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Glen Cove mayor, council take sides over attorney for boards

Timothy Tenke, center, on Dec. 14, 2017, at

Timothy Tenke, center, on Dec. 14, 2017, at a meeting of the Glen Cove City Council. Tenke was sworn in as the city's mayor on Jan. 1, 2018. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke said he is not allowing a vote Tuesday on a city councilman’s resolution to reappoint the attorney for the city’s planning and zoning boards, setting up a showdown between the Democratic mayor and the GOP-majority council.

All five Republicans on the seven-member council told Newsday they had planned to vote for GOP Councilman Kevin Maccarone’s measure to retain Chase, Rathkopf and Chase LLP of Glen Cove as counsel for the two boards. The firm’s John Chase had served as attorney for the boards for four years.

But the mayor, who opposes reappointing Chase because, he said, “having fresh eyes on these boards is a benefit,” said on Friday that he would pull the resolution from the council agenda. He argued that Maccarone did not follow proper procedure in introducing the resolution.

Maccarone said he consulted with City Attorney Charles McQuair, who told him “that the mayor has no authority to remove that resolution.”

McQuair declined to comment on his conversation with Maccarone.

Maccarone said if the resolution is not on the council agenda Tuesday night, he will introduce an emergency resolution to reappoint Chase.

Maccarone said he had not introduced such a resolution earlier to give the mayor time to submit his choice for the attorney position. But, he said, not appointing an attorney on Tuesday means the next planning and zoning board of appeals meetings may be canceled, potentially delaying important projects.

GOP Councilwoman Pamela Panzenbeck said the unilateral move by the mayor to nix Maccarone’s resolution “is not a good sign for us working together.”

Tenke’s predecessor, Reginald Spinello, “discussed everything with us first . . . We kind of worked our differences out beforehand,” she said. “Obviously this isn’t happening here.”

Tenke said Friday he will introduce at least one of his own resolutions appointing either Uniondale-based Harris Beach PLLC or Carle Place-based Sokoloff Stern LLC as the counsel for the two boards. Tenke, said he is still awaiting proposals from other firms, in case the council defeats his measures.

Yet Steven Stern, a partner in Sokoloff Stern, said he “didn’t submit a formal proposal” to the city, only information about the firm’s areas of expertise, along with the hourly fee the firm already charges under a contract the city has with the firm for other legal matters.

A Harris Beach executive declined to discuss any proposal it may or may not have made, referring questions to the city. Tenke declined to release information on Harris Beach while he continues seeking other proposals.

Harris Beach is the law firm of Keith Corbett, who represented Tenke in court hearings that led to his three-vote victory over incumbent Reginald Spinello in the November mayoral election.

Tenke also had tried to replace McQuair, but the council voted 5-2 on Jan. 1 to retain him as city attorney.

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