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Clavin names Oyster Bay Town attorney as his chief of staff

A spokesman for Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said

A spokesman for Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said Joe Nocella will resign from his position as town attorney with Oyster Bay, where he has served for three years. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin on Friday announced the members of his new executive staff, tapping Oyster Bay Town Attorney Joseph Nocella as his chief of staff.

The new administration will start Monday, but their positions and salaries are expected to be approved by the Town Board at its first regular meeting Jan. 21.

A spokesman for Clavin said Nocella will resign from his position with Oyster Bay, where he has been town attorney for three years. He was previously counsel to Nassau County’s office of Housing and Community Development and also served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Eastern District of New York.

Clavin promised upon taking office to eliminate $1 million from the supervisor’s budget by spending only $900,000 on his executive staff this year. The town board last year approved a $1.8 million budget for the supervisor’s office in 2020.

The budget for past supervisors Laura Gillen and Anthony Santino has been generally about $2 million.

Clavin said he planned to eliminate some positions such as executive assistants for economic development and quality of life.

“The prior administration had all these executive assistants that had commissioners reporting to them,” he said. By contrast, Clavin said he has told commissioners they will report directly to his chief of staff, Nocella.

“We’re taking out the middle layer,” Clavin said.

Hempstead School Board member Bishop David Gates was named Clavin’s executive assistant. Gates is a pastor at Miracle Christian Center in Hempstead and is the former Hempstead village administrator. His position was eliminated in May and he was given a severance package of six months’ salary.

Clavin also picked Rockville Centre attorney Christine Grillo as his counsel to the supervisor. She is a private attorney and a former assistant Kings County district attorney in Brooklyn.

Clavin also hired Deputy Receiver of Taxes Kathy Milone as an executive assistant and his assistant Carol Renta from the receiver of taxes office as his secretary.

At a meeting last month before Clavin, a Republican, took office, the GOP-controlled town board approved dozens of hires, transfers, raises and promotions, many in the Department of General Services. Gillen, a Democrat, opposed the moves, saying they will put the town $500,000 over budget this year.

Clavin said the town is not moving jobs that may have previously been in the supervisor’s office into other departments.

“I just eliminated the positions,” he said. “End of story.”

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