Written by Jill Nossa Thursday, 03 July 2014 00:00
Months after the death of Councilman Nicholas DiLeo left a vacant seat on the Glen Cove City Council, the seat remains open, despite the efforts of the mayor and council members to reach an agreement.
In a meeting that quickly turned from ambitious yet efficient to contentious, at points getting downright ugly, the vote to appoint Joe Capobianco to the council was ultimately tabled.
The resolution for the appointment was saved until the very end of the meeting, and Mayor Reginald A. Spinello announced the decision to appoint Capobianco to the seat, reading the city charter, which states that the decision is left to the council for filling the seat until the next general election. He started to call for public comments when Councilman Tim Tenke suggested that was against protocol.
“It’s not proper to take comments on appointments,” said Tenke.
Spinello then polled the council on whether or not to allow public comments. Councilman Anthony Gallo, Jr. said he thought it best to ask Capobianco if he wished to have the council members speak;
Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti said he sided with Tenke and expressed his displeasure with the method of the appointment.
“I have said before I felt the candidates should be vetted before the city council,” said Spagnoletti.
Responding to Spagnoletti, Spinello said, “Capobianco became the choice of the Republican Committee, which you are a part of...I was told there were no objections...you didn’t ask for a caucus. The public gets to make a decision in November, but not now. Now, we are obligated and get to make a choice.”
Spagnoletti said, “I support him as a candidate in November but not tonight. When they asked for an aye vote, I remained silent. When they asked for a no vote, I remained silent because I don’t know
Joe Capobianco or what he stands for...the candidate should be made public...it’s a fundamental principle called democracy.”
Spinello noted that he has had seven weeks to speak to him and ask him about where he stands.
Councilwoman Pam Panzenbeck, who made the motion to table to the vote, said, “I feel the mayor worked hard to find someone who would work well with all of us.”
Capobianco said, “I know I am a qualified candidate.” He began by saying he would not lower himself to the level of the council members, but then called out those members for not expressing the same support in public as they did to him in private, calling the behavior “disingenuous.” He said, “I’m not looking to have an agenda...I’m just here to pick up the garbage.”
Councilman Michael Famiglietti, a Democrat, said that while he respects and admires Capobianco, he would not have voted in favor of choosing him as a candidate for fundamental reasons.
“It’s very unfortunate that politics and a self-serving agenda have gotten in the way of good government,” said Spinello.
Resident Kathleen Lappano said, “A lot of people may not be pleased with what happened tonight, but...this is exactly what should be happening in a public forum...we have a dilemma...what I see is a government that is working despite being down one good man.” She then quoted an email that had apparently been circulating earlier in the day and said, “Give the vote back to the people of Glen Cove.”
The council passed a total of 18 resolutions as well as numerous appointments at the meeting, including the passage of legislation regarding sewer use and private wastewater disposal to specifically address the problems at Crescent Beach. Spinello explained that it would help make residents more accountable for their waste and any contamination they may cause. He noted the city’s service of providing annual pump-outs to those residents at no charge.
Erin Reilly, the city’s grants administrator, said that a lot of homeowners with cesspools do not know how to maintain them and the new code would help teach them.
One concerned resident said, “It’s not my responsibility as a taxpayer to teach them how to maintain their cesspools.”
Grace Slezak, a local real estate agent, noted that there are 129 homes in Glen Cove who are not hooked up to sewers, and said there is no longer a sewer tax charge on homeowners’ tax bills. “Those 129 households should pay for their cesspool clean outs,” she said.
Spinello said, “We are trying to have clean water in Long Island Sound and make people more accountable for their systems.”
The council also passed a resolution to enter into an agreement with Soli DG, Inc. as ferry operator consultant; Spinello explained that this is an experienced firm that has reviewed all previous letters of interest and will put together the Request for Proposals (RFPs).