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Dem seeks to subpoena Suffolk GOP chairman

Ricardo Montano, Democratic candidate for the New York

Ricardo Montano, Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate 4th District. (May 18, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

The chairman of a Suffolk County Legislature committee on Wednesday delayed a vote on appealing a court decision that threw out part of the county term limit law so he can seek to subpoena the Suffolk Republican chairman to testify.

Ways and Means Committee chairman Rick Montano (D-Brentwood), sponsor of a resolution to direct Suffolk to appeal the State Supreme Court decision, said he will seek to subpoena GOP chairman John Jay LaValle. Montano objected to LaValle's statement in Newsday yesterday calling Montano's legislation "political retribution" because District Attorney Thomas Spota had refused Montano's request for an investigation in connection with his recent State Senate campaign.

The resolution would direct the county attorney to appeal a decision by State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazzillo that threw out part of the county's 1993 term limit law. If the decision stands, it would free Spota, a Democrat, to run for a fourth term next year. The ruling, which also affects GOP County Clerk Judith Pascale and Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, a Conservative, said the law cannot apply to the countywide officials because their jobs are part of the state constitution.

Montano said he never requested Spota do an investigation, and called LaValle's allegation "absolutely outrageous" and a "personal affront." Montano said he wants to question LaValle about the basis for his statement. "I consider his statements bordering on slander," he said.

LaValle called Montano's subpoena attempt "a misuse" of legislative powers. "Mr. Montano knows exactly what he was requesting during the campaign, knows he was rebuffed and for him to turn around at this point and try to lie his way out of this is very concerning." Spota's office did not return calls.

Montano lost Nov. 6 to Assemb. Philip Boyle (R-Bay Shore) in the race for the open seat in the 4th Senate District.

Montano needs a majority vote from county legislature to issue a subpoena. Presiding Officer William J. Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said he would support Montano's subpoena bid. "He feels he has been slighted and defamed," Lindsay said. "He's a member of my caucus and I feel I should support it."

A special attorney for the county filed a notice of appeal Tuesday that preserves Suffolk's right to pursue an appeal and stays the decision temporarily.

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