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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Hempstead Town Hall dispute a nursery school fight

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney and Councilman

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney and Councilman Bruce Blakeman hold a press conference before a board meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 17, 2017, after a contentious meeting earlier in the afternoon. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Somebody, quick, roll a crib and some baby toys — soft ones, please — into the meeting room at Hempstead Town Hall.

Because the ongoing brat-fight among town board members on Wednesday derailed two key items — and just in time for Election Day.

Remember the proposal to curb taxpayer-funded political mailings masquerading as government information.


Remember the town’s vaunted effort at ethics reform?

Get the binky — because that one’s gone too.

It’s all because one Republican faction of the board — aided by reliably supportive votes from Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby — has declared war on two other Republican board members.

The playroom’s a mess, with Republicans Bruce Blakeman and Erin King Sweeney acting like minority party members having to demand time to talk about a proposed budget put forth by Republican Supervisor Anthony Santino.

On Tuesday, Blakeman and King Sweeney complained that their copy of the proposed budget was different from that of other board members.

Turns out the document was missing a few pages. And when Blakeman and King Sweeney tried to ask questions about the budget, they were told not now, the public will get the chance to go first.

The nursery went wild.

With shouting. And with Goosby at one point abruptly calling for an adjournment as she and Santino and two other board members walked off the dais.

King Sweeney and Blakeman held a hastily called news conference, with King Sweeney promising that she would not be hushed again.

“I will stand up and you’ll have to get public safety to force me out of here,” King Sweeney said later from the dais.

That, it turns out, was a Pyrrhic victory.

Because Blakeman and King Sweeney were surprised — again — when the board’s Republican plus one Democrat majority voted to table a measure to consider legislation to curb mass mailings.

There was supposed to be a public hearing.

Instead, there was a vote to table the item because there hadn’t been enough public notice.

Nevermind, town attorney Joseph Ra would say Wednesday — lack of sufficient time for public notice, it turns out, wasn’t the problem. Instead, there was an error in the language of the public notice, which, Ra said, didn’t include a required “brief explanatory statement.”

But by then, things — which have not calmed, even at the insistence of Nassau GOP leader Joseph Mondello — were really out of hand, and the town ended up having to withdraw Santino’s newly enacted ethics law for the same reason.

So, for now, the mailings issue is tabled and the board must revote an ethics law — which could end up being the tip of an iceberg if the process for other laws included the same flawed notice.

What comes next?

A nap, some milk and a few cookies?

Because this is not governance, it’s chaos.

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