Our Views: Time to resign Mr. Mangano

Our Views: Time to resign Mr. Mangano

Under the law, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is innocent until proven guilty of the federal corruption charges that were filed last week.
That said, he should resign immediately.
There is no contradiction here.
Mangano, a Republican, has every right to defend himself of charges that he and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, also a Republican, received “bribes and kickbacks” from a businessman who also gave Mangano’s wife a no-show job whose duties included “food taster” and paid her $450,000 over four years. 
The burden of proof is on the government to show that what Mangano did broke the law.
As has been seen in other public corruption cases, just because something is sleazy, unethical and a violation of public trust doesn’t necessarily mean it’s against the law.
But that doesn’t mean Mangano should get paid taxpayer money to lead the county under a cloud of suspicion that will taint every decision made by him, the county Legislature and every one who works for the county. Especially at a time the county is attempting to fill a $100 million hole in next year’s budget.
And county taxpayers don’t need a guilty verdict to know that it is wrong for a county executive to get his wife a no-show job that paid her $450,000 and trips to luxury resorts paid by a businessman who is receiving county contracts.
When Newsday reported on the vacations in August 2015, Mangano said he had proof that he had repaid the businessman that he would made public. We’re still waiting.
Authorities  in what was termed an ongoing investigation charge Mangano and Venditto of scheming to award a Long Island restaurateur, widely reported to be Harendra Singh, hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide food service to county agencies and secure multi-million dollar loan guarantees for his business. 
Mangano and Venditto are alleged to have gotten gifts including “hotel and travel expenses, limousine services, free meals and other gifts” in exchange.
This is by no means the first time there have been questions about the awarding of county contracts.
In 2013, a $200,000 no-bid contract was awarded by Mangano to a firm operated by former Republican state Sen. Michael Balboni without legislative approval because the Legislature failed to conduct a review within 45 days as required by law.
The Legislature also stood by as hundred of contracts were approved by Mangano that fell just under the $25,000 threshold for its review before eventually lowering the limit to $1,000. Coincidentally, or not, many of the contracts went to Mangano campaign contributors. 
Then state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was indicted on federal corruption charges that included influencing the awarding of a Nassau County contract by the Mangano Administration to a firm that hired his son, Adam. 
Both were later convicted.
Following the indictments, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas launched an investigation into the award of county contracts that discovered “troubling problems,” including no requirements for vendors to disclose subsidiary companies,  criminal convictions, political contributions or whether a vendor is barred from government contracts in other places.
Singas, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state board with control over county finances, and Democratic county legislators later called for an inspector general appointed by an independent panel to investigate potential corruption and misconduct in the awarding of contracts.
Mangano and the Republican legislators opposed the legislation. 
The presiding officer, Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), called a proposal by county Democrats for a referendum to decide whether to establish an inspector general appointed by an independent panel a “political stunt.” She and Mangano said the county’s commissioner of investigations already has the powers an inspector general would have.
It is worth noting that the county commissioner of investigations is appointed by Mangano. And can be fired by Mangano.
Also worth noting is that Mangano appointed Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, who would take over if Mangano were to resign.
Walker is under federal investigation in a separate case centered around a $12 million county storm cleanup contract won by a company that gave money to Walker’s political committee.
The federal investigation was disclosed during the Skelos trial when Walker testified under a grant of immunity.
During the trial, it was disclosed that Mangano planned to “assert Fifth Amendment privilege” if called to testify about the AbTech contract sought by Skelos, and the feds were “not prepared to immunize” him.
Republican state senators and state Senate and Assembly candidates called for Mangano, and Venditto, to immediately step down last week.
State Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for Congress against former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, said it was important for Republicans to “make a clear statement.”
“It is imperative that government continue undistracted by anything that may be out there,” Martins said. “And so, we’re asking county executive to resign, step aside, and to allow county business to continue undistracted.”
It would have been nice if Martins and his fellow Republican senators had said the same thing when Skelos was indicted. At that time, they defended Skelos staying on.
But perhaps time — and an upcoming election — have helped clarify matters for Martins and his fellow Republican senators.
This being Nassau County, we’ll take the right answer no matter how it is reached. Mangano should step down.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here