Democratic Islip Town Council Candidates, George Hafele and Astrid Fidelia, Blast Legislator Tom Cilmi and Republican Town Board Members for Prematurely Ending Islip Community Forum Amid Accusations of Improper Conduct, and Demand an Apology from Cilmi to the Residents
Islip, NY - What was to be a three hour open forum last night, hosted and moderated by the Islip North Community Watch Group, abruptly concluded after only 90 minutes when Legislator Tom Cilmi unilaterally decided to end the discussion. Residents had gathered for the special forum out of their concerns over the questionable development planned for South Spur Drive and Freeman. Despite protests from the audience, who were eager to have their opinions heard in this important matter, Mr. Cilmi arose from his seat, walked over to the moderator table while pointing at his watch asking them to end the meeting. The moderator then concluded the meeting before a large number of those gathered had the chance to address their public officials.
Minutes earlier, Tom Cilmi, who stated he has no vote in this project, unexpectedly interrupted the program, and gave a five minute, off-topic speech, in what appeared to be an effort to change the tenor and focus of the meeting. Mr. Cilmi’s scheme was unsuccessful as residents once again emphatically proclaimed their passionate opposition to the project, their mistrust of the developer, and of the all-Republican Town Board. Accusations were made that the elected officials have repeatedly dismissed the concerns of the residents who will be directly impacted by this development, as well as a predisposition by these particular elected officials toward accepting political donations from developers who have time and again cut corners and shown an unwillingness to work with local communities.
Some residents pointed out that Councilman Steve Flotteron has already admitted taking an illegal campaign contribution from Bay Shore developer Lou Modica, lending credence to the resident’s claims and concerns. Others pointed to Flotteron for accepting a large campaign donation from Andy Borgia, a day after the Town agreed to sell him land. When the attendees pressed the moderator to disclose that Racanelli is the other partner in the project, someone in the audience remarked I wonder if that is Councilwoman Trish Bergen-Weichbrodt’s neighbor.
Both Flotteron and Bergen-Weichbrodt sat in silence throughout the program, including when Cilmi inappropriately called for an end to the contentious meeting.
Mr Hafele said “the decision to abruptly end a spirited question and answer session has left many attendees thinking that a deal has already been forged between the Town Board members in attendance and the developers. Democracy has taken a step backward tonight by denying the voices of residents snubbed by this Republican administration.” Ms Fidelia added “The lack of a democratic process at last night’s meeting clearly shows that a change in leadership is essential in order for the people’s voice to truly be heard.