It’s time for party patronage to end in the Town of Oyster Bay. James Altadonna Jr., a Republican who is running on the Democratic ticket, would, we believe, do just that and more.
A lifelong Republican, Altadonna, 59, joined the Democratic ticket to ensure that he would be on the ballot. If elected, he said, he would not vilify any elected official, and would bring Democrats, Republicans, independents and conservatives to town positions to ensure that all residents were represented. Having leaders with different political affiliations would be a welcome change in Oyster Bay.
Serving as the town clerk for years, he has full knowledge of how the town operates. He said he has seen waste, fraud and abuse, and he is committed to having a forensic audit conducted of the town’s finances and restructuring the team to carry it out.
We agree with his support of term limits and his belief that public service should not be a career. To that end, he would like to give those on the various part-time boards stipends, rather than full medical benefits, which they receive now. Additionally, he would like to end what he said was mismanagement among the workforce by changing the leaders — the deputies and commissioners — who were employed because they belong to the Republican Party.
Altadonna wants to get the public more involved. He would like to have town halls and open work sessions. Supervisor Joseph Saladino had an open work session when it came time to select new vendors for the concessions and restaurant operations at TOBAY Beach. He said that the Town Board spent hours in front of the public, and the hearing was live-streamed. The difference, we believe, is that Altadonna would listen to residents and have them actively involved in the process of governing. Saladino is only willing to have them watch.
Saladino said that he has not raised taxes but fees, like those for parking, have been raised significantly. He disputed the findings by the state comptroller’s office that the town is fiscally stressed, arguing that the data was based on a time period before he arrived. Most of the data was from the town’s 2018 audited financial report, when Saladino was supervisor. The audit also indicates that the town has not been following general accounting principles. Saladino’s director of finances is not a CPA.
Saladino could have admitted that there was work to do to address the town’s finances (they were, after all, a mess before he arrived), and he could have presented evidence that the finances are now improving, but that is not his style. This inability to take criticism or listen, which has been proven time and time again at Town Board meetings when residents ask questions, are his central character flaws.
Altadonna rebuilt Massapequa Park when he served as its mayor for 13 years. He was able to earn the village two bond rating upgrades and revitalize the downtown. We believe he should be given a chance to turn the Town of Oyster Bay around. We encourage residents to vote for him on Nov. 5.