What was a private Facebook exchange has forced a Valley Stream village trustee to apologize, with some even calling for his resignation.
Earlier this month, a conversation surfaced between trustee Vincent Grasso and 21-year-old Amil Virani, in which the trustee appears to be verbally attacking Virani’s autism. Active in local politics, Virani is no stranger to goading elected officials into community affairs.
Grasso wrote on the social media platform that “I’m starting to really believe what people have been telling me” that Virani is a “spectrum kid,” referring to descriptions by people with autism.
“I think I should just feel sorry for you,” Grasso added in exchange. “I should have known why you’re not driving. Now it’s all clear: special ed. I’ll let you get back to your coloring books.”
The comments came after Virani reportedly pressured Grasso in a series of texts to find an explanation for why Raymond Webb replaced the village trustee in his long-standing role as executive director of the Nassau County Bridge Authority.
Virani’s friend Nicolas Nogueira published an online petition shortly after he denounced Grasso’s comments and called for the trustee not only to make a public apology but also to resign. The petition has garnered hundreds of virtual signatures and is also urging Valley Stream village officials to change policy so that such exchanges with constituents no longer occur in the future.
Mayor Edwin Fare did not wait for the results of the petition, instead releasing a statement calling Grasso’s comments “disgusting” and “disgusting” and urging him to complain not only to Virani but “to the entire Valley Stream.” community” apologies.
“The use of hate language is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any form,” Fare said. “Elected officers must adhere to the highest standards of behavior and strive to treat all members of the community with respect, dignity and kindness.”
However, Fare briefly refrained from calling for Grasso’s resignation.
In his own statement, Grasso accused Virani of following him online for the past six months and that his comments were the result of frustration.
“For months this very concerned young man has been stalking and harassing me to get my attention and I have asked him countless times to stop contacting me,” Grasso said. “He frantically called my employer trying to get personal information about me, recorded those conversations and threatened to post them online unless I went on a date with him.
“Dealing with an obsessive stalker is extremely uncomfortable and after six months of frustration I have made some very poorly chosen comments for which I apologize and regret it.”
However, Virani denied Grasso’s allegations.
“He’s an acting trustee and he insults the very people who pay his salary,” Virani said. “We all say things in life that we don’t actually mean, but Grasso has made a number of insults (over the years) and flatly refused to apologize directly to me for his remarks and is now publicly slandering me.
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