The Town of Islip, which faces a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, is to vote Tuesday on whether to contract with a public relations consultant for $3,000 a month for up to six months.
Two resolutions propose the town immediately hire Todd Shapiro Associates to “set into motion a well-planned public relations program specifically designed to meet the objectives of the Town of Islip Industrial Development Agency” and a similar agreement with the town’s public information office.
Shapiro, who did not return a call Monday, has had a variety of clients, including the towns of Huntington and Brookhaven. He is also a public relations adviser to developer Gerald Wolkoff, whose proposed Heartland project must also go through town board. Wolkoff confirmed Monday Shapiro remains his adviser.
Wolkoff and the town are in negotiations to complete a new development agency pay-in-lieu-of-tax deal for the property. An initial 10-year deal between the town IDA and Wolkoff on the Heartland property expired last month.
Town attorney Robert Cicale said any potential conflicts would be analyzed and could be referred to the ethics board if needed. Shapiro has not yet supplied the town with a full client list, Cicale said, “but that would be one of the issues I would consider and review as we draw up any agreement.”
Joe Hagleman, Islip Democratic Party chairman, said the Heartland property is “such a major issue in the town going forward, I don’t think it’s advisable to put yourself in this position where you could be accused of the appearance of impropriety.”
The town’s five board members are all Republican and Conservative.
Touro Law School dean and ethics professor Larry Raful said the town’s hiring of Shapiro while he also continued to work for Wolkoff did not necessarily present a conflict of interest.
“It’s not, on the face of it, unethical provided the vendor [Shapiro] discloses his other clients to the town and the town goes into the deal open-eyed.”
Photo: Islip Town Hall