John M. Kennedy Comments on Bellone’s New Campaign Ad

Mr. Bellone’s new campaign commercial would be comical if it wasn’t so sad. The two-and-a-half minute production presents a rosy picture of Steve Bellone as a corruption busting public servant, but make no mention of the numerous scandals involving his administration, including those involving his former chief of police, the former assistant DA in charge of Suffolk’s Government Corruption Bureau and the head of the IT department.

Even more shameful, is that he makes no mention of the fiscal calamity he has created in Suffolk County. During his nearly eight years in office, Suffolk County taxpayers have faced the brunt of his fiscal mismanagement, with $200 million in tax and fee increases, a 22.4% property tax increase, a bloated budget of over $3 billion, including over $1 billion in payroll, $2 billion in debt, seven bond downgrades, seven fiscal emergencies, and nearly 17,000 fewer county residents.

If Steve was serious about addressing corruption in Suffolk County, he’d start by addressing the serious fiscal crisis we are facing, rather than shovelin’ taxpayers a line of B.S. If you want to learn the truth about Steve Bellone’s record, visit ShovelingSteve.com.”

Kennedy Continues His “Fiscal Reality Tour” into Brookhaven

Kennedy Continues His “Fiscal Reality Tour” into Brookhaven

Contrasts Town’s Superior Bond Rating to Suffolk’s “Junk Bond” Status

Ronkonkoma, NY — On September 12, John M. Kennedy, Candidate, Suffolk County Executive, was joined by local elected officials and residents at a press conference at Armed Forces Plaza in Patchogue, announcing the continuation of his “Fiscal Reality Tour” as part of his campaign to #SaveSuffolk.

Mr. Kennedy explained that, contrary to claims made by the County Executive, taxpayers have been burdened by enormous tax and fee increases under Steve Bellone, while, at the same time, the County has experienced seven bond downgrades and a fiscal crisis whereby it barely meets its obligation week by week.

Mr. Bellone’s out-of-control spending has resulted in bloated payrolls and budgets. Despite the fact that the County’s workforce has been reduced by nearly 1,000 workers, payroll has increased by over $100 million. At the same time, the budget has risen from $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion — an increase of almost 15%.

Poor fiscal management has driven enormous tax and fee increases. The property tax levy has increased from $532,765,964 in 2012 to $652,108,097 in 2019. That is an increase of $119,342,129, meaning that homeowners have seen a property tax increase of 22.4% over that time.

In addition, Suffolk taxpayers have been hit with across-the-board fee increases. These include the tax map verification fee, mortgage recording fee, residential/commercial burglar alarm fee, red-light camera fee, shopping bag fee, pet grooming fee and Department of Motor Vehicles registration fee. In addition, Mr. Bellone has hiked county park use fees every year since 2015 for camping, fishing, hunting, parking, group events and recreational permits. This disproportionately affects working-class Suffolk residents, including first-time homebuyers and those who rely on parks for recreational opportunities. In total, the Bellone administration has raised taxes and fees to the tune of $200 million.

Mr. Kennedy also contrasted the Town of Brookhaven’s financial performance with that of Suffolk County’s. Moody’s Investor Services recently upgraded the town’s credit rating to AAA, its highest rating; meanwhile, Suffolk’s bond rating has been rated Baa2 (a rating considered “junk”). Moody’s credited Brookhaven with its “continued strong financial management,” while Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has engaged in out-of-control spending for the past seven years, resulting in seven bond downgrades. “We are issuing junk bonds, and, each payroll period, we don’t know if we’ll be able to pay our bills,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We’ve had to declare a fiscal emergency seven times. It’s outrageous and it has to end.”

As an example of Brookhaven’s responsible fiscal management, the town has set aside a fund for maintaining the town’s landfill and has a plan in place to minimize lost revenues. Mr. Bellone, on the other hand, has raided the water fund to the tune of millions of dollars.

“I want to congratulate Supervisor Romaine for achieving the highest bond rating possible for any municipality,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Unlike Mr. Bellone — who has spent taxpayer money wildly, and had to raise taxes, implement fees and raid the water fund to plug budget deficits — Mr. Romaine has held the line on taxes and spending, making Brookhaven a more affordable place to live for its residents. If Suffolk County operated like this, it would not have seen seven bond downgrades, seven fiscal emergencies and over 16,000 people fleeing the county.”

Also exacerbating Suffolk’s fiscal crisis is the reduction in population. The county’s overall population has shrunk by 16,396 in the past seven years, leaving fewer taxpayers to bear a higher tax burden. Favorable Industrial Development Agency (IDA) benefits have further reduced the county’s tax base.

“When I decided to run for New York State Assembly, it was to try to help the younger generations, like my daughter, from moving out of state,” said Joe DeStefano, New York State Assemblyman. “Due to the current high costs of living on Long Island, especially Suffolk County, my daughter and her family were forced to move out of New York to seek a more affordable life. If nothing changes, at the rate we are going here in Suffolk County, I predict more and more families will be broken up like mine has.”

“Steve Bellone spent most of 2018 traveling around the state, campaigning for New York State Democrats, to give total control of the state to one party, the Democrats, and one part of the state, New York City,” said Andrew Garbarino, New York State Assemblyman. “Now, all of the state suffers. Record numbers of people are leaving Suffolk County and New York State because of the radical policies from Albany and the terrible fiscal condition of Suffolk County.”

For more information, visit www.johnkennedyforsuffolk.com or follow #SaveSuffolk.

CAPTION:

John Kennedy (second from right), Candidate, Suffolk County Executive, poses with charts explaining Steve Bellone’s fee increases and Suffolk’s fiscal crisis during his “Fiscal Reality Tour” in Patchogue on September 12. He is joined by (left to right) Dominick Thorne, Candidate, Suffolk County Legislature 7th District; Joe DeStefano, New York State Assemblyman, and Ed Romaine, Supervisor, Town of Brookhaven.

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* Photo is attached.

Kennedy Kicks off “Fiscal Reality Tour” in Huntington

Explains How Bellone’s Tax and Fee Increases, Bond Downgrades and Workforce Reductions Have Created County’s Current Fiscal Crisis

 Ronkonkoma, NY — On September 9, John M. Kennedy, Candidate, Suffolk County Executive, was joined by local elected officials and residents at a press conference at the former Oceancrest Diner in Huntington Station, announcing the kickoff of his “Fiscal Reality Tour” as part of his campaign to #SaveSuffolk.

Mr. Kennedy explained that, contrary to claims made by the County Executive, taxpayers have been burdened by enormous tax and fee increases under Steve Bellone, while, at the same time, the County has experienced seven bond downgrades and a fiscal crisis whereby it barely meets its obligation week by week.

Mr. Bellone’s out-of-control spending has resulted in bloated payrolls and budgets. Despite the fact that the County’s workforce has been reduced by nearly 1,000 workers, payroll has increased by over $100 million. At the same time, the budget has risen from $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion — an increase of almost 15%.

Poor fiscal mismanagement has driven enormous tax and fee increases. The property tax levy has increased from $532,765,964 in 2012 to $652,108,097 in 2019. That is an increase of $119,342,129, meaning that homeowners have seen a property tax increase of 22.4% over that time.

In addition, Suffolk taxpayers have been hit with across-the-board fee increases. These include the tax map verification fee, mortgage recording fee, residential/commercial burglar alarm fee, red-light camera fee, shopping bag fee, pet grooming fee and Department of Motor Vehicles registration fee. In addition, Mr. Bellone has hiked county park use fees every year since 2015 for camping, fishing, hunting, parking, group events and recreational permits. This disproportionately affects working-class Suffolk residents, including first-time homebuyers and those who rely on parks for recreational opportunities. In total, the Bellone administration has raised taxes and fees to the tune of $200 million.

Also exacerbating Suffolk’s fiscal crisis is the reduction in population. The county’s overall population has shrunk by 16,396 in the past seven years, leaving fewer taxpayers to bear a higher tax burden. Favorable Industrial Development Agency (IDA) benefits have further reduced the county’s tax base.

“Mr. Bellone has implemented a series of fees and tax hikes that have inflated residents’ property tax bills,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Out-of-control spending has created a fiscal crisis in Suffolk County. After huge tax increases and enormous reductions in the county’s workforce, we can barely pay our bills. This November, it’s time to say ‘no more’ to fiscal mismanagement and #BigTaxBellone.”

“It is no secret that Suffolk County’s financial condition has deteriorated over the past eight years, with ballooning debt and poor fiscal management leading to more fees and higher costs of living for Suffolk residents,” said Andrew Raia, New York State Assemblyman. “We need someone like John Kennedy to help reverse this debilitating trend and save our county from financial ruin.”

“John Kennedy understands the importance of investing in our infrastructure to bring the Route 110 corridor back to its status as the driving force behind a booming Long Island economy,” said Chad Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town of Huntington. “He knows it’s a necessary step in encouraging private investment and bringing good jobs back to Long Island to help our residents stay here to raise their families and retire in the communities where they’ve spent their entire lives.”

While repeating his call for Governor Cuomo to strongly urge the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to settle the lawsuit with the Town of Huntington over the utility’s tax assessment, Mr. Kennedy also questioned why Mr. Bellone has been completely silent on the matter. If LIPA wins the lawsuit, Suffolk taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It is time for government to lead in this time of fiscal crisis,” said Eugene Cook, Councilman, Town of Huntington. “We need to fight for responsible budgets that do not mortgage our children’s and grandchildren’s financial futures, that allow Long Islanders to stay on Long Island. At a time when not only county taxes, municipal taxes and school taxes are going up, we have the Long Island Power Authority going back on their word to its host towns not to grieve their property taxes in not only Huntington, but other municipalities on Long Island. If LIPA is successful, it will be another blow to families, retirees, and young adults who are all struggling to stay here. It’s time to think outside the box to balance budgets, maintain services, and attract good businesses to Long Island that will fuel our economy and allow young professionals to return to Long Island to be with their families.”

For more information, visit www.johnkennedyforsuffolk.com or follow #SaveSuffolk.

CAPTION:

Flanked by charts, John Kennedy (foreground) explains how Suffolk County continues to endure a fiscal crisis under Steve Bellone. He is joined by (left to right) Chad Lupinacci, Supervisor, Town of Huntington; Hector Gavilla, Garrett Chelius, Candidates, Suffolk GOP Legislature; Stacy Colamussi, Candidate, Town of Huntington Receiver of Taxes; and Andrew Raia, New York State Assemblyman.

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Kennedy To Bellone: It’s Time to Act

Still no word from Steve Bellone as to whether he intends to keep intact Suffolk County’s contract with former U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman. In February of this year, Mr. Bellone orchestrated an agreement to pay Ackerman $24,999 ($1 under the threshold for having to have the contract approved by the Legislature) to serve as a special advisor for the County’s Civil Service Department.

This past week, in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan, Ackerman was accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old Boy Scout at an upstate camp where Mr. Ackerman served as the director. 

When news of the lawsuit became public, John Kennedy, candidate for Suffolk County Executive, called for the contract to be terminated and that no Suffolk taxpayer money be used to pay Mr. Ackerman’s salary until this matter is resolved, one way or another. “These are very serious allegations and they need to be treated as such,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Steve Bellone can’t bury his head in the sand and hope this goes away. He needs to address this situation immediately. Suffolk County taxpayers deserve answers — and action.”

For more information, visit www.johnkennedyforsuffolk.com or follow #SaveSuffolk.

Kennedy Calls for Firing of Bellone Appointee Accused of Being “Sexual Predator” by Former Boy Scout

BROOKHAVEN, NY — Suffolk County Comptroller and County Executive candidate, John Kennedy, today called for County Executive Steve Bellone to immediately terminate the contract of former Congressman Gary Ackerman in the wake of being named as a “sexual predator” who allegedly violated a teenage Boy Scout in a lawsuit filed last week.

Mr. Ackerman was recently named in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court as having been a “known predator” who tried to touch and fondle a 17-year-old scout while at a summer camp where Ackerman was a camp director. Ackerman served for 15 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was named on several occasions as having committed ethical violations while in office.

In February of 2019, Steve Bellone went out of his way to avoid any and all checks and balances in an effort to hire his hand-picked advisor, Gary Ackerman. Mr. Bellone appears to have asked for and received a waiver from having to put the position out to bid to ensure that Ackerman got the contract. He then agreed to pay Ackerman $24,999 annually, which is exactly one dollar below the threshold that requires the Legislature to approve the contract. It is clear that Mr. Bellone would do anything possible to make sure his guy, Gary Ackerman, got this job.

“As the Comptroller of Suffolk County, I will do all in my power to ensure that not one more penny of Suffolk taxpayer money is paid to Mr. Ackerman until this matter is resolved one way or the other,” said Mr. Kennedy.

Read more on the allegations against former Congressman Ackerman: https://nypost.com/2019/08/24/ex-congressman-gary-ackerman-accused-of-sexually-abusing-teen-at-boy-scout-camp/

Kennedy: Bellone Refuses to Give Back $30 Million That Was Illegally Taken

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. As an example, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone — who lost his legal battle with the Pine Barrens Society twice already — is once again appealing a recent Appellate Court decision in an effort to stall repayment of $30 million to the county’s Drinking Water Protection Program. John M. Kennedy, Candidate, Suffolk County Executive, points out that, not only has Mr. Bellone refused to pay back the money that could be used to protect Suffolk’s water quality, on top of it, he continues to waste taxpayer money by hiring an outside law firm to take up the case, a pattern that has led to spiraling legal costs under his administration.

Mr. Bellone attempted to challenge the Appellate Court’s original 2012 decision that deemed the practice of taking money from the fund dedicated to clean water to be illegal, and lost. On June 27, 2019, the Court ruled in favor of the Pine Barrens Society again and ordered the County to immediately repay the nearly $30 million to the fund. Once again, Mr. Bellone has decided to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, in 2014, Mr. Bellone settled a separate lawsuit with the Pine Barrens Society over his diversion of more than $32 million from the drinking water fund. However, as part of that settlement, Mr. Bellone negotiated a deal to allow him to take a total of over $171 million from the fund over multiple years to help balance his budget.

“Mr. Bellone has continually diverted money from a fund that was dedicated to clean water and has used it instead to fill holes in his bloated budget,” said Dean Murray, Mr. Kennedy’s Campaign Manager. “Because he took that money, it was not used for what it was intended for, which is why we are having so many issues with our water. To add insult to injury, he is using our tax dollars to hire an outside law firm to fight against putting that money toward making sure our water is clean in order to preserve his slush fund.”

On August 1, 2019, while Mr. Kennedy held a press conference at Corey Beach to explain how the diversion of these dedicated funds has led to many beach closures throughout Suffolk County due to unsafe bacteria levels in the waters, Mr. Bellone announced a $4 billion water protection plan that would span over 50 years. “He does not have a plan on how to pay for this program, which means the taxpayers had better beware,” Mr. Murray said. “While we need a comprehensive long-term plan to protect Long Island’s environment, water resources and drinking water, we need to start with making sure that the money that the taxpayers have already put into these dedicated funds, is used for clean water purposes, not for Bellone’s personal slush fund. If Mr. Bellone really cares about the taxpayers and about clean water, he will drop this costly appeal and return the $30 million to the Drinking Water Protection Program immediately.”

John Kennedy Says Bellone’s Fiscal Mismanagement Caused Closure of Suffolk’s Beaches

Suffolk's beaches

Suffolk County Executive Candidate John M. Kennedy (center) reviews reports with Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley (left) and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (right) that show how County Executive Steve Bellone has regularly raided funds from the county’s Drinking Water Protection Program to plug the county’s deficits during a press conference at Corey Beach in Blue Point on August 1.

Standing at the recently closed Corey Beach, Suffolk County Executive Candidate John Kennedy says fiscal mismanagement by the Bellone administration has led to the closure of many Suffolk beaches. Mr. Kennedy was joined by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley at the popular Blue Point beach.

Mr. Kennedy pointed out that Steve Bellone, the current County Executive, took tens of millions of dollars from the Drinking Water Protection Program — much of which was supposed to go towards mitigating runoff into our waterways — and used it to plug holes in his budget.

“Summer is the ideal time for tourists and local residents to go to the beach, but they can’t because Mr. Bellone raided the very funds that were supposed to be used to protect our beaches,” Mr. Kennedy said. “He could have used that money to protect our water quality, but, instead, he used it to make it look like he had a balanced budget.”

Mr. Kennedy said that these beach closures have meant loss of revenues from parking fees, but it goes beyond that. “With no beach goers, vendors are losing money,” he said. “Nearby stores and restaurants are seeing a drop in the number of customers as well.”

The biggest losers in all of this, Mr. Kennedy said, are Suffolk taxpayers. “Suffolk taxpayers are angry, not just because they cannot visit the beaches, but because they are paying for services they cannot even use, thanks to Mr. Bellone’s inability to properly handle the county’s finances.”

Kennedy to Bellone: “Where Have You Been Hiding?”

Just as the lawsuit between the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and the Town of Huntington heads into final arguments in court, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone finally comes out of the shadows. Well, sort of. He has announced that his Deputy Executive, Jon Kaiman, will urge LIPA and the Town to come together to try and negotiate a settlement. If that sounds like a familiar approach to the problem, it should … it’s what Suffolk County Comptroller, John Kennedy, Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, New York State Senators John Flanagan and Jim Gaughran and several other elected officials have been doing for months and months. Mr. Kennedy, Candidate for Suffolk County Executive, said Mr. Bellone is jumping in at the very last minute to simply try to score political points on this situation, while having his second-in-command handle negotiations. However, while everyone else was fully engaged in this issue, Mr. Bellone was nowhere to be found.

At the end of May 2019, Mr. Kennedy penned a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging the Governor to get involved in this issue by encouraging the LIPA officials to come to the table for negotiations with Huntington Town officials. What did Steve Bellone do? Nothing.

On June 11, Mr. Kennedy joined elected officials from the Town of Huntington, members of the Northport-East Northport School District and hundreds of local residents, who all gathered in the pouring rain, to call on LIPA to work in good faith with the town. Mr. Bellone was nowhere to be seen.

On June 22, John Kennedy and Senator Gaughran joined with dozens of residents, rallying to publicly urge LIPA to work with Huntington Town to reach a fair and equitable settlement to prevent what could very well be a fiscal disaster for Suffolk County. Once again, absolutely no sign of Steve Bellone.

“Steve Bellone has done absolutely nothing,” said Dean Murray, Mr. Kennedy’s Campaign Manager. “He sat on the sidelines and now wants to send in his guy to pretend to save the day. Suffolk County’s fiscal future is in jeopardy and Steve Bellone is playing politics.”

A recent Newsday “Talking Point” article quoted Mr. Kaiman as saying, “We’ve been watching what’s been going on and we have a sense it’s coming to a head.” In response, Mr. Murray said, “Real leaders step up, take action and take on the tough issues, not sit on the sidelines and watch. This is nothing more than grandstanding at its worst. When the people of Suffolk County needed him most, Steve Bellone and his administration were nowhere to be found.”

“While Steve Bellone has been cowering in the corner, hoping the situation would resolve itself, John Kennedy has been a vocal leader on this issue,” Mr. Murray said. “He was the one person who pointed out exactly how serious this problem is for all of Suffolk County, explaining that a loss in court could result in a back payment to LIPA in the amount of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

For those keeping score, this is not John Kennedy’s first clash with LIPA, as they are currently embroiled in a legal battle over LIPA’s failure to pay property taxes. John Kennedy continues to prove that when it comes to protecting the taxpayers, there is no one who will fight harder than him.

* Copy of Mr. Kennedy’s letter to Governor Cuomo is available upon request.

Kennedy Slams Bellone for Attempting to Illegally Strip Oversight Powers

John Kennedy, candidate for Suffolk County Executive, says current County Executive Steve Bellone is trying to illegally strip both the County Comptroller and the County Legislature of their powers to oversee the county’s finances in an attempt to hide the fact that the county is facing a severe fiscal crisis. He is clearly attempting to hide the county’s finances from elected officials, Suffolk taxpayers and bond investors.

Mr. Bellone is looking to take away the county Legislature’s financial oversight powers — a violation of New York State Municipal Law. In addition, Mr. Bellone wants to create a Central Purchasing Department that would review the county’s policies and procedures every year — the same job that is currently being performed by the county Legislature.

Bellone’s proposal would further reduce the Comptroller’s powers to implement checks and balances, which are used to keep watch of Suffolk taxpayers’ money. This proposal would drastically reduce the Comptroller’s ability to review county finances to every four years instead of every year. Not surprisingly, Mr. Kennedy currently holds the position of Comptroller.

“Only a professional politician like #BigTaxBellone would have the nerve to pay thousands of dollars to buy a vanity line called ‘Protect The Taxpayers’ for this year’s election, while, at the same time, work behind the scenes to try to eliminate the fiscal oversight that’s in place to actually ‘Protect The Taxpayers’ of Suffolk County,” said Dean Murray, Campaign Manager.

John M. Kennedy Praises U.S. Congress for Passage of Extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act

John M. Kennedy, Candidate, Suffolk County Executive, thanked members of the United States Congress for passing a bill that would allow the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to be funded for the next 70 years.

On July 12, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act, now known as the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. This piece of legislation would ensure that the fund — which is used to financially support the families of those who were killed during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 — would continue to receive monetary support through the year 2090.

“I wish to thank members of the United States Congress for passing this important piece of legislation,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I especially wish to thank Congressmen Peter King and Lee Zeldin for recognizing our local heroes while getting this bill passed. Suffolk County is home to many first responders and law enforcement personnel who died in the 9/11 attacks. It is only right that we help their families and let them know their loved ones and their heroic actions will never be forgotten.”