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Glen Cove delays reviving ethics review board after residents raise conflict-of-interest concerns

Reginald Spinello, mayor of the City of Glen

Reginald Spinello, mayor of the City of Glen Cove, speaks during a meeting of the city council at Glen Cove City Hall on the evening of May 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Glen Cove City Council has delayed a vote on reviving an ethics review board after several residents accused Mayor Reginald Spinello of proposing to stack the panel with members who have conflicts of interest.

The 1981 city code created an ethics board, but Spinello said there apparently has not been a board for years. The board issues advisory opinions, and receives and investigates ethics complaints.

The five people Spinello proposed for the board all have ties to the city and could not act independently, said resident Cathy Maloney. "How can the city police itself?" she asked.

The appointees include two part-time city employees, two members of the planning commission and a substitute teacher who is active in the community.

Resident Jeff Izzo singled out proposed board member John DiMascio as having a possible conflict, because both he and his wife potentially could be subject to ethics scrutiny. DiMascio is a planning commission member, and his wife, Kristina Heuser, is deputy city attorney. She is stepping down to run for city council.

Spinello said city law authorizes him to appoint members and the City Council the right to vote them down.

"I believe they're people who are highly ethical," he said of his proposed members.

But Spinello later in the meeting agreed to delay the vote in light of the heated opposition to some members. He said there would be a future vote on an ethics panel, which he said is needed to help avoid conflicts of interest among city employees and officials.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of tabling the measure, with Councilman Michael Famiglietti voting no. "The mayor has made good choices," he said.

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