Nicholas Zacchea is an educator with vast experience in exposing and preventing governmental fraud and abuse. He will bring his financial expertise to Albany to break the chain of runaway taxes and spending. Nicholas is fighting to preserve our local quality-of-life.
Dr. Zacchea delivered a presentation at a conference of the International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management, hosted by the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. The Consortium, entitled “Microeconomic Benefits of Strong Public Financial Management Practices” was attended by 200 government financial management professionals from the United States and 25 other countries.
From left to right: Dr. Zacchea, Dr. Kevin Johnson, Vice President of the Geochemical Society, and Professor Samuel Pimpong, of the Government of the Republic of Ghana.
LONG ISLAND HERALD
Former federal auditor challenges Michelle Solages in Assembly race
Posted September 8, 2020
Nicholas Zacchea spoke about international finance management in 2016.
For the past seven weeks, Nicholas Zacchea has been seen handing out his biography to passersby at Long Island Rail Road stations and at supermarkets in the 22nd Assembly District, as part of his bid to unseat Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages.
The district was formed in 2012, when sections of three existing Assembly districts were pieced together, and Solages, 35, has represented it ever since. It includes parts of Franklin Square, Elmont, Valley Stream as well as North and South Valley Stream, Floral Park and South Floral Park, Bellerose Terrace, North Woodmere and Stewart Manor.
Zacchea, a Republican from Floral Park who declined to disclose his age, said he decided to run because he was “becoming very disappointed in the way governance was being handed out,” and was upset with the rise of socialist rhetoric in the country.
“My experience has been in government,” he added. “I know how government should work.”
Zacchea was an auditor for the U.S. Government Accountability Office for more than 30 years, providing legislators with information they needed to make informed votes on various bills, and even sometimes drafting legislation based on the information he gathered. In his role, he said, he was not allowed to express opinions, and could only present facts — a practice that he still tries to adhere to.
In fact, he recounted, a supervisor once asked him to review his team’s findings on the needle-exchange program in New York City, which, during the HIV epidemic of the 1980s, allowed drug users to safely dispose of injection equipment and receive new sterile needles and syringes in exchange. Zacchea said he was morally opposed to the program at the time, but when he saw that the evidence his team had gathered showed that it “significantly helped reduce the spread of HIV,” he changed his mind.
Federal agencies also recruited Zacchea to serve as an auditor and investigator while he was serving in the GAO. From 1977 to 1980, for example, he managed a staff of 85 auditors, criminal investigators and support personnel who conducted energy audits in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The audits, he said, uncovered numerous incidences of energy companies engaging in illegal activity.
In 1988 and 1989, Zacchea managed a 10-person team teaching Saudi Arabians how to properly conduct audits, before returning to New York as the assistant director of the GAO, and eventually he joined the United Nations, taking part in peacekeeping missions in places like Haiti — where the military took control in a coup d’état in the 1980s — and conducting more audits.
After leaving the United Nations in the early 2000s, he said, “I started to get calls from accounting firms” to train more auditors in former Soviet countries, while training the U.S. Agency for International Development personnel on the techniques he used at the GAO.
By 2012, Zacchea was working in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but when his wife became ill, he started turning down foreign assignments. After she died in 2015, he applied for jobs at local universities, and has been teaching economics at Molloy College, in Rockville Centre, since 2017.
“I have a hell of a lot of experience in government,” he said, adding, “People are talking about socialism now. I saw the havoc it caused in those countries.”
He used to travel around former Soviet countries, he said, giving lectures about the benefits of a free-market economy, and many of those he spoke to, he said, began to realize how the economic system they were living under restricted their liberties.
He also said he was injured several times while living in countries with socialized health care, and once had to wait 10 hours for eye surgery.
Additionally, Zacchea said, he is against calls to defund police departments, because he spent time in countries where police departments were underfunded, and it was “not unusual for me to be stopped and for the police to search my car for money.”
Instead, he would support legislation establishing an independent unit that would look into personnel issues, as he did, he said, with the Los Angeles Police Department in the early 1990s. There, he said, he helped created an analysis system to determine which officers were more at risk of engaging in illegal activities, in order to “pre-empt problems before they start.”
Solages, a Democrat from Elmont, said she thought it was funny that Zacchea was so opposed to socialism, when he likely has family that benefits from Social Security — a program that some consider socialist.
She also said that during her time in office, she was able to:
-Secure $1 million from the state budget for the implementation of universal preschool on Long Island, because in towns like Elmont, Valley Stream and Floral Park there was not enough child care.
-Push for legislation to ensure that women have access to adequate health care to reduce the likelihood of their dying during childbirth.
-Have hundreds of smoke detectors installed.
-Pass legislation requiring Industrial Development Agencies to livestream their meetings.
-Implement a recreational running program in Valley Stream.
Republicans, Solages said, have eliminated the federal, state and local tax reduction, and are suing the federal government in an effort to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which, she said, helped reduce medical debt in New York.
FLORAL PARK, NY — Nov. 3 is Election Day in the United States. And while the presidential race is dominating the headlines, there are many down-ballot races that are also incredibly important. These races will shape the makeup of Congress, as well as New York's Senate and Assembly. Republican D. Nicholas Zacchea is running to unseat Democrat Michaelle Solages to represent the 22nd Assembly District.
The 22nd AD includes Elmont, North Valley Stream, Valley Stream, South Valley Stream, South Floral Park, Floral Park, the Village of Bellerose, Bellerose Terrace, North Woodmere, Stewart Manor, and portions of Franklin Square.
Zacchea, 80, has a doctorate in economic science and spent most of his life working in the federal government. He spent 30 years working in the Government Accountability Office. He is currently an adjunct professor.
A widower, Zacchea lives in Floral Park. He has three adult children and six grandchildren.
Patch reached out to the candidates to get more information about them. Here's what Zacchea said:
Why are you seeking elective office?
I believe that with my extensive professional experience in government, both here in the United States and abroad, I will be able to make a significant and lasting contribution to good government in New York State.
The single most pressing issue facing our nation/state/community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
We here in New York State have an estimated $15 billion state budget deficit. The deficit impacts everything — education, battling the the coronavirus, law enforcement, health care; you name it and it will be and is being impacted. The deficit, because of out of control spending and very poor financial management, must be addressed.
Spending more than one receives is always a problem, as is not having a cache of fiscal reserves for unanticipated expenditures. Both failures in basic financial management by the current administration contribute to the deficit and are convincing and irrefutable evidence of bad budgeting and bad government. I have spent most of my professional career assessing the manner in which federal, state and local governments, here in the United States and in more than 20 countries, manage the money entrusted to them. Bad fiscal management always seemed to invite fraud, waste and abuse; it was always a recurring theme. I am certain it is the case here in New York State.
Increasing taxes and eliminating essential services is never an answer but one that bureaucrats and Democrats always seem to rely on. My opponent wants to tax the wealthy — the ones with the capital to invest and the ones who create jobs. And the ones leaving the state in droves. My opponent's answer is to defund the police and hand out food baskets. I’ve lived in countries where that was tried; it didn’t work there and it isn't working here.
The short answer is to hold accountable those that are entrusted to collect our taxes and provide essential services. Holding them accountable by making certain that every financial transaction, every tax dollar collected and spent and every service promised and delivered is made completely transparent. Moreover, that transparency must be augmented and made public by independent, non-partisan and professional oversight.
Governments the world over with well-managed systems of accountability, transparency and oversight tend to have better economic indicators than those who do not. Plugging a hole in New York state’s finances, stopping its financial hemorrhaging should begin by eliminating fraud, waste and abuse through an effective system of accountability, transparency and oversight.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I believe in small government, the free market system, private enterprise, well-trained law enforcement, educational choice, a freeze on tax increases, the U. S. Constitution, safe and stable neighborhoods, small business, and do not believe in very many of the legislative initiatives championed by my opponent. For example, her legislative agenda includes bail-reform, changing how New York State casts its Electoral College votes and prohibiting the use of children's test scores to evaluate teacher's skills.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency).
My opponent walks in lockstep with the Democratic Party — the party that wants to tax you so that the children of illegal aliens can go to New York state colleges at reduced tuition, a party that wants to defund law enforcement, that wants to upend local suburban zoning laws so that multi-family housing can be constructed in your suburban neighborhood, that wants to help people commit suicide and that wants to eliminate bail for dangerous criminals. The party that chased 25,000 jobs out of New York City and chased many more overseas, that allows insurance companies to deny reimbursement for essential medical expenses, that is against school choice, that has failed to eliminate inequities among school districts and that is against virtually everything that made the quest for United States citizenship so sought after.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
Essentially, when elected I want to do three things. First, I want to know exactly what the people in my district want so I can start delivering it. That is my priority. Next, I plan to undo as much of the damage that the Democrats have caused and at the same time introduce or sponsor legislation that would put the state of New York back on the track to good governance. Last but not least, I would introduce or sponsor legislation that mandates a system of accountability, transparency and oversight for every state bureau and agency, and is an integral component of every budget, every expenditure, every contract, every grant and every legislative initiative.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I will bring to Albany and to the constituents of District 22, a lifetime of government financial management experience. The focus of most of my professional activities have been to support the legislative duties, including drafting legislative proposals, of both houses of the United States Congress. I worked at various times for individual members of Congress, Congressional Committees and the Congress at large. I worked for both Republicans and Democrats and those in-between. I was always required to be politically neutral, totally objective and fact driven.
In serving the Congress I garnered a lifetime of experience auditing, investigating, studying and advising governments at the federal, state and local levels here in the United States as well as abroad. My service to the Congress also required me to examine the way in which government contractors, subcontractors and grantees discharged their agreed-on responsibilities. An essential component of my work was ferreting out fraud, waste and abuse.
Components of my career included directing a staff of investigators responsible for investigating violations of federal energy laws. Yet another one of my experience components was spent overseeing the activities of an on-going UN Peacekeeping mission. In addition, I spent two years in the Middle East, several years in Europe and a year in Asia embedded in governments advising those governments in financial management techniques. I have been instrumental in helping many of the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union establish financial management systems.
I know government, I know the problems governments face. I know how government should work, I know how to remedy the many problems that governments face. I know the legislative process and what that process needs to function effectively.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
I have been driven in my commitment to good government all my professional life by two bits of advice. The first comes from the Athenian Oath, which says in part "... we will transmit this City not only, not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us." The second comes from my father who taught me that when encountering an obstacle to a goal worthy of achieving, improvise, adapt and overcome but do not let it stop you.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I want residents of District 22 to know, that when I am in Albany, whether they voted for me or not, I will go to the gates of hell to represent everyone of them. I am unable to do less.
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