referendum on Election Day, when it will likely pass. (Who wouldn’t vote to trim county jobs?)

But current county Treasurer Angie Carpenter, who is running for re-election in November to a position that’s likely to be eliminated, has screamed foul. She calls this a cynical, purely political move meant only to allow Republican Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, expected to be appointed as interim chief financial officer, to sidestep his expiring term limits and be able to run for that new position in 2014. Ms. Carpenter, a Republican, has also argued that consolidating the positions would rob the county of necessary checks and balances when it comes to fiscal matters — although, last we looked, those checks and balances haven’t worked so well in recent years in Suffolk County, which faces massive budget deficits.

It’s entirely possible that revenge politics are involved, as Ms. Carpenter — Mr. Bellone’s Republican rival in the 2011 race for county executive — has alleged. But pundits could also speculate that Mr. Bellone is trying to prevent Mr. Sawicki — county government’s one elected Republican outside the Legislature — from challenging his re-election bid. Either way, so what? No matter the motivation, a good idea is a good idea. Keep in mind that Suffolk is the only county in the state that still has two fiscal positions; this consolidation should have been done years ago. If the politics are finally right for such a move, the opportunity should be taken.

08/09/13 3:00pm
08/09/2013 3:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki, center, listens to a 2012 presentation on the county’s fiscal situation.

The Suffolk County treasurer has slammed a plan to merge her office with that of the county comptroller, saying the move is a “cynical” attempt to circumvent term limits for current comptroller Joseph Sawicki.

Angie Carpenter — a Republican who challenged County Executive Steve Bellone for that position in 2011 — said the plan approved by the county Legislature last month would not save the county money and would limit two offices’ ability to examine county finances.

“This is a cynical and calculated attempt to blend these two separate and distinct functions in an effort to diminish the necessary and prudent fiscal controls of Suffolk County and its $2.8 billion budget,” Ms. Carpenter said in a statement.

Supporters have said the proposed merger cuts away at inefficiencies in government.

“With our fiscal crisis, it is critical that we look at all opportunities where we can consolidate departments, improve efficiency and protect Suffolk County taxpayers,” Mr. Bellone (D-Babylon) said, adding that Suffolk is the only county in the state that has an elected treasurer and comptroller.

The Legislature approved the plan July 30 by a vote of 12-3, with two abstentions. County voters will decide the issue through a ballot referendum in November. The plan would combine the two offices and create a new administrative position called chief financial officer, which Mr. Sawicki would fill starting in January. He would be eligible to run for that position again in 2014. The Southold Republican is currently in his final term as comptroller.

Mr. Sawicki was out of the office this week and could not be reached for comment.

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10/27/10 6:55pm
10/27/2010 6:55 PM

The slugfest between congressional candidates Tim Bishop and Randy Altschuler is making the most noise on the East End, but that race is just one part of the crowded ballot voters will face when they head to the polls in next week’s elections.
The names of the men running in the often emotional campaign to be New York’s next governor are found on the ballot’s left-hand side. To the right are the uncontested races for county clerk and county comptroller and the choice of who will represent local interests in the state Senate and Assembly when the Legislature reconvenes in Albany next year.
In between are the choices for both of New York’s federal Senate seats, state comptroller and attorney general and state Supreme Court, County Court and Family Court judgeships.
This is also the inaugural election for Suffolk County’s new electronic ballot, which replaces the time-honored mechanical voting booth. (Visit our website for a link to an informational video on how the new system works.)
But by far, the 1st Congressional District race has generated the most local interest.
Republican Randy Altschuler of Smithtown, who won the nomination in a bruising three-way primary, stands between Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop and a fifth term in the House of Representatives.
The race has centered largely on jobs. Mr. Altschuler claims that the incumbent, who previously worked as provost of Southampton College, has no experience in creating employment. Mr. Bishop argues that his GOP rival built his fortune as a pioneer in outsourcing jobs overseas, to India and other countries.
The challenger also blasts Mr. Bishop for supporting the Obama administration’s sweeping health care reform and stimulus packages, both of which he claims will only add to the nation’s crushing debt.
The incumbent has called the health care bill a workable compromise and still a work in progress. He claims to be an effective and open-minded representative of the people of eastern Suffolk County.
The 1st Congressional District covers northeastern Smithtown, most of Brookhaven and the five East End towns.
Earlier this year the region’s state Senate race also promised to be quite spirited when Democrats nominated New Suffolk resident Regina Calcaterra, an energetic corporate lawyer, to take on veteran GOP incumbent Kenneth LaValle, who ran unopposed two years ago.
But Ms. Calcaterra’s candidacy came to an end in August when a state court ruled that she had not lived in New York for the requisite five consecutive years before running. Jennifer Maertz, a Rocky Point attorney who worked on Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign staff, stepped in to fill the void.
In the 1st Assembly District contest, GOP county Legislator Dan Losquadro, also of Rocky Point, seeks to unseat Democrat Marc Alessi of Shoreham. Mr. Alessi has served in the Assembly since winning a special election in September 2005.
The gubernatorial race between Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, a Tea Party favorite, tops the ticket.
They’re fighting for the seat now held by Governor David Paterson, who decided not to seek his own term. The former lieutenant governor stepped up to the state’s top elected post when former Governor Elliot Spitzer resigned after being named in a sex scandal.
It’s a crowded ballot, with Mr. Cuomo and running mate Robert Duffy appearing on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines. Mr. Paladino and lieutenant governor hopeful Gregory Edwards are on the Republican, Conservative and the combined Anti-Prohibition, Tax Revolt and Taxpayers lines.
The Libertarian and Green parties, plus a group known as Rent is 2 Damn High, have also fielded gubernatorial candidates.
Incumbent Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a former assemblyman who was appointed in 2007, is running against Republican Harry Wilson. In the race to replace Mr. Cuomo as attorney general, Democrat Eric Schneiderman faces Republican Dan Donovan.
In the judicial races, eight candidates are seeking four state Supreme Court judgeships, each a 14-year term.
The County Court elections offer four candidates for three available seats. Republican incumbent James Hudson of Southold is running on the Democratic, GOP, Independence and Conservative Party lines. Three candidates are on the ballot for two Family Court judgeships.
Rounding out the ballot, county Treasurer Judith Pascale and county Comptroller Joseph Sawicki of Southold are both running unopposed.
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