Smithtown meeting on Vecchio, Nowick won't be stopped by snow, says official

Smithtown civic leaders held a rally at Smithtown Town Hall Tuesday to urge the town board to reinstate Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, who were removed from office after failing to sign an oath. Credit: Ed Betz (Feb. 11, 2014)

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A looming snowstorm won't stop the three-member Smithtown town board from voting Thursday night on appointing Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick to their elected offices.

"I'm not canceling this meeting," said Councilman Thomas McCarthy, deputy supervisor and now acting supervisor. "If the weather is bad, I've arranged for the public safety department to transport the officials."

Republicans Vecchio and Nowick were officially out of office Monday, after a memo late last week by conservative town clerk Vincent Puleo declared the seats vacant because the pair did not sign a written oath within 30 days of taking office on Jan. 1, as required by state law.

Three votes are needed to appoint Vecchio and Nowick to a term that runs from Feb. 1 through Dec. 31. They were elected to four-year terms.

Councilmen Edward Wehrheim and Robert Creighton have declined to reveal how they will vote.

"Without a quorum, we don't have a meeting," McCarthy said of his vow to make sure the two men are there to vote. "I just want to make sure . . . we can hold the meeting, because this has gone on for too long."

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Creighton said he didn't think he would have trouble getting to the meeting, adding, "I intend to get there on my own, but if I have to use public safety, I will." Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen said "during our snow operations, the main thoroughfares are always clear and there should be no trouble getting to the meeting." The town parks department planned to plow the parking lot at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Center, where the meeting will be held, he said.

Smithtown spent more than the $1.35 million allocated for snow removal and contingency costs by the end of January and may look to the town board to approve bonding measures, Jorgensen has said. Four board member votes are needed to bond money, town officials said.

To serve beyond their one-year appointments, Vecchio and Nowick would have to run for re-election in November, unless they sued and won a legal ruling in their favor, McCarthy has said.

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State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) and Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) said Tuesday they intended to introduce legislation that would allow Vecchio and Nowick to serve out their full four-year terms.

The legislators are working on how to properly amend the law, said Flanagan Wednesday.

"It's a section of the town law that is applicable to all towns across the state, so we have to be mindful that what we advance could have statewide implications," he said, adding that they plan to introduce a bill early next week. "We want to make sure we can do what we can to help. . . . This is unique."

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center, 420 Middle Country Rd., Smithtown.

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