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Jack Martins: Curb use of ‘acting’ commissioners

Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County executive,

Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County executive, on June 2, 2017. Credit: James Escher

Former State Sen. Jack Martins, the Republican candidate for Nassau County executive, endorsed a bill Wednesday introduced in the county legislature by minority Democrats to curtail the practice of appointing acting commissioners for indefinite periods of time.

The bill, introduced by Democrats in February, would require legislative approval for any department head who serves in an acting capacity for longer than six months and for a county assessor to serve in an acting capacity for any period of time.

Republican County Executive Edward Mangano has left some of his top agency heads in acting roles for years, avoiding legislative confirmation hearings.

Acting Assessor James Davis has held that title since 2012, while acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who is retiring, has served in that capacity since 2014.

“The use of ‘acting’ commissioners as a way to escape county legislative scrutiny and pad salaries is an abuse of the system,” Martins said in a statement.

Martins said acting commissioners can earn tens of thousands more in compensation than legislature-appointed county commissioners, whose salaries are set by statute.

For example, Krumpter’s current annual salary is $244,535 under his civil service title of first deputy commissioner, according to the county comptroller’s office. As police commissioner, however, his compensation would be $175,000.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Martins’ support of the Democrats’ bill.

But Nevin previously noted that Mangano’s acting department heads testify regularly before the legislature and that former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat, often used acting commissioners when Democrats controlled the legislature.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) has yet to bring the Democrats’ bill to the floor for a vote.

But at a news conference in Mineola Wednesday, Deputy Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said, “Quite frankly, it’s a good idea. We’ve had acting commissioners in place too long.”

Nicolello said his preference would be to cap acting titles at six months, with the potential for an additional six-month extension if necessary.

Gonsalves said she anticipated taking up the issue before the end of the year.

With Paul LaRocco

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