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PR push launched for Mangano sewer plan

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano speaks about the

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano speaks about the new solar panels at the Tanglewood Preserve in Rockville Centre. (March 9, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

Supporters of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's move to bring in a private operator for Nassau's sewage treatment system have launched an advertising campaign to sway public support to his side.

The campaign is funded by the Long Island Taxpayers Alliance, a not-for-profit. Its key members include United Water, the New Jersey-based firm Mangano wants as the sewer system operator, the Long Island Contractors' Association and the Association for a Better Long Island, a business advocacy group.

"This is a public information effort about why we think Mr. Mangano's plan is smarter, cheaper and better, than what we have now," said alliance publicist Gary Lewi, who did not disclose the cost of the campaign.

But legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), an opponent of the sewer plan who predicts that residents' rates will rise under a private operator, said the alliance is wasting "thousands of dollars on a PR campaign to disguise the fact that . . . Mangano has mismanaged the finances of this county."

Mangano has reached an agreement with United Water to operate the sewer system for at least 20 years. The deal would provide Nassau with at least $750 million, according to Mangano.

Radio spots are running 10 times a day on three stations -- WCBS News Radio, WINS and WKJY -- for at least a week and began Thursday, Lewi said. Full-page ads also will run in 12 local weeklies.

One radio spot closes by saying, "A public-private partnership will save Nassau taxpayers money, keep our water and environment clean, and protect our future and our wallet."

Marc Herbst, the executive director of the contractors' association, called the Mangano plan "a strategic redirection that will directly support our infrastructure, protect the environment and create construction jobs for the repair and rehabilitation that will be required at these facilities."

Association for a Better Long Island president Jan Burman said Mangano's proposal "finally addresses an enormously unstable part of the county's infrastructure.

Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker said the Mangano administration has nothing to do with the alliance campaign, but that "we're glad to see that people do support and understand our debt reduction and sewer stabilization plan."

The county legislature will hold at least one public hearing before voting on the proposal. Both the legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority will vote separately on whether to approve the plan.

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