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Robocall about yard waste raises questions in Oyster Bay

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino used

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino used a town emergency phone network to notify residents of pickup days for yard waste. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Some Oyster Bay residents were surprised Monday to receive a robocall on the town’s emergency phone network from Republican Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, who is running for election next week for the office to which he was appointed earlier this year.

Though the phone network was dubbed by town officials as “Swift 911” for swiftly notifying town residents about emergencies, Saladino was calling about yard waste.

“Hi, This is Supervisor Joe Saladino,” the call began. “Recycling yard waste is an important way to protect our environment and save tax dollars. If you have Town of Oyster Bay sanitation, your leaves will continue to be collected on your regular waste collection day. Residents with private sanitation will have their bagged leaves picked up on Wednesdays by the Town of Oyster Bay. Collection begins this Wednesday, Nov. 1.”

Some Oyster Bay residents, including Saladino’s Democratic opponent Marc Herman, suggested that Saladino was using the town network as an alternate way to reach voters after promising not to send town mailings before Election Day.

“Appointed Supervisor Saladino’s taxpayer funded political campaign has reached a dangerous, new low by tying up the Town’s 911 emergency lines for a self-promotional announcement on yardwork,” Herman said in a statement. “Saladino is the ‘supervisor who cried wolf,’ putting residents at risk when there is a real emergency.”

But Town Spokesman Brian Nevin, in an emailed statement, said, “Leaf collection begins in two days and residents were misinformed by the prior administration of the proper collection dates. The delivery of government services takes priority over political bickering.”

Nassau County legislative Democrats had made similar complaints in 2012 when Republican County Executive Edward Mangano used the county’s emergency phone network to make robocalls to residents that promoted his proposed police precinct consolidation.

Nevin, who was then Mangano’s spokesman, accused Democrats then of “engaging in a political smear campaign to stop the county executive from speaking directly with residents.”

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