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Muttontown trustees to convene for first meeting since incumbents' resignations

James Liguori, seen here on March 27 in

James Liguori, seen here on March 27 in Jericho. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Muttontown Village Board will meet Tuesday for the first time since four political newcomers swept into office June 19 with victory margins of more than 3-to-1.

They were to have been joined by three incumbents who were not up for re-election, but all three resigned on June 28, shortly after the election.

Newly elected Mayor James Liguori said he will appoint their replacements Tuesday to serve until a June 2019 special election.

“We’ve narrowed it down,” he said of his discussions with the three new board members of potential replacements. “We haven’t made a final decision yet.”

Trustee Chris Economou said he, Liguori, Deputy Mayor Sudha Prasad and fellow Trustee Brian Fagen didn’t find out about the resignations until several days later.

“We would have liked the continuity to be there as an aid to moving forward with the village,” Economou said. “This took us by surprise.”

Economou said even if the three had disagreed with him and his fellow newcomers on some issues, “it’s great to have contrasting views. It would have been good for the village as a whole.”

Fahim Roufail, one of the three trustees who resigned, said in an interview that he stepped down because of the increased workload at his full-time job as a developer.

At first he said that the timing of his resignation, days before the newly elected board members took office on July 2, was “just a coincidence,” but he later acknowledged that “I don’t know if I would be comfortable with [the new trustees] or not. . . . I don’t have time to start with new people.”

In addition to the three trustees, two key village employees – clerk Lisa Lolis and deputy clerk Marie DePalo – also resigned after the election. Another employee was terminated by the outgoing board, said Carl Juul-Nielsen, who was defeated June 19 and sat on the outgoing board.

Keith Corbett, whom the board plans to appoint as the new village attorney on Tuesday, said the three trustees and two employees who resigned “left the residents high and dry,” not giving guidance or even computer passwords to the newcomers.

“In a professional organization, for the staff and the elected officials to just leave and not offer any transitional help hurt the residents of this village,” said Corbett, of Uniondale-based Harris Beach PLLC. 

Roufail could not be reached for comment to respond to Corbett's statements. The other two trustees who left office June 28, Steven Fine and Claire Barron, did not return phone calls. The former clerk and deputy clerk  could not be reached for comment.

The mass departures meant that the new trustees and mayor “have been working nonstop” with the aid of about 20 volunteers to keep village government running, Economou said.

Liguori said he plans to nominate a new clerk and deputy clerk — the appointments are subject to board approval — at Tuesday’s meeting. Trustees also plan to select members of newly created committees to advise the board on village beautification, community events and other matters, Prasad said.

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