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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

N.Hempstead town clerk deems WTC trip exclusion a political diss

Leslie Gross, a Democrat, is the Town of

Leslie Gross, a Democrat, is the Town of North Hempstead clerk. (May 28, 2009) Photo Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

North Hempstead's town clerk called a trip to pick up steel from the World Trade Center — which included the supervisor, a dozen town employees, but not her — a political slight.

Democrat Leslie Gross said she had been working for six years to secure the symbolic steel, and accused the town of playing politics. In May Gross, up for election this year, joined the GOP slate.

Jon Kaiman, the Democratic town supervisor, thanked Gross at a July town board meeting, and she said since then she had emailed him about the pickup.

So Gross said she was surprised when she saw town employees depart for the trip to the Port Authority Wednesday morning. She said she was not directly told where the group was headed when she spotted some of them leaving from outside Town Hall, where she said she asked an aide "What's going on?

Town spokesman Justin Meyers, in an email, said Kaiman authorized the town highway department to pick up the steel Wednesday morning, but "no elected officials or candidates were asked to go along." The trip, according to Ryan Mulholland, town spokesman, included the supervisor (who is elected but not running for another term), three of his aides, the grants coordinator, emergency management director, public safety commissioner, two members of the public safety staff, and four highway staffers.

Gross, a Democrat, faces County Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) in November.

Meyers' statement continues, “As a poignant gesture, the Supervisor thought it would be appropriate to invite three town employees who are also firemen and ex-fire chiefs of local fire departments to go along for the ride in as much as the three selected were all in lower Manhattan on that fateful day of September 11, 2001 helping with thousands of other fireman in any way that they could.  With all due respect to the town clerk and the drama she is creating over this, this is not about her — it is about them.”

Still, Gross was dissatisfied: “I'm not making this about me,” she said. “It's not that I wanted to go along as an elected official. I wanted to go along because I helped put this project together.”

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