Standing in front of a statue of President Theodore Roosevelt, Nassau County Executive candidate Jack Martins unveiled a comprehensive ethics reform package to fight corruption and restore the public’s trust in county government. The Martins plan is built on the four core principles of disclosure, transparency, independence, and accountability. The plan features a removal provision for the county executive, independent enforcement of the county’s ethics laws and enhanced scrutiny to prevent conflicts of interest. When announcing his plan, Martins invoked Roosevelt’s legacy as a corruption-fighter and champion of the middle class.
“As we begin a new chapter for Nassau County, enacting comprehensive ethics reform must be the first thing that we do,” said Jack Martins. “Because reforming the way government functions affects everything that will occur after, enacting this reform package will be the first thing I do as County Executive. Nassau County families have a right to honest government and we will ensure they have it.
There is not a not a democratic or republican way to restore public confidence in government. There is the right way and that begins my first day in office,” continued Martins.
Currently, the Nassau County Charter enables the Governor to remove the Nassau County Executive for cause. To return that authority to Nassau County, the Martins plan amends the charter to allow for the County Executive’s removal, following the vote of a bipartisan special legislative committee, and by super majority vote of the County Legislature.
“It makes no sense that there’s a legislative process for removing the President of the United States but not the County Executive in Nassau County,” said Martins. “More than six months ago, I called for a change in county leadership to restore the public’s trust in county government. A recall provision gives Nassau’s residents the tools they need to keep government in check between elections when circumstances arise”, said Martins.
To provide independent ethics enforcement and ensure the integrity of county contracts, the Martins’ Ethics Reform plan would require both the Nassau County Commissioner of Investigations and the Nassau County Procurement Director to be confirmed by a majority of the County Legislature. These offices will provide quarterly reports to the County Executive and Legislature. In addition, both the offices of the Commissioner of Investigations and the Procurement Director would have independent allocations within the county budget. This is independent budgeting authority would ensure these offices are properly staffed with experienced professionals and unencumbered by political considerations.
The Nassau County Board of Ethics would be restructured. Martins proposed strengthening the Board of Ethics changing its composition to make it bipartisan and include the County Legislature. Members would serve five-year staggered terms, be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the legislature. Not more than two members would be from the same political party. The commissioner of investigations would serve as the investigatory arm of the Board of Ethics providing the investigatory tools to perform the proper independent oversight.
“We must have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to public corruption,” Martins said. “To do that, we need stronger policies and structural change in county government to prevent impropriety from occurring, discover when it does and hold bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law. This comprehensive package provides the reforms needed to do just that,” concluded Martins.”
Martins proposed a new Nassau County Code of Ethics that includes:
Subject elected officials and county employees to enhance disclosure requirements and independent review process if they seek to simultaneously work for or receive other compensation from any entity that receives county funds.
Martins plan would ensure the effective implementation of the new Code of Ethics and provide the tools necessary for the independent offices of the Commissioner of Investigations and the Procurement Director to conduct investigations and make both civil and criminal referrals.
Beyond the disclosure and review process performed by the Board of Ethics and the independent offices of the Commissioner of Investigations and the Procurement Director, the Martins plan provides unprecedented public access to county information. This includes:
Implementing an Open Data policy and creating an online portal for the public to receive and use information regularly disclosed by county agencies as a means of monitoring the effectiveness of county government, Making county personnel and procurement information available online Televising proceedings of the County Legislature.
As Mayor of Mineola Martins ran on a message of honesty, integrity and accountability. In 8 Years as Mayor he added unprecedented transparency and accountability to village government.
As a state senator, Jack Martins passed the state constitutional amendment that will appear on the ballot this November stripping corrupt elected officials of their taxpayer-funded pensions.