Town Republicans ax employees from Bosworth era

Town Republicans ax employees from Bosworth era
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena. (Photo courtesy of DeSena)

The North Hempstead Town Board Tuesday night voted to terminate multiple town employees who have been working for the municipality since at least the Judi Bosworth administration. 

Tuesday night’s meeting was the first meeting this century where Town Republicans hold a majority on the seven-member town board with four seats. Democrat Christine Liu was not in attendance Tuesday night due to a sickness, officials said. 

Rich Nicolello, the former Nassau County Legislature presiding officer, was also officially hired Tuesday night to be the North Hempstead town attorney. He replaces John Chiara and will earn an annual salary of $185,000, $4,215 more than what Chiara made. 

The terminations include Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Recreation John Darcy, Commissioner of Public Safety Shawn Brown, Chief Research Assistant Jeanine Dillon, Administrative Assistant to the Town Board Rebecca Cheng and Public Information Officer Gordon Tepper. 

Mitchell Pitnick, the secretary to the commissioner of finance, resigned from the town and Planning Commissioner Michael Levine retired, according to the resolution. 

Tuesday’s terminations and resignations come just over two years after Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena’s first meeting as head of the town after defeating Town Clerk Wayne Wink in an election. Bosworth had chosen not to run for re-election. 

At the meeting, Democrats, who held a 4-3 majority, approved a personnel resolution that moved six employees from the supervisor’s office when Bosworth was in office to apolitical town positions. 

Included in that Jan. 6, 2022 resolution was Jennifer Eberhardt, who moved from the supervisor’s office to the Department of Parks and Recreation, Sagar Mehta, who moved from the supervisor’s office to the Department of Parks and Recreation, Julie Schoch, who moved from the supervisor’s office to become secretary to the town board, Dillon, who was Bosworth’s chief of staff and became chief research assistant for the town, Pitnick, who moved from the supervisor’s office to the secretary to the commissioner of finance and Rachel Brinn, who moved from the supervisor’s office to the a secretary for the town board. 

As of Tuesday night, all six of those employees are no longer working for the town. Eberhardt and Schoch left North Hempstead in 2022 and Mehta and Brinn left in November. 

Democratic Council Member Mariann Dalimonte – who voted against the resolutions to terminate Darcy, Brown, Dillon, Cheng and Tepper – asked DeSena to clarify who is left in the communication department following Cheng and Tepper’s terminations.

DeSena said communications associate Michael Anderson was still in the department and that the spokesperson for the supervisor’s office, Brian Devine, is currently on a leave of absence from the town. 

Devine is currently the communications director for the campaign of Nassau Couty Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck), who is the Republican candidate running in a special election on Feb. 13 to represent the 3rd Congressional District. 

Dalimonte also thanked former Democratic Council Member Veronica Lurvey for emailing Deputy Supervisor Joseph Scalero to retract his original email terminating the aforementioned employees on Dec. 27.

According to town law, unless otherwise stated employees serve at the pleasure of the Town Board, which approves terminations, resignations and retirements through resolutions at a public meeting.

DeSena and Republican town councilmembers were unable to make personnel changes similar to Tuesday night because they did not have the majority votes to do so. 

DeSena is one member of the Town Board, which has the power to conduct business with a quorum during public meetings. The town supervisor cannot appoint staff of her choosing without a majority vote.

The terminated employees were given notice by Scalero that their terms would end on Dec. 31 before clarifying the next day they would be terminated by board action Tuesday night, according to someone close to the matter. 

It is unclear at this time if or when the newly vacant positions will be filled or if some of the positions will cease entirely. The next regular North Hempstead Town Board meeting is currently scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6.

A previous version of this story said that Mitchell Pitnick was included among the terminations from the town. It has since been updated to reflect the fact that Pitnick resigned.

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