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Glen Cove mayor says law firm's findings vindicate him in harassment complaints

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke and two other

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke and two other city officials were named in harassment and gender discrimination complaints filed last year against the city by two female employees. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Harassment and gender discrimination complaints filed last year against Glen Cove officials by two female city employees were determined by an outside law firm to be “unfounded and/or unactionable.”

“They were investigated and there is no merit to them,” Mayor Timothy Tenke said. “In the end I’m vindicated. So I feel that we did the right thing by taking them seriously and having them investigated.”

The City Council accepted the law firm’s report at its July 28 meeting.

In October, then-controller Sandra Clarson and parks and recreation director Darcy Belyea filed complaints with the city’s human resources department.

Last year the city hired Farmingdale-based firm Guercio & Guercio LLP to investigate the complaints, city attorney Gregory Kalnitsky said during the council’s meeting.

In August 2019, Tenke fired Clarson, a holdover from the administration of former Mayor Reginald Spinello, but she was reinstated the following month by a state judge after she sued the city in State Supreme Court. Tenke, a Democrat, had sought to replace her but was blocked by the council, which had a Republican majority. Democrats swept the election and in January the City Council appointed Michael Piccirillo to replace Clarson.

Clarson alleged she had been bullied by Tenke, Newsday previously reported, and last week she said her complaint was “still open and I don’t want to comment.”

Tenke said he believed the complaints, made weeks before last year’s election, were “a political ploy as opposed to a legitimate complaint” intended to discredit him among voters. Tenke won reelection to a second two-year term, defeating his predecessor Spinello, an Independence party member who ran on the Republican line.

Belyea, who continues to serve as director of parks and recreation, said her complaints, which were made against Tenke, Councilwoman Marsha Silverman and Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos, were not politically motivated.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with the election,” Belyea said in an interview. “I’ve worked for four other mayors besides Mayor Tenke.” Three of the previous four mayors were Democrats.

Belyea said she brought the complaint because of a “consistent pattern of behavior of public humiliation and actions preventing me from being able to properly do my job.”

The law firm’s investigation did not prove that there had been no harassment, she said.

“ ‘Unactionable’ is to me as important as a word as ‘unfounded’ because it doesn't necessarily mean that the incident didn’t happen, but that there was no legal action that could be taken,” Belyea said.

Since filing the complaint, Belyea said her relationship with Tenke has improved. Belyea said she had been notified by the EEOC that her complaint would be dismissed and she was weighing whether to pursue any additional legal action.

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