GOP county legislators offer inspector general proposal

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GOP county legislators offer inspector general proposal
The Nassau County Legislative and Executive Building is seen in Mineola. (Photo by DanTD via Wikimedia Commons)

Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature voted last week to create an inspector general position to oversee county contracts, one of County Executive-Elect Laura Curran’s major goals. But it comes with a catch.

Unlike past proposals by Democratic members of the legislature, the inspector general can be hired — or fired — by a majority vote in the legislature. The measure was approved by the Republican-controlled Rules Committee and will go before the full Legislature at the Dec. 18 meeting.

Democrats said the proposed bill did not make the inspector general sufficiently independent and would be beholden to the Legislature.

“The bill put forth by the Legislative Majority is a step in the right direction, because it shows they’re ready to embrace this long-debated position,” Curran said in a press release after the vote. “Unfortunately, an Inspector General that can be appointed or removed by a simple majority in the Legislature is not really independent. My hope is that we can sit down now with both sides of the aisle and hammer out a bipartisan Inspector General bill we all can be proud of.”

The issue of an independent inspector general has been a point of contention for county Democrats and Republicans for over a year.

Democratic members of the Legislature began pushing for the creation of the position in spring of 2016 and refused to approve borrowing money in an attempt to force Republicans to the bargaining table.

Republican legislators have said the county’s commissioner of investigations already had the power to oversee contracts.

The dispute over an independent inspector general was the subject of debate during the recent county executive race.

The Republican candidate, Jack Martins, opposed an inspector general and instead called for the ethics board to be reformed.

When Curran was elected, Republican legislators such as Rich Nicolello and Howard Kopel were more willing to negotiate over the position.

“We will take a fresh look at inspector general so that both sides can support it,” Nicolello told Blank Slate Media at the end of last month.

In the bill, any appointee to inspector general would have to have two years’ experience in law enforcement or as a judge, prosecutor, certified public accountant or internal auditor.

The inspector general would be given the authority to look into waste and fraud in Nassau County.

Current county executive, Ed Mangano, faces political corruption charges related to the awarding of county contracts.  He is scheduled to appear in federal court on the charges in March.

 

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