Editorial: Politics could help block Nassau land sale

Nassau County Executives Ed Mangano is shown giving Nassau County Executives Ed Mangano is shown giving his State of the County address at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. (Jan. 10, 2014) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's proposed use of $800,000 in open-space funds to buy two-thirds of acre in Bethpage just to help out a friend is wrong for good-governance reasons. There are better sites and better uses of taxpayer and open space-preservation money.

Now, it may be wrong for political reasons, too.

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Mangano wants to take the odd-shaped lot -- in tax arrears and underwater on its mortgage -- off the hands of Frank Camerlengo, who is already on the public payroll as deputy parks commissioner. Mangano then would need to use taxpayer money to demolish buildings at the closed Emil's Garden Center to erect an agricultural-history cultural center. Never mind that he's starving Old Bethpage Village Restoration and Cornell Cooperative Extension of funding that would accomplish the same educational purpose.

Enter Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello, whose reputation is on the line as he tries this fall to defend two State Senate seats critical to maintaining a GOP leadership role in Albany. He opposes the deal. As it happens, two Nassau legislators, Republican Michael Venditto and Democrat David Denenberg, will have to vote on the sale. They're in a tight race for the Senate seat vacated by Charles Fuschillo.

The political attack ads just write themselves these days -- unless, by a twist of fate, party politics coincide with what's in the public interest.

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