The Glen Cove Charter contains the Code of the City of Glen Cove. It is our local Constitution and contains the legislative rules that guide our City government and affects the lives of our citizens, in a myriad of ways, from A to Z (Alarm Systems to Zoning Laws). It is of the utmost importance that the web site containing our legislation be impenetrable to tampering.
Mayor Spinello intends to establish a Charter Revision Commission consisting of 9 appointed members of his choosing. Members’ duties will be to recommend changes, additions , deletions and new sections to the current Charter and its Code, while retaining those sections in place that do not need to be repealed. Chapter 1 of the Charter entitled General Provisions, Section 1-10, contains the following shocking paragraph:
Penalties for tampering with Code
Any person who, without authorization from the City Clerk, changes or amends, by additions or deletions, any part or portion of the Code of the City of Glen Cove or who alters or tampers with such Code in any manner whatsoever which will cause the legislation for the City of Glen Cove to be misrepresented thereby or who violates any other provision of this local law shall be guilty of an offence and shall upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not more than $250 or imprisonment for a term of not more than 15 days, or both.”
The fact that this section was incorporated into the Code, in the first place, is troubling. Who would believe that such an act would even be possible and raises the unthinkable questions: has it occurred, how often, when and by whom? If tampering is a possibility, how can We the People trust anything that is written in the Code? We should be informed as to which individuals have access to it, and what safeguards are in place to prevent its occurrence. The City must continually use updated technology to enable it identify any individuals involved in violating the Code.
The tampering of the Code is a criminal act and should be called at least a felony. It is a secret and intentional modification of the Code so as to subvert an intended purpose and deserves a penalty that fits the crime. The current penalty is only a slap on the wrist, instead of handcuffs. The perception is that it protects the perpetrator from a harsh sentence instead of discouraging the act itself. A more befitting punishment for this crime would be imprisonment for the maximum sentence allowed by law and a huge fine. If the perpetrator is a City employee, the penalty should also include their removal from employment and the loss of City health and pension benefits. The newly formed Charter Revision Commission should revise Section 1-10, so it will contain stiffer penalties that would act as a deterrent. As it now stands, it is a toothless tiger.
The Commission should hold a public hearing to discuss this topic and its revision. We must continually be vigilant in safeguarding the Code’s integrity and not allow for even the slightest possibility that our laws could be corrupted.