Cuomo appoints Jon Kaiman to head NIFA

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed North Hempstead Town

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman and two others to the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority on Sept. 18, 2013. (May 28, 2013) (Credit: Mike Stobe)

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday overhauled the state board in control of Nassau's finances by replacing its longtime chairman with North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman and filling two vacancies.

The governor's selection of Kaiman to head the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, and of investment adviser Paul Annunziato and developer Lester Petracca to fill board seats, means that Cuomo appointees now control NIFA. Last year, Cuomo named banker John Buran to the seven-member unpaid NIFA board.

Some local officials suggested that Cuomo's changes will calm NIFA's often rocky relationship with Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, who is running for re-election. The Democratic governor has worked closely with Mangano, who campaigned with him three years ago, and with Long Island's GOP state senators, who featured Cuomo in their campaign mailings last year.

"I look forward to working with the new chairman and members of the board," Mangano said. County Attorney John Ciampoli, who has sued NIFA on Mangano's behalf, added, "As a legal pugilist, I am hopeful that I can hang up the boxing gloves."

But NIFA board member George Marlin said changing chairmen in the middle of Nassau's annual budget process is "sheer folly."

Kaiman, a Democrat who is stepping down as supervisor to start Monday as Cuomo's $150,000-a-year superstorm Sandy redevelopment czar, promised less friction. "It's about figuring out what needs to be done and getting to a resolution" at NIFA, he said. "That means working with everybody that's involved." The NIFA post is unsalaried.

Kaiman is a longtime friend of former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat who is running to win back the job he lost to Mangano four years ago. But Kaiman said, "I'm not on anybody's side. I'm there to get the job done."

Outgoing chairman Ronald Stack, appointed to NIFA in 2000 by Republican Gov. George Pataki and subsequently elevated to chairman, said in a statement Wednesday, "I informed Governor Cuomo early this year that I thought it appropriate that a successor be named. I have enjoyed working with my NIFA colleagues in helping Nassau County in moving toward fiscal stability and wish them well."

Stack's term expired Dec. 31.

Marlin and NIFA member Chris Wright praised Stack. "He has shown leadership when, at times, our elected leaders could not -- or would not," Wright said.

Days after Mangano took office in 2010, Stack angered the new county executive by asking how he would fill a deficit created when he killed a home heating tax. Mangano unsuccessfully challenged NIFA's takeover of the county's finances a year later. Most recently, NIFA issued an unusual public statement criticizing a deal Mangano negotiated with the county's Police Benevolent Association.

Cuomo said his NIFA appointees "bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will benefit both state government and Nassau County."

Petracca, a real estate developer specializing in public-private partnerships, said, "I think my experience brings a great deal to the table. I look forward to working with all the other members who I believe have their own expertise, knowledge and capability. I'm sure collectively we can do a wonderful job for the county."

Annunziato, a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley, said he could not comment without Morgan Stanley's approval.PBA president James Carver said: "I think it means new open dialogue with a new set of eyes. Hopefully this will end the combative relationship that NIFA and the county appear to have."

With Yancey Roy

NIFA board appointees

Jon Kaiman

Chairman

Home: Great Neck

Age: 51

Political party: Democrat

Background: Kaiman has been North Hempstead Town supervisor since 2004. He has been named by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as special adviser for Long Island Storm Recovery to serve as liaison between Cuomo and Sandy-affected areas of Long Island. Kaiman is a former Nassau County District Court judge, and served as Hempstead Town public safety commissioner from 1998-2002. He was a partner at the law firms of Crowe, Deegan, Dickson, and Kaiman and Finkel, both general practice law firms. He graduated from Hofstra University and the Hofstra School of Law.

Paul Annunziato

Board member

Home: Mill Neck

Age: 44

Political party: Republican

Background: First vice president and financial adviser for Morgan Stanley. He also has worked for Merrill Lynch, Thomas James Associates of Rochester and Bankers Trust Corp. He ran unsuccessfully for Nassau County Legislature in 2003. Annunziato is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Lester Petracca

Board member

Home: Manhasset

Age: 57

Political party: Unaffiliated

Background: president of Triangle Equities, of Whitestone, which specializes in real estate development through public-private partnerships. The company's projects include the Triangle Junction, a 300,000-square-foot Target center in Brooklyn. Petracca is a board member of the Battery Park City Authority. He graduated from the University of Dayton, and majored in finance and management.

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