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Cuomo names Weitzman, ex-Nassau comptroller, to NIFA board

Howard Weitzman speaks with Newsday at his

Howard Weitzman speaks with Newsday at his home in North Hills about increased garbage taxes across Nassau County on June 1, 2015. Credit: Howard Weitzman speaks with Newsday at his home in North Hills about increased garbage taxes across Nassau County on June 1, 2015.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Friday appointed Howard Weitzman to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, ignoring the objections of County Executive Edward Mangano, who contended the former county comptroller is too partisan to serve on the board.

In May, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie nominated Weitzman, a Democrat who served two terms as comptroller from 2001-2009, to replace Adam Haber on the state oversight board, which is in control of the county’s finances.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi on Friday attributed the delay in appointing Weitzman to a discovery made during a routine background check by the state appointmebt’s office.

“During this process, some financial consulting work Mr. Weitzman performs for the Town of North Hempstead was flagged as a potential conflict,” Azzopardi said. “Once notified, the applicant did agree to terminate that arrangement. We received a letter today confirming this had happened and the appointment was processed.”

In a May 10 letter to Cuomo, Mangano said the seven-member board must be nonpartisan and former political candidates do not meet that standard. “We respectfully request the nominee not be approved to serve on the board of NIFA so as to enable that body to secure a nonpartisan working relationship with Nassau County to benefit taxpayers,” Mangano wrote.

In an interview Friday, Weitzman, a CPA and former partner in the KPMG accounting firm, pledged to be objective when reviewing Nassau’s finances.

“I look forward to working with the NIFA board to bring Nassau County into fiscal balance,” said Weitzman,adding that he has no plans to run for elected office again.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Nassau “residents can only hope that Mr. Weitzman will rely on his governmental experience rather than past divisive political partisanship when serving on the board.

NIFA member Chris Wright, the most vocal board critic of Mangano’s policies, welcomed Weitzman’s appointment.

“Howard is a seasoned financial professional, as well as a friend, with significant experience and important insights,” Wright said. “I look forward to working with him as NIFA presses the county toward the fiscal self-determination that will come when the budget is balanced.”

Weitzman’s term on the board expires at the end of 2017. The board is expected to meet again in mid-September.

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