Businesswoman Anne Shybunko-Moore has lost her position as a trustee of Suffolk County Community College for missing four consecutive board meetings, including one in March while filming TV ads for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's START-UP NY program.
Shybunko-Moore, president of defense contractor GSE Dynamics, of Hauppauge, said she was unaware of the little-known county law that prohibits members of county boards or commissions from missing four consecutive meetings without a board resolution granting an excused absence.
Shybunko-Moore said she thought she had excused absences because she had notified the president's office each time she could not attend.
Shybunko-Moore said the night the board met in March she was driving to Albany to participate in the TV ad for START-UP NY, which aims to "transform SUNY campuses into tax-free communities" for new and expanding businesses. SCCC is seeking funding under the program. "That, I think, should clearly be excused," said Shybunko-Moore, adding she still wants to serve as a trustee.
A letter from the college informing the Suffolk County Legislature of the board vacancy reached the legislative clerk Tuesday.
The controversy has arisen amid a behind-the-scenes battle in which college president Shaun McKay is pushing for board president Dafny Irizarry's replacement at next month's annual election, according to college and county sources.
Belinda Alvarez Groneman, a holdover gubernatorial appointee whose term expired in 2010, has expressed interest competing for the chair. Irizarry said SCCC counsel Louis Petrizzo should have warned Shybunko-Moore of the attendance issue or prepared resolutions to provide excused absences so the board could vote. McKay and Petrizzo declined to be interviewed Tuesday.
Democratic and Republican legislative leaders say there's wide support for reappointing Shybunko-Moore, although they say the college can resolve the issue on its own. Minority Leader John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) called Shybunko-Moore "the epitome of next-generation manufacturing . . . She's the antidote to the local brain drain."
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said the trustees should vote to excuse Shybunko-Moore's absences retroactively. "Any time she makes a public appearance, it's great for the college," said Gregory, referring to the TV ads. A Cuomo spokesman declined to comment last night.
CLARIFICATION: Louis Petrizzo is counsel for Suffolk County Community Colleges. His name was incomplete in previous versions of this story.