Since former State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino took the oath of office to serve the Town of Oyster Bay as its supervisor, he has said often, “It is a new day for Oyster Bay.” That has been evident in the tenor of town board meetings, which has changed since longtime Supervisor John Venditto resigned last month. The acoustics are markedly better during the meetings, and residents are treated with a great deal of respect when they address the supervisor and board members.
On Tuesday, before taking up the business of the day — appointing new leaders — Saladino announced that there would be some new rules at the meetings. Comments on resolutions by members of the public would be limited to three minutes for one resolution, six minutes for two resolutions and 10 minutes for three or more resolutions. There were no time constraints in the past. A timer went off several times during the meeting to indicate that a constituent’s time was up. Saladino often let the speaker continue anyway.
The purpose of comments from the public should be “for the board to receive input and positive suggestions,” explained Saladino, who smiled often and thanked everyone who spoke for sharing their opinion.
A new town attorney, two commissioners and a new deputy supervisor were chosen on Tuesday.
Joseph Nocella, who once served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, became the new town attorney. He is a former attorney in the county’s Office of Housing & Community Development and with the Uniondale law firm Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo and Terrana.
“This is a unique opportunity for us to put in someone who is a former federal prosecutor and litigator with extensive experience in municipal law,” Saladino said. “Mr. Nocella prosecuted racketeering and extortion cases.”
The new supervisor promised that a “town policy on ethics will be rolled out, and we will create a new ethics board.”
Gregory W. Carman Jr. was installed as the new deputy supervisor, sworn in by his father, Gregory Carman Sr., a former U.S. congressman and Oyster Bay town board member who is now a judge in Manhattan. Joseph Muscarella, who had been the deputy supervisor, resigned, but will continue to serve as a councilman.
The new deputy supervisor is a former Farmingdale village attorney who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Nassau County Legislature in 2003. Carman was the treasurer of Citizens for Saladino, the campaign committee formed for Saladino’s bid for State Assembly, a position he vacated when Saladino was appointed town supervisor.
Saladino described Carman as “talented, thoughtful and thoroughly experienced . . . Greg hails from a family with a distinguished history of public service.”
Elizabeth Maccarone was appointed commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, and Richard Lenz was sworn in as commissioner of the Department of Public Works.
Another change spearheaded by Saladino is how residents’ questions will be answered. Although they can continue to speak at specific times during board meetings, their questions will most likely not be answered at that time. Residents will be required to present their questions in a letter or by email.
Robert Ripp, who frequently speaks during the public sessions, said he was concerned about the new rule. “The council people never return calls or emails,” he complained. “I hope you will respond to my emails. You are all being given a second chance.”
One question that was answered by Saladino was whether he would be using a new car, paid for with taxpayer dollars, or the car provided by the town that Venditto used when he was supervisor. Saladino said he would only be using his own car.
Bob Frier, of Woodbury, a former Democratic candidate for town board, said he would send his questions, most of which were not answered at the board meeting, in an email, but added that he wasn’t happy about it. “The public has a right to hear questions answered on the record,” he said. “This will be a private answer, which will leave it to us to broadcast. That’s ridiculous. I will bring the emailed answers, if I get any, and read them at the public session.”