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More criticism over Munsey Park hiring of mayor’s in-law

Munsey Park Village Hall is shown on May

Munsey Park Village Hall is shown on May 22, 2013. Photo Credit: Tara Conry

One week after the Munsey Park board of trustees created a village administrator position and appointed the mayor’s brother-in-law to the job, village officials have yet to provide details about qualifications, salary and the ethics policy review they said was conducted.

Village Attorney Robert Morici and Mayor Frank J. DeMento have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

According to a Friday news release posted on the village website, the position was established “in an effort to both deliver better services to residents” and boost “efficiencies, transparency and employee accountability.”

Daniel Breen, 54, lives at the same Manhasset address — a single-family home — as DeMento. Breen was hired in January 2016 as one of the village’s three full-time utility workers, at a salary of $42,000.

The village release said Breen’s “actual duties straddle both field and administrative roles,” making it necessary to update his official responsibilities. The duties include providing “centralized direction and control of all Village employees and appointed officers,” according to the resolution adopted 3-1, with an abstention from DeMento, on May 10.

The board appointed Breen to the position immediately “without changing his compensation schedule,” according to the release. Officials have not clarified whether Breen has received a salary increase as part of his expanded job role.

Residents, including former village officials, expressed concern over what they said is the village’s lack of transparency. Former Mayor Harry Nicolaides, who served for more 17 years and was ousted by DeMento in 2013, said the village has become a hotbed of “secrets and lies.”

“They’re the joke among the other municipalities,” Nicolaides said Tuesday. “They’re running this village like a private club.”

Sue Auriemma, who was a village trustee from 2012 to 2014, said that the village’s actions flouted DeMento’s March mayoral campaign commitment to be more transparent.

At last week’s meeting, village officials said that an ethics policy review had taken place. Morici issued a written statement that said Breen’s appointment was “in conformance with the law and Village code.” Blaine Klusky, the village’s Board of Ethics chairman, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Residents also question whether the appointment violates the village ethics code, which was adopted last year. The code bars supervision of relatives or participation in hiring or termination, with any offense to result in a censure, fine, suspension or removal from office.

Brian Dunning, a village resident who ran unsuccessfully for village justice in 2014, said Breen’s appointment was a “major misjudgement” by the board and an “insult” to the community’s intelligence.

“It’s crazy. This isn’t Venezuela,” Dunning said. “You can’t just point your finger at somebody and say all of a sudden you’re going from cutting lawns to running the show.”

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