Nassau Legislature approves Curran appointees

Nassau Legislature approves Curran appointees
The Nassau County Legislative and Executive Building is seen in Mineola. (Photo by DanTD via Wikimedia Commons)

The Nassau County Legislature approved several appointees of County Executive Laura Curran during Monday’s monthly meeting, but not without questions, and no one received more questions than county attorney nominee Jared Kasschau.

The lawyer from Rockville Centre was subject to over an hour of queries by legislators, with much of the focus on his time with the law firm Harris Beach. Kasschau joined the firm in 2014 and recently resigned to become county attorney.

“One of the concerns that I think some of the legislators have is in respect to the involvement of your former employer in issues in Oyster Bay,” said Steve Rhoades (R-Bellmore).

According to a report in Newsday, Harris Beach partner William Gary, brother of Curran’s transition team head Thomas Gary, worked on letters to lenders that Oyster Bay concession agreements required the town to back millions in loans to restaurateur Harendra Singh. The guaranteed loans are at the heart of the federal charges against former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, who allegedly conspired to back the loans in exchange for bribes from Singh.

Both Mangano and Venditto have pleaded not guilty, and neither Harris Beach nor William Gary has been charged with wrongdoing.

Kasschau declined to comment on the loan assurances but said he would not be influenced by Harris Beach or previous clients like the county’s Democratic Committee chairman, Jay Jacobs.

“I will not be swayed by any of my past relationships,” he said.

Democrats like Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) asked Kasschau how he would cut down on expenses. He said that the attorney’s office had spent too much money on outside counsel in the past and that he would only solicit outside help if there was a conflict of interest, a case dealt with an area of specialized knowledge, or if the case was too large.

After questioning ended, he was approved unanimously.

The Legislature approved several other appointments, although these nominees had to field only a handful of questions. Laura Gillen, Town of Hempstead supervisor, was appointed to the Long Island Regional Planning Council. Robert Kennedy was also approved to join the council.

Gabriel Castillo was approved as the executive director of the Coordinating Agency for Spanish Americans. Kenneth Arnold was confirmed as commissioner of the Department of Public Works. Ellen Krieb became the commissioner for County Parks, Recreation and Museums. Richard Kessel, the former CEO of the New York Power Authority, was approved to head the county’s Industrial Development Agency.

The Legislature tabled a vote on a request to borrow $45 million for a court judgment won by two men who were exonerated in the rape and murder of a teenager in 1984. Legislators said they were unsatisfied by answers on how the borrowing would affect Nassau’s finances.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Legislature honored four Nassau police officers who rescued a suicidal man who was threatening to jump from a Garden City shopping center.

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