Blakeman’s Inspector General Proposal Blocked For Now

Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman (center) introduced his resolution to create an inspector general’s office during the April 25 Town Board meeting. Councilmen Gary Hudes (left) and Anthony D’Esposito (right) both voted against putting Blakeman’s resolution on the agenda. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Supervisor opposed, calling it ‘political grandstanding’

At the April 25 Town Board meeting, Councilman Bruce Blakeman attempted to add a “hand-up,” or emergency resolution to the calendar.

“I submitted the resolution to all the town board members and the town clerk,” stated Blakeman, whose law’s intent was to “establish an independent inspector general to monitor and combat waste, corruption and fraud.”

Supervisor Anthony Santino called on Town Attorney Joseph Ra to explain what would happen next.

“Under our rules, the vote we are about to take is on whether or not this matter should be considered an emergency…resolution on today’s calendar—and not on the merits of the item,” Ra said.

Santino then called for the vote, and as the first to be polled gave an emphatic “no.” He was joined by Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Anthony D’Esposito and Gary Hudes. Siding with Blakeman were Ed Ambrosino and Erin King Sweeney. The vote to add the measure to the calendar thus failed.

Later that day, Santino put out the following statement: “Hempstead Town has strong safeguards in place to protect against waste, fraud and abuse within its government. A comprehensive disclosure and review process accompanies municipal contracts. Online posting of bids and town board resolutions ensures transparency. Financial disclosures for elected officials and town policy makers provide accountability. Sound and sensible policies, not political grandstanding, are the measure of responsible government.”

“The board [majority] felt it was not ready to discuss it,” Mike Deery, the town spokesman, told Anton Media Group. “Hand-up [resolutions] are reserved for true emergencies.”

During public comment Patrick Nicolosi of Elmont spoke up to praise Blakeman’s idea and said it sounded good to him.

“Will the resolution be brought up in the future, and will it be on the calendar?” he asked.
“I will be working with the town attorney to try to put this matter before the board in the near future,” Blakeman responded.

Goosby spoke up to explain her no vote, and a short argument ensued with Nicolosi, who wasn’t interested in her reasons. He asserted that Blakeman, and not she, represented him. Santino finally had to intercede to give Goosby her chance to speak.

“I only saw it this morning,” Goosby said of the resolution. “Some of the things I saw I did not like. I don’t appreciate someone giving me something to vote on the morning of the meeting.”

After noting that she did her research and also depended on an attorney to give her guidance on matters before the board, Goosby nodded in Blakeman’s direction and said, “He’s an attorney. He knows what’s right. I’m really disappointed in you. That’s why I voted no. I’m not fighting with you, but I want to let him know it’s an insult to me.”

Blakeman responded, “Senior councilwoman, I just want to say that I look forward to working with you on a resolution that you and I and all the members of the town board can agree on.”

After listening to this exchange, Nicolosi stated, “I hope the Town of Hempstead can go down that path because transparency and protecting the people’s money is a great thing.”

Blakeman’s proposal called for establishing an initial budget of $250,000, with the inspector general’s salary set at $125,000. Six affirmative votes on the seven-member board would be needed to appoint the IG, whose term would be two years. Blakeman established the following qualifications for the position, calling for one or more of the following credentials: Minimum of three years as either a U.S. Attorney or Assistant U.S. Attorney or District Attorney or Assistant District attorney; retired judge with three or more years of experience as a full time judge; retired captain or higher rank in police department with over three years experience as a detective in a department with over 500 sworn officers; and retired federal law enforcement officer with over three years experience as an investigator.

Blakeman did not respond to calls and emails for comment.

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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