From the Desk of Delia DiRiggi-Whitton: County needs independent inspector general

The Island Now

As your legislator, striving for the highest level of fiscal oversight is a key priority.

I have voted against many costly contracts because they lack details that specify how taxpayer dollars will be spent.

Both my and fellow legislative minority members’ greatest goal is to ensure contract review and approval is transparent.

Unfortunately, our requests for an independent inspector general continue to be ignored.

This position can be established through a fixed term of office set by law or contractual agreement, enabling the inspector to act and speak freely, without concern over losing his/her job.

Currently, the commissioner of investigations’ job security is solely in the hands of the county executive, the very person the inspector general is supposed to investigate and oversee.

Never before has a Nassau county executive worked under the cloud of indictment on numerous federal counts of public corruption.

The chief deputy county executive is also under federal criminal investigation for allegedly steering county contracts.

Even after scandals and alleged conflicts of interest have been uncovered, the county executive and the legislative majority continue to turn a blind eye to the alleged abuse of millions of taxpayer dollars.

For example, even after the county’s AbTech contract scandal that ended with the arrest and conviction of a top ranking state senator, no effective checks and balances have been put in place to prevent similar future abuses.

By serving on the rules committee, I am privy to contract discussions.

In just two sessions, we debated contracts where the proposed vendor was under investigation or had legal judgments against them.

When I question why we consider using vendors with alleged abuses, my legislative majority colleagues remain silent and don’t share my concerns.

Nassau residents deserve better.

I will continue to fight to protect your taxpayer funds from waste, fraud and abuse.

What most concerns me is that County Executive Mangano and the legislative majority ignore alleged public corruption, but have no problem passing the financial burden for their continued mismanagement onto Nassau’s families.

For example, the purported “public safety” fee — really an illegal tax — would have added a $105 fee to traffic/parking fines.

Although public pressure forced the legislative majority to reduce the fee to $55, it is a burden to county residents at any price.

I opposed this ludicrous fee that uses fear to attempt to balance the county executive’s disastrous budget.

Unfortunately, when a budget like the one just passed by the legislative majority is adopted, the county starts cutting “non-mandated” programs like youth and social services, suicide hotlines and busses.

Balancing the budget this way places the mismanagement of this administration on the backs of those most in need.

Instead, wasteful spending on questionable contracts should be eliminated.

Taxpayers are paying the price for the unprecedented crisis in the integrity of Nassau County.

It’s time to correct the process for today and future administrations and put true oversight in place.

The thousands of residents from legislative districts who signed a petition agree that Nassau needs an independent inspector general to help restore public trust, weed out costly corruption and waste and avoid cuts that affect our most vulnerable communities.

Residents deserve better protection of their tax dollars and assurance that the Mangano administration stops putting their fear of oversight and transparency before the will and benefit of the people.