CORRUPTION & CORRECTIONS

March 23, 2019 at 5:00 am

Former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife were both found guilty of corruption. Is the entire political structure of the county in need of a correction?

Aired on March 22, 2019.

Transcript Print

>>> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS," I'M JACK FORD.
GUILTY OF CORRUPTION AND
CONSPIRACY.
THAT WAS THE VERDICT HANDED DOWN
TO FORMER NASSAU COUNTY
EXECUTIVE ED MANGANO AND HIS
WIFE LINDA.
WILL THIS NEWS BRING AN END TO
CORRUPTION IN NASSAU COUNTY?
AND IN THE WAKE OF SENTENCING
THE REPUBLICAN MANGANO, WHICH
PARTY WILL ULTIMATELY CONTROL
WESTERN LONG ISLAND?
JOINING US WITH SOME INSIGHT,
THE EXECUTIVE DEAN OF THE
NATIONAL CENTER OF SUBURBAN
STUDIES AT HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY
LARRY LEVY.
ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.
>> GREAT TO BE HERE.
>> WE TALKED ABOUT THE
CONVICTION.
LET'S LOOK AT THE POLITICAL
IMPLICATIONS, IF YOU WILL.
NASSAU COUNTY I THINK IN MANY
WAYS FOLKS WILL USE THE IDEA OF
CORRUPTION AS A TAG LINE OR A
PUNCH LINE EVEN FOR NASSAU
COUNTY.
SO MY FIRST QUESTION TO YOU I
GUESS IS THIS -- YOU STUDY ALL
OF THIS.
IS THAT LEGITIMATE, THE NOTION
OF CORRUPTION RUNNING RAMPANT
HISTORICALLY IN NASSAU COUNTY?
>> HISTORICALLY, WELL, YOU KNOW,
THERE HAVE BEEN CASES THROUGH
THE YEARS.
YOU COULD GO TO NEW YORK CITY,
YOU COULD GO TO OTHER BIG
SUBURBS AND FIND EXAMPLES OF
CORRUPTION, AND OCCASIONALLY THE
CASES ARE SO HUGE THAT THEY
PUNCTURE THE PUBLIC
CONSCIOUSNESS, AND THERE'S
REPERCUSSIONS IN THE VOTING
BOOTH.
AS FAR AS THE MANGANO CASE IS
CONCERNED, I THINK WE'VE SEEN
THE REPERCUSSIONS.
LAURA CARREN BECAME THE FIRST
FEMALE COUNTY EXECUTIVE IN
HISTORY, FIRST DEMOCRAT TO HOLD
THE OFFICE IN EIGHT YEARS.
PARTLY ON A REJECTION OF THE
REPUBLICAN PARTY, PARTLY BASED
ON CORRUPTION.
I DON'T THINK, THOUGH, IN 2 TO
21 WHEN SHE -- IN 2021 WHEN SHE
RUNS AGAIN THAT CORRUPTION IS
GOING TO BE THE MAIN ISSUE.
SHE WILL WIN OR LOSE, RISE OR
FALL BASED ON WHAT SHE'S ABLE TO
ACCOMPLISH.
IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE WON'T
SEE A ROGUES GALLERY UP ON SOME
AD WHERE PEOPLE ARE STAMPED
GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY, BUT I
DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO MOVE
VOTERS IN THE WAY THAT ACTUAL,
YOU KNOW, COMPETENCY AND VISION
AND PROGRESS ON PROBLEMS THAT
PEOPLE CARE ABOUT.
>> I'M CURCURIOUS, I'VE SEEN YOU
TALK ABOUT THE CHARACTERISTIC,
IF YOU WILL, OF THE VOTERS AND
HOW THEY MIGHT BE DIFFERENT THAN
WHAT WE SUSPECT.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
>> THERE ARE ROCK-RIBBED, RED
REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVES OUT ON
THE ISLAND AND IN OTHER SUBURBAN
AREAS, AND THERE ARE DEEP BLUE,
PRAGUE RECOLIBERALS.
THERE'S A PREPONDERANCE OF
MODERATES, PEOPLE WHO VOTE ON
THE PERSON BUT NOT THE PAERKTS
AND THEY WILL TURN -- NOT THE
PARTY, AND THEY WILL TURN LIKE A
DIME AGAINST EVEN THE PEOPLE
THEY VOTED FOR IF THEY DON'T
CONTINUE TO DELIVER VALUE AND
REFLECT THEIR VALUES.
>> I THINK THERE'S SOMETHING
REASSURING ABOUT THAT, TO TELL
YOU THE TRUTH.
I'M AN INDEPENDENT.
I DON'T HAVE A PARTY ALLEGIANCE
HERE.
THE NOTION, IT SOUNDS QUAINT,
THE NOTION OF PEOPLE WHO VOTE
BASED UPON THE CHARACTER AND
QUALITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND
HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE.
>> THE SUBURBS HAVE 60% OF THE
POPULATION, AND NOBODY GETS
ELECTED PRESIDENT, AND NO PARTY
CONTROLS CONGRESS WITHOUT
CARRYING THE SUBURBS.
I MEAN, THESE ARE WHAT I LIKE TO
CALL THE PURPLE PLACES.
THEY'RE A BLEND OF RED AND A
BLEND OF BLUE.
AND THE PARTY THAT BUILDS A
BRIDGE FROM THEIR BASE EITHER IN
THE CITY FOR DEMOCRATS OR IN
RURAL AREAS FOR REPUBLICANS
BUILDS A BRIDGE TO THE SUBURBS.
THE ONES ARE GOING TO WIN.
THESE ARE PLACES WHERE PEOPLE
ARE CONSERVATIVE BUT NOT KIND OF
IN A REVOLUTIONARY FIRE-BRAND
WAY, BUT MORE AN EVOLUTIONARY
WAY.
THEY WILL EVENTUALLY GET AROUND
TO EMBRACING SOCIAL CHANGE.
THEY WILL TAX THEMSELVES TO
DEATH ON DISCRETIONARY SOCIAL
SERVICES AND EDUCATION.
100% OF SCHOOL BUDGETS WERE
PASSED LAST YEAR IN THE HIGHEST
TAX PLACE ON THE AMERICAN PLANET
--
>> THAT'S ASTONISHING TO GET TO
THAT NUMBER.
>> IT IS ASTONISHING.
THEY ARE NOT ANTI-GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE THEY BUY INTO A LOT OF
THINGS THAT GOVERNMENT PROVIDES
THEM.
THEY MOVED TO THE SUBURBS FOR
THINGS THAT WHEN GOVERNMENT IS
DOING ITS JOB IT DOES WELL --
EDUCATION, POLICING, PARKS.
YOU KNOW, IN OTHER AMENITIES OF
SUBURBAN LIFE.
ONE OF THE REASONS I THINK THAT
SUBURBANITES ARE AS CAUTIOUS IS
THE RELATIVELY HIGH RATE OF
HOMEOWNERSHIP AND SMALL BUSINESS
OWNERSHIP.
IT'S HIGHER IN THE SUBURBS THAN
IN THE CITY.
AND SO IF YOU HAVE THAT MUCH OF
YOUR LIFE INVESTED IN YOUR HOUSE
AND YOUR BUSINESS, YOU'RE GOING
TO BE REAL CAREFUL BEFORE YOU
EMBRACE SOME SORT OF CHANGE THAT
MAY OR MAY NOT AFFECT THAT
VALUE.
I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THAT
-- WE'VE SEEN IT COME UP IN A
LOT OF AREAS.
IT'S TAKEN A LONG TIME, FOR
INSTANCE, TO GET VILLAGES TO
EMBRACE HIGHER RISE RENTAL
HOUSING AROUND TRAIN STATIONS.
MOST ARE NOT DOING IT, BUT MANY
ARE FINALLY DOING IT.
>> WHAT WOULD YOU ANTICIPATE
LOOKING FORWARD?
YOU MENTIONED THE NOTION OF
CORRUPTION PROBABLY WILL BE
LOOKED AT IN SOME WAY, THERE
WILL BE A LIGHT SHINED UPON IT
IN SOME WAY DURING THE COURSE OF
UPCOMING ELECTIONS.
WHAT WOULD BE THE MORE
SIGNIFICANT ISSUES THAT THE
FOLKS ON THE ISLAND AND IN YOUR
AREA, NASSAU COUNTY, WILL BE
FOCUSING ON MOVING FORWARD?
>> WELL, IT'S OFTEN SAID
HUMOROUSLY, BUT THE TOP THREE
ISSUES IN NASSAU COUNTY AND MANY
SUBURBS ARE TAXES, TAXES, AND
TAXES.
AND ANYTHING THAT AFFECTS THE
TAX BILL WILL BE A MAJOR ISSUE.
FOR EXAMPLE, EXECUTIVE LAUER
CARREN IN HER STATE OF THE
COUNTY SPEECH TALKED ABOUT
FINALLY FIXING A BROKEN, AS SHE
USED, A CORRUPTED PROPERTY TAX
ASSESSMENT SYSTEM.
NOW THIS IS A SYSTEM OF VALUING
PROPERTY FOR TAX PURPOSES.
AND BECAUSE NOTHING HAD BEEN
DONE TO FIX IT OVER THE LAST
EIGHT YEARS OR TEN YEARS, YOU
HAVE ENORMOUS DISPARITIES WHERE
RELATIVELY WELL-OFF HOMEOWNERS
ARE BEING SUBSIDIZED BY
RELATIVELY POORER ONES.
THIS IS A POLITICAL THIRD RAIL,
AS WE SAY.
YOU KNOW, POLITICIANS HAVE NOT
WANTED TO TOUCH IT, AND THAT'S
ONE OF THE REASONS THEY HAVEN'T
DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
SHE'S BEEN TAKING A BEATING FROM
THE 48% OF THE PEOPLE WHOSE
TAXES ARE GOING TO GO UP.
PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT PAYING THEIR
FAIR SHARE.
AND SHE HAS BEGUN TO TACKLE
THAT.
AND THIS IS AN ISSUE, ONE OF THE
ISSUES ON WHICH SHE'S GOING TO
BE JUDGED.
TO THE EXTENT TO WHICH SHE CAN
GET PEOPLE, EVEN THOSE WHO SEE
THEIR TAXES GO UP, BELIEVE THAT
SHE'S GONE ABOUT THIS
COURAGEOUSLY, COMPETENTLY,
FAIRLY.
THEN SHE MAY BE IN A MUCH BETTER
POSITION TO SURVIVE.
AT THE SAME TOKEN, WHEN SHE
TALKS ABOUT ASSESSMENT REFORM,
SHE USES THE WORD "CORRUPTION,"
WHICH I THINK SHE IS HOPING TO
CONNECT NOT JUST TO A CORRUPTED
SYSTEM BECAUSE THERE HAVEN'T
BEEN CHANGES, BUT TO THE CORRUPT
OFFICIALS WHO ARE PART OF IT.
AND MANGANO WAS A COUNTY
EXECUTIVE DURING THIS PERIOD.
>> IT'S AN INTERESTING POLITICAL
DANCE.
>> IT OFTENTIMES IS, AS YOU KNOW
DOING WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING.
LARRY, I APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING
TIME WITH US AND GIVING US A
BETTER UNDERSTANDING.
WHAT'S GOING ON OUT THERE.
WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO
YOU AGAIN AS WE CONTINUE DOWN
THE LINE AND MOVE TOWARD THE
NEXT ROUND OF ELECTIONS.
THANKS.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019