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Opinion

A promotion is paused

A Suffolk County Police Department patch.

A Suffolk County Police Department patch. Credit: Newsday/John Keating

Daily Point

Holding pattern

Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory wants the promotion of Sgt. Salvatore Gigante to a prestigious and lucrative job supervising detectives in the district attorney’s office rescinded. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart want the legislature to bless Gigante with a nepotism waiver because the nominee’s uncle is Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante.

But both sides are going to have to wait.

Gregory told The Point that the legislature’s Democratic caucus decided Tuesday that two resolutions, one approving the nepotism waiver and the other rescinding Gigante’s transfer, will be tabled in a Government Operations Committee meeting on Wednesday. The promotion will not be taken up again until a Department of Justice investigation of the promotion process regarding Gigante’s selection is completed.

Two minority applicants who were passed over for the position say they clearly are better qualified. 

But what Gregory says went on before the decision to table the two resolutions is troubling. The presiding officer had been going back and forth with Hart in a series of emails, asking for the resumes and applications of the applicants for the job, the details in the nepotism waiver and other information. At first, Hart asked for clarification of what exactly Gregory requested and then emailed him on July 5 saying he could review the information in her office this week.

But Tuesday morning, according to Gregory, a staffer from Bellone’s office called and informed him that his inspection of the documents would have to be postponed because the Police Benevolent Association wanted its attorneys to review the documents before Gregory saw them.

Gregory said he also had calls last week from the presidents of both the PBA and the Superior Officers Association expressing concern that privileged information would be released due to his requests, which led Gregory to ask that anything sensitive in what he was provided be redacted.

That apparently was not enough to satisfy Suffolk’s police union overlords. But the peculiar situation did at least convince the county’s legislators to call a timeout and wait for the Justice Department’s report.

- Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Guest appearance

There is some of the usual stuff on Tuesday night’s agenda of the Freeport village planning board, like homeowners requesting approvals to change decks, awnings and driveways.

But the board might expect some fireworks— and at least one high-profile guest, too — as it holds a public hearing regarding the site of the historic Plaza West bank building, which has been vacant for decades.

Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, who lives in Freeport, told The Point he will attend Tuesday’s meeting to object to plans to raze the building and replace it with a Lexus dealership.

Abrahams said he has attended Freeport planning board meetings two other times in the eight years he has lived in the village. This one, he said, is too important to miss.

“I don’t come that often. When I do show up, I hope people realize and recognize that this is something of a serious magnitude,” Abrahams said.

Residents and civic advocates have said they’d prefer transit-oriented development, including housing, at the site. Plans for such development had been considered, but then were dropped in favor of the dealership.

The Freeport zoning board voted in May to allow the building, located between the train station and Sunrise Highway, to be razed and replaced by the dealership. In June, the Nassau County Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the project, citing residents’ desire for transit-oriented development instead. But Freeport officials moved it forward anyway, putting it on the village planning board calendar.

Abrahams said the proper process isn’t being followed because the county commission’s “no” vote should have meant that the project had to go back to the village’s zoning board for a re-vote.

Abrahams said he hopes the planning board will postpone its vote Tuesday night, to allow for more public commenting opportunities, noting that people are “galvanized” over the property.

“Something of this magnitude should have had community meetings and hearings. It’s being treated like you’re putting up a fence in the backyard,” said Abrahams.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Farewell

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Final Point

A new challenger

The Democratic race to take on Rep. Lee Zeldin got a little more crowded Tuesday, with the long-expected entry of Nancy Goroff, who has served as chemistry department chairwoman at Stony Brook University.

She joins businessman Perry Gershon, who lost to Zeldin by around 4 percent in 2018. 

Goroff’s website already takes aim at one perceived Gershon drawback -- that he only moved full time to the district recently. The first words of Goroff’s bio on her site read: “Suffolk is home. It’s where I raised my two daughters, both [sic] whom are proud graduates of Ward Melville HS.”

Goroff has had contact with Emily’s List, a national group that helps pro-choice Democratic women get elected, and 314 Action, which helps elect scientists. Goroff has given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes in the past, the kind of money that could help bolster her own campaign. Her ex-husband Glen Whitney formerly worked at quantitative hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.

Gershon, who put hundreds of thousands of his own money into his first race, says he has raised more than $400,000 in money from individual contributors and supporters. Full Federal Election Commission donation data will be released soon. 

Meanwhile, Jack Harrington, a lawyer and former candidate for Brookhaven Town supervisor, is back from military service in Afghanistan. Democratic sources say he is seriously considering a run. But fundraising could be a challenge: none of his 2017 filings with the state Board of Elections for his supervisor run against Ed Romaine show more than $40,000 in receipts. 

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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