Spin Cycle

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The Republican presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, Peter Schmitt, is challenging the bidding practices of the Republican Nassau County executive, Edward Mangano.

To make his point, Schmitt is quoting remarks that Mangano made last year when, as a county legislator from Bethpage, he charged that Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi was avoiding bidding requirements by having work done under vague requirements contracts.

Under such contracts, say for plumbing work, the county bids a contract and then assigns specific jobs to the contractor as need arises. Schmitt —  and Mangano as legislator — said such contracts should only be used for emergencies, and not for routine work.

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At Monday’s meeting of legislative committees, Schmitt started asking questions about a proposed contract that could double the amount of work, to $2.5 million from the current $1.25 million, that Hi Tech Air Conditioning Services of West Babylon would perform for as-needed repair work.

Schmitt said that when the original contract for $1.25 million with that same company came up in January 2009, a member of the legislature had objected that nonemergency work should get legislative approval, “which may be arduous, but is required.”

“You have any idea who that legislator was?” Schmitt asked Mangano’s legislative liaison, Gregory May, and public works commissioner, Shila Shah-Gavnoudias.

“I believe that was Ed Mangano,” May replied.

"That would be Legislator Mangano. Exactly right!" Schmitt agreed. "I'm glad you read the transcript we sent you."

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"Do you think if Legislator Mangano was sitting here as a legislator that he would vote for this?” Schmitt asked.

“”We would certainly hope so,” May replied.

Schmitt then directed his remarks to Shah-Gavnoudias. “I suggest to you commissioner that you take this contract back and that you redesign it. Come back to us with a dollar amount that is reasonable for the specific list of projects, with an explanation why they can’t wait to go through the normal bidding process. I, for one, am not voting to hand over $1.5 million ...”

“I would make a motion to table,” Schmitt said.

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“Can I say just one thing?” Shah-Gavnoudias asked.

“Excuse me,” Schmitt said, banging his gavel. “Motion to table is not debatable....I’d be happy to let you speak after the vote.”

The Rules Committee then tabled the contract until its next meeting.

“I suggest you come back with an amended contact,” Schmitt told the Mangano aides. “Cut it down in size and scope, to what is of an emergency nature. The rest should go out to bid.”