Candidates Race In Munsey Park Election

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The upcoming village elections are scheduled for Tuesday, March 20, in Manhasset. Four of the five villages have uncontested elections; however, the Incorporated Village of Munsey Park has four candidates running for two trustee seats. Incumbent Jennifer Noone is running for reelection, John Lippmann is not running. John Turano is seeking reelection as justice. Three residents have stepped up to run for the open seat: Brian Dunning, Anthony Sabino and Nathine Yakaitis.

To better understand who they are, each candidate has provided a brief statement to better assist voters make a decision.

Brian Dunning

My wife Carol and I have lived in Munsey Park since 2002. We have raised three children here, two of whom are off at college and one of whom is a sophomore at St. Mary’s High School. We are both lawyers. Carol practices real estate law here in Manhasset, and I am a commercial litigation partner in a law firm in New York City. I graduated from Tufts University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in International Relations and Spanish. I studied law at Boston College Law School and graduated cum laude in 1990. Carol and I met at BC.

I have been involved in leadership activities for much of my adult life. Before moving to Munsey Park, I served on a condominium board in Manhattan and a coop board in Brooklyn Heights. I am also the President of the Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit corporation founded in 1959 to promote trade between Spain and the United States. Our budget is similar in size to that of the Village of Munsey Park; we have had a surplus in every year of my presidency. Last year the presidents of all of Spain’s official chambers of commerce in the Western Hemisphere elected me chairman of the Federación de Cámaras Oficiales Españolas en América, the Federation of Official Chambers of Commerce of Spain in America. In 2016, in recognition of my service, King Felipe VI awarded me the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit of the Kingdom of Spain. I also serve on the Pastoral and Strategic Planning Committee of the Church of St. Mary.

I want our Board of Trustees to change its approach to governing Munsey Park. Those who have been following Village politics for the past few years, and in particular during the last year, should find the Board’s conduct to be very disturbing. The Mayor has set a very cynical, “to the victor go the spoils” attitude, hiring inexperienced friends to important positions and even trying to put his brother-in-law in charge of Village Hall. He and other Trustees routinely level vicious, ad hominem attacks against residents who ask hard questions or disagree with them publicly on issues. In perhaps the most brazen act of self-interest I’ve ever seen, in 2014 they caused the village to sue the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District to prevent it from replacing the aging water tower with a brand-new, state-of-the-art tower—a vital part of the infrastructure that supplies water to Munsey Park and far beyond. This litigation cost the village hundreds of thousands of dollars, a secret the current Board has kept from the public by refusing to answer lawful requests made under the Freedom of Information Law.

Good governance is not much to ask, and if elected I will do everything in my power to ensure that the residents of Munsey Park get it. Meetings will be truly open and issues will be thoroughly aired without bullying and attacking perceived opponents. We will search for the most qualified candidates available whenever there are job openings. Decisions will be made for the benefit, and in the interests, of all Munsey Park residents, and not just for a select few.

It’s time for a change in Munsey Park. That’s why I’m running for the Board of Trustees.

Jennifer Noone

I received a B.S in Finance from Villanova University and my J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. I practiced corporate law at a major New York City law firm before deciding to stay home to raise my five children, ages 12, 11, 9, 6 and 3. I have served the village for over 5 years. Prior to becoming trustee I served on the Building Advisory Committee. My husband Brian and I have lived in Munsey Park for 11 years.

My legal and financial background has provided me with the ability to identify problems and propose solutions that satisfy all stakeholders. By definition, transactional attorneys are required to find solutions to problems. I think that defines my approach. Plus, with my involvement in the community through my children, I get to hear the concerns of everyday citizens. Let’s face it, board meetings are held at night, usually around bedtime for children, and most parents are going to be occupied with homework and getting children into bed. They are not showing up at village hall. So, I have a unique window into what people are really concerned about, gained through my conversations with young parents in the village.

Obviously, I want to discharge my obligations to the best of my ability. That means serving the village in whatever capacity the village requires. Currently, I am charged with spearheading the road improvement program in the village and this year I would like to make a lot of progress in that regard. But more importantly, this past year has shown that there is an even more important goal to be accomplished: that is returning civility and inclusiveness to village hall. Lately, many of our board of trustees meetings are attended by the same handful of former village officials who challenge every decision we make. Whether is renovating parks or planting trees or something else, the dialogue is often uncivil. Clearly, the Board needs to do a better job of explaining what is happening and what is being considered and why certain decisions are being made. That’s a job for the board and for me. But the people who attend the meetings need to stop using words like “corrupt,” “ethics violations” and similar terms. Those are very destructive to civil discourse when those terms are addressed to people just trying to do what they believe to be in the best interests of Munsey Park. We need to work together to solve the village’s challenges and that takes compromise on both sides.

I think the biggest issue facing Munsey Park is balancing the need to maintain an aging infrastructure with the desire to limit the tax burdens on our residents. This tension has been apparent at some of the recent board meetings. On one hand, residents demand that the village maintain the street trees because the “village always did that in the past.” Other residents are asking for roads to be repaired. Almost all residents, including some who are demanding the attention to trees and roads are demanding that the board not raise taxes. By composition, the board is fiscally conservative so we are not inclined to raise taxes and we have a plan to fund all of these needs from cash flow based on current tax revenues. It’s a challenge and it’s compounded by the fact that many necessary repairs were ignored and neglected for decades. But we’re renovating our parks, replanting street trees, and continuing a vigorous street repair program and we’re doing it without raising taxes this year. We hope to continue making progress.

Munsey Park has been a great home to me, my husband and our five young children. Neither my husband nor I grew up here, but we were fortunate to land here. And I want to give back to my community by serving its residents. They may not always agree with me, but hopefully they’ll agree that I am honest, hardworking and approaching every issue with an open mind. I hope to pass on a stronger Munsey Park to the next generation.

Anthony Sabino

I have resided in Munsey Park since 1990. For the past five years, I have served on the Building Advisory Committee, utilizing my skills and experience as a practicing attorney to assure that residents are treated with respect and accorded due process when presenting their building plans to the village. More recently, I was appointed to the village Board of Ethics, and I am already drafting a set of “best practices” for ethics in village government.
I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Manhasset Community Fund, hold various positions with the Nassau County Bar Association, and I am active with other professional groups. In addition to my law practice, I am a Professor of Law at St. John’s University, and frequently quoted in the media on important business and legal issues.

I am a graduate of St. John’s University (B.S. in Accounting, 1980; J.D., 1983), clerked for a prominent federal judge, and practiced federal litigation with several major New York City law firms. My specialties include complex federal litigation and constitutional issues. With my late wife, Mary Jane C. Sabino, Esq., we opened Sabino & Sabino, P.C. in 1995. Together we raised our two sons in Munsey Park, while attending the Manhasset public schools.

In addition to the foregoing, I have extensive experience in dispute resolution and due process.

I am a pro bono mediator for the Southern District of New York, helping to resolve a variety of constitutional and civil rights issues. I am a pro bono arbitrator for the state courts of Nassau County, deciding fee disputes between attorneys and clients. I often chair arbitrations at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), and decide controversies between customers and securities industry professionals.

In sum, I have over 20 years of experience listening to citizens’ grievances, giving them a full and fair hearing, and reaching a just and fair result. Those skills will be invaluable in a position of public trust such as Village Trustee.

My general sense is that the Village of Munsey Park is in fine shape, and I wish to contribute to maintaining that. Specifically, I want to avoid any tax increases. I would seek to carefully allocate resources to necessary street repair and the maintenance of infrastructure.

And I will very much fight to maintain the status quo on village trees. Specifically, village trees on village property are the sole responsibility of the village, and well they should be.
The essence of my platform is simple. Village government is here to serve you, not the other way around.

Nathine Yakaitis

I have been living in Munsey Park for 28 years. My husband and I raised our two sons here. They attended the Manhasset public schools. I earned my undergraduate degree at Cornell University and my law degree at Brooklyn Law School where I graduated cum laude. I was Associate Counsel at the New York State Housing Finance Agency where I specialized in municipal finance and governmental issues. I was the Acting Director of the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation. I practiced law until my children were born. Since then, I have been active in various civic associations over the years. I am a member of the Biosafety Committee of the Feinstein Institute of North Shore Hospital which reviews and approves research to assure its safety and avoid potential risks to personnel, public health and the environment. I was a member of the board and treasurer of the Friends of Manhasset Public Library, the voluntary fundraising arm of the library. I was co-president of the Munsey Park Women’s Club and the Manhasset Newcomer’s Club. Both of these clubs are very active in fundraising for not only social and cultural activities, but also for medical research and other programs.

I am deeply concerned about the manner in which the village trustees have been governing our village. There have been instances of nepotism, non-transparency, substantial monetary waste, and unacceptable incivility towards village residents. Not satisfied with simply hiring the Mayor’s brother-in-law as a village maintenance worker, the board created a new position called “village administrator” and appointed the brother-in-law to that position. There was no advertising or interviewing for this position. This failure to follow even the most fundamental of open practices was raised by residents at the Board meeting and by the newspapers in their coverage. Within two weeks of this attention, the brother-in-law declined the position as village administrator. This was a clear instance of nepotism.

Instead of embracing the plan by the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District to replace the deteriorating 85-year-old water tank on Manhasset Woods Road, the village Trustees sued the Water District. Why? The tower borders several homes in Munsey Park, including most notably, the home of one of the current trustees. The cost of this unsuccessful litigation has not been made public despite requests under the Freedom of Information Law. Educated estimates of the cost are as much as $250,000.

In one particular board meeting, the Mayor announced that he would not recognize questions from a number of village residents, including myself and my co-candidate Brian Dunning. None of the Board members registered any disagreement to this clear violation of public meeting requirements. Additionally, one of the trustees proceeded to scold all those present as if we were recalcitrant school children. This is simply unacceptable.

Munsey Park is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We are all blessed with this privilege. To have an embarrassment as a government should not be acceptable. Fortunately I have the time and inclination to help bring the Munsey Park Board of Trustees back to the type of governance the intelligent population of Munsey Park desires and deserves.

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Elizabeth Johnson is former editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.

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