While addressing the possible legality of a $105 fee on traffic violations in the county budget, Nassau County Democratic Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said the indictment of County Executive Ed Mangano only further proves the need for an independent inspector general, something the minority party has been fighting for for the last year-and-a-half.
“We need to add transparency to this process, so the residents of this county feel comfortable in their decisions of their elected officials,” Abrahams said. “We want to be able to have that process in place. I think the events of the last week-and-a-half substantiate that greatly.”
Currently, Nassau County has a Commissioner of Investigations, charged with identifying instances of fraud and abuse. However, Legislator Siela Bynoe said the office is not allowed to operate independently, because it uses staff from the county attorney’s office.
“That doesn’t create independence, or allow for the Commissioner of Investigations to have any allegiance to her and her office,” Bynoe said. “There’s a double mindedness that would be happening there.”
Members of the Democratic Legislative Minority have called for the position to be independent by way of contract, and have the proper resources allocated to carry out investigations and look into contracts.
“It’s essential that this person not only have her own staff, but be properly staffed in order to move forward and do the investigations without any threat of there being any consequences suffered to her by way of possible termination or reduction in resources by administration,” Bynoe said. “It’s essential we have someone look at these contracts.”
Bynoe said the indictment against the county executive has amped up efforts to put an independent inspector general in place and that others have joined them in agreement as well.
“This caucus is looking at ways we can partner in a meaningful way with others that agree with us and push this forward,” Bynoe said. “At a time such as this, it requires that the majority hear us.”
Last week, Mangano, his wife Linda and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, were indicted on numerous charges including counts of bribery and fraud. Mangano has remained defiant in the face of the charges, stating “In time, the truth will prove I did nothing wrong. I ask residents to have faith in my integrity and to put their full belief in the presumption of innocence—an innocence which will be established in open court.”
Meanwhile, in the days following his arrest and indictment, Venditto did not formally report to work so that he might think about “the events and how they impact his ability to go forward as town supervisor,” according to town spokesperson Marta Kane.
Kane went on to say that “the supervisor has been working, he has been fulfilling general obligations of his position such as conversing with department heads, addressing resident services, signing documents as needed, speaking with town board members, etc. (any of the usual day-to-day operations under his purview), while continuing to contemplate the events of the past week and how they may impact his ability to continue on as town supervisor.”
—With Additional Reporting by Steve Mosco