Sources: Ex-P.O. Tonna in line for leading role at Suffolk IDA

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Former Presiding Officer Paul Tonna, a Republican, will be up for a legislative vote before month’s end to become a member of the county’s Industrial Development Agency and county sources say he is in line to become the agency’s new chairman.

While the unpaid post is a legislative appointment, Tonna acknowledged it was County Executive Steve Bellone who approached him about the job.

Asked if he and Bellone talked about the chairmanship, Tonna said “People discuss a lot of things. I just want to help out and the first step is to have the legislature appoint me.” He added, “If they see fit to appoint me chair that would be great, but right now it’s one step at a time.”

The chairman is elected by IDA board members and attorney David Rosenberg has served as acting chairman since Jim Morgo stepped down last spring. What would make Tonna’s chairmanship unusual is that the IDA chair is normally the county executive’s top economic advisor, who is now Joanne Mineri. Morgo, who had been economic development commissioner and later Steve Levy’s chief deputy, called Tonna “a good choice. He knows everyone and know have to get things done.”

Jon Schneider, Bellone deputy, said Tonna will be a “strong voice ” for economic development, but said it is up to the board to decide who to make chairman. “I’m not aware of any preference we have,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tonna’s post on the LI Regional Planning Council, from which had resigned in August, appears to be slated for current IDA member Steve Rossetti.

Rosetti said he has had discussions with Bellone aides about the potential move, but said nothing has been finalized yet but expects action within a few weeks.

Several sources say Rossetti’s exit is not his choice, something he denies. “I’m excited aobut the new position I think I’m suited to help all of Long Island,” he said.

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