An Historic First Act: Removing Politics From Government

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Laura Curran gave her first speech as Nassau County Executive to a crowd braving sub-freezing tempera- tures on New Year’s Day. (Photo by Irwin Mendlinger)

I know I’m not breaking news when I tell you we’ve inherited a mess in Nassau County government. My team and I have been hard at work these first two months.

We’ve been tackling an unfair and inaccurate assessment system, sorting out disastrous finances, combatting opioids, and charting a path for true economic development. But we will not be successful in these crucial tasks if we neglect one thing – restoring trust in government.

It’s no secret that “trust-worthy government” is too often dismissed as a chortle-worthy oxymoron. So concurrent to our other work, my administration has taken concrete steps to restore that trust.

One of my first acts as Nassau County Executive was to issue an executive order barring any member of my staff, including department heads, commissioners and deputies, from holding a position of authority in a political party or committee. I’ve also prohibited all appointees from contributing to my political campaigns because I want to there be no question as to why I’ve appointed them – because they are the right people with the right qualifications.

Another executive order, which I signed late last month, prohibits vendors who do business with the county from giving gifts or favors – of any value – to county appointees involved in the vendor procurement process. The days of pay-to-play are over.

Issuing these orders – to take the politics out of government – were among my first government-reform actions, but they certainly won’t be my last.

That’s why I have appointed former New York State Assistant Attorney General, and member of the U.S. Army Reserves, John Chiara as Deputy County Executive for Compliance. John fills a position that had been vacant for many years. Most recently, he served as special counsel to the New York State Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. At my direction, John has a clear mandate to enforce our new ethics and procurement policies.

Along with fixing Nassau’s finances and creating a business-friendly government, my administration will continue working to end a culture of corruption that has squandered millions in taxpayer dollars and eroded the trust any government needs to be truly effective.

Laura Curran is the Nassau County Executive