Reappointment of attorney draws backlash


City attorney Charles McQuair, a Republican, will resume his duties as counsel for the City of Glen Cove after members voted 5 to 2 in favor of his reappointment on Dec. 27. Mayor Tim Tenke and Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, both Democrats, voted “no” on the appointment.

Before the vote Tenke moved to amend the appointment retaining McQuair as the city attorney. Tenke requested that the amended appointment read, “proposed by Councilman [Joseph] Capobianco” rather than “proposed by Mayor Tenke.”

During discussion on the evening’s resolutions, resident Gail Waller took issue with an item that would allow McQuair’s firm — McQuair and Associates, PC — to provide attorney services to the city. That resolution passed 5 to 1, with Tenke abstaining and Silverman again voting “no.”

Waller expressed concern about who had written McQuair’s retainer agreement and asked if there were other attorneys who were employed at his firm. Silverman said that if no other attorney had reviewed the agreement, it was “premature” to vote on the item, to which Councilman Kevin Maccarone replied, “Every attorney writes their own retainer.”

Waller also questioned McQuair’s dual role as an independent contractor with the city as well as a city employee. “That’s a conflict of interest to me,” she said.

As she has brought up in prior discussions, Silverman said she believes employing an individual in the city who is also an outside vendor for the city is “not appropriate.”

Waller, adding to her claim of one-sidedness, then referenced McQuair’s “outburst” at a previous City Council meeting on Dec. 11, in which he called out Tenke on a misstatement he had made during pre-council, which prompted half the room to gasp.

“He’s an attorney who’s supposed to speak when you speak to him, or ask your opinion on something,” Waller said. “We’re not here for somebody who’s working in the best interest of one party, but that’s all that seems to have happened and I resent it for my tax dollars.”

Waller accused McQuair of acting in the interest of the Republican Party when he represented Glen Cove’s Republican committee during the 2017 election, while also serving as the city’s attorney. “He appeared on behalf of one party,” she said.

Resident Steve Gonzalez, who served on the council as a Republican in the 1980s and 1990s, jumped to McQuair’s defense. “Charlie, I believe, is a Republican City Committeeman, so he’s allowed to go to the polls with a poll watchers certificate,” he said. “That part-in-part is separate from his role as city attorney, and he’s allowed to do that.”

Gonzalez continued, “Yes, he represented [former Mayor] Reggie [Spinello] at the Board of Elections, but if the city Republican leader chooses Charlie to do that, that’s the city leader’s right to do so, and again separate and apart from his role as city attorney.”

Before submitting her vote on McQuair’s reappointment, Silverman said, “I do believe the mayor should have counsel that he can rely on and trust,” she said. “Without proper counsel we cannot fulfill obligations, and it’s unfortunate that we can’t agree on a city attorney who could provide equal and fair treatment to everyone on this dais.”

After the meeting Silverman told the Herald Gazette that “There have been a number of instances throughout the year where [McQuair] has given misinformation and was insubordinate in public at meetings. He is not fit for the position, and he oversteps his bounds.”

The council will reconvene on Jan. 8.