Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Donald Clavin gave his employer a gift Tuesday: The town’s old website address.
The erstwhile URL, toh.li, became obsolete last summer when first-term Supervisor Laura Gillen revamped the town website and redirected web traffic to a new address: hempsteadny.gov.
But the old URL remained online, recently with a for-sale notice, just as it continued to be featured on town water bills and signs in town parks, according to Clavin, who said he discovered the matter in February.
That’s when Clavin, a Republican who is running against Gillen for supervisor, bought the site for $1,200 to return it to the town’s possession, he said.
“If it were not for my purchase and ‘gifting’ of the previous domain back to the town, an unscrupulous individual could have misused the site to deceive and take advantage of neighbors who simply want to use town services and facilities,” Clavin said in a statement.
Gillen, at Tuesday’s town board meeting, dismissed the gift as a “political stunt.”
“This is just another example of politics trying to interfere with good government,” she said.
Gillen said the old URL was previously hosted in the European country of Liechtenstein.
The town board voted 5-1 at the meeting to accept the gift, with Gillen voting against and Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby abstaining.
Gillen spokesman Mike Fricchione said the old website redirected users to the new website until just a few weeks ago, when the town's contract with the old website provider expired. The town updated signs with the new address and began including it in a notice in water bills at the beginning of the year, he said.
Town parks commissioner Daniel Lino disputed Fricchione's account, saying the town has not updated the URL on town park signs.
The town board also voted 5-1 Tuesday against providing town funding for Gillen’s legal fees from her recent lawsuit against the town board. Goosby abstained, while Gillen cast the dissenting vote.
Gillen sued the board last April over layoff protections for union workers and numerous personnel moves approved by the town board shortly before she took office. A judge ruled last month that the no-layoff clause be voided, but that the personnel transfers were legal.
Republican Majority Leader Erin King Sweeney said she voted against funding Gillen’s legal expenses because she felt the lawsuit was politically motivated.
Gillen said: “It will cost the taxpayers more money if we don’t pay my attorney’s fees because then we will have more litigation.”
The town is funding the legal defense of the town board and of former Supervisor Anthony Santino, who was also named as a respondent in the suit.
Fricchione said he could not provide Gillen’s total legal fees from the suit, as her attorney has yet to submit a final invoice. Board spokeswoman Susie Trenkle-Pokalsky said an inquiry into the board and Santino’s legal fees in the suit must be submitted as a Freedom of Information Law request.
The board also voted 7-0 to waive building department fees for those seeking access to records on property damage caused by superstorm Sandy.