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Glen Cove mayor calls for city attorney representing controller in suit to recuse himself

Mayor Tim Tenke speaks at the ceremony for

Mayor Tim Tenke speaks at the ceremony for Emerge Rehabilitation Center in Glen Cove, on Oct. 24, 2018. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke has asked the city attorney to recuse himself in a lawsuit brought against the city by the city controller. 

In an email sent Sept. 12 to city attorney Charles McQuair and the city council, Tenke requested that McQuair remove himself from the suit, calling his involvement in the litigation a conflict. 

The lawsuit was filed in August by Sandra Clarson, who was fired but remains in her role due to a court order granted last month by a Nassau County Supreme Court judge. 

“I believe that a conflict exists in the City attorney’s representation of 5 members of the council,” Tenke wrote in the email obtained by Newsday, referring to the five Republicans on the board. “He does not represent all council members and his representation of less than the full board creates the conflict.”

McQuair represents Glen Cove in the case but has argued in court in favor of reinstating Clarson. He said he will not recuse himself and that by advocating for the city council he’s fulfilling his “obligation to uphold the city charter.”

All of the GOP council members opposed Clarson’s termination and submitted affidavits in court supporting her reinstatement. Marsha Silverman, who with Tenke are the only Democrats on the council, has stood by the decision to fire Clarson.

McQuair said that because the board was split on the matter, he recommended Tenke get his own attorney. The council approved hiring Harris Beach, which has an office in Uniondale, to represent Tenke.

Councilman Kevin Maccarone, a Republican, said he doesn’t see a problem with McQuair’s involvement.

“His job is to go in there and represent the position of the majority,” Maccarone said. “How is that a conflict?”

Silverman accused McQuair of not being “objective” by siding with the Republicans and said it’s disappointing that he’s not able to “represent the city and public as a whole.”

Tenke also took issue with Clarson’s attorney, Tip Henderson, who serves on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and is a former chair of Glen Cove’s Republican committee.

Tenke wrote in the email that Henderson’s involvement while he’s a member of the board is a violation of the city’s ethics code and that he should either recuse himself or resign from the board.

Henderson did not respond to a request for comment.  

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