Facebook post sparks controversy as Lynbrook election nears

Becker family feud heats up

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In response to the posting of a photo of a man holding a semi-automatic rifle on an anonymously managed, politically focused Facebook page, Lynbrook’s deputy mayor and mayoral challenger, Hilary Becker, hosted a news conference last week at which he announced that he feared for his family’s safety. Mayor Alan Beach called Becker’s move a “political ploy.”

With the village election set for March 19, Becker is running on the Preserve Lynbrook Party line, alongside trustee candidates Antoniella Tavella and Steve Ligouri. He is seeking to unseat Beach, who is on the New Vision Party line with incumbent Trustees Ann Marie Reardon and Robert Boccio. David O’Neill is running independently for trustee.

Amid a contentious campaign, Becker held the news conference on Feb. 13 to address the post on the Lynbrook Reporter, a Facebook page that has anonymously taken aim at the Preserve Lynbrook Party and supported the New Vision Party. “I’ve never seen our politics stoop this low,” Becker said. “Beneath the shroud of an anonymous Facebook page, a coward has routinely attacked me, my family and friends with malicious Facebook posts, but this coward crossed the line.”

The Lynbrook Reporter posted the photo on Feb. 12, and the page was subsequently banned from Facebook. Some people say the man looks like Alan Pawelsky, a friend and supporter of Becker’s. Pawelsky, who also appeared at the news conference, denied the claim, saying the image was “1,000 percent” not him.

Beach denounced the news conference, saying that the post didn’t directly threaten Becker and agreeing with those who said the man in the photo bears a resemblance to Pawelsky. “It’s political nonsense,” he said. “There is no mention of Hilary Becker. No mention of him at all. It’s a political ploy.”

Beach said he was unsure who was behind the Reporter page, and asked the village Police Department to look into Becker’s concerns after Becker filed a police report. Reached by phone, Chief Brian Paladino said he had determined that it was a political inside joke. “There is no credible criminal threat at this time,” Paladino said.

Cornerstone controversy continues

Pawelsky, who has lived in Lynbrook for 22 years, said he supported Becker because he was an outspoken opponent of the $75 million Cornerstone at Lynbrook.

The 200-unit, six-story project has been a focal point of the Preserve Lynbrook Party’s campaign against the incumbents. Beach’s party has taken aim at Becker because he negotiated with developer Anthony Bartone, who proposed the Cornerstone, when Becker was trying to sell property he owned near the Cornerstone site. The talks eventually hit a snag, and Becker sold to developer Bradford Mott. Though the village board unanimously voted against the Cornerstone in November — saying that it didn’t fit the character of the village, amid resident backlash — Becker’s camp has said they believe it will return.

At a news conference in the village last Sunday, four days after Becker’s, the New Vision Party outlined its plans for Lynbrook while lambasting Becker’s group for harping on the Cornerstone. “Our opponents want to keep talking about the Cornerstone because they don’t want you to realize that they don’t have anything else but to talk about the Cornerstone,” Beach said. “And they certainly don’t have a plan for Lynbrook, but we do.”

The New Vision Party’s five-point plan for the future includes freezing property taxes for 2019, improving parks and roads throughout the village, a 10 percent reduction in commuter parking fees as well as a 10 percent cut in pre-school fees, increased police foot and bike patrols downtown, near the Regal movie theater, and an expansion of surveillance cameras across the village.

Becker said his party had created an eight-point plan, the details of which would be announced soon.

Amid the mayoral race, a family feud has been brewing between the Becker brothers. Fran Becker, a former county legislator, has backed Beach in his quest for re-election, while Greg Becker, a former state assemblyman, has supported Hilary, and managed his campaign. The Becker family has a long history in politics: The brothers’ father, Francis X. Becker, was Lynbrook’s mayor for 14 years, and their grandfather, Frank Becker, was a member of the House of Representatives.

Last weekend, the Preserve Lynbrook Party sent out mailers in which it called itself the “Stop Cornerstone Team.” The fliers stated that Beach was “colluding with the Cornerstone and lying to you,” and “we won’t be fooled again.” They included an image of Pinocchio with an elongated nose and a quote Beach made to the Herald last September, calling the Cornerstone a potential “shot in the arm” for the village.

In response, Fran Becker posted a video on social media criticizing the flier as a “dishonest and fake piece of political trash.” “It’s hard for me to believe that this came from my own brother and that he would disseminate something so blatantly false and untrue just to get elected mayor,” Fran said. “I feel so ashamed. Truth be told, Hilary is the Pinocchio in this picture, and if anyone isn’t telling the truth, it is he.”

Hilary snapped back in response, referencing his brother’s loss to State Sen. Todd Kaminsky in last November’s election. “Based on my brother Fran Becker’s long history of political failures and misfortune, his support of Alan Beach and the Cornerstone actually indicates this race is looking up for us,” Hilary said. “Last year’s elections confirmed Fran just doesn’t speak for the residents of Lynbrook, and any attempt by him to sway opinion is a painful reminder how often he’s on the wrong side of the issues, especially the no-bid Cornerstone scandal.”

All of the candidates will have a chance to discuss the issues when the League of Women Voters and the Chamber of Commerce host a Meet the Candidates Night on March 7 at the Lynbrook Public Library.