Going forward with 'Pride'

"For the good of the village, we decided that we would put aside any differences that we had in the past," said Tom Miccio, who, along with David Penso, will be for running as members of the new party for a seat on the village Board of Trustees in March. Two seats will be contested - one of which is now Penso's. Trustee Richard Clifford has chosen not to run for a second term. In Lynbrook, candidates run at large, so the two who garner the highest vote totals will win the seats.
Miccio served on the board for 16 years, until 2005, as a member of the Independent party - the last five of those years as deputy mayor. In 2005, Penso won a seat for the then newly formed Reform Party, and Clifford, of the Independent Party, was also elected. In the most recent village election in 2007, Mayor Brian Curran, Deputy Mayor Bill Hendrick and Trustee Alan Beach ran as New Vision Party candidates, and all three were elected. (Hendrick was appointed deputy mayor by Curran.)
Last August, the United Village Party was born, co-founded by Clifford and Miccio. The Independent Party had dissolved, but the board remained divided among three parties, with New Vision in the majority - which led to some argumentative, and sometimes unruly, meetings. "We have come to realize that [the United Village and Reform parties] needed to come together for the good of the village," said Miccio.
"It's important that we have a two-party race in the next election," explained Penso. "... [When] you have three votes, it's a watered-down, split vote. Our similarities have always been greater than our differences."
Miccio said that the televised board meetings have reminded him of telecasts on Comedy Central. "It's viewed and laughed at not just in our own village, but by others in Nassau and Suffolk counties," he said.
Penso said that many of the disputes among board members stem from the fact that he and Clifford are left out of discussions and frozen out of the decision-making process. Often, Penso said, not all board members' eyes see the information at once, and he and Clifford do not get to see some documents until just before they are to vote on an issue. "The mayor portrays me as an obstructionist," said Penso. "I am very passionate about the village. I have lived here since 1957. What I see going on now is unconscionable."
"With a majority on the board, Penso said, "you can make mountains move - and nothing has moved in two years."
The Village Pride Party's President, Stephen Rossi, said that the members feel the current government lacks transparency and fiscal accountability. "It was time to make a stand," said Rossi, who claims to have had no previous party affiliation in the village. "We met with both [the United Village and Reform] parties, and we all realized that it would be in the best interest of the residents to bring them together."
Miccio and Penso agree that they are leaving their egos at the door, and have no aspirations for higher office. What he has witnessed in the last two years has propelled Miccio back into the political arena, he said, adding that the Village Pride Party's agenda is not theirs, but the community's.
"I see a total lack of transparency with this administration," he said. "It's not the way we have done it in the past." Miccio served on the board with Mayor Mary Colway as well as her successor, Eugene Scarpato. Both mayors, he said, made sure that all of the trustees were included in discussions.
Miccio and Penso also agree that virtually nothing has been done with regard to a master plan for the village, which was a New Vision Party campaign promise. The recent Regional Planning Association is a narrowly focused plan for the central business district. In the last election, Miccio said, the New Vision Party pledged to cut taxes - but the net effect, he said, is that it has raised them.
"You have New York state and Nassau County doing draconian things to cut back, and with a $64,000 cut, the mayor has tried to tell the residents that he is addressing the situation," Miccio said. He added that if he and Penso are elected, they will make every effort to go through the budget, line by line, to eliminate a bare minimum of 5 percent of village spending.
"There is no sense of urgency [now] to cut back on our budget," said Penso. "We would cut expenses that would result in meaningful tax relief." He pointed out that his accounting background, as well as Penso's years on the school and village boards, make them very knowledgeable when it comes to looking at budgets.
Miccio said that a board dominated by one party would not be a good thing for Lynbrook - even though it has worked in neighboring East Rockaway. "It has become abundantly clear that the current administration is becoming more and more beholden to special interests, especially in real estate," he said. "Lynbrook is becoming a 'pay to play' village."
A sore spot with Penso has been what he calls the "back-room meetings": the work sessions that are held in a smaller room and before regularly scheduled meetings. The public is allowed to sit in on these meetings, but not to comment on the proceedings. "Substantive [decisions] that affect the residents' pockets are made in the back room," he said.
In a recent resolution to transfer a large sum of money, Penso said, the minutes reflected a "yes" vote when, in actuality, the vote did not pass - and, he said, he taped the work session to prove it. "This is highly improper," he said, pointing out that other municipalities hold their work sessions in a main room, and some with cameras rolling.
According to both Penso and Miccio, at least half an hour should be put aside at the beginning of each meeting for Good and Welfare, when residents can speak their minds about any issue or ask questions of the board.
"We want to do what is right for the village," said Miccio. "That is why we came together ... we have to present a unified, loyal opposition. We're in stagnation, and it's not a good trend ... if we continue like this, there will be dire consequences."
Executive Board
Chris Monzert
Rich Clifford
Cecil Maloney
Dave DiMattina
Mitch Markides
Carol Gulino
Stephen Rossi
Tom Killelea
Bill Geier
Stephen Rossi - President
Tom Killelea - Vice President
Paul Celentano -Treasurer
Jim Tisdell- Secretary
Susan Wall - Corresponding Secretary
Send Inquiries To: LynbrookPrideParty@Gmail.com
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