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Editorial: Make Sandy contractor probes speedy and fair

Trucks with the Looks Great Services logo are

Trucks with the Looks Great Services logo are parked in a lot in Huntington. (April 1, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

The subpoenas are flying around Nassau County these days, but it shouldn't be a surprising development. Prosecutors tend to get twitchy noses when substantial no-bid contracts, awarded in the wake of a natural disaster, result in a backfill of campaign contributions to the elected officials and party organizations involved in the selection process.

Characterizing the probes as political is a little silly then, when the whole question is whether politics may -- and we say may -- have tainted the governmental decision making. Let's remember that there was an urgent need to remove debris after superstorm Sandy. Whether there was subtle -- or, perhaps, not so subtle -- pressure afterward for these contractors to acknowledge the largesse of their lucrative contracts is worth the look.

Now federal, state and local investigators are sniffing at the companies that cleaned up after Sandy, with a focus on Looks Great Services, which did work for Nassau County, Huntington and Hempstead towns, as well as the Long Island Rail Road. Some of the review involves whether required wages and benefits were paid to workers. Looks Great, which got nearly $70 million in contracts from Nassau alone, and many other contractors have also made donations to County Executive Edward Mangano's re-election committee.

Some of those probes now seem to have bumped into pre-storm complaints initially lodged by Jay Jacobs, the Nassau Democratic Party chairman, about the surge in contributions from county contractors to the Hicksville Republican Committee, run by Rob Walker, Mangano's chief deputy. Now it seems the ability of this once sleepy GOP clubhouse to spend $204,000 for MetLife Stadium luxury box for concerts and NFL games is part of the post-Sandy prosecutorial mix. Last week, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued subpoenas to Friends of Edward Mangano and the Nassau Republican Party for documents related to the skyboxes.

So the nets are out. Many of them. And that may require some coordination of the law enforcement efforts to make sure these probes are done speedily and fairly.