Elmont community leader's ouster sought
Several community leaders Saturday demanded the resignation of the head of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development, who said the calls are motivated by partisan politics.
Sandra Smith vowed to stay in the post she's held for seven years, leading the umbrella group for community development.
A rally to oust Smith was led by Carl Achille, an Iraq War veteran and law enforcement officer who was involved in a physical confrontation with Smith's husband, Joseph, after a coalition meeting at the Elmont Public Library on Monday.
Smith's opponents, who are mostly Democrats, accuse the couple of bullying and intimidation in the hamlet's development efforts. They also say the Smiths -- both registered Democrats -- have Republican leanings, because Sandra Smith, 58, is a constituent caseworker for State Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre.
Achille was joined Saturday near the Elmont firehouse by about 20 people, including coalition vice chairman Pat Nicolosi, Muzzio Tallini of the Elmont Chamber of Commerce and the heads of several civic groups.
Speaking at the rally, Achille, 29, said Joseph Smith choked him and threw him onto a table as Smith shouted anti-gay and bigoted slurs. Both Achille and Smith are black. Achille, who owns a local barbershop, said the incident happened after the two disagreed about the need for housing for young professionals.
"This kind of behavior is unacceptable," said Achille, who filed a complaint against Smith with police. "It is unfair we can't express our opinion in a civic setting. . . . I hope that the people involved in the situation step down."
Nassau County police spokeswoman Maureen Roach confirmed Achille filed a police report about an alleged assault. Achille says a detective has been assigned to the case, but Smith said authorities have not talked to him about the incident.
Joseph Smith, 59, a Vietnam War veteran and a hospital switchboard operator, said Achille grabbed his wrist to confront him about a derogatory comment Achille allegedly made about a female civic leader during the meeting. He said he and Achille exchanged insults, some of which were sexual, and Smith grabbed Achille by the collar.
"I am not violent," said Smith, denying he used a bigoted slur or grabbed Achille by his throat. "All I am doing is supporting my wife."
"He instigated the situation," Sandra Smith said about Achille. "He got in my husband's face."