Brian Noone at a Town of Oyster Bay public meeting in January...

Brian Noone at a Town of Oyster Bay public meeting in January 2019. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Shortly after he became Oyster Bay’s inspector general in 2019, Brian Noone gave assurances as the new sheriff in town that its scandal-ridden ways were over. “I can’t see doing things unless they’re going to be done right,” he promised, with an ethical high-mindedness reminiscent of Gary Cooper in “High Noon.” It all sounded pretty good.

But now the Nassau County district attorney is investigating whether Noone himself broke the law.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino once touted Noone as an important watchdog in preventing the kind of “pay-to-play” corruption that scandalized the administration of Saladino's predecessor, the late John Venditto. Previously, the town’s shady method of approving lucrative contracts was known as “the Oyster Bay way,” a point acknowledged by a former deputy town attorney who admitted in court to taking bribes. That led to the federal conviction of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and a former Oyster Bay Town concessionaire, Harendra Singh, while clearing Venditto. Following that fiasco, Saladino promised a new inspector general to “help bring an even greater level of transparency, integrity and ethics” to the town’s contracting.

But Saladino’s idea of good government was picking Noone, who turned out to be a $154,000-a-year watchdog with no teeth and more than his fair share of ethical questions. As Newsday’s Ted Phillips reported, Inspector General Noone vetted and approved a $2 million cybersecurity contract to a vendor who just so happened to be involved with Noone’s private security consulting firm. Michael Esposito, owner of Enterprise Security Solutions, was listed on Noone’s company website as its own cybersecurity practice leader. In March, the town put a brake on that ESS deal, and asked the town’s ethics board to review it. Last month, that board's attorney determined Noone has not violated Oyster Bay’s existing rules but Noone has yet to return to work.

The Nassau DA’s probe should thoroughly investigate Noone's actions, and figure out how the town could have let its own watchdog run his own private business on the side and approve contracts for his buddies.

Town residents should question whether these emergency contracts — stemming from a December 2021 cyberattack on Oyster Bay’s computer network — were vetted in a roundabout way that eluded the usual procurement policy of picking the lowest responsible bidder. Noone was involved in more than one such contract, all of which deserve much better scrutiny.

Emergencies affecting vital town services shouldn’t be like a dinner gong, inviting friends and business associates to chow down at the public trough at taxpayer expense.

The town’s inspector general should be beyond reproach. Saladino should push to tighten the town’s ethics code to avoid embarrassments like this messy Noone affair. At the least, these governmental sheriffs should be required to report all outside income; at best, they should be barred from having sideline gigs. And hopefully someday, “the Oyster Bay way” will be a thing of the past.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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