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Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and top aides have come out swinging at their critics recently after a year of laying low following the indictment and subsequent conviction of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on corruption charges that involved a county contract.
Mangano’s new pushback could mean he is planning to run for re-election and wants to silence his critics. Or it could mean he isn’t running and no longer cares what they think.
Three recent examples:
When County Comptroller George Maragos reported that excessive borrowing led Nassau to end last year with a large budget surplus, Mangano sharply took issue with Maragos. “All last year, they busted my chops saying I’m going to have a deficit. Each year we always have a surplus. The fact of the matter is, we said we’re going to manage it ... so we have a $58 million budget surplus because of good management,” he said.
Then, when Maragos issued an audit critical of police overtime, Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter responded in fiery words that many people thought sounded more like Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin than Krumpter — though the administration says it was Krumpter.
The audit “is deeply flawed and only demonstrates that the comptroller and his staff do not have an understanding of accounting,” Krumpter wrote. “One can only conclude that the comptroller is either incompetent, biased or has a political agenda. The audit was written ignoring the facts.”
Criticism of a precinct consolidation program “is disingenuous and supports the department’s position that the audit is deeply flawed and has little or no value,” he continued. A finding that overtime increased over six years by 93.7 percent “is nothing more than a work of fiction,” he added, while a recommendation to better distribute overtime hours “is absurd.”
Finally Monday, at a meeting of the county legislature, Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) questioned Chief Deputy County Attorney Lisa LoCurto about her prior testimony concerning a $26.7 million settlement between Nassau and Oyster Bay.
DeRiggi-Whitton said LoCurto had told the Finance Committee members two weeks ago that the settlement agreement had not been included in their backup materials because of “an oversight.” But DeRiggi-Whitton pointed out that Democrats did not get the agreement until Friday, and it was dated April 21 — 10 days after LoCurto’s testimony.
LoCurto said she recalled she had “advised the legislature that as soon as the stipulation was finalized, we would provide a copy to the legislature and we did provide that to the legislature.”
DeRiggi-Whitton replied, “That’s not what you said. You said it was your oversight that you didn’t provide it ... You’re not being truthful to us.”
LoCurto responded heatedly, “I take exception to your questioning my veracity and truth, or questioning my ethical and legal obligations. I take great exception to that ... My obligation is not only to you, but to the County of Nassau, to all the taxpayers of Nassau County. It’s my obligation, my job working in the county attorney’s office, that we ensure that we protect the taxpayers of Nassau County. Bickering back and forth on this point does not benefit the taxpayers of Nassau County.
“I assure you, if you go back and read the record, I know what I testified to ... I will not let it stand that I said anything that was less than truthful. I have always been respective to the legislative body ... I expect the same amount of respect in return that I give every legislator.”
At that point, Legis. C. William Gaylor III (R-Lynbrook) jumped to his feet and began applauding.
But let’s go back to the video of the Finance Committee meeting two weeks earlier:
Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) began the discussion.
“We didn’t get a copy of the settlement agreement in the backup for this and I’m wondering why we didn’t,” Curran asked.
LoCurto replied, “I apologize, legislator. I think it was just an oversight. It just didn’t get to you till today.”