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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Nassau GOP eyes Election Day with its anti-corruption stance

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino speaks

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino speaks about the indictments of Town of Oyster Bay officials on Thursday, June 29, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Joseph Saladino, Oyster Bay’s appointed supervisor, took to the courthouse steps in Mineola for an extraordinary news conference last week after one current and three former town officials — including his predecessor John Venditto — were arrested on corruption-related charges.

“Supervisor Venditto and his inner circle have become the national poster boys for corruption, mismanagement and malfeasance,” Saladino said.

Yikes! A Nassau Republican calling out other Nassau Republicans, including one by name, and tagging them all as corrupt? And all of this weeks after Saladino and town council members unceremoniously tossed a consultant, Linda Mondello — who is married to Joseph Mondello, the powerful Nassau Republican party chairman — under the bus by ending a contract that she had to provide historic preservation and event planning?

Over the past few months — as federal and state indictments alleging government corruption began piling up — more and more Republicans have been calling each other out.

In October 2016, after County Executive Edward Mangano and Venditto pleaded not guilty to federal corruption-related charges, Republican members of the State Legislature — who were then running for re-election — were quick to call for the officials’ resignation.

But they were polite about it — as is usually the practice among Nassau Republicans (unlike Nassau Democrats, who tend to favor a more combative approach).

“It is imperative that government services continue unabated,” said Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), a state senator who is now the Republican candidate for county executive. In a news conference on the steps outside of the county executive and legislative building in Mineola — 19 days before Election Day — State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) went so far as to call it a “sad day,” while noting that “the government must go on.”

Fast forward to April, 2017, when Republican leadership of the Nassau County Legislature — hours after Mangano’s State of the County address — ditched its initial inclination to “wait and see” how Mangano’s case developed by U-turning to a demand that he immediately resign instead.

“It is not for us to determine your guilt or innocence,” some Republican lawmakers said in a letter to Mangano polite enough to credit him with creating a positive legacy. “However,” the missive continued, “we cannot ignore the perception that the allegations against you have created. Our constituents no longer believe that you are working for their benefit.”

Mangano remains in office; Venditto stepped down earlier this year and Nassau Republicans — after some extraordinary infighting between party leadership and Oyster Bay town board members — succeeded in having Saladino appointed to replace him.

Last week, Saladino, who appeared to be reading from prepared remarks, at one point chastised the current and former officials named in the state indictment.

“They have embarrassed the residents, the hard-working men and women of Oyster Bay town government,” he said, adding that the town also would sever ties with Sidney B. Bowne & Son, a major engineering consultant firm that has one defendant, former town public works commissioner Frank Antetomaso, among its partners.

An email seeking reaction to Saladino’s remarks from the firm had not been answered as of early Wednesday evening.

But Saladino’s remarks weren’t directed toward a consulting firm, they were directed squarely at Oyster Bay residents — four months before Election Day.

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