Linda Mondello’s name has been spoken often during the past few years at Oyster Bay Town Board meetings during moments when the public was permitted to speak. And the comments were often rancorous. They complained that her hire was due to cronyism, reasoning that Mondello is the wife of Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Mondello.
The town’s agenda released before the June 20 general meeting indicated that her contract would be changed, netting her more money. But Supervisor Joseph Saladino decided at the board meeting to terminate it instead.
Mondello had been hired as far back as 2007, receiving $100 an hour as a consultant. Records indicate she was paid $41,625 in 2015. Her latest contract was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2018.
“We are not doubling Linda Mondello’s salary,” Saladino said after the meeting. “We will use in-house employees instead. In fact, she hasn’t been paid at all this year.”
The town has traditionally been operated only by Republicans, even now with Saladino, a Republican who became the supervisor on Jan. 31.
Some residents said they believe Mondello’s hiring is yet another example of the extent of the corruption plaguing the town.
Attorney James Versocki, of Sea Cliff, a Democrat who is running for the town board, believes that the hiring of family can be duplicitous. “Look at what happened with Mangano and his wife, the food taster,” he said “You have to follow these relationships. You can’t give money to Mondello directly so you do so through his wife.”
Former supervisor John Venditto, who is facing federal corruption charges, was indicted on June 29 (see below). Although he resigned on Jan. 3, some residents’ trust in local government has not recovered, evidenced by the questions asked at town board meetings. Residents often wonder whether town employees hired during Venditto’s time, like Mondello, should remain.
In the case of Mondello, people asked on more than one occasion for proof that she was qualified to engage in historic preservation at Oyster Bay Cove’s Littauer Estate, known as The Farm. But she never attended a board meeting, nor were her qualifications ever discussed.
Saladino said Mondello is owed money for Jan. 1 to June 20. He said she had been “volunteering.” He made his decision to end her contract, he said, to benefit taxpayers. “She was hired before I got here,” Saladino said. “Using in-house people will save the town money.”
It is an example of fulfilling the promises he made when he became supervisor, Saladino added. “I’m protecting the residents and putting them first, bringing efficiency and good government to the Town of Oyster Bay.”
But Versocki said he believes the action is disingenuous. “Now they are claiming they have a break from Mondello,” the Democrat said. “Ending her contract at the meeting was a staged show. Unfortunately, that’s what we call ‘The Oyster Bay Way.’”
Bob Freier, of Woodbury, has been attending town board meetings for years. He is also running as a Democrat for councilman.
“I’m glad the issue is over,” he said. “Mondello was getting a lot of traction on social media, like on Open Nassau on Facebook.”
Freier had planned to speak at the town board meeting against the bump in salary for Mondello, but decided not to when Saladino terminated her contract. “I actually think it was something he had to do,” Freier explained. “People got up and said at the meeting that they were glad he finally did it.”
Town Park Commissioner Joseph Pinto, who resigned as a town councilman last March, spearheaded the resolution for Mondello’s contract to be changed. “The resolution was done incorrectly, and I was told a request had to be put in to correct it,” he explained.
Pinto added that when he was on the town board Mondello had to bid for the job and won. “She was fully capable to do the job,” he said. When asked if he believed there was any cronyism involved, he said, “If someone is qualified to do a job, regardless of what side of the aisle they are from, it isn’t an issue.”
Mondello could not be reached for comment.