When asked for a response to our pay raise story retraction, Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti claimed Tuesday night that the whole story came from a Democrat. Several other claims the elected official made were: he never believed that the Mayor conspired to raise his salary; that he has “always respected” the executive session oath of secrecy; and our favorite: that he never “spreads rumors.”
But an anonymous Newsday account’s comments may offer clues about what the Councilman truly believes. But first, a bit about why we decided to retract the infamous pay raise story.
The decision to retract the story came as a result of two simultaneous, independent events. First, a friend notified me that Robert Germino was “opening [himself] up to legal liability” regarding alleged anonymous Newsday comments and anonymous letters. Not directly related, it was at this time that Mr. Germino challenged Councilman Spagnoletti to publicly validate or deny the pay raise story, which he had “whispered” to myself and many other well-intentioned people.
This culminated in the following exchange between Pasquale Cervasio and the Councilman at the April 14 City Council meeting.
We were impressed by the creativity of Councilman Spagnoletti’s response, though the question about whether he had spread the rumors went conspicuously unanswered.
We feel compelled to respond to Spagnoletti’s deflection. The night of one summer city council meeting, an associate of Spagnoletti called me to tell me about the rumors. Soon after, Councilman Spagnoletti himself called to tell me the same story verbatim–about the supposed 50 percent raises for both the mayor and city council. Spagnoletti told Germino the same information. Days went by. We couldn’t understand why the Councilman wouldn’t go public with his story.
Councilman Spagnoletti explained that he was sworn to secrecy in executive session and feared a lawsuit. He told us he’d been threatened before about it. We asked Councilman Gallo about it, and he responded the same way. So Germino told me he’d FOIL for the information. I simply reported his FOIL request to the public.
We were told that FOIL wasn’t the way to get information about executive session discussions by one Democrat City Councilman, who told us that a pay raise proposal was made–in jest, and has maintained this account ever since, as has Mayor Spinello. However, at the time, we were convinced by the charismatic councilman, Spagnoletti, into believing that the mayor and council members were openly abusing their power, and took “jest” to mean something more than it was.
After all, executive session discussions are designed to avoid transparency, but for a reason. They exist to discuss matters such as the history of a specific employee about to be hired or a pending lawsuit. Theoretically it would be difficult to find out if improper discussions occur in executive session for a private resident. But not a City Councilman. The elected officials can simply question the City Attorney about whether the discussions were improper, and if the council member is unsatisfied, there is a difficult legal process to go through.
However, we can report that the process didn’t fail residents. That’s because there is no evidence that the Councilman attempted to use this process. Regardless, the source of the story is without question Mr. Spagnoletti, as clarified by Germino:
But since Mr. Spagnoletti did not come public with the truth, it raises another question–who is Mineola1 on the Newsday website, and why did they rehash only two months ago the pay raise rumors? Here’s a statement from Robert Germino, followed by “strange similarities” to be investigated.
Early last year, Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti told me that he couldn’t access online Newsday articles for his perusal. He repeatedly asked me to send him articles relating to Glen Cove. His persistent requests led me to share Newsday online access with him around early summer. The account is known as “mineola1.” I told him that my access came from an acquaintance who shared login information with me a while ago. I assumed that Councilman Spagnoletti would use the account to read articles as I have done throughout the years.
Around mid-fall, I noticed that mineola1 made many comments specific to Glen Cove politics. I did not write them and I established my own Newsday account then. The comments didn’t seem to come from the account owner since the person, to my knowledge, has no interest in the minutiae of our city’s politics.
Around late fall, I asked Councilman Spagnoletti to stop using mineola1. I suggested that he create his own Newsday account if he wanted to comment on articles. He didn’t respond.
Mineola1’s comments reached a new level of intensity around Tony Gallo’s mayoral campaign announcement. The anonymous writer proclaimed Councilman Spagnoletti’s endorsement of Gallo and later made scathing comments against Gallo’s potential critics. Some suspected that I wrote the comments due to my harsh criticism of the Glen Cove Republican Party and my involvement with the Long Island Voter’s Almanack. Once again, I contacted Councilman Spagnoletti regarding his possible misuse of the mineola1 account. He assured me that he was not behind it.
I ask the city council to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter. It should examine mineola1’s phrases such as “Gallo has consistently put the people first” and “Gallo has the right vision for Glen Cove.” They appeared on Newsday from 3/3/15 to 3/4/15. Are they similar to comments Councilman Spagnoletti wrote days later? Let the council decide.
“Glen Cove City Council to vote again on mayor’s chief of staff appointee” published January 7, 2015 9:24 PM
“Glen Cove considers proposals for the former Coles School property,” published March 3, 2015.
“Well ahead of November election, Glen Cove councilman throws in his hat for mayor” published March 4, 2015
“LI YMCA revives Glen Cove advisory board” published February 12, 2015