Oyster Bay yet to name Venditto replacement
State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino “crashed” the Jan. 24 Town of Oyster Bay Town Board meeting to announce his run for supervisor of the township. His appearance was the latest chapter in a saga that began Jan. 4, when longtime chief executive John Venditto stepped down to prepare his defense against federal corruption charges.
Saladino was all set to be sworn in to replace Venditto at an emergency meeting on Jan. 6, but there was a lack of quorum.
At the Jan. 10 regular town board meeting, Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Joseph Muscarella announced that there would be no swearing-in and indicated that the board needed more time to decide. No other candidates have been publicly named.
The lack of action seems to suggest division on the board over appointing Saladino, but no one in a position to know is commenting for the record.
At the conclusion of the public session on Jan. 24, Muscarella, who has been serving as acting supervisor, made a comment that was drowned out by applause for the last speaker, bayman Bill Fetzer. then stated, “Hopefully, we’ll see you very shortly.”
He and the rest of the board members filed into the boardroom reached by a door adjoining the dais.
As town officials and other attendees milled around, Saladino—who had shown up late in the meeting to sign the speakers’ card on the table next to the podium—entered the boardroom. Minutes later he came out, and shortly after, councilmembers returned and took their seats and Muscarello called on Saladino to speak.
The Massapequa-based, 13-year member of the state assembly read out his statement: “I came here today with every expectation that the board would take a vote, make an appointment, and swear me in as supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay. [But] it is evident that a vote will not take place today. The town requires a full-time supervisor to take charge of matters, to fix its problems and get the town back on track. The town cannot be led by a part-time supervisor. That’s been said by the members of the board publicly.
“It is time to right the ship, to get away from any chance of a town by run by a headless horseman,” Saladino continued, then declared his intention to run for the chief executive office.
Muscarella called out, “Widsom tells me not to comment. Thank you,” and the town council made its exit.
Saladino spoke to reporters afterward, noting that the town board had interviewed him at length and he believed that members “liked everything I stood for.”
Asked if he had been in touch with any councilmember before the meeting to ascertain if, in fact, he would be sworn in, Saladino sidestepped the question, emphasizing that “today was the town board meeting and it was the right time to be here.”
Asked by Anton Media Group why he would leave his state legislative office, Saladino replied, “I will go where the people need me the most, and it’s obvious that this is where I’m needed the most.”
In response to why there has been a holdup, and if any councilmembers indicated that they would not vote for him, he said, “You’ll have to ask them [board members].”
Muscarella was not available for comment after the meeting. In a press release he stated, “Regardless of a timeline with respect to who may occupy the supervisor’s seat in the future, the business of government is continuing to proceed forward under the attentive direction of me and my colleagues on the…board, who are working collectively to implement improvements to our town government, both fiscally and operationally. I cannot comment regarding the political aspirations of supervisor candidates and have strong reservations as to the appropriateness of using a governmental platform to announce one’s candidacy.”
Bond Rating Upgrade
Also that eventful Tuesday, the town reestablished its credit rating with Moody’s Investors Service, the bond credit rating company. It assigned the town a rating of Baa3, with a “stable outlook,” and mentioned such factors as “reductions in payroll and consultant costs.”
“While the town has admittedly experienced some financial setbacks in recent years, we have been working diligently to address the problems and make changes that will continue to have a positive effect on our financial future,” said Councilman Joseph G. Pinto in a release. Pinto is a CPA who “has worked with all departments to help cut costs and streamline spending.”
Evening Meetings Added
In a press release, the town announced that it has added additional evening town board meetings for 2017 in response to public input. Meetings are generally held the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The released schedule lists 10 a.m. starting times at the first meeting and 7 p.m. at the second. The board next gathers Feb. 14, at 10 a.m., followed by Feb. 28, at 7 p.m.