Rules and regulations do matter and any personnel in violation must be held accountable.
At the Village of New Hyde Park Board of Trustee meeting on May 3, Commissioner Michael Bonura announced that he needed a motion to add Commissioners’ James Nagy and Stephan Derenze as check signers for the New Hyde Park Fire Department checking account at Capital One Bank. A motion was made by Nagy, second by Commissioner Richard Stein. All four present commissioners were in favor and motion passed.
With the addition of these two individuals, there is now a total of six people designated as check signers.
Yet, at the first open board meeting in January, Chairman-elect Commissioner Bonura made a motion to designate check signers for the district. He announced check signers would be: Treasurer (Mrs. Marie Cochran), Deputy Treasurer (Mrs. Patricia Guy) and one commissioner. One commissioner would be himself or Commissioner John Waldron, the latter empowered only in his absence. The motion passed unanimously.
Clearly, there is a failure to follow the rules and regulations of the district, where only one commissioner is to be designated as a check signer. I addressed this issue and expressed my concern at the recent May 17 open board meeting. I requested an explanation as to why there is a need for a total of six individuals to sign-off on checks? My question was blatantly ignored.
As another example of the district playing games with the taxpayers’ money, it was announced during the December 1, 2015 meeting, by then Vice-Chairman Commissioner Bonura, that the board acknowledged that it did not properly provide a formal motion which would have allowed Derenze to attend an event in Louisiana. Upon his return, the district, after the fact and without pre-approving the trip, made a formal motion to cover the expense of Derenze’s attendance. In line with the board’s practice of non-transparency, no dollar amount of Derenze’s expenses were provided.
At Bonura’s request and with the board’s approval, Derenze and Nagy both inexplicably have the liberty to sign-off on the district’s checks at their leisure.
It should be noted that Stein, a retiree, has the advantage of being readily available to deal with daily district matters at hand, and already has a signature card on record with the bank from his prior position as chairman. With this in mind, why are six people needed to have check signing authority?
I addressed at this meeting the rules and regulations for the election of, fire district officers, where under New York State Town Law Section 175, it states: “Every fire district commissioner, treasurer, and secretary must at the time of his election or appointment, and throughout his term of office, be a resident of such fire district. Membership in a volunteer fire company shall not disqualify any such fire district commissioner, treasurer, or secretary.”
With this law in mind, I note that Stein’s personal motor vehicle, which has a specialty Florida state license plate is registered to a home within Broward County, FL.
As an elected official, Stein is required to follow the law and must comply with residency requirements and reside full-time during his term in the district he represents.
Public records indicate he is also listed as a volunteer member with the Fire Island Pines Fire Department, in Suffolk County. He served as their department chief for the year 2011.
How does one decide to give priority consideration to affected residents with a dual membership, managing day-to-day leadership roles in each, where duty calls to be readily available to serve and direct in a fire or emergency situation, and govern in mandated department or district meetings, in two different fire departments, located in separate counties, at the same time?
Stein was conspicuously not in attendance at this meeting and his absence will be simply marked only as ‘absent’ in the final record of the meeting minutes. I asked that the district conduct an investigation into the actual status of Stein’s residence at the time of his initial election to the board and throughout his tenure as fire commissioner of New Hyde Park. This internal investigation should justifiably include each member of the fire district’s staff.
If Stein is found to be a resident of Florida, he should be required to step down from his elected position as fire commissioner immediately, and reimburse the fire district and/or the State of New York for any LOSAP payments that he has improperly earned during that period.