Gerard Gigante.

Gerard Gigante. Credit: James Carbone

Daily Point

Nephew didn’t get the job, but is set to get the pay

In January 2019, then-Suffolk County Police Department Sgt. Salvatore Gigante was placed on an elite detective squad assigned to the district attorney’s office, as a sergeant, with no raise. He was to do the job at that rank and pay until his nepotism waiver, usually little more than a formality, was approved by the county Legislature. At that point he would have been promoted to detective sergeant with a raise as well as back pay for the time he’d done the job at a lower rank.

Gigante needed the waiver because he is the nephew of then-Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante, who left the SCPD in 2021 after 36 years to head a newly created Town of Babylon public safety department.

An attorney hired by the Suffolk County Legislature at the behest of then-Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, who said both nepotism and prejudice against other minority candidates were involved in the promotion, concluded Salvatore Gigante lacked the minimum qualifications for the new post.

And in December 2019, after Gigante had been with the DA squad for a year, the legislature denied him the needed nepotism waiver.

But now, according to multiple county officials, Gigante is set to get the extra money he would have been paid had the promotion been approved, settling a lawsuit Gigante filed seeking the cash. The exact amount isn’t set, but the number being discussed is $55,000. 

Last month, the Ways and Means Committee voted down a request to authorize the county administration to negotiate a final settlement of the case in executive session, which is not open to the public. But current Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey then asked that the issue be discharged to the full legislature to take up the issue in an executive session, and got the 10 votes he needed to make it happen. 

The move was then approved in executive session, though the settlement has not yet been finalized, nor the money paid.

And Gregory, who left his county legislative seat in January 2020 to take a seat on the Babylon Town Board is now, again, one of Gerard Gigante’s bosses.

And Gregory isn’t supportive of the county’s likely payout to Salvatore Gigante.

“I was named in that lawsuit, and nobody from the county deposed me or even asked me any questions,” Gregory said. “I haven’t heard that they’ve talked to anyone else, either, and it seems like they are not trying to defend the suit. If it was not appropriate to give him the job and the waiver, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to give him this money.”

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Unusual library election 

Political parties and advocacy groups took sides. Slates of candidates formed. Voter turnout was strong. And the result, perhaps, were surprising. 

All this — in a library district election.

The Smithtown Library District’s budget vote and trustees election Tuesday was expected to come with fireworks ever since the uproar over a June board decision to remove the library’s Pride display from the children’s rooms. That controversial vote — and the board’s subsequent decision to restore the display days later — led to a significant effort on both sides to try to garner control of the board come October.

In the end, a slate of three candidates supported by the LGBT Network and local community members who back diversity, equity and inclusion efforts won seats in a close race for the Smithtown library trustees.

The winning slate focused on their support of the Pride display and talk of building a library system open to “everyone.” Former board member Annette Galarza, who lost her seat a year ago, received the most votes of any of the 15 candidates, with 1,819 votes. Her running mates, Howard Knispel and Mildred Bernstein, garnered the second and third-highest vote totals, with each recording more than 1,700 votes.

Three other candidates — JoAnn Lynch, Charles Fisher and Michael Gannon — formed another slate and were endorsed by the Smithtown Republican Committee and the Smithtown Conservative Committee, and supported by the Long Island Loud Majority, a right-wing group. Lynch, in particular, has made public comments in the past criticizing books that dealt with transgender issues and sexual orientation that were available in the library. Lynch got 1,527 votes, Fisher ended up with 1,487, and Gannon totaled 1,462. 

No other trustee candidate had more than 600 votes. Neither incumbent — Anita Dowd-Neufeld or Joseph Gregurich — was affiliated with a slate, and neither retained their seats

The party endorsements were particularly unusual for a library district election. And interestingly, while Smithtown’s Democratic committee didn’t endorse in the race, Knispel is a member.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Official ballot

Credit: COLUMBIA MISSOURIAN/John Darkow

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Final Point

No I in Santos

Many new candidates are eager to tell voters about their biographies whenever they can, but George Santos — the Republican candidate for New York’s 3rd Congressional District — has taken a different tack. 

“I will always make this about you. I will never make it about me,” Santos said in an Empire Report candidate forum sponsored by AARP New York on Monday. 

In a recent NewsdayTV debate against Democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman, Santos said he wanted to make the debate “about all of you in the room,” because “this race is not about the two of us, it’s about you, the people of New York’s 3rd District.”

Santos doubled down on the concept multiple times in the event: “let’s focus on you people,” he said at one point, highlighting crime, inflation, and other issues that he said keep people “up at night.”

The Republican’s paid communications follow a similar strategy. A TV ad featuring a shot of the Statue of Liberty nods obliquely at his family’s immigrant story, noting that his family “lived the American dream.” But the video immediately pivots to criticisms of national Democrats on crime and being anti-business. 

Santos’s recent Facebook ads largely skip his personal story, too, a contrast with Zimmerman who used the social media platform to introduce himself variously as a longtime activist and “a national Democratic leader and advocate from Great Neck.”

Neither Santos nor his campaign returned requests for comment about the apparent strategy. He has at times alluded to his background on the campaign trail, including the loss of his mother to cancer. But voters watching the debates or seeing many of his ads would see little about such staples as his professional background, which includes serving as “a director of an investment firm authorities say bilked millions of dollars from its customers,” according to the Daily Beast. (Santos was not named in an associated SEC complaint and “denied any knowledge of malfeasance at the firm.")

Santos has also made the turn to voters in response to criticism from Zimmerman about his record.

"I have no record,” Santos claimed in the NewsdayTV event. “I have never held elected office. So again, I have never put out an opinion that I would have to defend out here."

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano