I’ve been reading former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato’s last few columns, extolling the virtues of Republican County Executive Ed Mangano. D’Amato, a Republican, represents a half-dozen companies that, coincidentally, are doing business with Mangano and the Nassau County government. I was a Nassau County legislator during our last fiscal crisis, under Republican County Executive Tom Gulotta, and I can’t help but think that we’re slipping back to the bad old days under Mangano.
Let’s remember that when former County Executive Tom Suozzi came into office in 2002, the county’s finances were in disarray. We were rated the “worst-run county in America.” But Suozzi, who is now running for county executive against Mangano, cleaned things up, putting the county back on sound fiscal footing.
Suozzi reduced borrowing, cut the county’s debt and had eight straight years of verified balanced budgets. He reduced the county’s work force by more than 11 percent, and did it without a single layoff.
Don’t take my word for it, or Senator D’Amato’s; look at what outside observers say about Nassau’s finances. Under Suozzi’s leadership, independent credit rating agencies (Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s) gave Nassau County 13 consecutive bond rating upgrades, the most of any municipality, county or state in the country over that same period. Under Mangano, these same credit rating agencies downgraded the county’s credit three consecutives times, the first time that had happened in more than a decade.
In just three and a half years, Mangano has turned Nassau into a county in crisis, dependent on debt, staring down at a financial implosion of historic proportions. Mangano and the county Republican Party machine have cracked the financial foundation that it took Suozzi and the Democrats eight years to rebuild.
Instead of building a better Nassau, Mangano used the same shovel as Gulotta did to dig us back into the hole Suozzi inherited when he first took office. Mangano has borrowed more than $2 billion, taken out the largest “cash advance” in Nassau County history and maxed out the county’s “credit cards,” increasing the county’s debt to the highest level in history.