At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Tim Tenke moved, and the council voted, to table four nominations to the Glen Cove finance committee after Councilwoman Marsha Silverman objected to one of them — Tom Hopke — on the grounds that he worked for Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, a civil engineering firm with longtime business ties to the city.
The committee’s mission statement — which the council approved in May — authorizes it to “evaluate, generate and recommend financing strategies, both short and long term.” The statement specifically cites the city’s procurement procedures as a subject the committee should tackle.
Nearly four months after the committee was established, three of its five seats remain unfilled. As of Tuesday’s meeting, the council has had the opportunity to vote on eight candidates. Of the three that had been approved, one dropped out, citing his health.
In response to Silverman’s concern about a conflict of interest, City Attorney Charles McQuair said that legally, conflict restrictions were limited to officials with the power to make or enforce laws, and that the finance committee was advisory in nature.
Tenke later told the Herald Gazette that he had known that Hopke worked for Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, but didn’t think it would be a problem because his co-committee members would act as a check on his input.
Silverman moved to remove Hopke’s nomination from the agenda, but before her motion could be seconded, Tenke moved to table all four nominations. He later said, “If we had dropped the one, I thought that might potentially affect the ones that were left [on the agenda].” He clarified, “There might have been resentment . . . among some council members.”
For the past several City Council meetings, some disclosure has come up — the fact that the Morgan Park bathroom contractors had been paid without the mayor having signed a contract, for example, or a previously un-accounted for bond payment that changed the discussion on water rate hikes — that gave Silverman a reason to say, “This is why, as I’ve been saying for months, we need the finance committee to begin its work.”
Tuesday’s meeting was no exception. Based the research done by a member of the public, the council learned that Turner Miller Group, a planning firm that the city renewed a standing professional services contract with in January, had been dissolved the previous year. In other words, the council — minus Silverman who voted ‘nay’ — had approved a contract with a company that no longer existed.