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NIFA vacancies impact board’s role

Members of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority

Members of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority gather for a meeting in Uniondale on March 22, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The seven-member NIFA board, the fiscal watchdog for Nassau County, now has two empty seats, including that of the chair. The terms of two other members expired in 2014 but they are still serving. This isn’t reassuring to Nassau taxpayers in a county that very much needs another set of vigilant eyes watching the purse.

Until Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appoints a chair, oversight meetings cannot be held. The chair must consider contracts of more than $500,000 within 30 days or they are automatically approved. Two are waiting in the inbox. The real risks, however, are drift and mischief. There are no monthly meetings to hold the county to its budget targets and no muscle to stop bad decisions by County Executive Edward Mangano, such as the sale of the sewer system. The two vacancies came when Cuomo appointee Jon Kaiman resigned to seek the Democratic nod for Steve Israel’s Congressional seat and Adam Haber, the appointee of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, left to make another run for the State Senate. That turnover may be part of the problem, too. The selection of those who still eyed elective office instead of directors with deep finance and municipal government experience undermines NIFA’s credibility.

If Cuomo needs time to find a stellar chair, he should appoint Chris Wright, the most senior director with extensive accounting experience, as acting chair. Nothing good happens in a vacuum.

— The editorial board


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