Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on Monday announced the appointments of three veterans of New York City government to new or long-unfilled posts meant to reform the county’s contracting system and oversight of its jail.
Donna Myrill, who heads the Queens district attorney’s treatment court programs, will be investigations commissioner; Robert Cleary, a city health department chief contract officer, will be procurement compliance director; and Charles Campisi, a retired NYPD internal affairs chief, will be corrections commissioner.
All are Queens residents and have never given to Mangano’s campaign, records show.
Together, the hires serve as a response to criticism about how Nassau awards contracts and to how the jail’s inmate health care has been managed.
“I am pleased to appoint three new, uniquely qualified professionals to Nassau County who will lead their departments with the highest ethical standards,” Mangano, a Republican, said in a statement.
The contracting system has been under scrutiny since last spring, when then-State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, were charged with federal corruption crimes including influencing the award of a $12 million county contract. The men were convicted last December.
Newsday later detailed how Nassau awarded many no-bid contracts to politically connected firms at amounts just below the legislative approval threshold. A panel formed by Mangano then recommended hiring a procurement compliance director and separating the investigations commissioner from the county attorney, who now holds the role.
Myrill, who has spent 32 years with the Queens district attorney’s office, oversees its drug, DWI, veterans and mental health court cases. She will make $150,000 in Nassau.
“I’m sure my experience in looking at things from both sides from will serve me well,” Myrill said in an interview.
As investigations commissioner, she will have subpoena power to probe suspicious contracts from any county department. While Democrats including District Attorney Madeline Singas have called for a supermajority of legislators to appoint the person with that role, Mangano aides say the mayor or governor directly selects them in the city and state.
“We’re going to have no role to play,” Deputy County Executive Ed Ward said of the potential influence of the executive branch on Myrill’s cases.
But Singas, while noting that she knows and respects Myrill, said the position itself “is fraught with potential conflicts that undermine the effectiveness and independence.”
Cleary, 48, a deputy chief contracting officer with New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will be Nassau’s new $140,000-a-year procurement compliance chief. He will ensure rules are followed and help create a public contract database.
“I’m just looking forward to being part of the team and working to implement some additional transparency and compliance elements,” Cleary said.
Mangano had first hired someone else for the job, but he withdrew after officials found a resume “inconsistency.”
Campisi, 63, spent 41 years with the NYPD before retiring in 2014 as an Internal Affairs Bureau chief. As Nassau’s $150,000-a-year corrections commissioner — a position now folded into the sheriff’s duties in recent years— he will oversee all aspects of the county jail.
The jail’s private inmate health care provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, has been criticized following a series of inmate deaths.
“We’re going to take a fresh approach, a fresh look at things,” said Campisi.