[sigplus] Critical error: Image gallery folder stories/Nov2013_Web/12-Profile is expected to be a path relative to the image base folder specified in the back-end.
The Nassau County Executive Discusses Sandy Recovery,
Hollywood East and His Vision for the Future
Photos provided by Nassau County Executive Office
In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. So it was really no surprise that Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was right on time for his one-on-one interview at 25A magazine’s office. From the moment he walked in the room, the charismatic leader was shaking hands with staff members and posing for photographs as though he were a long-lost friend. The spotlight, after all, is something he has grown accustomed to since winning Nassau County’s top seat over Democratic two-term incumbent Tom Suozzi in 2009. Now, the Republican candidate is on the campaign trail and ready for a rematch against his former rival at the polls this November.
Hailed by some of his supporters as a ‘working-class hero,’ Mangano and his wife Linda, along with their two sons Alex and Sal, are residents of Bethpage. In an earlier career, Mangano worked as a janitor while putting himself through college. A graduate of Hofstra University and Hofstra School of Law, he was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1988. In the private sector, he has worked in publishing and served as counsel to Rivkin Radler, LLP for nine years. Subsequently, he entered public service as a county legislator, where he served the 17th Legislative District for seven terms.
An average day in the life of the county executive is a busy one, starting at 8 a.m. and going late into the night. He tells 25A that responsibilities are divided between his governing duties and a packed public schedule. Elected countywide to a four-year term, the county executive is the chief administrator of county government, responsible for law enforcement, planning, consumer protection, roads, parks and recreation facilities and all other services provided by the county, and for preparation of the county budget. He is also responsible for managing the day-to-day affairs of the county.
For any county executive, the job offers its fair share of unexpected challenges. Last year, Mangano’s leadership was put to the ultimate test during the planning, preparation and recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Before the storm of the century hit Long Island, many emergency management plans were set in place. “That plan is an hourly plan tied to weather movement … at the end of the day, there comes a point where you have to call an evacuation.” Despite a call for early evacuations, some residents decided to stay in their homes and were trapped due to surging water levels. As a result, rescue operations took place across Long Island, Mangano recalls. “The evacuation I called saved lives ... We had to evacuate one hospital and seven nursing homes. Each one of those evacuations required us to find another bed for the person. You have to go from bed to bed so you can imagine the manpower that’s involved ... that becomes a big challenge.” For many homeowners and businesses, some progress is being made in terms of receiving much-needed FEMA relief, however, it remains a “frustrating” process, Mangano says. “It’s heartbreaking to see families displaced and to see family memories lost to the storm: wedding albums, baby albums, videos. There were so many personal items that were devastated by storm water damage, but thankfully, we had no real loss of life during the storm ... With respect to protecting public safety, our Emergency Management Team and all our first responders, volunteer firefighters, police – they really did a great job protecting our residents.” As the recovery process moves forward, the county executive and his team are working hard behind the scenes to rebuild, he says. “There is a significant amount of planning and engineering underway to begin the strengthening process and we want to see that through.”
To honor Long Islanders who were adversely affected by the storm, New York Music & Events Group and Mangano recently held the “We Will Survive” Strong Island Music Festival starring Queen of Disco Gloria Gaynor. 25A magazine was a presenting sponsor for the event and a portion of the corporate proceeds will be donated to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Nassau County Hurricane Sandy Relief, and the Nassau County Police Fallen Officers – Widows and Orphans Fund. Mangano was an instrumental part of getting the event off the ground, explained Steve Interrante, the founder of New York Music & Events Group. “Over the winter, I met with him and we’ve been working together to make this happen ... It’s a feel-good event and I’m happy that 25A magazine and Mr. Mangano are involved.”
And that’s just the beginning of the entertainment news surrounding Nassau County these days. Last month, Mangano announced the success of Nassau County’s booming film and television industry — dubbed the new “Hollywood East.” With the immersion of Grumman Studios and Gold Coast Studios, Nassau County is quickly transforming itself into a top destination for filmmakers, an initiative that Mangano has spearhead from its inception.
An avid film and television fan, the idea to create the movie and television studio lots were sparked by Mangano’s involvement in community efforts to revitalize the empty U.S. Navy and Grumman property, once an economic engine for the area. “We had a unique set of former defense industry buildings no one wanted. They are on a brownfield and they had significant reuse issues, but they were tailor-made for this specific use. This was a use that matched and allowed us to reuse existing buildings,” he said. Since its development, famous faces have been seen on a regular basis inside the studio lots. In addition to The Avengers in 2011, the Angelina Jolie action flick Salt was filmed at Grumman in 2009. “This is an industry that never existed on Long Island. Long Island used to just be the recipient of scenic shots. Now, we are competing nationally and internationally for major motion picture filming. I am proud to say we now have over a dozen film studios, two competing companies (Gold Coast Studios and Grumann Studios) and for the first time, we now have a backlot, an exact replica of Time Square in New York City that will attract even more filming. We just finished the most expensive picture ever made, The Amazing Spider-Man 3. We are very proud that we have a competitive film industry here in Nassau County,” he said.
According to an economic study commissioned by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) reviewing three filmmaking facilities – Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage, Grumman Studios in Bethpage and the Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington – the movie and television industry generated $140 million in economic benefit for Nassau County and more than $800,000 in sales and hotel taxes in 2012. The industry employed 1,945 people – including 890 annual jobs – and spent 393 days shooting movies and television shows in Nassau County. “We’re creating jobs right here in Nassau County,” Mangano said. “An actor told me the mayor of Los Angeles is complaining about losing filming, and here, in Nassau County, we are gaining.”
Supporting Long Island’s commerce and local business community is a high priority for Mangano and his administration. The county executive expressed his praise for having not only movies, but also publications celebrating the lifestyles and historical traditions of Long Island. “People love Nassau County, from the South Shore’s sandy beaches to the Gold Coast and its shoreline. It is multi-cultural, it is diverse in its landscape and [is] historical as well,” he noted. “25A is a great magazine,” Mangano added. “We’re thrilled that 25A is another new business here in Nassau County that is thriving and growing each and every year. Moreover, the fact that it is thriving because it is sharing Long Island’s and the Gold Coast’s rich history makes us even more proud that we are passing this information on to the next generation while creating a contemporary historical record. And if you look at the magazine, it’s a snapshot of our history today with a backdrop of the birth of the Gold Coast. It’s really a unique combination of real people set against the rich history and historical significance of Long Island.”
Turning Nassau County into a mecca for sports and entertainment is also one step closer to being a reality through Mangano’s recent efforts. Despite Nassau voters rejecting a $400 million public borrowing to build a new arena in Uniondale in 2011, the 77-acre Hub is finally on its way to redevelopment. Last month, the Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved Mangano’s public/private partnership with Bruce Ratner’s Nassau Events Center to transform the 43-year-old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Plaza into a top sports and family entertainment venue.
Looking back at his time in office, Mangano says he is proud of his accomplishments and excited about what the future may bring. “There are many, many achievements we’re proud of. We certainly are proud that we’ve been able to bring back a 100 percent privately-financed Coliseum and break a 20-year logjam. We’re proud that we’ve moved Nassau County forward without asking our taxpayers for any additional dollars and we’re very proud that we have an emergency management team here that performs a superior service in protecting life safety. So we have a lot to be proud of.”