DeRiggi-Whitton: Citizens Want Independent Oversight

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Nassau County Legislators recently submitted a petition with more than 4,000 signatures calling for a referendum in November. This referendum will allow a charter change regarding the position for overseeing procurement for the county’s contracts—making it truly independent. The Nassau County District Attorney made this recommendation almost a year ago, yet no changes to the contracting process have been made.

The Mangano administration and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves insist that the current Commissioner of Investigations, who reports directly to them, provides this service. However, since this person can now be fired at will should the administration become unhappy with them, such as if contracts approved by the administration were questioned, for example.

Our petition demands an independent official with job protection in the way of a contract, to oversee the awarding of county contracts. This position would have the sole responsibility of representing the interest of Nassau County taxpayers.

This type of oversight will eliminate the “pay to play” political system—contracts being awarded to big political contributors. This change is being stifled by the resistance of the administration’s desire to keep things the way they are, a system the DA said is “a recipe for corruption.”

One example of this resistance to change occurred when Presiding Officer Gonsalves sent a letter, at taxpayers’ expense, to every household in Sea Cliff. In the letter, she accused me of “killing the funding” for a sewer project. This is, in my opinion, political pressure to try to make me stop efforts for contract reform.

Of course, I want to see this and many other important projects that I requested are completed. However, I want this environmentally sensitive project to be done, yet at the same time, ensure every taxpayer dollar is well spent.

Taxpayers deserve to have confidence in their representatives. Contract reform is critical for that to happen. I would appreciate any support regarding our efforts for contract reform to move forward.

I ask that you urge Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (516-571-6213) to stop blocking contract reform and put our referendum for an independent contractor general on the agenda.

As always, I encourage and look forward to your feedback. Please contact my office at 516-571-6211.

From the desk of Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau County Legislator, 11th LD

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