Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone posing for a portrait inside...

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone posing for a portrait inside the clubhouse of Hamlet Golf and Country Club. (June 26, 2013) Credit: James Escher

A Mineola lawyer has appealed the State Supreme Court dismissal of a lawsuit aimed at blocking Democratic candidates for Huntington Town board from creating a separate party line.

Grant Lally said he filed a notice of appeal on Oct. 4 in the Second Department of the State Appellate Division, on behalf of Walter Long, the Republican committeeman who filed the suit Aug. 30.

Long's suit alleged that there were not enough valid signatures on a petition to create the Stop the LIPA Tax Hike Party.

Petitioners sought to create an additional line on the ballot for town Supervisor Frank Petrone, incumbent town board member Mark Cuthbertson and town board candidate Tracey Edwards, all Democrats running in the Nov. 5 election.

The suit alleged fraud, Lally said, because the language and imagery on the petition matched that used on town literature in a legal battle against the Long Island Power Authority.

In 2010, LIPA sued Huntington and other municipalities in State Supreme Court over what utility officials said were the overassessments of power plants. Huntington officials countersued LIPA and National Grid, with whom LIPA has a management agreement, saying the suit violated an agreement not to challenge the assessment of the Northport power plant. In June, LIPA offered the town a settlement, which it has until Sunday to accept.

Long's suit also alleged taxpayer money was used to create the signs and language of the town effort against LIPA and, therefore, the slogans and symbols of the political party. The strategy confused people, Lally said.

After a two-day trial and testimony of five witnesses, Justice J. Emmett Murphy dismissed Long's suit on Oct. 1.

"We're appealing on the grounds that the Stop LIPA Tax Hike Party is a fraud," Lally said Friday. "It was created by the Town of Huntington with taxpayer dollars, with petition efforts paid for by the Town of Huntington."

He said the town has a copyright on the artwork and slogans that they created with taxpayer money. Election law prohibits using the symbols of another entity "or confusingly using the symbols of another entity for independent nominating petitions," he said.

Laurence Silverman, a Huntington attorney who represented Petrone at the trial, said he has not yet seen a brief regarding an appeal.

Stuart Besen, who represented Cuthbertson and Edwards at trial, said he thinks an appeal sends a bad message to the State Legislature and governor that Huntington is not united in its fight against LIPA. "Judge Murphy's decision was emphatic, clear and concise, and stated what the law is, especially based on their witnesses," he said.

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