Two former Glen Cove City Council members say that a proposed change to the city charter would give the mayor too much say over who is selected for boards and commissions.
The city’s Charter Review Commission spent a year combing through the 53-page document and recently announced recommended changes. Dave Nieri, the secretary of the 13-member panel, said last week that the changes are relatively minor, primarily to clarify wording, resolve inconsistencies, or update language.
But, in a reflection of how some of the language is confusing, and how city officials have interpreted it differently over the years, speakers on Tuesday disagreed on whether a provision that would allow the mayor to vote with City Council members on appointments he makes to boards and commissions is a real shift in control or just a clarification of existing practice.
“I believe it makes the office of mayor even more powerful,” said former Councilman Anthony Gallo, who lost the November mayoral election to Mayor Reginald Spinello.
Former Councilman Steve Gonzalez agreed. Allowing the mayor to vote on his own appointments is a conflict of interest, he said.
“This could be a watering down of the responsibilities of the City Council,” he said.
But Carolyn Willson, chairwoman of the city’s charter review commission and a former deputy mayor, said the commission recommended the new language because the charter is inconsistent.
“He already had in certain sections [of the charter] that power, and in other sections he didn’t, so we clarified that,” Willson said.
Despite confusion over what the charter says or doesn’t say, mayors have long voted on their appointees, Willson said.
“We just felt like it’s always been done that way,” she said.
But Gonzalez disagreed. He recalled in an interview after the meeting that when he was on the council in the 1980s and 1990s, mayors did not vote on some of their appointees.
City Attorney Charles McQuair said that, under the charter, the mayor is considered a member of the council and is only clearly barred from voting on the city budget and on the sale or lease of land.
The council postponed a vote on the proposed charter changes. Spinello said he wanted to wait until all council members were able to vote. Councilman Timothy Tenke was absent on Tuesday.
Spinello said a vote on those changes, along with others that would revise the rest of the charter, will be scheduled for June 28.
The proposed changes are online. Go to glencove-li.us, click “City Council documents” and then click “Draft charter amendments.”