Councilwoman Jodi Giglio does not have to recuse herself from voting on the qualified and eligible application of Calverton Aviation and Technology.
In a decision dated Oct. 24 and received by town board members today, the Riverhead Board of Ethics found that Giglio did not violate the Riverhead ethics code in taking a private meeting with the applicant’s representatives, Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said today. Therefore, there is no basis for requiring recusal from a vote on the CAT application, the board held.
The Coalition Against EPCAL Housing filed a complaint with the ethics board in April seeking Giglio’s recusal from the vote in light of her March 12 meeting in Manhattan with representatives of the applicant.
Giglio was the only town official at the meeting, which she took without notifying the other town board members or the lawyers representing the town on the $40 million deal. The councilwoman, who was a vocal opponent of the proposed sale prior to the meeting, said afterward she had become convinced of the applicant’s ability to develop the site and bring jobs and tax base to Riverhead and would support the deal.
“We’re certainly disappointed and a little bit surprised by this outcome,” Coalition Against EPCAL Housing spokesperson Rex Farr said.
The coalition in the complaint objected to Giglio’s “ex parte discussions” with the applicant, which it said were “inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Giglio said tonight she was “not surprised” and “pleased with the outcome” of the ethics board’s months-long deliberations.
“As a Riverhead councilwoman for almost 10 years, I will continue to find commonsense solutions — including traveling into Manhattan (on my own dime) — to help get the best deal at EPCAL for Riverhead families,” Giglio said in a text message this evening.
“It’s a shame it took so long for the ethics board to come back with a decision on such an important issue,” Jens-Smith said.
“Now we can move forward with the Q&E,” she said.
The supervisor said she is not sure when the application will be voted on by the town board and said officials would consult with their attorneys about what steps to take next.
It is not clear what the outcome of that vote will be. The supervisor and Councilwoman Catherine Kent have opposed the sale. While Giglio has come out in support of the sale the CAT and Councilman James Wooten has always supported it, Deputy Supervisor Tim Hubbard — the deciding vote on the application — has said he will not disclose how he’ll vote in advance.
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