Opinion

I would like to thank Charley Hearon for his five years of service as a commissioner of the Hicksville Fire District. In finishing my third year on the board, Hicksville has the best-trained, equipped and led fire department on Long Island. Any success I had in maintaining these standards was easy for me as I simply followed Charley's lead. I know I speak for many when I wish him better health and continued success wherever the future takes him.

Charley Hearon is an honorable man; and he ran an honest re-election campaign. It was a privilege to have backed him for re-election. His opponent, Jerry O'Brien, was backed by Commissioner and 2008 Board Chairman Harry Single and Commissioners Pat Scanlon and William Thunell.

In a campaign letter supporting O'Brien, Board Chairman Single wrote, "We need to finally eliminate someone who was put in office by a group that has done nothing else but disrupt the fire district and due to their actions have cost the taxpayers of our community hundreds of thousands of dollars. This person has made working in the district a very difficult task and it was all just out of obedience to the group that supported him. The man we have to beat is Charley Hearon."

In an email Single forwarded to voters on Dec. 7, this accusation was phrased "This year, we have an opportunity to remove someone who has been operating strictly for the good of a hand few of people who have disrupted our fire district and due to those disruptions have cost taxpayers over $250,000 in construction delays on the new firehouse ... I am asking you to support ex-Chief Jerry O'Brien for fire commissioner. Jerry's election will help pave the way for my re-election bid next year."

If this accusation of misspending a quarter of a million taxpayer dollars were true, it would be a serious act of misconduct by a fire commissioner.

At his final board meeting on Dec. 18, Commissioner Hearon had a statement read into the minutes. As to the above accusations by Board Chairman Single, it read, "These serious accusations are a public charge of malfeasance. These accusations by the Hicksville Fire District 2009 Board Chairman Harry Single would allow any Hicksville resident so inclined, now or in the future, to charge me with misconduct and ask for an investigation of this alleged misconduct in office by either a state or county regulatory agency. As I am leaving office on Dec. 31 of this year, financial support to fight these accusations by the Hicksville Fire District many not be forthcoming. For me to have to obtain private counsel to fight these charges would cause a great financial hardship for both me and my family. The validity of a public charge of malfeasance against me by Chairman Single must be investigated by the New York State Office of the State Comptroller. I have recently spoken to a representative of the comptroller [who] advised me to forward this information for review, which I will do. I feel that any request for an investigation to prove or disprove this accusation, should come from the board of fire commissioners."

Commissioner Hearon then made the motion to request the investigation by the comptroller's office with my second then requiring a vote by the full board. Only three yes votes from among the five commissioners president would be necessary for the board to request the investigation and for the truth to be made known. Commissioners Hearon and myself votes yes to an investigation; Commissioners Single, Scanlon and Thunell voted no.

Bob Manson

Commissioner

Hicksville Fire District


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