Backroom Shenanigans In
By Stewart Lilker
The Monday, April 22,
2002, Freeport Village Board meeting was the usual, with the
blasting through the agenda in
record time. As usual, everything of substance went on behind
closed doors in executive session. While NYS law is specific
regarding what should be going on in executive sessions, the
Glackenites just ignore it, continuing to do whatever they want,
not impeded by any laws or any oversight.
Mr. Lou Leggio showed up at yet
another Freeport Village Board meeting, expecting to see some
resolution regarding a piece of property he purchased years ago.
For about four years, Leggio has
been attempting to have the property rezoned from marine
industrial to residential so that he could sell the lots, which
can be a relatively simple process in other communities. The
property is located on Hudson Avenue, on the site of the former
Trudy Bís catering house, which had gone bankrupt. Leggio is
looking to improve the property by dividing it into building
lots for waterfront homes.
On Monday night, Leggio thought
that he would finally see some resolution to his nightmare that
has dragged on for years and is threatening to wipe out his life
savings. He was told that the property was finally going to be
When the Board meeting was
adjourned, Leggio got the attention of Deputy Village Attorney
Howard Colton and asked him what was going on with his property.
Leggio said to Colton, "I thought this was going to be on
tonightís agenda." Colton explained that they (the Mayor
and Board) were going to discuss the zoning in the back room
after the meeting.
NYS law requires this type of
rezoning to be discussed in public.
After the meeting, your reporter
asked Colton why the Board would be discussing zoning in
executive session, a session which occurs out of the public eye
in the back room. Colton paused for a moment and then said,
"There is possible litigation and it also involves
The NYS Commissioner of Open
Government, Mr. Robert Freeman, has pointed out that, "...
it has been determined that the mere possibility, threat or fear
of litigation would be insufficient to conduct an executive
NYS Open Meetings Law permits a
public body to enter into executive session to discuss
"proposed, pending or current litigation." Nowhere in
the law is the "threat or fear" of litigation
justified as entry into executive session.
The court found in Weatherwax v.
Town of Stony Point, that the fear of potential litigation does
not justify conducting of public business in an executive
session. The court said, "To accept this argument would be
to accept the view that any public body could bar the public
from its meetings simply by expressing the fear that litigation
may result from actions taken therein." The court
concluded, "Such a view would be contrary to both the
letter and the spirit of the exception." (the law -ed.).
After Coltonís remarks, your
reporter asked, "What kind of reason is that? Everything
involves possible litigation." Colton just turned away.
Leggio told FreeportNYNews,
"I donít understand this. I was told to get the right
lawyer and I got the right lawyer. I gave him five thousand
dollars and he didnít do anything. When that didnít work out
I got another right lawyer. Now, I have ten thousand dollars
invested in lawyers. This has been dragging on for years and if
it drags on much longer, I will loose the property. The stress
the village has put me through has caused me serious health
problems. If nothing happens soon, I will loose my life savings.
This is not right."
Freeport To Give Day Workers Municipal Lot
Secretive Mayor Keeps Public In Dark
By Stewart Lilker
On Monday, April 15, 2001, long
time Freeporter and Glacken supporter, Georgia Prunty, told
Mayor Glacken and the Board, "I want to personally thank
all you guys for everything you have done. You have rescued this
village. I love you." Then, she explained why this was the
first Village Board meeting she had ever attended. "The
reason Iím here, and I would rather not be here, is the
proposed illegal alien hiring site.
Sunrise Hwy. on April 19, 2001, the Freeport municipal
lot proposed for the day worker shape up site. The open
dumpster, shopping cart and trash have been ignored by
the village for some time.
For years, Dunkin Donuts on
Sunrise Highway in Freeport has been the mustering site for the
Latino day workers from the south shore of Nassau County.
Recently, both the day workers and the contractors that hire
them have been the objects of police harassment by the Village.
Recently, the Village has been
negotiating with the Work Place Project, a organization which
represents the day workers, and Catholic Charities to come up
with a permanent hiring site away from the Dunkin Donut - Long
Island Rail Road area, the shape up site currently used by the
Two weeks ago, a deal was
hammered out between the Work Place Project, Catholic Charities
and the Village. Subject to further negotiations, the Village
will give the workers the municipal parking lot on Bennington
Avenue, located down the block from the present shape up site on
Sunrise Highway. A trailer will be placed in the lot for the use
of the day workers. Catholic Charities is to administer the
Prunty said, "I have spoke
to hundreds of people over the past few years. The consensus is
we would like much stronger police presence. The people would
like to see somebody there to deter this illegal activity that
goes on disgracefully day after day with no end in sight. Now,
we see the Catholic Church and the illegal alien advocates want
a site where they can go. This is absurd. The Catholic Church
should read their bible."
Prunty continued, "I am
against this. What is the position of the village?"
Unknown to Prunty, the
Glackenites had already committed the Bennington Avenue
municipal lot to the day workers.
Looking east down
Bennington Ave. from the area of the present shape up
location towards Glacken's proposed location.
When Glacken did not respond and
the Glackenites just sat there, mute, Ms. Prunty continued.
"The way I feel and the way my friends that are still left
in the village feel, not one square foot of Freeport Village
property and not one dime of taxpayer money should go to further
breaking the laws of the United States of America. These are not
Freeportís day laborers, they are illegal aliens and to give
this legitimacy is a disgrace."
Glacken still had no comment.
Prunty took her seat.
On Friday, April 19th, your
reporter asked one of the local business owners on Bennington
Avenue, who is adjacent to the proposed new home of the day
laborers, if he approved of the new site. He said, "Why
didnít anybody tell me about this? Iím absolutely opposed. I
donít want them down here. Theyíre illegal and they donít
9, 2002 (Posted April 10th)
Glackenites Refuse To Release
Appointments To Anyone ... Almost
By Stewart Lilker
Mayor, William F. Glacken, buzzed through the annual village
organization night in record time. Organization night, which is
held on the first Monday in April, was postponed by Glacken
until this week, with the excuse that it was "Easter
weekend." The real story was that Glacken gave himself an
extended weekend and canceled the meeting.
Glacken, who for years has
promised to fix the acoustics in village hall, intentionally
mumbled his way through the eveningís appointments, speaking
so quickly that most of them were unintelligible.
As (left to right)
the Village Clerk, Anna Knoeller, the Village Auditor,
Tom Preston, and the Village Assessor, Bernadine
Quinton, are given the Oath of Office by Mayor Glacken,
the de facto mayor, the Mayor's brother in law,
mob/village attorney, Harrison J. Edwards, remains
seated and does not take the Oath.
At the conclusion of the
meeting, Jim Golding, the reporter for the Leader, the
"Official" newspaper of the village, asked for the
list of appointments, explaining that he couldnít understand
most of them. The villageís PR person, Pat Murphy, told him,
"I will fax the list to you tomorrow," saying that
there were mistakes and she couldnít release it at that time.
Golding explaind that he had to write the story that evening.
Murphy said that she would fax the list to the Leader,
Today, Tuesday, April 9th at
3:30 p.m., your reporter, who is also a resident, went to the
Village Clerkís office and asked for a copy of the list.
Deputy Clerk, Carol Thomas, said, "Itís not ready yet. It
is not in a form that is ready for the public. She [Village
Clerk, Anna Knoeller] is still working on it." Your
reporter asked Thomas, "Nobody can get it?" Thomas
replied, "Thatís right, nobody, not yet." Your
reporter asked Thomas if she could ask Knoeller if she would
release the list of appointments. Thomas said that Knoeller was
behind closed doors and couldnít be disturbed.
Your reporter next went to
Glackenís secretary, Julie OíToole and explained to her that
he couldnít understand most of what Glacken had said, asking
her for a copy of the list of appointments. OíToole said she
had a copy of the list, but she had to get permission from the
Mayor to release it. OíToole explained that she wasnít sure
if the list was completed. When your reporter pointed out that
Glacken read the list last night, OíToole said she would fax
the list if she could, stating again, "I have to get
permission, first. If I can, I will."
Next, your reporter saw the
Mayorís Chief of Staff, Ray Straub, explaining to him that he
couldnít understand what the Mayor had said and would like a
copy of the list of appointments by the end of the day. Straub
said, "I donít know who you would get that from."
At 4:15, your reporter called
the main office of the Leader, and spoke to the editor in chief,
Paul Laursen. I asked Laursen if the Leader had received a copy
of the list of appointments made by the Mayor the night before,
explaining that I couldnít understand most of what the Mayor
said. Laursen said, "I got it. You can read about the
appointments in the paper."
I asked Laursen what time he received the fax. He said, "I
think it was around 12 oíclock." I told Laursen,
"That's funny, they told me they weren't releasing the
appointments to anybody."
4, 2002 (Posted April 5, 2002)
Cancer Causing Diesel Generators Are Dead
By Stewart Lilker
over two years, the residents of Merrick, Freeportís sister
community, have been actively fighting to shut down the village
New York's Gov. George Pataki (left) is
welcomed to Freeport by Mayor Glacken (3d from left), as
LIPA czar Richie Kessel (2nd from left) and Supt. of
Electric, Hub Bianco (far left) look on.
ancient, cancer causing
diesel generators. These generators, built in the late sixties
from two converted two cycle Fiat ship engines, have been
spewing cancer causing pollutants into the atmosphere, to be
picked up by the local prevailing winds blowing into Merrick,
for the past thirty years. The NYS Department of Environmental
Conservation, knowing that the plant was exceeding the
permissible EPA emission limits, was paralyzed by politics and
refused to order a stack test or the shut down of the plant.
With Freeportís Mayor, William F. Glacken, repeatedly claiming
fumes donít cause cancer," the Merrick residents had
finally had enough and the stage was set.
Joe Kralovich, President of the
Old Lindenmere Civic Association of Merrick, has been tirelessly
leading the fight, along with the members of his civic
association. This past summer, Kralovich and his civic
a march from Merrick to Freeportís Power Plant No. 2
(PPN2). Their mantra was "Clean It Up Or Shut It
Down." Hundreds of people from Merrick were joined by
Freeportís Vincent Greco and a handful of people from
Freeport. Mayor Glacken had imposed a news blackout regarding
the situation at PPN2. Many local politicians marched with and
in support of Kralovichís civic association, including NYS
Senator Chuck Fuschillo, the former Mayor of Glen Cove and now
County Executive, Tom Suozzi, and Nassau County Legislator Dave
Denenberg, whose district is the home of PPN2.
After the demonstration,
Freeportís Mayor Glacken remained intractable, still claiming
that diesel emissions werenít a health risk. Senator Fuschillo
was working in the background, trying to work out a deal with
the Mayor, the DEC, and LIPA. All the while, meetings were still
going on in Merrick with Kralovich and his association.
The frustration was beginning to
show and many of the mothers of the Old Lindenmere Civic
Association vowed that they wouldnít go through another summer
with toxic diesel fumes blowing through their neighborhoods,
causing them to barricade themselves and their children in their
homes with their windows locked shut and their air conditioners
going full blast. Finally, at a recent meeting, these middle
class moms of Merrick agreed not to take it any more. If they
had to, they would chain themselves, with their baby carriages,
to the fence at Freeportís PPN2 the first time Glacken ordered
the plant started. The word got out. Senator Fuschillo was
advised of the situation and Glacken must have decided that
civil disobedience by a bunch of middle class mothers was the
last thing he needed after the Glackenite
swimming pool debacle. Glacken made a deal to shut down
Today at 11 a.m., Governor
George Pataki came to Freeport to make the announcement. The
plant would be shut down. The dignitaries showed up in force.
PPN2 on Emergency Standby While
Freeport Continues To Negotiate
Before the show began,
FreeportNYNews (FNYN) asked Freeportís highly regarded
Superintendent of Electric, Hub Bianco, if PPN2 would run.
Bianco told FNYN, "If there is an Island wide or State wide
emergency, if they say fire it up, thatís what we will
FNYN asked Bianco how many times
Freeport Electric would have to run the plant to keep it
operational. Bianco said, "You have to do about a four or
five hour test twice a year." Bianco further explained,
"Once we have the new plant, I turn in my permits and then
we submit a decommissioning plan to the DEC."
FNYN asked Bianco, "Whey do
you plan to begin building the new one?" Bianco replied,
"We have to finish up a couple of things. Hopefully by the
nineteenth or the end of this month, we should have a deal. We
should start the environmental assessment and everything should
click right through."
Due to the controversy regarding
the bidding process, on which FNYN will report next week, your
reporter asked, "Are you still negotiating prices with
them?" Bianco answered, "We are still negotiation
terms. The prices are pretty well set. There are some ownership
issues. There is some shared equipment. We donít want two
ammonia storage facilities."
The Show Begins
Governor Pataki, who wants to be
known as the "ecology" Governor,
was the first one to address the gathering. He said, "So
many of the community groups deserve the credit. I have to
mention Joe Kralovich. Joe, congratulations to you for doing
this. The community pushed. The community was right and
government has responded. Behind us you see two very old
diesels. They donít have the proper controls. They are going
to be eliminated. They are going to be put out to pasture. We
are going to be replacing them with state of the art, clean gas
generating facilities. This is going to result in reducing the
sulfur dioxide emissions by 99%. It is going to reduce the
nitrous oxide emissions by 94%. We have to make sure that we get
rid of the old polluting plants. Freeport is doing that today.
Pataki continued, "This is
a beautiful sunny day. No more soot, no more noise, no more
fumes. The diesel burners are going to be long gone. I canít
wait to come back, sometime this summer and not listen to these
and not see these. The South Shore is getting cleaner and
NYS Senator, Chuck Fuschillo,
took over as master of ceremonies. It wasnít clear why
Freeportís Mayor Glacken wasnít in charge of the festivities
in his own backyard. Fuschillo thanked the Governor for his
help. Fuschillo said, "This is just another chapter in the
Pataki success book on how to run government. There is no
greater friend to the environment than Governor Pataki."
Fuschillo then congratulated long time Freeport resident Vincent
Greco for his work in seeing that PPN2 was shut down.
Fuschillo next introduced
Freeportís Mayor Glacken to the gathering. Glacken thanked
everybody "who worked so hard to ensure Freeport Electric
continues in its fine tradition that started over one hundred
years ago." Glacken gave special thanks to Gov. Pataki,
thanking him for his "continued support for energy
innovation and initiative in Freeport."
continued, "The agreement between LIPA and the Village is
an important step toward our long range goal to supply power to
the Village and the region for the next decade and beyond. The
Village stands ready to construct environmentally sound
Senator Fuschillo had the
audience laughing as he introduced LIPA czar and Pataki
appointment, Richie Kessel. Making light of Kessel's perennial
weight problem he said, "I called this next guest this
morning at nine oíclock and I heard this noise in the
background and he said it was a treadmill, so I guess he turns
it on when people call. I picked him up, just to make sure he
would be here on time and this deal would be finalized. Without
his leadership, we wouldnít be here today."
Kessel, not to be outdone, told
Fuschillo, "The Governor wanted to know if I had a lounge
chair on my treadmill. Chuck, I want to thank you. I found out
what you do best, driving. You are an excellent driver."
Kessel then got serious. "I
want to thank the Governor. The Governor asked me about a
year ago to get involved in trying to work out a solution that
was creating major problems for the communities on the south
shore of Nassau County."
Kessel continued, "This is
a tough issue for Freeport and we have had to work very hard to
get this deal in place. This is a very complex issue. The deal
that we are announcing today is a very simple one. PP&L
[Pennsylvania Power and Light] and LIPA came to an agreement
late last night. LIPA has entered into an agreement with the
village of Freeport. We will purchase 10 MGW from one of the
units that will be owned by the village and we will purchase for
the next seven years, forty four MGW from the other PP&L
unit. Because it is going to take about a year to get these
plants up and running, we are entering into an agreement, that I
will sign today, with the village of Freeport that will provide
make up power. Instead of turning on these generators, LIPA will
supply that power to Freeport. That will be an interim agreement
and that will mean we can keep these plants off, absent a system
emergency, which hopefully we wonít ever have."
then introduced Joe Kralovich, who like Erin Brockovich, refused
to give up the fight. Kralovich thanked Fuschillo for his help
and said, "During this campaign we have had to ask so much
from people. Theyíve had to discuss their private struggles
with all different things that could possibly be environmental
causes of their health problems. Itís been a very emotional
issue and a difficult issue. I want to thank everyone who has
helped us in this campaign. If we work hard, this is what can
the meeting Vincent Greco, the Freeporter who has been fighting
for years to shut PPN2, told FNYN, "They [Freeport
Electric] have the substation. They built it so we wouldnít
have to build anymore power plants. This substation allows
Freeport to import as much power as it needs. The proof that it
works is that they havenít been running PPN2." Greco
continued, "They donít need a new power plant, but if one
has to be built, it should be done properly."
As your reporter left, he walked
over to Merrickís Kathy Kralovich and asked her what she
thought. She spoke for all the mothers of Merrick when, with a
smile, she said, "This summer my windows will be