Can Grady Farnan serves on IDA and council?


lverman voiced concern over a portion of the city’s code during the March 14 council meeting. There is a potential conflict of interest, she said, between new Councilman Grady Farnan’s service on both the city council and its Industrial Development Agency. 

“There is a city council member sitting on this podium who, on Feb. 28, voted in this chamber and voted upstairs in another chamber meeting,” Silverman said. That is written in our code that is a conflict of interest, and that is not supposed to happen,” 

The code Silverman was referring to — C2-13, titled Restrictions Upon Appointment of Council Members to Other Offices reads: “No member of the city council shall be appointed to any office, position or employment, except for the Office of Mayor, the compensation of which was increased or fixed by the city council while such councilperson was a member, until after the expiration of one year from the date when such councilperson ceased to be such a member.”

Silverman stressed that many former councilmembers including John Perrone and Rocco Totino, who both served on the city’s zoning boards, resigned from their positions to serve on the city council. Danielle Fugazy Scagliola resigned from her position on the Community Development Agency as well before becoming a city councilwoman. 

After the meeting, Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck said Farnan was already on the IDA before being appointed to the council.  

“It’s not like he was on the council and then I appointed him to the IDA,” Panzenbeck said. “He’s on a special committee on the IDA. Had he not been there, we wouldn’t have had a quorum.” 

Farnan declined to comment.  

“It’s a one-year appointment,” Panzenbeck said. “And he’s on a committee that needs to have a quorum,” 

Tip Henderson, the city’s attorney, said the code details the protocol the city takes if councilmembers intend to leave their position to take a paid position within the city. 

“If a councilman was going to leave and become a controller for the city, and that council person was on the council when the controller salary was increased, that council person couldn’t take that position as controller for a year after he left or she left the council,” he said. 

The code was enacted to prevent situations where the council could raise the salary of a city position, Henderson added, where a council person could then resign and take that position. The code has nothing to do with serving on multiple unpaid positions. 

Additionally, Henderson said, municipal law states members of the IDA may include representatives of local government, school boards, organized labor, and business, and that these positions often overlap. 

“The fact that they have this municipal office is actually the motivation to put them on the IDA,” Henderson said. “The person who sits on the council has background and information that can be very helpful to the IDA, and because they are two separately different boards that don’t have a conflict, they are compatible with one another. It is perfectly appropriate for a council person to be seated on the IDA.”

Municipal law states, specifically in Glen Cove, the mayor shall appoint the members of the Industrial Development Agency. 

Silverman said she sees ethical conflicts since the various city boards provide a system of checks and balances. 

One hypothetical example Silverman cited was for the potential of the IDA to approve Payment in Lieu of Taxes programs. If a developer wants to change a zone and ask for a PILOT, there could be a potential circumstance where a city councilmember could negotiate to have the PILOT approved for the developer in private.