Mangano should seek aid on Nassau finances
May 23, 2011 by JOYE BROWN / firstname.lastname@example.org
County Executive Edward Mangano needs help. Now. With all the crises brewing in Nassau, there are only so many hours in a day to deal with them.
How's he doing thus far? Not grand.
First, he said the county budget was balanced, but a judge and Wall Street smelled Swiss cheese. And just last week in a report on county finances, Moody's, the bond rating agency, noted that Nassau doesn't seem to have a plan to deal with it.
Then there was the surprise rush to build a gambling casino in Uniondale. Except that nobody in the administration appears to have bothered to bring Hofstra University, the Town of Hempstead or the surrounding civic associations on board.
So the proposed casino switched to Belmont Park. Except that's not going to happen unless Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) says yes. And good luck on that one, since the administration ticked off Silver's deputy, Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead). The Mangano administration left Hooper, who should have been a monster ally, out of the loop as it sought to tap a needed new revenue stream by adding more red light cameras.
Then came word of a proposed new Nassau Coliseum and related development in the 77 acres of parking lot that surround the facility. But the plan won't go anywhere unless voters approve a referendum on Aug. 1, the biggest vacation week of the summer.
But, hey, it won't cost taxpayers anything because developer Charles Wang will pay the cost of the election if the referendum passes -- which also means, of course, that Nassau residents get stuck with the bill if the thing goes down.
And then there's the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. The administration can't seem to give the state control board even a shadow of a heads-up on things like plans to borrow for a Coliseum, bring in a minor league baseball team or renovate an aging aquatic center.
All that, and we haven't even covered how the county is going to handle a backlog of successful property tax challenges; funding for not-for-profit social service agencies, many of which are continuing to provide services even as they wait for county contracts; and the quest for a private operator for Long Island Bus.
That's a lot. A whole lot.
But here's the key thing: Hiding in that mess is Mangano's very clear, very correct vision of what Nassau should and could be.
Take the Coliseum, for instance. Nassau deserves a state-of-the-art facility. And a professional sports team. And a pristine publicly run pool at Eisenhower Park. Nassau County residents -- who, even in the midst of a budget crisis, pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation -- deserve it all.
It is no small thing to manage a fiscal crisis while laying a foundation for the future. But Mangano is right to recognize that it must be done. It's an open secret that fellow Republicans are pushing him to expand his brain trust. Some have even named names. But who they are, where they should work and what initiatives they should head should be Mangano's decision.
Former county executives Francis Purcell, Thomas Gulotta and Thomas Suozzi recognized -- at least in their first terms -- the need to hire deputies smarter than themselves. Mangano should, too. There's a difference between campaigning for office and governing, yet Mangano's administration too often seems stuck on the campaign trail, in attack or defense mode.
So Mangano should take a minute. Breathe. Focus -- even with the fiscal and other turmoil around him. Then he should get the help he needs, to make his strong vision a reality.