Fearing that residents who require assistance at the County's Office of Housing and Homeless Services will be poorly served, Legislators Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) and Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) held a press conference to protest the Mangano-directed firings of 11 qualified housing professionals.
The dismissals were without cause and seem to be politically motivated.
"Of course, new County Executives have the power to hire and fire, but the work performed by these talented professionals is very unique and requires a thorough understanding of state and federal procedures," said Legislator Jacobs. “The work done at this office is highly intense and demanding. I find it insulting that the individuals who replaced the dismissed workers have no experience in this field thereby placing $50 million in Federal and State grant funding in jeopardy." Legislator Jacobs continued, “Now it will be the future clients of this Office who will suffer because the staff is no longer experienced." Before the firings, the Office of Housing and Homeless Services had 50 staff members; after the terminations, the Mangano Administration hired unqualified staff and brought the number of employees to 70. One of the employees terminated was the only person certified by the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to handle reverse mortgages for senior citizens. Without this person’s expertise, our senior citizens have become more vulnerable.
Legislator Kevan Abrahams said, "Once again, we have Manganoism….putting the cart before the horse. The terminations appear to be politically motivated, removing highly qualified professionals and replacing them with untrained, non-experienced political cronies." He continued, "The Office of Housing and Homeless Services handles thousands of problems from our most vulnerable population who have no place else to turn. Politics can’t get in the way of our families and our communities.”
Connie Lassandro, the dismissed executive director, had been recommended to the position by officials in the administration of then-Governor George Pataki. She is a 37 year veteran of housing services and is considered to be an expert in this field.
Ms Lassandro said, “What troubles me the most is that the integrity and programs of the office are in jeopardy. For ten years, my staff and I built and ran a professional, nonpartisan operation committed always to serving the County’s residents. Our devotion to mission, standards and work ethic remained the same regardless of changes in federal, state and county administrations. Now, after fifteen months of the Mangano administration we have been replaced by inexperienced individuals. I fear Nassau residents in need of housing and other essential resources may receive less than high quality services.”
Pictured, left to right, are: Mariann Brown, a client; Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury);
Connie Lassandro, former executive director of the County Office of Housing and Homeless Services;
County Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) and client Barbara Slovinsky.