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Glen Cove City Council to vote again on mayor's chief of staff appointee

The Glen Cove City Council plans to vote again on the reappointment of the mayor's chief of staff next week after a divided vote last month left the result unclear.

Mayor Reginald Spinello cast a tiebreaking vote at the Dec. 23 meeting, but some challenged his right to vote on appointments.

At a council work session Tuesday night, City Attorney Charles McQuair said Spinello should not have voted on the reappointment of Zefy Christopoulos as chief of staff. The city charter says mayoral appointments require four of six council votes exclusive of the mayor, except as provided otherwise in the charter and by law. Christopoulos was one of 24 appointments on a resolution that came before the council.

"We had all these appointments that were in a block, and all of the appointments that are in the block, with the exception of one, the mayor votes on," McQuair said. The other appointments passed, he said. "We're going to vote on that one particular appointment again," McQuair said. "The mayor won't be voting on it."

Spinello created the chief of staff position last year, and the council approved the appointment of Christopoulos. Her salary this year would be $63,240.

John Charon, the city's personnel officer, said Tuesday the post should not be treated as an annual appointment that requires a yearly vote.

The city has traditionally treated several positions as annual appointments when it shouldn't have, Charon said. "It's a flawed tradition," he said. "There are certain things that we list in the same section together in the annual appointments that aren't truly appointments."

"We followed past practice, and because this was the first time there was discrepancy, this was the first time this issue really came up," Spinello said.

City Clerk Tina Pemberton said a review of past minutes showed that previous mayors had voted on appointments.

"As far back as I can see, all the minutes, the mayor voted on all appointments, all boards and agencies, everybody," Pemberton said. "The only one the mayor ever abstained from was franchise agreements."

At the Dec. 23 meeting, Councilmen Anthony Gallo Jr., Efraim Spagnoletti and Timothy Tenke either voted against the chief of staff or abstained. Gallo said the position should be included in the charter. Tenke said he wanted the position clearly defined. Spagnoletti objected to creating a new position on fiscal grounds.

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