Lurvey criticizes DeSena over building department review

Lurvey criticizes DeSena over building department review
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena (left) and Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey (right). (Photos courtesy of Jennifer DeSena and Janelle Clausen)

Democratic Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey criticized Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena last week for not sharing a six-month review with the town board DeSena said she conducted since taking office.

“Last Monday, Council Member Dalimonte and I joined with Supervisor DeSena in welcoming a financial audit for the Town’s building department,” Lurvey posted on Facebook. Unfortunately, she has yet to provide any of that information — or even acknowledge my request.”

On July 11, DeSena said at a press conference in front of the town’s building department that she has sent a letter to Nassau Comptroller Elaine Philips to audit the building department after a review that she said revealed deep flaws.

“Over the past six months, my staff and I have reviewed the operations of the department and have found a deeply flawed department that has been plagued by scandal and continually fails our residents and business owners, earning it the moniker the ‘worst on Long Island,'” DeSena said during a news conference.

DeSena said Lurvey’s request was “politically charged” and “ironic,” charging that nearly a prior to my arrival, nearly a decade’s worth of records and files from the previous administration were mysteriously removed from the Supervisor’s Office and have not been returned since.”

“My office requested this audit to protect taxpayers and will provide all such materials to the County Comptroller to assist her review. Rather than send politically charged letters and attempt to circumvent the Comptroller, I suggest Councilwoman Lurvey fully cooperate with the audit process,” DeSena said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “We must cut to the core of the problems that have been plaguing the Building Department for years, something to which the Councilwoman seems to have only just now woken up to.”

The town’s Building Department has been a constant source of criticism and was one of the major issues DeSena campaigned on last year. 

In 2007, five Building Department officials were indicted after a 16-month investigation by then Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for receiving favors and payments in exchange for granting permits without inspections.

All five were later convicted, including former Commissioner David Wasserman, who was sentenced to one year in jail in 2008 after pleading guilty to grand larceny and falsifying business records.

Businesses and residents have repeatedly criticized long delays in getting building department approvals.

DeSena said whether the audit is financial or operational, its scope, if conducted, is determined by the comptroller’s Office, which has not made a decision whether they will conduct the audit or not.

“The Comptroller’s Office has a process in place for the independent review of requests for audits and has commenced this process,” the office said two weeks ago. 

In 2017, Nassau Supreme Court Justice Roy Mahon ruled that then Comptroller George Maragos exceeded his authority when seeking to conduct a performance audit in the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, Newsday reported. 

Maragos issued subpoenas that went beyond the shelter’s budget and financials and were quashed, Newsday reported.

A previous version of this story was published. It has since been updated. 

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