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Hempstead Town hires D'Amato firm for consulting, lobbying

Hempstead Town has hired the consulting firm headed by former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato for a one-year $150,000 contract to advise the town on winning federal, state and local disaster relief funding.

The town board voted 6-0 on Tuesday to retain Manhattan-based Park Strategies LLC as a consultant for $12,500 a month, starting June 1.

The town did not seek bids. It was not required to because the consultant contract is considered a personal services agreement, town spokesman Michael Deery said. "These types of consultants' agreement are eligible for reimbursement under FEMA as well," he said. "They [Park Strategies] have unique expertise with dealing with governmental agencies with reimbursement of expenses, in this case for disaster response and recovery."

Under the contract, Park Strategies would provide advice on obtaining disaster relief funding for damage from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and superstorm Sandy in 2012. The firm would also provide lobbying services for gaining government funding and arrange meetings with key individuals and agencies.

"We will work with all appropriate authorities to seek those funds to which the Town is entitled under various state and federal programs," Dana Sanneman, executive assistant to D'Amato, said in a statement.

The town may cancel the contract for any reason with 30 days written notice, according to the agreement.

"Town officials should inform residents of any and all efforts the town makes to obtain disaster relief funding, along with any costs," frequent town critic Felix Procacci, of Franklin Square, said in an email. "I feel this is especially important in this case since the company being hired is run by a former high ranking politician and a former Hempstead Town Supervisor."

D'Amato, senator from 1981 to 1999, established Park Strategies in 1999. A Newsday review of lobbying records in February showed the firm was paid $5.9 million for lobbying in 2013 -- a 60 percent increase from the year before and a 150 percent jump from 2011.

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