The August 25, 2017 Newsday editorial "George Maragos is abusing office to run for county executive"
spins a false narrative based on a very narrow and superficial interpretation of the Comptroller's
mission statements charged with racially insensitive remarks. I am proud of my tenure as Nassau
County Comptroller and the record of achievements of my office.
Newsday’s editorial would have you believe that a poll of LIRR riders was “misusing” Comptroller’s
Office resources. The poll of the LIRR was actually a very cost-effective way to determine that $28
million paid to the MTA for station maintenance is not resulting in clean trains and stations, adequate
public announcement systems or on-time train service. As the Nassau County Comptroller, I have a
fiduciary obligation to ensure that taxpayer money is well spent and to highlight whenever it is not.
For Newsday’s editorial to argue differently is disingenuous.
Mr. Dilip Chauhan has played a leading role in the Comptroller’s Office initiatives to dramatically
increase the business opportunities for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and to
help the County meet its aspirational goals that had been ignored for far too long. His promotion was
in part, recognition of these successful efforts and the continuing need to do better to meet the
County’s aspirational goals. Failure may expose taxpayers to significant financial liability.
It’s shocking to me that in 2017 Newsday cannot fathom that a minority employee can earn a
promotion for any reason other than his or her ethnicity. I am proud that during my tenure as
Comptroller I have consistently had one of the most diverse offices in County Government, promoting
qualified women and minorities to head our major departments.
The Editorial Board crossed the line with its racially insensitive remarks regarding the ethnicity (“is
Black”) of Mr. James Garner, who happens to be the first ever African-American Chief Deputy County
Comptroller and Mr. Emmanuel Asse, the Communications Director. The editorial implies that Mr.
Asse was hired only due to his ethnic origin by contemptuously pointing out his voicemail message
was in English and Creole, which, by the way, is one of the secondary languages recognized by the
County. While Mr. Asse’s qualifications do not need to be defended, I find myself wondering if the
Editorial Board would have the same concerns if he were a white man.
The Editorial Board further alleges that I am not spending money to run my campaign for County
Executive but rather using County employees. This is again FALSE. I have already spent over
$270,000, much of that on campaign consultant staff entirely unaffiliated with the County. This is a
matter of public record. While, like any elected official, it is true that some employees have chosen to
volunteer their personal time outside of county work to help the campaign, I have made it abundantly
clear to my staff that they have no obligation to volunteer. They have further been advised that no
work of a political or personal nature is allowed on County time or using County resources.
I am extremely proud of my achievements as a two term Comptroller. I reject all the false, politically
motivated and racially insensitive opinions expressed by the Newsday editorial board. Sadly, rather
than champion the promotions and successes of minority employees, the editorial suggests that
minorities can only succeed with special treatment. To read this type of prejudice from a newspaper
that covers long island, shows me how much work still needs to be done in the fight for racial equality.