The Oyster Bay Town Board on Tuesday appointed Brian Nevin, a top aide to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, as the town’s new public information officer.
The 6-1 vote came after a town board member objected to the appointment, calling Nevin a “high-powered Republican operative” who does not live in the town and should not be paid a $163,000 salary when the town is facing severe budget problems.
“It would be cheaper to contract out to a firm than paying one individual $163,000,” said Councilman Anthony Macagnone, the sole board member to vote against Nevin’s appointment.
Supervisor Joseph Saladino defended the hiring and salary, which he said was the same amount Nevin received from the county. Nevin is to start his town job Wednesday.
Saladino said Nevin, 39, will help increase transparency in town government by communicating with residents online, on social media and through the news media.
Two town employees already perform public information duties, but Saladino said Nevin also will be a top policy aide and involved in day-to-day decision-making on a range of issues, including trimming the town budget. Saladino said Nevin will save the town many times more money than his salary.
“We have a person who is willing to take on multiple roles in one position,” said Saladino, who called Nevin “highly experienced and qualified.”
Saladino and Nevin worked together for years in Albany when Saladino was a state assemblyman and Nevin was a budget analyst, director of operations for Republicans and on the Assembly GOP campaign committee.
Mangano hired Nevin in March 2010 as senior policy adviser/communications director for the county.
Mangano is facing federal corruption charges and is not expected to seek re-election. Nevin, a Merrick native, said in an interview Tuesday that the indictment did not influence his decision to take the Oyster Bay job. He said he had accomplished much in the Mangano administration and “felt like it was an important task and a challenge to help Supervisor Saladino increase transparency in the town.”
The Mangano administration recently transferred more than 40 county employees from political jobs to competitive union positions that would protect them from being fired if a new county executive takes office in January, Newsday reported Monday. Nevin and Saladino said no one from Mangano’s office was involved in securing Nevin’s new job.
The vote to appoint Nevin came after the board went into executive session to discuss Nevin’s resume and qualifications. Macagnone, a Republican, had objected to how board members were not given Nevin’s resume before the meeting and was opposed to discussions being held behind closed doors.
Vicki Spinelli, deputy commissioner for human resources, said there is money in the town budget for Nevin’s position, because several vacant slots in the sanitation department will be eliminated as part of a consolidation.
Marc Herman, a Democratic candidate for town supervisor in the November election, said in a statement that Saladino should be “ashamed” of making Nevin’s appointment “without notice, and without even a semblance of a competitive review.”