As seen in Newsday/Towns
December 4, 2014, 9:22 PM

Judi Bosworth, who promised a more "user-friendly" building department while campaigning last year for North Hempstead supervisor, has chosen a veteran town employee to run the once scandal-plagued department.

building commsr

John Niewender, the new building commissioner for the Town of North Hempstead on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 in Manhasset. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Bosworth has named acting Deputy Building Commissioner John Niewender, 55, to the top spot after a six-month search. He succeeds interim Commissioner Michael Levine -- also the town's planning commissioner -- who took over after Kevin Cronin announced in March that he was stepping down in May. Cronin took office in 2008 after a corruption scandal.

The town's building department has been criticized in recent years for handling applications too slowly. A scandal in 2007 rocked the department, leading to five arrests. Ex-commissioner David Wasserman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail. Nassau County prosecutors said officials approved permits without the required inspections in exchange for favors.

Niewender -- who has worked in the department for nearly 11 years, beginning as a zoning inspector -- said he wants to address the perception that "this is the big, bad building department that everyone reads about."

Procedures that followed the scandal slowed the application process, and then-town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said in 2012 that his aim was for the department to become "strict as hell, but kinder and gentler."

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