Howard Weitzman understands the finances of Nassau County better than just about anybody. He served as county comptroller from 2001-09 and grasps in great detail Nassau’s troubled property assessment system, debt, obligations and challenges. He also understands accounting and financial practices quite well. He is a CPA and a former partner at the accounting firm KPMG.
There’s no doubt Weitzman could be a strong member of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority board, a spot for which State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has nominated him.
But a spokesman for Republican County Executive Edward Mangano has objected to the pick, arguing that, “NIFA shouldn’t be used as a springboard for political office or to carry a political agenda.”
That’s not an entirely unreasonable reaction to Democrat Weitzman’s nomination. He has kept himself in the public eye and ran again for comptroller, losing to incumbent Republican George Maragos in 2013. And he expressed interest in the NIFA chairmanship Jon Kaiman left recently to run for Congress.
But now Weitzman says he has no plans to seek office again; he just wants to help the county get into fiscal balance. And Mangano made no similar objections when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed Kaiman, a Democrat and the former North Hempstead supervisor, to succeed Mangano nemesis Ronald Stack as NIFA chairman. Kaiman was likely to again seek elective office after the control board.
NIFA needs to help Nassau balance its books and get out of its financial control period so the state board can step back into the administrative shadows. Weitzman could be a big help, as long as he focuses on the goal and controls his desire for the spotlight.— The editorial board