Mineola's Board of Trustees just voted themselves a salary hike in the range of 60 percent with only Paul Cusato in opposition. It's only fair to give these people credit for all the time they dedicate to village business and since they haven't had a pay increase in more than a decade, a raise isn't completely out of line. I even understand the rationale behind this huge leap in compensation in order to provide them with pensionable credit. After all, if attorney Spellman can collect pensions from the plethora of towns he works for, why shouldn't our trustees be entitled to some kind of small pension? But now? Really? Couldn't they take a 30 percent increase this year and then if the economy has turned around by 2010, put in for the balance? Their timing couldn't possibly be worse as so many of their neighbors struggle to pay their bills and feed their families, wondering if their jobs are safe - assuming they still have jobs.

More obnoxious is the way Mr. Cusato was vilified by the mayor for exercising his God-given right to change his mind. Whether one agrees with his position or not, you have to give the man props for speaking his truth. He surely knew from prior experience he was walking right into the lion's den. How many times in the past did he and Linda Fairgrieve experience the wrath of Jack for having the presumption to disagree with him or to investigate matters on their own? Still, he did what his conscience told him to do and stood his ground despite being reprimanded by the mayor as if he were a recalcitrant child. Mr. Cusato is as entitled to a pay raise and pension as the other trustees. He had nothing to gain except abuse for changing his mind, and that abuse was doled out in heaping, generous amounts!

Here's a news flash for the mayor - nobody needs to consult with him before changing his or her mind. Whether Trustee Cusato's decision was made five minutes after his meeting with the other trustees, or five minutes before he stepped onto the dais for the April 8 budget meeting, he had every right to vote against that pay hike and he had no obligation to ask anybody's permission before doing so. Mayor Martin's treatment of this man who has given so much of himself to our community over so many years was outrageous, yet so in line with his typical M.O.

If anybody has been scratching their head over the fact that less than 500 votes were cast for any of the candidates in the March 18 election then wonder no more. You have your answer.

Jeanne Falabella

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