Questions have arisen about the Kentucky ties of Joseph Kearney, whom Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has named as his acting deputy county executive to oversee the county’s economic development projects.
Critics of the appointment have told the Press they wonder how Kearney, who is also executive director of the Nassau County Industrial Development Authority, can focus on Nassau if he divides his time between Nassau and Kentucky. His supporters say that’s not an issue.
“He hardly did anything in his IDA job because he wasn’t here half the time and how can he do this job if he’s still going to be flying back and forth to Kentucky,” said a source close to the administration who asked to remain anonymous.
Kearney, a Republican, declined to respond through a spokesman.
Terri Kearney, Joseph Kearney’s wife of 39 years, owns a saddle horse farm in Shelbyville, Ky., about 20 miles east of Louisville. Reached at her farmhouse, she says her husband, who is listed on Kentucky records as co-owner of the farm, lives in New York.
A spokesman for the Nassau County executive says that Kearney is a resident of Westbury.
Kearney sold his Garden City home last August for $1.2 million.
A long-time Hempstead Town councilman until he resigned in 2003, Kearney has been the executive director of the IDA, which he’ll continue doing. He’s also been counsel to the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Keyspan Energy.
Mangano tapped Kearney to replace Pat Foye, who resigned Jan. 31 in protest after the county executive filed a lawsuit to block a financial takeover by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. In a statement, Foye criticized those who “smear duly appointed members” of the NIFA board, an indirect reference to Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature who has called the NIFA board members “ethically challenged.”
In announcing the appointment Feb. 2, Mangano praised Kearney’s background and experience. “Joe’s longstanding and distinguished career in both the public and private sectors,” Mangano said, “will enable him to build a strong relationship with Nassau’s business community as well as business from beyond our borders.”
It remains to be seen how much business—if any—he’ll be able to attract from the Bluegrass State now that he’s saddled with handling Nassau’s economic development, a role he’ll be doing for free.