Town board may rescind controversial income cap


Members of the Town of Hempstead Board are expected to call for a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss rescinding the controversial cap on council members’ outside income that passed last year. The hearing would take place Feb. 6.

Former Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, as part of an ethics reform package, proposed capping outside income for members at $125,000 a year, which would preclude current council members Erin King Sweeney and Bruce Blakeman — both attorneys — from continuing to serve on the board.

King Sweeney publicly denounced Santino’s proposal as an effort to keep her and Blakeman off the board, after they engaged in months of sparring with Santino over his management style and ethics in town government.

Before the September vote, Santino offered an amendment that would allow council members making more than $125,000 to stay on the board, provided they disclose all of their clients to the town. King Sweeney said that disclosing all clients would make it difficult for her and Blakeman’s firms to do business.

The amendment was approved 4-3, with King Sweeney, Blakeman and Councilman Ed Ambrosino voting against it.

King Sweeney, in a statement after the hearing, called Santino’s proposal and amendment “vindictive,” “arbitrary and capricious.” She also vowed to file suit against Santino over the rule.

With a new town supervisor in Democrat Laura Gillen, and all council members publicly vowing to work cooperatively, the public hearing could either signal a sea change after Santino’s administration, or set up a showdown between King Sweeney, Blakeman and the sitting board members who traditionally voted with Santino.

King Sweeney said, in a Monday morning Tweet, that she was looking forward to repealing the provision.

The town board meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. It can be streamed live at, for those who cannot make it to town hall.