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Erin King Sweeney vows to fight union changes to protect ‘loyalists’

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, seen in

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, seen in September, has been at odds with outgoing Supervisor Anthony Santino for months over her ethics reform proposal. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney on Tuesday accused outgoing Supervisor Anthony Santino of negotiating changes to the union’s collective bargaining agreement so his “loyalists” would be protected when Supervisor-elect Laura Gillen takes over in January.

Town spokesman Mike Deery acknowledged negotiations with the union were occurring but would not provide details.

“The administration has been working on a proposed agreement with the union to expand the protection of workers’ rights,” Deery said.

King Sweeney, a Republican who has been at odds with Santino for months over ethics reform, said she would fight any attempts to put Santino “loyalists in positions of power in the new administration.”

“Any last-minute attempted power grabs by Santino will be met with swift and severe resistance,” King Sweeney said. “It is time to loosen his vise grip and move forward.”

Charles Sellitto, president of CSEA Local 880, which represents town workers, could not be reached for comment.

Gillen earlier Tuesday asked Santino to investigate allegations that documents and data have been destroyed or deleted since the Nov. 7 election, according to a letter Gillen sent to town officials.

In her letter, Gillen wrote that her transition team has received allegations “concerning the destruction and deletion of materials, documents and or data,” but she did not elaborate. She did not disclose who made the allegations.

“The Supervisor-elect is passing along allegations that were brought to the attention of her transition team, and she is confident Supervisor Santino would want to ensure this type of activity is not taking place during the transition period,” Keith Corbett, counsel for Gillen’s transition team, said in a statement Tuesday evening. “It is reasonable to request an investigation to ensure the integrity of the Town’s property, documents, data and information. Additionally, it is not uncommon to preserve all town files, documents, computers and data inviolate until the transition is complete.”

The letter was hand-delivered to Santino and copied to Town Attorney Joe Ra and Arthur Primm Jr., the town’s commissioner of information technology.

“There are no town records that are being destroyed,” Deery said.

Gillen, a Democrat, asked Republican Santino to investigate any potential mishandling of town records and provide her with a report before her inauguration on Jan. 2.

She said the town’s employees “have a lawful obligation to retain and preserve” all town records both in hard copy and electronic formats.

Gillen wrote that records should be preserved through her transition “regardless of any other past practices.”

“I am confident you can agree such action is necessary to ensure the best interests of the Town’s taxpayers,” she wrote.

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