Councilman resigns to run parks department
Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Joseph Pinto achieved his dream of leading the town’s Department of Parks at the March 7 meeting of the town board.
Councilmembers adopted resolutions that day to appoint their colleague to replace Frank Nocerino at the department, and also chose Louis Imbroto to take Pinto’s seat. Imbroto will have to run in November as Pinto’s term ends Dec. 31.
Robert Ripp of Massapequa criticized Supervisor Joseph Saladino for introducing the resolutions without prior public notice, asserting this was a violation of the Open Meetings Law.
“I strongly object if you now present the resolution or vote on a resolution in regards to this that you haven’t made information public on,” Ripp said.
“This isn’t transparency,” Ripp added, striking at one of the themes of Saladino’s new regime. “This is anything but transparency.”
Saladino said the town received a resignation note from Nocerino at a late hour, accounting for the time issue. By law, said Saladino, Nocerino will have to be slotted toward another position—in this case the deputy commissioner of public safety, before taking his retirement later this year.
“It’s very important for us to have a parks commissioner in place,” said Saladino. “One of the shining stars in the [town] is the parks department. We have many residents who depend on the services of the parks, and we want someone in there who has great expertise in the field of parks…Someone we feel will do not just a good job, but an exceptional job. And that person is Joe Pinto.”
Saladino praised Pinto, a certified public accountant, as a dedicated public servant with impressive credentials in community service.
Councilman Chris Coschignano said that he will miss his colleague but asserted that “he will be a great commissioner.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said she had mixed feelings. “You taught me a lot. You were a mentor,” she said, addressing Pinto. “I know how much you love your community and how much the community loves having you as their representative. And I really can’t think of any job you would love as much as being parks commissioner.”
Councilman Joe Muscarella called Pinto one of the best councilmen to ever serve. “Last year, he helped the Town of Oyster Bay go in the right direction,” Muscarella said. “He gave his time and effort and heart and soul for the town. It’s a tremendous loss to the board. He’s just a good man.”
Pinto took office on February 3, 2009, to fill an unexpired term. He won an election later that year and again in 2013. “Some decisions were tougher than others, but each time I made them in the best interests of the residents,” Pinto said in his final address from his seat. “Did I succeed? I believe I did. But, as you know, we’ve had some tough times here lately. During those times, the town board has been under so much pressure. Those times are behind us and we can learn from them. Over the past 15 to 18 months, the town board has taken a more active role, and has been involved in the day-to-day activities of the town. I think this has put the town in a position to succeed. And I’m confident that under Supervisor Saladino, the town is going in the right direction.”
Saladino then recommended the appointment of Imbroto to the board.
Councilman Anthony Macagnone spoke up at that point. “If we are going to make such sweeping changes, why don’t we put it up for referendum vote?” he stated. “We’re going to have school elections coming up in May…Let the people decide.”
There was a smattering of applause from the audience as Saladino rejoined, “The people will be able to decide because the person I’m making this motion about will be running in November and it will be the perfect opportunity, for we have the highest number of voters turning out. School elections don’t provide as much as a turnout.”
Macagnone again brought up changing the bylaws to handle a vacancy on the board, stating, “Let’s show people that we want to make sweeping changes.”
Saladino responded by listing all the initiatives he had recently introduced and stated, “I do believe we need a full complement on the town board going forward. We have the right individuals with energy, fresh ideas and commitment to bring ethics to our town.”
Kevin McKenna of Syosset objected to the appointment of Imbroto. “This is a political appointment in order to get somebody situated to be able to work over the next few months to become publicized in order to win in November,” he charged, “and I don’t believe that’s right.”
Imbroto was approved 5-0, with Macagnone the lone holdout. “Just having found out about this this morning during the meeting, I have to abstain,” he said.
Alesia also shared her colleague’s concern with lack of notice, but went on to praise Imbroto, a fellow Plainview resident.
“He’s a very bright young man very interested in public service,” Alesia said. “He has put his desire to serve above many other opportunities. I know in Plainview he’s highly regarded. He’s a product of our neighborhood. He grew up there. He brings a fresh perspective. He’s a talented young man who’s going to be an asset to the board.”
Saladin said Imbroto is a product of Chaminade High School, Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School.
“He comes to the town board with a variety of experiences in depth of knowledge,” said Saladino.
Imbroto, who resigned from the Oyster Bay attorney’s office last year, most recently served as associate general counsel at Nassau University Medical Center.