Mineola swaps Johns for village attorney

Mineola’s reorganization night last Monday signaled a changing of the Johns.

John Spellman, Mineola’s village attorney for 30 years, has stepped down from the post. While John Gibbons, a partner at Spellman’s firm and deputy Mineola attorney, has taken the helm.

“After 30 years of public service, it seemed like an appropriate time to pass the torch,” Spellman said. “John Gibbons has been in municipal service for 20-plus years. Sometimes it’s good to bring new blood and new ideas.”

Both Spellman and Gibbons are partners in the law firm Spellman Rice Schure Gibbons McDonough Polizzi & Truncale, LLP, which Spellman founded and which specializes in municipal law.

The firm also represents the villages of New Hyde Park, Roslyn and Stewart Manor.

Village attorneys’ responsibilities include drafting local laws, handling litigation, prosecuting on behalf of the village and working closely with the buildings department, among others, Gibbons said.  

Gibbons served as a deputy Mineola attorney for the past 24 years, village prosecutor since 2009 and counsel to the Mineola zoning board since 1999.

In 2009, Gibbons succeeded Spellman as village attorney for the Village of Roslyn, a post Gibbons still holds.  

“He’s been village attorney in Roslyn. He succeeded me there, and it was a seamless transition. This one also will be seamless,” Spellman said.  “We won’t miss a beat. John Gibbons has been involved in the village [of Mineola] since way back.”

Spellman will stay on as a deputy village attorney and will remain the point person for certain “big” projects, he said.

“John is a valuable friend, but he’s also a valuable resource to me,” Gibbons said.  “This transition allows John to continue to practice, which is a huge benefit to me, while sparing him the long nights.”  

A graduate of St. John’s University School of Law, Gibbons said he is a lifelong Garden City resident and has six children ranging from ages 21 to 11.  

Gibbons already knows a number of village officials and employees, and has filled in for Spellman periodically, he said.

“I’ve covered the board of trustees meetings for John over the years,” Gibbons said.  “John had some illnesses that are beyond him — thank God — but during that time there were extended periods when I would cover.”

Benjamin Truncale, the village attorney for New Hyde Park and Stewart Manor, will take over for Gibbons as counsel to the Mineola zoning board. Truncale, also a partner at Spellman’s firm, is village assessor for Williston Park, too.

Like Spellman and Gibbons, Truncale is a graduate of St. John’s law school.

Peter Trentacoste, an associate with the firm and a deputy attorney to the villages of Mineola, Roslyn and New Hyde Park, will take over as Mineola’s prosecutor.

The Spellman-founded firm has a municipal team of five attorneys, all of whom perform services for Mineola because of its size, Gibbons said, noting Mineola is the largest village the firm represents.

“The village of Mineola is really the cornerstone of our firm. It’s a very important client, and a client that we have had personal relationships with the people over the years,” Gibbons said. “Mayor Strauss allowing us to make this switch allows us to most efficiently service the village for years to come.”

Spellman said that Gibbons is more than prepared to take over as village attorney.

“He’s a really good land-use attorney, and he knows board use procedures,” Spellman said. “Once you’re immersed in village law, it’s not one size fits all, but we have the tools to work with anybody.”

But Spellman added he would personally miss the “fraternization” before and after meetings and “just getting to see the folks.”

 “When he says he’s friends with most of the people in the room, he is friends with most of the people in the room,” Gibbons said about Spellman’s farewell speech at reorganization night. But “John is 70, he’s covered 30 years of Wednesday night meetings, and I think it was about time he cut back his hours.”

About the author

James Galloway

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