Singas calls for independent contract reviewer
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas urged county lawmakers Monday to approve a proposal to reform the way Nassau awards outside contracts.
The proposal would install an independent inspector general to oversee the awarding of all county contracts in order to prevent favoritism for politically connected contractors or large campaign donors.
"The individual who is tasked with inspecting records, cutting waste and streamlining the use of taxpayer dollars, that person must be free of any perceptible allegiance," Singas said.
The county Legislature's Republican majority says it has no plans to support the creation of such an office. They favor another plan in which the overseer would not be independent, but appointed by the county executive.
"It's not an unorthodox proposal," Singas said of having an independent inspector general. "This goes on in jurisdictions all over this country."
Republican lawmakers say they've already increased oversight. The Legislature moved to require its approval on all contract bids over $1,000, a reform on the previous mark of $25,000.
County Democrats, in a move their GOP counterparts have labeled a political stunt, are blocking votes on new capital progress until the Legislature resolves the oversight stalemate.
"They're saying, 'Unless you do what we want, we're not going to pave the streets,'" complained Legislator Richard Nicolello, a Republican. "'Unless you do what we want, we're not going to fix the bridges.'"
The Democrats countered that if they vote in favor of any capital project, the contracts to perform those projects will be awarded under the current process -- business as usual.
"They rubber stamp every single contract that comes through this county," said minority leader Kevan Abrahams of Republican lawmakers. "I've never seen them vote no to a contract."