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Monday, April 21, 2014
Progressive Coalition protesters decry county's Sandy contracts
(Page 3 of 3)
Christina Daly/Herald
Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg, right, of Merrick, participated in a recent Long Island Progressive Coalition protest, saying that County Executive Ed Mangano created an “appearance of impropriety” in accepting campaign contributions from contractors that did restoration work for the county after Hurricane Sandy. A Mangano spokesman later accused Denenberg of accepting illegal campaign contributions. Richard Landau of Merrick, whose home was severely damaged in Sandy, joined Denenberg at the protest.

Mangano and Denenberg are running for re-election in November.

Contracts under fire

Nassau County had paid $93 million to Sandy contractors as of April 25, according to a report by Maurice Chalmers, director of the County Independent Office of Legislative Budget Review. The report listed eight companies that were each paid more than $1 million.

County contracts for Sandy cleanup and restoration work have come under fire in recent months. Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Democrat, began pressing the Mangano administration for information about Looks Great Services Inc., a Huntington company due to receive $70 million from the county for Sandy work, after Looks Great crews cut down 111 trees in Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove one month after Sandy. Nassau Democrats requested that County Comptroller George Maragos, a Republican, appear before the Legislature’s Rules and Finance committees to answer questions about payments to Sandy contractors, but Norma Gonsalves, a Republican and the Legislature’s presiding officer, blocked the requests.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both Democrats, and the U.S. Department of Labor have launched investigations into how the county awarded Sandy contracts, how it provided oversight of projects and whether private workers were paid prevailing wages.

Newsday reported that Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, the county Department of Public Works commissioner, secured a $250,000 contract for a company that her sister owns, without disclosing that they are related.

Tyson and Denenberg complained at the June 4 protest that the full Legislature did not vote on many of the county’s Sandy contracts, as the Legislature is normally required to do with contracts worth more than $25,000, because a state of emergency had been declared.

Richard Landau, a Merrick resident whose house was struck by boats during the storm, also spoke at the rally, detailing his unsuccessful attempts to obtain government assistance to repair $125,000 in damage to his home. Twice, he said, Mangano promised to call him and his wife about their home reconstruction, but the county executive never did so.

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