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Cuomo touts school bond referendum; Mondello backs Astorino

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt, left, New York

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt, left, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, and Mineola Superintendent of Schools Michael Nagler use special glasses while watching a 3-D technology demonstration in a Mineola Middle School classroom, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Alejandra Villa

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo toured Mineola Middle School Monday, calling for the passage of a $2.4 billion bond referendum to finance school technology and security upgrades.

Meanwhile, Rob Astorino, Cuomo's Republican opponent in the upcoming Nov. 4 general election, headlined a fundraiser hosted by Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello, who said he was "unhappy" with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano for crossing parties to endorse Cuomo. Mangano sat alongside Cuomo at the Mineola event, as both listened to a report delivered by Cuomo's Smart Schools Commission, on ways to spend the money should the referendum be approved by voters.

Nassau would receive $90.5 million and Suffolk $168.9 million under the referendum, which was placed on the ballot after being approved by the State Legislature earlier this year.

Cuomo proposed the measure during his State of the State address in January, saying the money also could be directed toward pre-K expansion and school security improvements.

The panel -- which included Google executive director Eric Schmidt and Geoffrey Canada, a Valley Stream resident who founded the nonprofit Harlem Children's Zone -- recommended the money be spent on connecting all public schools to high-speed broadband Internet access and providing students with tablets, laptops and interactive whiteboards.

"I'm convinced this is the right direction for the state," Cuomo said, adding that the act would "jump-start the tech revolution" in New York schools.

Mangano also spoke in favor of the measure, saying with the bond "we can fundamentally reshape schools."

Opponents of the measure argue that with technology changing at a rapid pace, the money would be best used on longer-term infrastructure projects.

At a fundraiser for Astorino held at Galleria Ristorante in Westbury, about 100 people heard Mondello emphasize that he and the county Republican Party backed the Westchester County executive.

"He's trying to play both sides," Mondello said of Mangano in a phone interview. "Yes, I'm disappointed. I'm not happy. I'm unhappy. I put my heart and soul in this business. I'm the guy who believed in him [Mangano] when no one else did."

Mondello acknowledged that Cuomo helped Nassau, particularly after superstorm Sandy, saying "he did his job as governor and helped Nassau County . . . but we still are Republicans. We're not Democrats. We have a two-party system. That's something that some candidates, like our county executive, need to learn."

The fundraiser raised about $50,000, according to a Republican source. Mangano, in a statement, said he places "people above politics."

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