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Oyster Bay Town Board tables vote on creating inspector general

Delaying the vote was recommended because two board members were absent. The proposal would create an inspector general office and position, but without subpoena power.

Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone, seen in July,

Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone, seen in July, asked for the vote to be tabled during the town board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Oyster Bay Town Board on Tuesday postponed a vote on the creation of an inspector general until next year after a councilman and member of the public called for it to be tabled.

The town board had been scheduled to vote on an amended law that would have created the position and department of inspector general to oversee contracting. But concerns over changes in the language and the absence of two board members led to the delay.

The amended proposal would have reduced the office’s powers from what was originally proposed in October, including eliminating subpoena power.

Paul Molinari, 68, a retired environmental engineer from Hicksville, asked the board to postpone the vote until it had reworked some of the wording, noting amended language that added an exemption for documents that the inspector general could review based on whether they were privileged.

“When I see wording like ‘subject to privilege,’ that is a very ambiguous and confusing term,” Molinari told the board during its regular meeting Tuesday. “In the federal government, when you had terms like that, you could drive basically a truck through it, like a loophole.”

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino called on Town Attorney Joseph Nocella to respond to Molinari.

“The privilege is actually very narrow and applies to communication between client and attorney,” Nocella said. “It wouldn’t allow for shielding of information from the inspector general except in limited categories.”

Paul Sabatino, a Huntington Station attorney and former chief deputy Suffolk County executive, said Tuesday that if the meaning of “subject to privilege” refers to attorney-client privilege, it should be spelled out.

“If that’s what the intent is, then they should write a definition saying that,” Sabatino said. “It shouldn’t be left to guesswork.”

Councilman Anthony Macagnone called for matter to be tabled because two board members were absent. The board voted unanimously to delay the vote.

“We’re continuing to listen to the public,” Saladino said after the vote. “We’re continuing to improve upon this. The public doesn’t want this rushed they want it done properly.”

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