This coming July 4th, we celebrate 239 years of independence from an oppressive sovereign. Be prepared for politicians–especially those who are running for office–to speak tenderly of American freedoms as they wrap themselves in the flag. Do their words or actions measure up?
At this juncture, it should be no surprise to the reader that Mike Bruschini and I have had strong criticisms of Team Gallo; however, consistent readers of our writings would know that we have criticized other politicians too (this includes the current mayor and his council colleagues). Our overall disagreements centered on philosophical principles of government. We also cherish the right to disapprove of our elected officials and those who desire to be one–this is freedom of speech. Once again, we write this article due to the provocations of Team Gallo.
Last Saturday, we received a “cease and desist” letter from Michael Bruk, Esq. The attorney purported to be the legal representative of Dennis Giacomo “Jack” Vilella, Esq. His letter was a veiled threat enveloped in legalese: remove the posts about Vilella, pay Vilella’s supposed legal costs, and show proof that Vilella is “a campaign manager or leader and/or event leader for any political campaign” or face a possible lawsuit. Furthermore, Bruk warned that publishing the letter “will subject you to further causes of action.”
Bruk referred to the Beacon’s “Team Gallo: Our Ideas Are So Good That You Can’t Tell the Truth” article. The article simply reposted Vilella’s public comments about police action and offered an opinion on them. In that article, we also showed proof that Vilella solicited petition signatures for Team Gallo on June 6 at the Downtown Cafe in Glen Cove. Vilella wrote, “We [not “they”] will have petitions there from 5 to PM.” By Vilella’s own admission, he organized an event for Team Gallo.
Bruk’s threat of “further causes of action” is equally curious. Is he asserting confidentiality of his written threat to us? This cannot be the case since he mailed the letter to third-party, non-clients–i.e., Robert Germino, Michael Bruschini, and Brian Pemberton. If anything contained in Bruk’s letter represented attorney-client privilege, he should not have sent it to us.
Did Bruk assert that his law firm “owns” the letter due to there being a market for threats couched in legal jargon? If so, we assert “fair use” of the letter only for non-profit, educational purposes.
The above threats are nothing new. At the May 5, 2015 pre-council meeting, Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti threatened legal action against us for “defamation and libel” (start listening to the below clip at 12 minutes). He was concerned about “Spagnoletti’s Response Raises New Question.” We provided a statement and possible evidence of Spagnoletti’s potential misuse of the “mineola1” Newsday account.
Councilman Joe Capobianco, who is an attorney, politely reminded Spagnoletti of the high legal threshold for a public figure to bring an action against a private citizen. This, nevertheless, did not seem to stop Spagnoletti’s insistence that his “team of attorneys will proceed accordingly.”
The latest intimidation tactic occurred on the evening of this past Glen Cove City Council meeting. A vocal Team Gallo supporter took photos of us for no clear reason as we stood in the back of the council’s chamber. The person then walked past Mike Zangari, who is running for council on the Democratic Party line, and they exchanged words. Zangari requested the individual spell his name right if he took a photo of him too. The Gallo supporter allegedly leaned into Zangari, who was in a wheelchair, and he supposedly stated, “If I want to confront someone, I’ll confront them.”
Maybe Councilman Tony Gallo, who is running for mayor of Glen Cove, can plead ignorance of everything stated thus far. In addition, maybe Gallo has no idea that his campaign website posted an intimidating legal notice (we also assert fair use of his website’s images).
It is unusual for a candidate who runs on transparency, being for “the process,” and rallying populist support for himself as the supposed underdog would devolve his campaign into brute tactics. Gallo is known for being a soft-spoken, “nice guy” who is “an educator and not a politician.”
On Independence Day, Gallo should reflect upon its meaning before he writes anything else. He should lead his campaign by example. Gallo must not forget that a leader is responsible for everything his team does or fails to do. The “What, me worry?” attitude is not leadership.
Mike Bruschini contributed to this article.