Reports that the Republican Party is unlikely to nominate for a third term the disgraced County Executive, Ed Mangano, who was indicted by the U.S. attorney in a bribery probe on Oct. 20, 2016, is good news for Nassau taxpayers.
The bad news is that it is unlikely Mangano will resign from his post (as did his co-indictee, the now former Oyster Bay supervisor, John Venditto) in the near future despite demands he do so from Nassau’s GOP state Senate delegation.
My guess is Mangano won’t call it quits because he needs the paycheck and he will not be eligible to collect a state pension until he turns 55 later this year.
However, regardless of his fate in the courtroom, the Mangano era — eight years of fiscal and governing incompetence, will finally be drawing to a close in 2017.
As for his successor, we don’t need another lightweight political hack running County Hall.
Another four years of governing by press release, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and rewarding cronies and donors, will drive the county into insolvency.
What we need is a candidate for county executive who is above the political fray and not afraid to express unpleasant truths.
The candidate cannot be a member in good standing of Nassau’s dominant political party; must be prepared to defy political and union bosses and unwilling to pander to special interests.
The candidate must not be the type described in William Butler Yeats poem “The Leaders of the Crowd”:
They must to keep their certainty accuse
All that are different of a base intent;
Pull down established honor; hawk for news
Whatever they’re loose fantasy invent
And murmur it with bated breath, as though
The abounding gutter had been Helicon
Or calumny a song.
What Nassau needs is a candidate who practices statesmanship which the Lincoln scholar, Professor Harry Jaffa defined as … “the point of contact between political philosophy and real politics.”
A statesman exhibits courage and independence, stands on political principles and possesses the sound political sense required to negotiate in good faith to enact consensus policies.
The next county executive must be somewhat “Reaganesque.”
President Ronald Reagan had deeply ingrained principles but he was able to get about 80 percent of his policies enacted into law because he was willing to negotiate with opponents. Reagan succeeded because he was a statesman of the first rank as defined by Professor Jaffa.
If such a person I just described steps forward to run for county executive, that individual must also genuinely understand the extent of Nassau’s fiscal mayhem.
The candidate must understand that the county has been running statutory operating deficits for years because it has counted borrowed money as revenue.
Borrowed money is not revenue under Generally Excepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and a budget is truly balanced only when total revenues — taxes and fees — match expenditures.
The candidate must also be familiar with the state law that created and guides the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA).
To restore fiscal sanity and to get the County out of the NIFA control period, the next county executive must be prepared to work with the control board to design and execute a realistic financial plan.
This will mean inoculating the body politic with strong fiscal medicine. It will mean telling the special interest that the “days of wine and roses are over.”
It will mean not being popular with entrenched bureaucrats.
To be prepared, the candidate must also study carefully the 300-page Grant Thorton report, “Fiscal Sustainability Initiative” commissioned by NIFA in 2011.
It offers a wide range of options that could help Nassau County “overcome the physical problems” and to “prioritize services and programs, minimize or eliminate waste, and efficiencies and redundancies, and afford greater flexibility in the delivery of government services.”
Finally, the candidate must heed the words of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), the patron saint of politicians and statement: “When statesman for sake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they leave their country by a short route to chaos.”