Report: Town Clerk Says Supervisor's Post is Vacant

Town Clerk Vincent Puleo says Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and three other Town officials did not file a written oath in time.

Patrick Vecchio's title as Town supervisor may be in jeopardy. (Patch file photo)
Patrick Vecchio's title as Town supervisor may be in jeopardy. (Patch file photo)

Who is the Smithtown Town supervisor?

Until Wednesday, that answer was simple: Patrick Vecchio.

The Republican has held the office for more than 35 years, but on Wednesday, Smithtown Town Clerk Vincent Puleo declared the supervisor's post "vacant," saying that Vecchio and four other Town officials who were elected in November did not file a required written oath within 30 days of taking office, Newsday reported

Vecchio and Republican Town Councilwoman Lynne Nowick were sworn in on Jan. 1, but Newsday reported that Puleo was not invited to the ceremony, where the Town clerk says he usually collects the written oaths. 

Newsday wrote that "it was unclear last night whether the error can still be corrected." 

Puleo, a conservative, supported Town Councilman Robert Creighton is his bid to unseat Vecchio in November. 

knee jerk February 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM
What did he know, and when did he know it?
Cathryn S February 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Where in his job description or the law does it say that it is the town clerks job to make sure the oaths are signed. No where. It doesnt say he has to "give notice". It says he must file it. Big difference. Read the laws read the job descriptions. The sole responsibility falls on the public officials who are taking the oath. Why else would there be a law. Mr Puleo broke no laws. Nowick and Vecchio failed to follow the law.
Ron Weiss February 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM
And how was he so ready to pounce only 6 days after the deadline? Was he getting advice or acting alone? Was he preparing for this before the deadline expired?
Cathryn S February 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM
No its HIS job to FILE the oaths and keep track of deadlines not to inform the public or notify the public or anybody for that matter if the paperwork being filed isnt being filed on time. Your missing that. Not keep track of who is filing what. Do u think he stands at the counter waiting. Your story has alot of assumptions. The responsibility starts with vecchio and nowick. No one else. He followed his job description and did his job. If vecchio and nowick upheld did their job like puleo did this would have never occurred. Other people aligned with vecchio filed their oaths and did their job correctly.
Cathryn S February 15, 2014 at 12:11 PM
The law states it is the sole responsibility of the town official taking office to execute and file their oath with the town clerk. No where does it say it is the responsibility of the town clerk to make sure its filed Or "to give notice".
Ron Weiss February 15, 2014 at 12:14 PM
But in order to file the oaths don't they need to noticed, collected and signed? Is that supposed to happen on its own? Are you saying that he can be aware of the pending disaster, quietly wait and declare the seats vacant shortly after the deadline? Accordingly to you he seems to have a very narrow job description (except when it comes to nullifying an election).
Cathryn S February 15, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Why else would there be a state law if oaths arent filed. Why doesnt the law state or put that responsibility on the town clerk. It doesnt. Its like saying the assessor should give notice to you that you didnt file your star exemption on time. The law is very clear and well written. They arent above the law. They need to follow it just like everyone else.
Cathryn S February 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM
And @pj miller. The town clerk just doesnt show up to town board meetings....it is in the nys law describing the town clerks job that he must attend town board meetings. Again Puleo did his job and followed the law. Vecchio and Nowick did not!!
Fred Gorman February 15, 2014 at 01:00 PM
Ron, If I found enough proof of anyone conspiring to disenfranchise the voters , I would presented the evidence to DA Spota. If that didn't work, I would start a class action. There is no smoking gun. All I see is ... Mohammad didn't got to the mountain and the mountain didn't go to Mohammad. Results Mohammad lost his job for a week.
Cathryn S February 15, 2014 at 01:24 PM
they are suppose to be signed and filed with the town clerks office by the officials who are taking office. Read the law. Thats what it says. No they dont need to be collected and signed. Thats not his function. Did he collect MC Carthys oath, no. Or made sure mCCarthy filed it, no. He files it just like he files deeds and any other record he files. He doesnt collect someones deed and make sure they are signed. He files and keeps records. He has no control of what comes in the office. Just to file it once its there. The law: Each supervisor, town clerk, collector, receiver of taxes and assessments, town justice, constable, town superintendent of highways, and such other officers and employees as the town board may require, before entering upon the duties of his or her office, and within thirty days after commencement of the term for which he or she is chosen, shall execute and file in the office of the clerk of the town, an official undertaking, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or her duties, in such form, in such sum and with such sureties as the town board shall direct and approve and such approval shall be indicated upon such undertaking. Unless - See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/TWN/3/25#sthash.fh0wbxH1.dpuf. And yes its not his job to " give notice" even if he knew. And again he didnt nullify an election. Vecchio and Nowick did that on their own. Why dont you think the responsibility starts with them? It was their neglect. The law thinks so. Here is the law: the neglect or an omission to take and file such oath, or to execute and file such undertaking within the time prescribed herein, except in the case of town justices, shall be deemed a refusal to serve and the office may be filled as in case of vacancy. The undertaking of a town officer provided by this section shall be in addition to any undertaking otherwise required by law. - See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/TWN/3/25#sthash.8YIrZcLF.dpuf No where does it mention the town clerk should collect and have signed. The law doesnt put any blame on the town clerk or anyone else other then the official if not filed. The neglect started with Vecchio and Nowick. And your saying these officials should be above the law because someone should have reminded them. Thats insulting and disgusting. Puleo did his job, they did not. And the remaining councilman did what was right and reappointed. Vecchio and nowick failed at their first job in office. Puleo did his.
Ron Weiss February 15, 2014 at 01:30 PM
Fred - I thought you told me you were not an attorney. But even if you were, why should the Town of Smithtown entrust you to investigate this? The investigation needs to be conducted from outside the Town at this point. No offense but anyone enamored with with Creighton's "vision" is not neutral. Let's get the real facts and not engage in spin. An election was nullified this is very serious. It needs to be investigated in a real manner.
knee jerk February 15, 2014 at 03:13 PM
That's a slippery slope Mohammad didn't go up.
Fred Gorman February 15, 2014 at 03:21 PM
Ron, I an not an attorney or an attorney's spokes person nor do I have subpena power of the skills of a dective. I was asked by you and a number of civics to meet and discuss a plan of action. Remember the outcome of that meeting? Honor our vote and don't attack anyone. Isn't that what we said we would do? I haven't found prof of a conspiracy. The N-SCA looks before it leaps. If you have prosecutable prof, call Spota and ask him to investigate. Take action to impeach the town clerk. I'm going to spend my time and money lobbying Albany to help Fitz & Flanagan change the law and let Pat serve the for tears he won.
knee jerk February 15, 2014 at 05:23 PM
It's a little more difficult to find misdeeds when looking through rose colored glasses.
Ron Weiss February 15, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Fred - I think you misunderstand. The goal is not to attack anyone. The goal is to find out the truth. If something was done wrong here it should be determined. The nullification of a large public election is an extreme event. If there is any controversy over the circumstances (and here there is plenty of controversy) it should be investigated). Assuming that you are right and your pals are as upstanding as you think, you have nothing to worry about. But why is it that I sense that you do fear the truth?
knee jerk February 15, 2014 at 07:39 PM
John 8:32 .... The truth will set you free.
Fred Gorman February 15, 2014 at 07:41 PM
I supported Pat Vecchio. I gave him a large contribution. I wrote letters on his behalf. I carried petitions. The Civic I chair supported him. The only time I posted on the Patch was in his defence. During my 40 years in Smithtown I may have spoken to Bob and Ed ten times. They are not my friends and I don't support their vision. Ron, I fear nothing and see better with rose colored glasses than you do with blinders. Call for an investigation. Just don't expect me to stand with you. This is my last post on this subject.
Ron Weiss February 15, 2014 at 09:20 PM
Goodnight Fred. But do you really think an investigation raises or lowers blinders?
Ron Weiss February 15, 2014 at 10:33 PM
Catherine - Laws don't always spell out everything, because at the time they are drafted, the legislature doesn't always think of everything. A statute can not detail every aspect of its subject matter. This is especially true of the town clerk's job, which is rather broad and potentially far reaching as to the Town's records, oaths, papers etc. Often a statute is interpreted based on its reasonable implications. But no matter how narrowly you read the statutes here, they would not support what you seem to advocate, which is the ambushing of unwitting elected officials by a partisan clerk looking to alter an election's results. Here are the statutes and why they support a broad duty for the clerk: 1. NYS Town Laws Sections 30, 25, and 83, together show a very broad role for the clerk. Under Section 30, the clerk is a "custodian" (which is a trusted fiduciary)over all town records, oaths and papers and whose role is broadened by the affirmative words "shall" and by a subsection giving the clerk "additional powers" and "additional duties". The clerk does have a notice function in Section 25 and an election oversight role in Section 83. 2. NYS Election Law 15-124 and 15-128 - use the word "village" when referencing a smaller municipality, and do not have a reference for "town". However, since we do not have separate village elections these section are presumed to either apply or to show a strong legislative intent to broaden the clerk's duties to make him the election officer and responsible for the conduct of the election. The clerk also is specifically required to give notice to each elected official as to their need to file an oath of office. 3. Assumption of Duty Doctrine - the clerk, by coordinating the signing of the oaths on previous New Years days, had created an expectation that he would continue to assume such duty. His failure to attend the inauguration on New Years Day 2014 did not cause him not to have such obligation. Therefore, the Town Clerk had a much broader responsibility than just to file oaths. He certainly can not purposely fail to do anything in terms of notice, distribution and/or coordination as to the forms and then after quietly wait to zealously declare seats vacant. Such a narrow reading supports unethical and illegal actions and omissions by the clerk.
chipster February 16, 2014 at 12:47 AM
there is no law that states that anyone who is elected to ANY office in the state of new york is in charge of the town clerk to check if the clerk did their job!!!!Its the clerks job!!! get over it. puleo left them with their arses swinging in the breeze!!!!!
chipster February 16, 2014 at 01:16 AM
Ron Weiss is 100 percent right in his posts about whos job is whos! If not than why have a town clerk? Are you kidding me? Pull your heads out of your collective butts and see the light. The clerks job is to get the correct paperwork signed! I understand you all are upset that Creighton lost, but he LOST. Get over it! Next election try and have a candidate who the people feel is not trying to screw them! Vecchio is not the perfect supervisor but he appeals to more voters than the other guy did. More voters felt that he was the better candidate.Thats why he got more votes. Understand? How can you keep posting your Wah Wah Wah he should of known garbage incessantly when it is the town clerks job to make sure that all the paperwork is completed? ENOUGH! Go out and get yourselves a candidate that everyone will vote for. Just make sure he or she has NO affiliation with anyone who has been associated with the current town clerk as of this posting. If they do its gonna be a long uphill battle. The current town clerk as of this posting did not do what he was supposed to do. Thats why we all have our undies in a knot. Just try harder next time and realize that thera are more civic associations watching here in smithtown than everywhere else in the state if not the entire country. We are united and very organized. Scary stuff huh?
chipster February 16, 2014 at 01:18 AM
chipster February 16, 2014 at 01:24 AM
Ron Weiss should be a town councilman. Who else would speak the truth and fight the good fight?
Ron Weiss February 16, 2014 at 08:28 AM
Thx Chipster! But I think I'll nominate you and Knee Jerk. Need a little humor in that viper's nest.
knee jerk February 16, 2014 at 12:32 PM
If nominated, I will not run, if elected , I will not serve.
Ron Weiss February 16, 2014 at 01:52 PM
Can you please ask Town Jerk?
P. J. Miller February 16, 2014 at 01:54 PM
Cathryn S - Town Clerk "KNEW" the document were not filed, he decided to do nothing...if it were Creighton I am sure he would have made sure they were signed. He let us down.
Gigi February 16, 2014 at 02:16 PM
P.J. Miller - it certainly wasn't the honorable thing to do. Ron Weiss - I agree with you - when an election becomes derailed there should be a thorough investigation.
Ron Weiss February 16, 2014 at 03:01 PM
Thx Gigi. I will see if we can get a petition going on the SaveSmithtown.com website. It might take a few days. Stay posted!
Patchogue Snoop March 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM


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