It’s that time of year again — the silly season — when pols hope voters are preoccupied with summer festivities and not paying attention to their political antics.
Let’s start with the recent nomination of long-time Nassau GOP boss Joe Mondello to be Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
After devoting 35 years to running the once-mighty Republican organization into the ground, Mondello accepted a very minor diplomatic post from President Trump to get out of town.
At Mondello’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, he said, “I’d target ISIS recruiting as Ambassador.”
That statement is ridiculous. I can’t imagine how he said it with a straight face.
Mondello’s federal disclosure forms were most revealing.
In his last two years as GOP boss, he raked in $1 million in real estate earnings, $775,000 for serving as “of counsel” to a local law firm and $259,315 from the GOP County organization.
One might ask how many local municipalities and districts controlled by Republicans retained Mondello’s law firm. My guess, a lot of them.
Before leaving for the Caribbean Islands, the 80-year old Mondello turned over the decrepit GOP to a more youthful leader, 72-year old Joe Cario.
Following the Mondello example, Cario will take a six-figure salary from the County Republican Party; will continue serving as CEO of Nassau’s OTB to the tune of $198,000 annually; and will maintain his law practice.
As the French put it, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”— the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Then there’s the federal criminal retrial of former GOP Sen. Dean Skelos and his son, Adam.
The testimonies of prosecution witnesses have been extraordinary.
One witness, a former North Hempstead councilman, said he gave Adam a $20,000 payment for no work to get “Dean off the back” of a client.
Another accused Adam of telling a vendor he would get his father to kill a $12 million Nassau County contract if he did not get a big raise for a “low-show” job.
The company succumbed to pressure and raised Adams monthly salary from $4,000 to $10,000.
Adam allegedly told one employer who questions his work ethic, “Guys like you couldn’t shine my shoes. Guys like you don’t amount to anything. And if you talk to me like that again, I’ll smash your [expletive] head in.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
Next, Nassau’s leading political grandstander, Richie Kessel, got himself in the news again. The chairman of the Nassau Industrial Development Authority (IDA), mouthed off that he would “like to focus on projects that deal with renewable energy.”
He boasted he is an “expert” in that area.
Kessel, when heading LIPA, was an “expert” lackey for the renewable energy industry and its lobbyists. “Expert” Kessel wasted millions of ratepayer’s dollars on a boondoggle wind farm off Jones Beach — a project that hired one of his political patrons — and later at NYPA another proposal to build windmills in Lake Erie.
At NYPA, “expert” Richie orchestrated perhaps the worst energy deal in State history.
His Hudson River Transmission 660 MW project was completed with politically-connected friends who had previously fleeced LIPA. That cable project has been an embarrassment that costs NYPA and ratepayers about $100 million a year!
Awarding IDA benefits to renewable energy deals is wasteful because wind and solar projects already receive meaty Federal and State subsidies.
Throwing in IDA money will do nothing but ensure Kessel and the IDA a speaking part at future ribbon cuttings.
It was also reported that Kessel said when it comes to giving tax exemptions to companies retaining jobs rather than creating them, he “didn’t necessarily see this as a problem.”
That’s a reckless comment. It opens the door to existing businesses to flock to the IDA threatening to leave Nassau unless granted tax relief.
I hope County Executive Curran is learning that Kessel is addicted to getting his name in the paper regardless of the harm it can do to her administration or to taxpayers.
Finally, reporters should ask every business executive appearing before the IDA if a lobbyist/consultant has been retained.
One shouldn’t be surprised if lobbyists hired turn out to be Kessel cronies.