Questions arise over ‘no-bid’ town contract for mold cleanup

05/24/2010 12:00 AM |

Two Town Board members are steemed about a no-bid contract awarded to a friend of Supervisor Sean Walter.

Who to believe?
Two Town Council members say it has the appearance of a no-bid contract awarded to a relative of one of the supervisor’s friends, and that the supervisor threatened one of them politically if she didn’t go along with it.
The supervisor says it was an emergency measure designed to protect the health of the public and town employees from a growing mold problem, and that it saved the town $20,000. He also says the contract was awarded before he realized the company’s family connection to his office in Town Hall.
The situation stems from a Town Board vote last Tuesday to award a $22,293 mold and flood damage remediation contract to Servpro of Northeast Queens. The resolution, which board members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen abstained from voting on, passed with three votes on the all-Republican Town Board. It declared a public emergency because of the flooding at Town Hall, which allowed the contract to be awarded without first seeking bids, as would normally be required.
The Servpro franchise is owned by Joseph Sclafani, brother of Charles Sclafani, a member of the town Zoning Board of Appeals and the town Conservative Party committee, which Supervisor Sean Walter used to head.
Charles Sclafani’s wife, Carol, is Mr. Walter’s secretary at Town Hall and was also treasurer of his fundraising committee during the 2009 elections.
Ms. Giglio said the supervisor had warned her before last Tuesday’s public Town Board vote not to make a scene about the contract, which she didn’t. He later blamed her for leaking the story to Riverhead-based WRIV radio after a brief news item about the vote was aired on the station Thursday, she said.
Ms. Giglio said deputy town attorney Annmarie Prudenti recommended to town officials in an April 16 e-mail that the Town Hall and Jamesport Community Center jobs be competitively bid.
Mr. Walter had already signed the contract for the Town Hall work six days before the Town Board voted on it May 12. The supervisor said he could do so because three board members signed the purchase order, and said that by doing so, the company was able to immediately begin the work, which was completed Friday.
Ms. Giglio on Thursday said the supervisor “has threatened me through George [Gabrielsen] at least 10 times and he threatened me directly today. He said I’m not allowed in the supervisor’s office and he told George that I’m cut off from all information.”
“He said your political career is over,” Mr. Gabrielsen reminded her.
“Can you imagine?” Mr. Gabrielsen added. “She’s a Council member and she’s forbidden in certain parts of Town Hall? What are we missing here?”
Mr. Gabrielsen said the supervisor told him “to rein her in” and frequently would tell him to tell her what to do, rather than telling her himself.
Mr. Walter declined to return the volley when interviewed Friday.
“What was Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment?” he asked. “Never attack fellow Republicans. I’m not going to attack George or Jodi or say anything negative. It’s a completely inappropriate conversation