Town of Oyster Bay residents Jayne Ann McParltin and Cathleen Colvin filed a lawsuit in Nassau County Supreme Court on Sept. 20 against the town, Supervisor Joseph Saladino and all seven members of the town board.
McParltin and Colvin allege that Saladino and the board have authorized the use of public funds to create and distribute political material to promote Saladino’s candidacy and the Republican political slate as well as its issues. The suit claims that those actions are unlawful and a misuse of public property.
The suit states that Saladino and the board have allegedly violated “Town Law 116(13),” which “specifically limits the town’s authority to publish and distribute only reports that are relative to the fiscal affairs, official acts, programs and meetings of boards, commissions, departments and other agencies of a town.”
Saladino, who was appointed supervisor on Jan. 31, had announced his candidacy to run for the position at a Jan. 25 board meeting. The lawsuit alleges that his campaigning began before he was appointed.
There are examples of town mailings in the lawsuit that it claims “are essentially identical to the promotion material on defendant Saladino’s campaign webpage.” Additionally, the suit alleges that the Town of Oyster Bay Facebook page repeatedly links to Saladino’s official supervisor page, which displays his campaign website.
“We have been doing everything appropriately,” Saladino said in an interview. “All of these mailings have information on how to contact the town, and one of my motivations is to collect up emails so that we could start saving money and using email to communicate with the public, but you have to have a means to start that process . . .”
The town, he said, has been using the mailings to ask residents to send their email addresses so it can create a contact database and distribute the information electronically.
“Those who brought this case are rich campaign contributors to the Democrat candidates for Oyster Bay Supervisor and the Town Board,” Town Attorney Joseph Nocella wrote in an email. “The attorney herself was a Democrat nominee for public office. Most importantly, the ethics board already determined that no impropriety took place in the criticized mailing.”
Saladino and the board created an ethics board in February, after former Supervisor John Venditto resigned and was indicted on federal corruption charges.
The board is supposed to review financial disclosure forms submitted by town officials, employees and contractors, and complaints filed by the public.
Republican Alfred Constans III, an attorney from Locust Valley, was appointed to a five-year term. Republican Robert Harrison, a financial industry manager from Syosset, was appointed for three years. Two members without party affiliation, Mary Sanchez, a specialist at a child-care nonprofit from Syosset and Margaret Eaton, a former commercial aviation manager from Hicksville, were appointed to four- and two-year terms, respectively. Carolyn Mazzu Genovesi, a Democratic attorney from Glen Head was appointed to a one-year term.
Newsday reported in February that a committee consisting of Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman, Town Special Counsel Thomas Sabellico and Steven Leventhal, an attorney from the Roslyn-based Leventhal, Cursio, Mullaney and Sliney, who crafted the new ethics code adopted last year, selected the ethics board members from a pool of 24 people who expressed an interest, according to Saladino.
“Every mailer that goes out costs the town $50,000. Now, that money, in my mind, could go to repairing our roads,” said Marc Herman, a Democrat who is running for supervisor. “Instead [Saladino] goes on to feeding his enormous ego, running a campaign using our wallets and our pocketbooks.”
Herman said he does not know the plaintiffs and has no relationship with them.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Amy Marion, of the Garden City-based Barket, Marion, Epstein and Kearon, is also representing residents of Sea Cliff, Glen Cove and neighboring communities in a lawsuit against the City of Glen Cove and RXR Realty over the Garvies Waterfront project. Additionally, Marion is representing two residents in a lawsuit against Glen Cove over the Livingston Group’s The Villa at Glen Cove project.