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Nassau removes approved contracts from website

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves has insisted that Nassau's

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves has insisted that Nassau's contracting process "is the most transparent in the state." Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County Legislature has stopped posting its contracts online, and also has taken down all the contracts that had been posted since last fall, leaving the public little way to know what deals have been approved and how much they are costing taxpayers.

In the fall, the county legislature started posting on its website the details of all contracts of $25,000 or more that its Rules Committee had approved.

The move came after former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, were indicted, in part for influencing the award of a $12 million Nassau contract. They were convicted of felony corruption and are appealing.

Federal and state investigators began probing other Nassau contracts, including those awarded to campaign contributors and other politically connected vendors.

After the Skelos indictment, a spokesman for Republican County Executive Edward Mangano declared Nassau “has the most transparent process known to government.”

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said Nassau’s contracting process “is the most transparent in the state” as the legislature moved to drop the threshold for legislative approval of personal service contracts from the current $25,000 to $1,000.

Gonsalves spokesman Frank Moroney said Wednesday that several vendors had complained to their legislators that personal information, such as Social Security numbers and vehicle identification numbers, was appearing on the website.

“A preliminary review revealed that was accurate,” Moroney said, adding that the contracts “were pulled down in an abundance of caution.”

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Wednesday that Republicans, “after touting themselves as the most transparent county in the state . . . are taking steps back rather than forward. This is exactly why we need an inspector general, since the county doesn’t seem to know how to deliver transparency.”

County Democrats, including District Attorney Madeline Singas, have pressed Mangano and the Republican-controlled legislature to approve an independent inspector general to oversee contract awards. Mangano and Gonsalves say the position is not needed.

Moroney said the county attorney’s office is working with legislative staff “to figure out what kind of information we should put up that protects the people’s right to know while the people contracting don’t have to worry about their personal information being put online.”

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