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Nassau pols request records from public works commissioner

A company headed by the sister of Shila

A company headed by the sister of Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, Nassau's public works commissioner, received a $250,000 contract from the county after superstorm Sandy for engineering and inspection services, including oversight of tree debris removal countywide. (Dec. 26, 2009) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau legislative Democrats on Friday asked Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias for all subcontracts with companies affiliated with her sister, whose engineering firm received a $250,000 contract after superstorm Sandy.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) also requested all public works contracts and subcontracts with companies "whose owners, officers or employees have a familial relationship" with any county employee.

The letter followed a Newsday story that reported neither Shah-Gavnoudias nor her sister, Carolyn Shah Moehringer, disclosed their relationship when a legislative committee approved an emergency contract Nov. 20 with Moehringer's company, CSM Engineering of Uniondale.

Shah-Gavnoudias presented the CSM contract to lawmakers and signed its agency routing slip and an approval form required by the county comptroller. The contract says she also directs its work and approves payment of its bills. CSM was the only one of more than a dozen engineering contracts approved that day that did not include the usual county disclosure form.

"Such lack of disclosure is extremely troubling . . . as is any indication that nepotism may be playing a role in the granting of lucrative public contracts by your department," Abrahams wrote.

Shah-Gavnoudias has deferred comment to public works spokesman Michael Martino, who said Friday that Abrahams "continues to prove his incompetence as he spends more time producing sensational and politically motivated letters than he does reviewing legislation."

Martino added, "It's shameful that Kevan continues to attack successful minority women when he knows darn well that the DPW Commissioner's sister owns the company and has performed work for Nassau County for more than a decade."

Although the legislative clerk's office could not immediately find past CSM contracts, Deputy County Executive Edward Wardhas said that Moehringer has been "a principal, employee or partner" in firms doing business in Nassau long before Republican County Executive Edward Mangano took office Jan. 1, 2010, and hired Shah-Gavnoudias. Shah Moehringer said Wednesday that her firm is a state-certified minority- and woman-owned business.

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