East Hills village trustee candidate Jana Goldenberg on Friday denied a claim by Deputy Mayor Manny Zuckerman that she had sought $100,000 a year in compensation to represent the village in talks with National Grid to bring gas service to all village residents.
Goldenberg said she requested $125 an hour in compensation, which she termed a “ridiculous” offer, when asked by East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz what she would like to be paid to work for the village as a consultant on the project during a meeting in his office.
“That’s false,” said Koblenz. “We offered her the position which we capped at $20,000 to see how it’s going to go and she turned it down.”
Goldenberg said the $125 an hour offer was not sincere and was in response to her questions about Koblenz’s intent to move ahead with the project and what her role would be.
“I wanted him to understand that he could not buy me off,” Goldenberg said. “Originally, he never wanted to do the project.”
She said Koblenz responded by saying “What are you trying to do, milk the village?
Running on the Residents Party line, Goldenberg and East Hills Board of Appeals alternate Neil Foster are challenging Zuckerman and Trustee Clara Pomerantz for two open board seats in the March 15 election.
Goldenberg has said she would offer greater transparency to village residents as well as her experience on village committees and as president of the Country Estates Civic Association.
But much of Goldenberg’s focus has been on Koblenz, who she has called a “bully” that she would be willing to stand up to, and the village’s handling of an agreement with National Grid to make gas accessible to village residents.
Koblenz responded saying Goldenberg’s accusations are inappropriate.
“I don’t want to deal with this anymore. This isn’t kindergarten,” he said.
East Hills officials announced a partnership with National Grid in September to extend village gas lines at no cost to any resident that chooses to convert to gas service from oil.
Koblenz thanked Goldenberg for her involvement “from the outset, and for being so instrumental in the project.”
But Goldenberg was not invited to the press conference with National Grid and state Sen. Jack Martins announcing the agreement.
“It wasn’t our press conference,” Koblenz said. “And we thanked Jana for the work she did at the time.”
National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said in September a media advisory — which was not sent to the Roslyn Times — was issued to outlets and officials at the village’s request.
“They invited us to their press conference, so they could have invited anyone they wanted to,” Ladd said. “We were there on their behalf.”
Presenting email correspondence with National Grid and East Hills officials dating back to October 2013, Goldenberg said she spearheaded the gas line project, which was first offered to residents of Country Estates and eventually the rest of the village.
“It is me and my perseverance that got this project done,” she said at the time, having amassed nearly 500 written commitments from East Hills residents for gas service and documented.
Goldenberg said Friday she had undertaken the project on behalf of village residents and received no compensation for her work.
She said Koblenz had initially resisted the project and his offer to her to serve as a consultant on the project was intended an effort on his part to take credit for the project that was not warranted.
In an interview with Blank Slate Media, Zuckerman said he had assumed the role of liaison offered to Goldenberg at no cost to the village.
Goldenberg said Koblenz was in “cahoots” with state Sent. Jack Martins and used “political power to shut me down.”
“Now all of a suddent the senator is in cahoots with me,” Koblenz said when reached for a comment. “This is very silly, rehashing old issues. This is becoming silly.”
Koblenz said he thanked Goldenberg for the work she did at the time and won’t comment any further on Goldenberg’s accusations.
“I stand on my record and the village stands on its record,” Koblenz said.