THE ISLAND PARK CHAMBER
Last Thursday evening I attended my first Island Park Chamber of Commerce meeting. At that meeting I submitted my membership information with my annual dues. Being a member of the Island Park community (Harbor Isle) I felt I would like to take an active role in helping the community by participating in the Chamber. In response to my recent published letter to the Chamber there were in attendance an excess of 35 people. A number of the people at the meeting advised me that it was the largest meeting in many, many years.
My letter which was also emailed to the Chamber membership raised the issue about the Chambers affiliation with a political party and that party’s President’s running of the Chamber. The party of cause is the Voice Party in which Glenn Ingoglia the Chamber President also holds the office of President. What makes the situation even more critical is Mr. Ingoglia is running for Mayor of Island Park and has continuously been very negative about the municipal government he is running against.
Chambers operate as apolitical organizations. They need to establish an alliance with the local government to help their job of promoting the business community. If an officer of a chamber decides to seek public office, they take a leave of absence. If they get elected, they resign and step down from their chamber office. If they do not get elected and their chamber office term has not expired, they may resume serving in that office. Running for public office or being an officer of a political party while holding a chamber office is a recognized conflict of interest. Even further, when a chamber supports a political party it compromises the chamber’s ability to work with the WHOLE community and the municipality’s elected officials. It is the same principle as being a business in town and not taking political sides. Involvement in politics prevents the Chamber from being able to effectively work with the entire community! The chamber should be involved with other chambers as well. The Island Park Chamber was the only Nassau chamber not present at last month’s Nassau County Chamber Breakfast meeting.
My letter came about when I had a recent phone conversation with Mr. Ingoglia and he told me that the Chamber unanimously supported the Voice Party, his running for mayor, and the development of the Harbor Isle rental project (which since then was voted down by the Town of Hempstead Council). He also accused me of saying negative things about the Island Park Chamber. Things he never directly heard me say. The person who told this to Mr. Ingoglia never attended the meeting but Mr. Ingoglia proceeded to try and make the meeting about these untrue comments. Mr. Ingoglia who is an attorney should know better, that all he was repeating was meaningless hearsay.
Meanwhile, I came to the meeting because many people had told me they were no longer active in the Chamber because of the politics and having no say at all in the Chamber’s decision making. Many people after reading my letter showed up to the meeting even though they told me they probably couldn’t attend. The vast majority feel that the Chamber is run by Mr. Ingoglia and Michael Scully. They feel they do not have a say, so they do not participate. At the meeting when the discussion came up about the politics and control of the Chamber better than 70% of those present spoke up against how things are presently being handled and wanted change. At one point a member yelled out “Glenn for mayor”. This in itself, at a chamber meeting is inappropriate.
The meeting went on and Mr. Ingoglia was forced by the membership to take nominations for the 2014 Slate of Officers. When the nominating was over the slate of Glenn Ingoglia for President and Michael Scully for 1st Vice President was challenged by Frank Naudus, Jr. for President and Joe Pontecorvo for 1st Vice President. A slate nominated by the Chamber membership.
The most troubling issue was what transpired after the meeting. Many people relayed to me that Mr.Ingoglia’s and his acquaintance became involved in a bar room brawl. Bar room brawls seem to follow Mr. Ingoglia around. To me it is an embarrassment to have a person(s) leading a community organization(s) being involved in such heinous activity. Professionals, representatives of community organizations or elected officials do not handle themselves in such a manner. These actions are an embarrassment to the organization.
The Chamber needs change. It is obvious. The membership introduced an opposing slate of officers. I would like to be an active member in a Chamber that is NOT run by officers with an agenda to advance their own political ambitions. Frank Naudus, Jr. as President and Joe Pontecorvo as 1st Vice President are those persons. Both candidates are second generation business owners in Island Park. Neither of them is controversial nor have any political agenda. We must have every member present at the next meeting in December when the vote for 2014 Officers should be held. You have to take back your Chamber and start the process of rebuilding the Island Park Chamber and business community.
[Editor’s Note: Send letters to The Long Island Tribune, Attn: Frank Naudus – Publisher, PO Box 366, Island Park, NY 11558. We look forward to hearing from you.]