Eight years ago I co-chaired the Conservatives for Mangano Committee.
I agreed to join the committee — which was responsible for providing Mangano’s razor thin margin of victory — for several reasons.
First, I was outraged that the Nassau Conservative Party chairman, Roger Bogsted, put personal gain above party principles by working as a commissioner for Democrat Suozzi, and nominating a shill candidate for county executive — who also worked in the Suozzi administration — to draw votes away from Mangano.
Then, after meeting Mangano, although I realized he was not close to being a public policy expert, I concluded he was a decent guy, and would listen to sound advice to fix Nassau’s fiscal mess.
In retrospect, endorsing Ed Mangano was the worst decision I made in my 45 years as a Conservative activist. (To make amends, I declined to vote last November for Mangano’s latest political hero, Donald Trump.)
Mangano began his administration on a wrong footing by appointing scores of political hacks to key positions and by refusing to listen to sage advice from key members of the state oversight board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
After I was appointed to serve on the NIFA board in 2010, my worse fears were confirmed.
Mangano was wholly ignorant of the fundamentals of municipal finance and unwilling to learn.
To this day, he wrongly believes that operating budgets can be balanced with borrowed dollars and that unexpended loan balances can be treated as surplus funds to dispense as he pleases.
There’s more: Mangano failed to fulfill his promise to fix the county’s property tax assessment system.
His self-proclaimed reform merely forced homeowners to challenge their assessments.
“The effect” Newsday observed, “has been a huge shift in the tax burden from wealthy residents who know to appeal, because it never cost them anything, to less savvy, poorer ones.”
Despite boasts that he had eliminated Nassau’s annual residential home tax refund liability, it was announced in August 2016 that $39.1 million was still owed to homeowners.
Mangano was unaware his program did not end refunds on small condominium complexes and expensive mansions.
Those owners can still challenge assessments in New York’s Supreme Court.
Since Mangano’s indictment by the U.S. attorney in a bribery probe on October 20, 2016, matters have gotten only worse.
The county’s operating budget is hemorrhaging red ink.
Mangano’s bus service privatization deal, as predicted by NIFA members, is a disaster and straphangers are facing service cuts.
Police overtime is out of control, hitting $69.9 million in 2016.
The vendor Mangano hired to provide medical services to Nassau’s jail has been riddled with scandals. New York’s Commission of Corrections declared the company was “grossly incompetent” and blamed it for the deaths of several inmates.
In January it was revealed that state property tax abatements for seniors had expired because Mangano had failed to procure a home-rule message to extend it.
And on Feb. 6, District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that the County Executive’s Office botched an investigative into accusations that a nurse employed at the jail had smuggled in contraband.
Meanwhile, the indicted Mangano acts as though everything is coming up roses.
Last week, after learning his trial date is set for Jan. 15, 2018 and that the government will turn over to his lawyers 20,000 pages of documents, Mangano told reporters on the steps of the Federal Court House the pending case has “really not been a distraction” and he can effectively govern.
While the facts detailed in this essay contradict that claim, I’m certain Mangano actually believes it. That’s because governing for him means attending ribbon cutting ceremonies and releasing self–congratulatory press releases.
Ed Mangano is not only incompetent, he is a public embarrassment who will be spending more time with his criminal defense lawyers than governing in the coming months.
If he has any remaining sense of public decency, he will pack his bags and vacate County Hall now.