By 5TJT Staff
The six members of the Board of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority stared with serious expressions at the public audience before them as they each slowly cast their vote this past Thursday at the Marriot Hotel’s conference center in Uniondale. With their unanimous vote, the board of the NIFA, as it is commonly called, adopted their Staff Report warning of a Nassau County budgetary shortfall that could reach over $100 million in 2013.
Among the board members is Leonard Steinman, a senior partner at a large Manhattan law firm, who is also running for election as New York State Supreme Court Justice in Nassau and Suffolk this coming Tuesday on the Independence and Democratic lines. The board again urged the county to exercise fiscal discipline and insisted on various changes in the county’s multi-year fiscal plan. “As a state control board it is our duty to ensure that the county operates on sound fiscal principles and follows a plan pursuant to which it lives within its means,” says Steinman, a gubernatorial appointment to the board. “The people of Nassau County deserve no less.”
Steinman’s participation on the NIFA Board, a volunteer position, is just one example of his civic participation on Long Island. A lifelong resident, Steinman deeply feels an obligation to give back to the community, which explains his willingness to leave his lucrative private law practice to serve as a state court judge. Steinman is a recent former Chairman of Nassau County’s Industrial Development Authority (another volunteer position), the state authority that works to attract and retain businesses in Nassau. He is also on the College Council of SUNY, Old Westbury.
“My law firm and its partners have a long history of community involvement,” Steinman explains. “In New York, my firm was founded by Herbert Tenzer, who represented the Five Towns in Congress for a number of years and was the first Orthodox Jew elected to Congress. Tenzer Greenblatt fought to establish the first eruv in Lawrence. One of my former partners is now leading the fight to establish an eruv in Westhampton. Since Tenzer Greenblatt merged with Blank Rome we have gotten larger and perhaps more influential, but the importance of community activity remains with us.”
Steinman, a litigator for over 28 years, recalls fondly the bond he formed with Geraldine Ferraro, the late Congresswoman and Vice-Presidential candidate, who became his law partner five years ago when she joined his firm. “Gerry was a truly wonderful, passionate, and down-to-earth woman,” Steinman recalls, “and a great example of a public servant. She always called them like she saw them, and that is a lesson I intend to take to the bench if elected.” Gerry was not only Steinman’s partner, but he also became her trusted advisor and lawyer and enjoys her family’s support in his current race for judge.
If elected, Steinman sees his role on the bench as similar to his role on the NIFA Board. “We on the NIFA Board act like neutral umpires as it relates to the county’s finances. We objectively look at the facts before us and determine if what we see adds up. And then we pass judgment on the county’s financial activities. As a judge, the obligation is the same: to be fair and impartial and to make decisions and apply the law based on the evidence. I intend to do so using my private sector work ethic so that the process is faster, more economical and efficient.” Given his track record of accomplishment so far, it is hard to doubt that he will succeed.