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Nassau Legislature opens new era under GOP rule

The Nassau County Legislature begins work Tuesday under Republican control for the first time in 10 years, and much of its short agenda deals with approving top-level aides to the new Republican county executive, Edward Mangano.

But there will also be a new approach to how the legislature operates. The Tuesday meeting will be committees only. Under the new Republican presiding officer, Peter Schmitt of Massapequa, the full legislature will meet on another day, in this case Jan. 25, to act on matters that pass through committee.

The 19 items on the agenda Tuesday include what appear to be routine budget and tax adjustments, but also include three legislative appointments to the board of the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

Schmitt has submitted the names of two Republicans, Joseph Bentivegna of Levittown and Frank DeStefano of Farmingdale, and Independence Party member Eric A. Harkin of Wantagh, for appointment to the three-member board.

State law requires at least one of the three to belong to a different political party.

The OTB board appoints the president of the agency, which has long been a patronage stronghold for the party in power.

The legislature was also expected to take up Mangano's nominees to head Veterans Affairs (Matthew Rufrano), Public Works (Shila Shah-Gavnoudias), Information Technology (Edward Eisenstein), the Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (John Marks) and the Planning Department (Richard Bianculli).

Republicans picked up two seats in the November election and now hold an 11-8 edge in a body that had been Democratic by a 10-9 margin for 10 years.

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