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Glen Cove City Council reappoints mayor's chief of staff

The Glen Cove City Council has approved the reappointment of the mayor's chief of staff, in a split vote.

The 4-2 vote Tuesday night that will keep Zefy Christopoulos in her post for a second year was a victory for Mayor Reginald Spinello, who faced opposition from two Republicans on the council.

The Independence Party mayor signaled after the vote that he wanted to "move on, get back to the business of the city."

Spinello created the position and appointed Christopoulos after he was sworn in last year. Her annual salary is $63,240.

Spinello cast a tiebreaking vote on the reappointment last month, but City Attorney Charles McQuair determined the charter did not allow the mayor to vote on some appointments, including Christopoulos'.

Tuesday's approval hinged on Democratic Councilman Timothy Tenke changing his position, which he did. Last month, Tenke abstained, saying the job was not clearly defined.

"We've heard a lot of talk that the mayor has a right to hire who he wants, and that may be true, but it has to be within a process that has to be followed," Tenke said Tuesday.

Tenke said John Charon, the city's personnel officer, addressed his concerns when he told the council in a work session last week that the city Public Service Commission had taken steps necessary for the position to be filled -- adopting specifications for the job before Christopoulos' initial appointment. The state still has to approve it as a noncompetitive position, he said.

But a rift between the mayor and GOP Councilmen Efraim Spagnoletti and Anthony Gallo Jr., remains. After about 30 minutes of public comment largely in support of Christopoulos, neither councilman budged -- which they said had nothing to do with the person appointed.

"Somewhere along the line the process might be flawed," said Gallo, who has argued that such an important position should be defined in the city charter. He voted against it, as did Spagnoletti, who opposed it on fiscal grounds.

"I said on inauguration day when there was a creation of a new position, 'If my grandmother were to be put in that position, I would vote against it,' and tonight I remain consistent," Spagnoletti said.Before the vote, Christopoulos told the council it was a "distinct honor" to serve and be considered.

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