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Oyster Bay sets meeting to consider Venditto’s replacement

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto on

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto on Nov. 29, 2016. He resigned as of Jan. 4, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Oyster Bay Town Board plans to hold a special meeting Friday to consider the selection of a new supervisor to replace John Venditto, who resigned as of Wednesday.

Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Joseph Muscarella, who has been acting as interim supervisor since Venditto left office, called the meeting, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Oyster Bay Town Hall.

The announcement, which was released shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, did not identify who would be considered.

Muscarella said Thursday that he is considering three potential candidates, including Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa Park), and will put forth one Friday morning. Muscarella declined to name the other people under consideration.

“We’re going to go forward with the best candidate that will represent the Town of Oyster Bay that will end the chapter that we’re currently in and bring brighter days,” Muscarella said.

Muscarella said he expects the board to approve a new supervisor at the meeting.

Saladino did not return calls for comment.

Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said Thursday that the board should not select a new supervisor on Friday and plans to seek an adjournment for the sake of transparency.

“We’re not in an emergency situation,” Alesia said. “We have an acting supervisor, as provided by law, and a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.”

Alesia said she was concerned that the quickly scheduled meeting wouldn’t give the public ample opportunity to attend.

“The decision to call for and hold this meeting does not allow for the type of transparency and open government that our town residents are entitled to,” Alesia said.

Councilman Anthony Macagnone voiced similar concerns.

“I’d like to have the ability to interview the prospective nominee,” Macagnone said. “We should take some time. There’s no reason to rush into it.”

Councilman Joseph Pinto said he was “going to follow the lead of the deputy supervisor.”

Robert Freier, an executive recruiter and former Democratic town board candidate from Woodbury, criticized the short notice and holding the meeting during regular work hours as “business as usual” for Oyster Bay.

Freier called the emergency meeting a “poor attempt” by “Joe Muscarella trying to start fresh by giving less than 24 hours’ notice to the public. I would think a lot of people from the community would want to attend.”

Muscarella downplayed such concerns.

“It’s up to the board to choose the candidate they think should represent the residents of Oyster Bay,” Muscarella said. He added, “To wait would be foolish. We have to get a new direction.”

Venditto, 67, announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down to focus on his legal defense on federal corruption charges for allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes from former town concessionaire Harendra Singh.

Whoever is selected by the board will face a town with serious financial problems and a public that has dealt with criminal indictments. The board has approved tax hikes that pierced the state tax cap in three of the past four years. Even so, the town’s credit rating is rated as junk, having been downgraded last year by Standard & Poor’s, which cited a decade of deficits and weak financial management.

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