Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, now officially a lame duck, made an appearance at a news conference in Mineola Friday. The subject was something near and dear to his administration: the county’s ongoing battle against deaths caused by opioids.
Nassau was the first municipality in the region to launch an aggressive education campaign, holding workshop after workshop to train everyday people on how to use naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses overdoses.
Mangano repeatedly has expressed pride at the initiative — in a county where, between 2012 and 2015, at least 671 people died because of heroin or prescription pain pill overdoses. (Suffolk lost 768 over the same period.)
In an interview last week, Mangano talked about other initiatives he intends to push in his months left in office. Among them are bringing the NHL New York Islanders back to Nassau Coliseum and pushing for an outfall pipe to carry sewage from a county treatment plant into the ocean.
As for thoughts on becoming a lame duck, Mangano said, “I am not going to comment on it really at this time.”
Asked about a Newsday front page Thursday with Mangano’s photograph and the headline “No Third Term,” which accompanied a story about the passing of deadlines to get on November’s ballot, he said, “They can deduce whatever they wish to deduce, they’re right, I guess.”
Beyond that, the discussion centered on policy, including efforts to fix Nassau’s tax assessment system and preparation of what will be Mangano’s final county budget.
Mangano, a Republican, came off a decisive second-term win in November 2013, only to see his political ambitions derailed after he was charged in a federal corruption-related case. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of receiving bribes and kickbacks from indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh in return for county work, and on Friday filed a motion seeking to dismiss the case. His trial is scheduled to begin in January.
The Republican Party’s choice for county executive candidate, state Sen. Jack Martins of Mineola, last week offered up a potential fix for Nassau’s assessment woes — which have left the county on the hook for almost a billion dollars in refunds for successful appeals over the years.
Martins suggested that Nassau get out of the assessment business altogether, and leave it to towns and cities instead. It’s an idea Mangano tried to push years ago.
It was no more popular with town and other officials then than it is now.
“You need to remove the financial burden of the system in terms of refunds and then the towns may be more receptive to taking on assessment,” Mangano said.
And the only way to do that is with state legislation — which, without the support of towns, cities and villages, isn’t going to happen any time soon.
Mangano’s biggest achievement?
He said it was getting Nassau Coliseum refurbished with private, rather than taxpayer, money.
“It’s a model,” he said.
But Mangano said he’s still working on getting the Islanders back to the Coliseum in Uniondale, even though the state has issued a request for proposals for redeveloping Belmont Park in Elmont — which could end up including a new arena for the team.
“I’m with the Long Island Association in believing that two stadiums so close to each other would hurt both facilities,” Mangano said.
He said he is working on paving the way for a new parking garage near the Coliseum, which he hopes will help spur development of an innovation center on the 77-acre property surrounding the arena. He also talked about building two more new county police precincts; developing plans to share services with other local governments; and crafting the 2018 the budget.
Mangano also looked back — at, among other things, renovating county parks and rebuilding post-Sandy.
“Nearly every challenge we faced, we found a solution without going to the taxpayer,” he said.
What happens after Mangano leaves office? “I look forward to new challenges,” he said. “Obviously, I am proud of my record, proud of all of those who have worked in government during this time, and they have a wonderful legacy.”
As for advice for his successor, that apparently will come later, too. “I will let you know,” Mangano said. “I will let you know.”