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Nassau's Mangano: Now NIFA 'communicates'

Talk about someone with cause to give thanks this week. Nassau Executive Edward Mangano prepares for his second term -- after winning re-election with his county's distressed finances still under the legal supervision of an appointed state board.

Challenger Thomas Suozzi's taunt, "Ed is over his head and we're in the red," fades from the air as Suozzi fades from the political scene.

At one time, Mangano and company railed against the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, in court and elsewhere.

But the tone has changed with the circumstances.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo rearranged NIFA's board, making former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, a Democrat, its chairman. Republican Mangano said in an interview with Newsday reporters and editors Wednesday: "I think Jon Kaiman has set a tone of communication that's been unprecedented with respect to NIFA."

"So you communicate," Mangano said. "It's the only difference -- which is significant .?.?. With communication there is an easier way to get an understanding of where both parties' mindsets are."

Not that tensions or problems are gone by any means. In a pre-Election Day report on a projected deficit, NIFA foresaw the county remaining in control mode beyond next year. Mangano last week sounded somewhat resigned to a future dealing with the board's strictures.

Will this control period have another four years left to it? "Presumably, it could be, yeah," Mangano said, adding it would be impossible in the short-term to achieve a level of budget balance demanded by the "stringent" accounting standards NIFA imposes. The ins and outs of labor contracts, a web of legislative issues and tax-assessment issues all loom.

Also on Mangano's plate in a second term: the future of sewage treatment systems, the planned changes at Nassau Hub in Uniondale, affordable-housing projects and reform of the county's crime lab.

"Warped as it is," he said with a laugh, "I like this job."

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