Members of the Huntington Town Board appointed former maritime director Dom Spada to the opioid and addiction task force on Tuesday.
The appointment, sponsored by Councilman Gene Cook, was approved 4-1 with no comment; Councilwoman Joan Cergol opposed it.
Spada resigned as town maritime director in 2021, shortly before he was indicted and arrested on numerous charges that he falsified paperwork related to a Civil Service exam. But he ultimately reached an agreement to plead guilty to one charge, while the terms of that agreement were sealed.
“Mr. Spada’s contributions to drug awareness may well be laudable, but the recent outcome of his indictment charge did nothing to assuage my concerns to reappoint him to any town post. Quite frankly, I find efforts to sugarcoat this an assault to my senses and better judgment,” Cergol said.
The role of the opioid task force is to “develop an action plan to address the needs of the Town of Huntington community in an effort to combat the opioid and addiction public health crises through education,” the appointment resolution reads.
Supervisor Ed Smyth said, “Dom Spada has educated many kids over the years as the founder of the ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’ drug prevention and education program. He has been on the front lines fighting the opioid epidemic for years. He is not only trained to administer Narcan but he can train others. He is a first responder, elected by his peers as Chief of his department, who experience the gravity of substance abuse firsthand. Dom Spada’s knowledge on this topic will serve the Town well as we continue the fight against addiction.”
Councilman Sal Ferro said, ” I respect Gene’s prerogative to select a representative in this volunteer position. This task force is unpaid and has a diverse array of individuals focusing on ending the stigma of addiction and helping individuals and their families affected by the ongoing opioid crisis.
When I made my choices for the task force, I chose two social workers, one from Northwell and one from Family Service League. Now Gene has chosen someone who has had firsthand experience in addiction prevention and helping overdose victims. I believe Dom’s experience as a fire chief and first responder makes him a great addition to a board whose sole responsibility is helping others. He adds experience to the task force and deserves a second chance. I find it disheartening that there is ongoing mudslinging and vilification towards someone who is moving forward and taking positive steps to voluntarily serve their community in help of others.”
Spada’s appointment runs until Dec. 31, 2023.