July 17, 2013 | 5 comments | 3785 views
Sanitary district problems deeper than Sandy
BY HOWARD SCHWACH
This is the first of a series of articles that will be published in coming weeks concerning the Oceanside Sanitary District 7, its operations and its supervisors. This article focuses on a Hempstead Town audit completed by then-comptroller Howard Weitzman on December 29, 2009.
The recent election contest between incumbent commissioner Michael Sullivan and challenger Ed Scharfsberg brought out arguably the largest turnout for an Oceanside sanitary district election in more than a decade.
Scharfsberg, a town firefighter and retired NYPD detective, won the election by a nearly a 2-1 margin and it was clear from the comments of those leaving the polling place in Oceanside that the overriding issues of the campaign were the actions of the district in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing belief by many residents that the sanitary district is run like a fiefdom, with all of the decisions being made by the commissioners in the proverbial “smoke-filled room” behind locked doors.
The theme of change and transparency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was apparent from speaking to a number of Oceanside resident waiting their turn to vote outside the firehouse.
“I certainly was not happy with the actions of the sanitation department and with garbage collection after Sandy,” said Ellen Histger. “I am voting for Scharfberg because in Oceanside, the garbage business is dirty business and things have to change. They didn’t do a decent job after the storm and you did not have pick-up for two weeks unless you live on the same block as somebody who works for the district. There are a lot of politically incorrect things that go on with the district.”
In fact, one of Scharfsberg’s campaign promises was to set up a website to “shine a little light” on the activities and finances of the district.
While a district website does now exist, a check this week found that there is little on it besides the telephone number of the district garage.
Now that he has won a seat on the board and was sworn in nearly three weeks ago, that secrecy, he says is impacting his ability to do what he was elected for.