Spin Cycle

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Aides to Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano are still having trouble sorting out the batch of last-minute appointees they inherited from the former county executive, Democrat Thomas Suozzi.

Mangano aides had said Jan. 15th that six members of the nine-member Assessment Review Commission had been “fired.” He also used the word, “terminated.” But he said this week that it was actually all nine — but that they were not yet fired.

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The nine were given “notices of termination” and are still on the payroll as they await the hearings that are required before they can be dismissed, Mangano’s press secretary, Michael Martino, said.

A judge continued a court order Friday that blocks any action against six of the nine who sued. [For Newsday's coverage, see here]

Also, Martino said he had been in error earlier this week when he described Daniel Russell as the executive director of the county’s Human Rights Commission.

Russell was nominated for the post and approved by members of the Human Rights Commission in November, before Mangano took office, but Russell’s name was not submitted to the county legislature for approval, Martino said. However, the minutes of the November meeting give no indication that a vote was taken, or that the matter was discussed.

Martino said that Mangano would send Russell’s nomination for the executive director title to the legislature for its March meeting because it was too late to add it for the February meeting.

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Yet another “however” — Robert Freeman of the state Committee on Open Government questioned the nominating process. “If an appointment is made, the minutes (of the commission meeting) must identify the person hired, and the manner in which the members voted,” Freeman said in response to a Newsday query.

Compounding the mess is that some of the more than 40 nominations made by Suozzi to a variety of commissions and boards in late December were not confirmed by the legislature at its final meeting under Democratic control on Dec. 21st.

Suozzi made 13 nominations to the Human Rights Commission, for example, but the legislature approved only five of them, leaving the commission with several holdovers whose terms have expired.

"These groups do extraordinarily important work for the people of Nassau County,” Martino said of the various boards and commissions. “It takes time to examine each one and make the right appointments. This was clearly not the goal of the prior County Executive, who haphazardly made midnight appointments before his departure.”

Suozzi’s chief deputy, Marilyn Gottlieb, defended the nominations as proper, saying at the time that the county charter meant for those positions to be held by the appointing authority.

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"These positions are envisioned as the responsibility of the county executive and should not change with a change of administrations," Gottlieb said. "This is part of our system of checks and balances."