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Mangano, Gonsalves have scant ammo in inspector general fight

Norma Gonsalves, presiding officer of the Nassau County

Norma Gonsalves, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, is seen on Sept. 30, 2015. Gonsalves and Joseph Parisi, her former campaign treasurer, face penalties of up to $28,000 each for failing to file mandatory financial disclosure reports. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Nassau County needs an independent inspector general to oversee and investigate county contracts. Democrats in the legislature are right to hold up borrowing until that office is established and given subpoena power to investigate questionable contracts.

County Executive Edward Mangano and legislature Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, both Republicans, needed Democratic votes this week to allow Nassau to borrow $275 million for capital projects. But how in good conscience can they be allowed to borrow to spend money on contracts without more oversight of an administration whose contracts have led to federal investigations and convictions?

A $12 million county contract earned former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son felony convictions on corruption charges in December. Hundreds of county contracts awarded for just under the $25,000 limit that requires legislative approval were not subject to competitive bidding, and some appear to have been given in return for political favors. Mangano’s answers have ranged from feeble to nonexistent.

Mangano refuses to follow the recommendations of his hand-picked advisory board, which endorsed an inspector general. Instead, the county executive says county attorney Carnell Foskey can put on his other hat as “commissioner of investigations,” to do the job. But Foskey was commissioner of parks when about $50,000 in unnecccesary contracts for public relations work was awarded to a Suffolk businesswoman. So Foskey the county attorney would recommend that Foskey the investigations commissioner investigate Foskey the former parks commissioner?

In a county beset by scandal, creating an inspector general has no downside. Yet Mangano and Gonsalves are fighting it hard, leaving the impression that they like the broken system just as it is.— The editorial board