Good Morning
Good Morning

Editorial: Nassau won't miss John Ciampoli as county attorney

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli issued a goodbye

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli issued a goodbye letter to his staff. (April 26, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli's firing is a good sign for the second Mangano administration. Good riddance.

Ciampoli is an election lawyer. The state Republicans sent him down from Albany four years ago after Mangano's upset victory in 2009 remained unsettled during a recount. Then he was named county attorney to gerrymander the district maps of the Nassau County Legislature, with the intent to keep the GOP in control for the next decade.

Trained to be a partisan pit bull, Ciampoli tended to see every move through the lens of politics. That was fitting for his initial tasks, but when it came to running the county's legal shop like a well-managed law firm or giving Mangano insightful counsel on when to litigate and on what grounds, Ciampoli came up short. At times, especially with the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, he acted without the boss's knowledge. It's hard to determine what was more embarrassing, his terrible win-loss record in court, or the budget he busted to achieve such mediocrity. He may even have outdone those efforts Wednesday with a bombastic farewell letter that cited Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Gen. George Patton.

Ciampoli's biggest mistake was failing to recognize the authority of others. His ill-advised lawsuits against NIFA undermined Mangano's relationship with the county's fiscal watchdog. He called for a criminal investigation of the legislature's Democratic leader over what was an old-fashioned political spat. He wanted to bypass the legislature in the consolidation of police precincts and in his wacky scheme to sell the county's assessment debt to a private firm. He also farmed out millions of dollars in legal work to politically connected firms.

Ciampoli's replacement is parks Commissioner Carnell Foskey, who needs a new job because his current post is being eliminated. He got the parks job in 2010 after losing his re-election bid as a family court judge. At least we're not being told that a nationwide search was conducted. Mangano would be well-counseled if he took the advice to find himself a top-drawer counselor.