Schnirman discusses his day one priorities

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County Comptroller Jack Schnirman at the Blank Slate Media office. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

Jack Schnirman will be officially sworn in as Nassau County comptroller at a ceremony on Thursday, but he is already getting to work.

“I talked to the entire comptroller staff this morning and set the expectations for the coming term,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “We talked about how we’ll work together to get things done … I also held a meeting with the different division heads to check in with them and see where they’re at and get right to work.”

Schnirman, a Democrat, said he wants to hit the ground running in order to implement the policies he campaigned on in October, as well as deal with a few unexpected issues.

Schnirman has four points that he ran on during the campaign: modernize the county’s finance system, improve audits, reform the county’s contracting system and work with residents to eliminate waste.

“I put out a series of priorities and the public voted for me and those priorities,” he said.  “And now my job is to implement them.”

He wants to implement all of them but is particularly focused on fixing the county’s contract system. He promised that residents would receive “frequent updates” on the status of his proposed points.

“The contracting system in Nassau County is crying out for reform,” he said.

Schnirman said the creation of an independent inspector general, which the Legislature did late last month, was a positive step.

“I’m glad they created this position and I look forward to working with whoever is appointed once they’re on board,” he said. 

Like County Executive Laura Curran, Schnirman made ending corruption in county government a focus of his campaign. Former County Executive Edward Mangano will appear in court in March over an alleged scheme in which he awarded restaurant magnate Harendra Singh contracts in exchange for vacations and a job for Mangano’s wife.

“Folks should expect very important oversight from the comptroller office, and we’re getting right to work on it,” he said. “We’re looking at ways to reform that in the weeks to come.”

According to his website, Schnirman plans to work with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to implement best practices for disclosure, vetting and tracking county spending when it comes to contracts. He said that the county was not doing a good job of paying contractors on time, which led to more wasteful spending.

In the meantime, he will have to deal with an even more pressing issue that has come up since the election: the tax overhaul passed by Congress. The reduction of local and state tax deductions led to frustrated taxpayers and long lines last week at tax offices across Long Island.

As far as Washington is concerned, Schnirman said that he had been in touch with Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City). And at the local level, Schnirman said the county could be doing more to help taxpayers who were confused by the process.

“I see it as a role for the comptroller’s office to do whatever we can to provide info and assistance to residents,” he said.

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