If there’s a proposal that would actually improve Nassau County’s bidding and contracting system, it won’t get a legitimate hearing. That’s surely the case with the proposal for an independent inspector general to vet county government contracts.
The recommendation was put forward by a panel created by County Executive Edward Mangano to suggest reforms in the wake of the county’s contracting scandals. Ever since, it has been ignored by Mangano and county legislature Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves.
The scandal that blew up the clubby process centered around former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, who were convicted of felonies for influencing a $12 million county contract. Newsday revealed that hundreds of contracts were awarded for just under the $25,000 limit that demands legislative approval, often without bidding, and at times for unnecessary work.
District Attorney Madeline Singas supports an inspector general, and she had asked to address the legislature at Monday’s meeting. Singas got no response from the presiding officer until the Newsday editorial board asked Gonsalves’ office on Friday whether Singas would be invited. Soon after, Singas got a letter saying that as the Nassau County district attorney, she will “always be welcome in our Legislative Chamber to give testimony or voice your opinion.” Gonsalves’ letter went on to explain all the reasons the inspector general is unnecessary, none of which is convincing.
Mangano, in his State of the County speech last week, did push for public campaign financing. That’s one way to end the pay-to-play atmosphere that breeds corruption. But the proposal has no chance of passing in the State Legislature. It’s time he supported the inspector general, a change he can make happen and one that will help. — The editorial board