Column: Memo to the county executive-elect

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Congratulations on your election. You are entitled to a victory lap but make it a short one. You have less than 60 days to organize your administration and commence governing.

You have been involved in politics and government in Nassau County for years.

As a result, you know that when you are sworn into office you inherit a government that is in a state of fiscal despair and inhabited by political hacks whose first concern has been themselves, not taxpayers.

For eight years, the gang around Mangano were busy enhancing their paychecks and pensions or dodging investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Here are a few suggestions that will help you take on the entrenched bureaucrats and their lobbyist cronies.

During the transition, denounce the 2018 budget and multi-year plan passed by the Legislature.

Point out it does not contribute to balancing the budget under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAPP), is chock full of double counting gimmicks, contains rosy economic projections and overly optimistic increases in sales tax revenues.

If the lame duck, federally indicted County Executive, Ed Mangano, signs the budget into law, urge the Nassau Interim Finance Authority to reject it.

And if Mangano and the legislature approve a “blue smoke and mirrors” revised budget and plan, urge NIFA to reject it and impose one that attacks the expense side of the budget and finally puts the county on the road to fiscal sanity.

Let NIFA do all the heavy lifting before you take office.

If the state oversight board succeeds, it will make your job a lot easier.

On day one, instead of declaring a fiscal crisis, you will be able to begin rebuilding a county government that has been devastated by political incompetence and corruption.

Take a hard look at the county’s union contracts, which expire just before you take the oath of office, but which will likely be finalized on your new watch.

How those deals are concluded will have a major impact on the success or failure of your first annual budget, which likely doesn’t, at present, include any expectation of additional costs.

Use the transition period to identify capable people to fill the top jobs in your administration. Reach out to a new generation of people who view public service as a privilege, not an entitlement.

To send the message that the days of shady contracting are over, state that you will not entertain any proposals to lease Nassau’s waste water assets to a private party.

The parties in interest may have raised or donated funds to your campaign; if so, make this the first example of how pay-to-play won’t ever be a part of your new administration.

Make it clear that the winners in such a deal would be the investment bankers and the lobbyists, who would receive millions in commissions and fees, and the big losers would be ratepayers who have to repay the debt that will be incurred by the county in this massive borrowing transaction.

The people who stand to gain will tell you it’s “free” — it isn’t. They’ll tell you it’s “revenue” — it’s borrowing. They’ll tell you it will balance the budget — but borrowing doesn’t balance the budget. They’ll tell you it’s a great deal — but they’ll be lying to you.

To further your “it is no longer business as usual” case, announce in your inaugural address that you will not meet with, or accept campaign contributions from, lobbyists or contractors.

Demand the resignations of the members of the county’s politically stacked ethics board. Make it clear that your appointees will not be members of the political class. Insist the Legislature create an independent office of Inspector General.

In your first day at work, announce the formation of a management advisory committee of renowned “wise men and women” to streamline the county’s management and improve the internal control systems.

Hire a qualified individual to creatively fix the county assessment system limit successful challenges and thereby shift to school districts and towns their share of the taxes while avoiding the borrowing that has fallen squarely, legally but unfairly on the county, and enabled school districts and towns to escape the responsibility for proper budgeting.

Issue an executive order that county employees can no longer hold official positions in political parties.

Making these tough decisions may not endear you to Nassau’s political establishment but it will make oppressed taxpayers (most of whom are voters) very happy.

And that’s what matters most.

Good luck!

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Mr Marlin, Can you keep a list of your suggestions along with dates when these are followed up or reasons given for not being able to pass these? Periodically, you can refer readers to your website where you can maintain this list. We , the voters , will know what to do come the next election.

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