Treatment plant politics just stink

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We’re wondering why legislators had to drag the borrowing process out. Breaking up and putting off a vote to fully fund repairs leaves already anxious residents feeling, at best, insecure, and at worst, downright angry –– and rightly so.

Now Republicans and Democrats are arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong, which only further infuriates people. Republicans say that Democrats are to blame. They accuse them of playing a game of political brinkmanship with one of the county’s most vital assets. Democrats say they wanted greater oversight of the $722 million before they voted to approve the money. With three-quarters of a billion dollars at stake, they argue that they had a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that it’s spent the right way, not on giveaway contracts to the well-connected.

Both sides appear to be right. There’s little doubt that politics played a part in Democrats’ thinking. To simply side with the Republican majority –– and, by extension, the Republican county executive, Ed Mangano –– on an enormous project such as this in an election year, when they’re trying to regain power, would have been political suicide.

On the other hand, Democrats made an important point in asking for a solid construction timetable with specific objectives. Money would be doled out as objectives were met, if Democrats had their way. They also wanted public hearings. Republicans, according to Denenberg, flatly refused to agree to either concession.

Denenberg, the lone bipartisan voice in this mess, was right to call for quarterly or twice-yearly oversight hearings. He was also right to vote to fully fund the bonding to give storm-weary residents some semblance of calm.

If only all of our legislators could work together for the good of the people, we could all sleep better at night.

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