Editorial: More evidence of Long Island IDA dysfunction

Photonics Industries International CEO Yusong Yin (at the Photonics Industries International CEO Yusong Yin (at the podium) is accompanied by Dr. Joyce Kilmer, director of marketing at Photonics; Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; Sammy Chu, Commissioner of Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs; Anthony Manetta, Suffolk IDA CEO during a press conference where a new website to find tech jobs was unveiled. (Aug. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Anthony Manetta didn't take much of a pay cut, considering he's stepped down as the head of the Suffolk Industrial Development Agency. He was making $155,000 a year, or $12,916 per month. He resigned in March to open his own consulting firm, but he's still getting $10,000 a month as an IDA consultant.

Manetta, 34, was a controversial pick when he was chosen to head the agency in June 2012. He had worked as a political operative, and been vice chairman of the Suffolk County Independence Party, with little experience in economic development. But he did have the support of county Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay, something that's been known to charm County Executive Steve Bellone and County Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer.

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Manetta's tenure included a significant increase in fees the IDA generates through applications for tax breaks from corporations willing to move to or expand within the county. He says that in his time, 48 companies moved to Suffolk or expanded there thanks to county IDA work. But critics say many of those businesses came to Suffolk from Nassau and shouldn't have gotten such cannibalistic tax breaks to lure them.

By law Manetta cannot represent a client in front of the IDA for two years. He should avoid clients who have any dealings with the IDA. He also shouldn't be getting a $10,000 monthly fee for what he's said is 20 or 25 hours per week of work. Bellone and the IDA board should hurry up and replace him.

Economic development is handled on Long Island by eight IDAs that often compete rather than cooperate, and frequently hire based more on politics than qualifications. The system needs drastic change. That was apparent when Manetta was hired over more experienced candidates. It's even more apparent now that he's getting $10,000 a month from the IDA, even after resigning.

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