John Venditto usually isn't one to let politics push him into rudeness. The Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, who is seeking his 10th term in November, has generally remained calm and friendly even in dealing with his opponents. But with his town, employees, political cronies and himself under attack following the federal indictment of restaurateur Harendra Singh, that seems to have changed.
A town board meeting Tuesday afternoon turned ugly when about three dozen construction workers who came to support the embattled Venditto and board started insulting members of the public addressing the elected officials. Venditto, rather than using his gavel to settle things down, sided with the hecklers and insulted speakers who questioned his management of the town.
Most likely there will be litigation to determine whether Oyster Bay is on the hook for as much as $20 million in potentially unlawful loan guarantees on concessions Singh ran for the town, details outlined in his indictment. But it seems probable that the only way the town isn't liable is if the guarantees Oyster Bay entered into were themselves unlawful. Venditto and the board don't look good either way. And the indictment of town planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito on tax evasion charges involving $2 million in income from a town road contractor adds insult to injury.
On Tuesday, Venditto interrupted speakers offering public comment to accuse them of wanting the town to fail, and repeatedly belittled important questions as "silly." It was another shameful episode for a town government that's begun to make shameful episodes a habit.