News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics
Nassau comptroller invites lawmakers to review Sandy records
Nassau Comptroller George Maragos Friday invited all 19 county lawmakers to his office to review billing records related to superstorm Sandy cleanup.
His invitation came in response to a request from Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) and Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) to brief legislators at Monday's committee meetings about superstorm Sandy issues. Wink has announced plans to challenge Republican Maragos this fall.
Within the restrictions of a Nassau district attorney's investigation, "we're trying to be as open and transparent as possible," said Maragos spokesman Jostyn Hernandez.
Maragos last week requested payroll and expense records from 12 county contractors hired for Sandy cleanup, including Looks Great Services, Inc. of Huntington. Nassau already has paid Looks Great about $35 million of $68.8 in county contracts for tree and debris removal.
Hernandez said Maragos requested the information before he knew about an ongoing investigation into Looks Great by District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
DeRiggi-Whitton has been questioning Looks Great bills since company crews chopped down 111 trees in the Welwyn Preserve a month after Sandy. She had emailed Maragos last week — the same day he started contacting contractors — asking for Looks Great payroll records as well as its list of contractors and subcontractors.
County officials have said they do not have the names or payrolls for Looks Great 's 40 to 58 subcontractors because the firm is working under a purchase order rather than a public works contract, which requires such information.
Maragos office initially responded to DeRiggi-Whitton by saying he was conducting a "limited review" of Looks Great and could not yet provide the requested information.
According to an email exchanged released by DeRiggi-Whitton and the comptroller, she responded by saying, "Without payroll records and subcontractor information, we have no way of ensuring that Nassau County is paying prevailing wage or living wage . . . Without substantive invoicing, we don't know in general if the county is being overcharged . . . and poor record-keeping could affect how the county is reimbursed by FEMA."
Maragos then responded that she was welcome to come in and view the claims.
After learning that District Attorney Kathleen Rice subpoenaed Looks Great records, Wink joined with DeRiggi-Whitton in asking Maragos to brief lawmakers.
Looks Great representatives have said the company has complied with all local, federal and state laws and has worked cooperatively with the county.