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Jun 12, 2018 4:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Scrambles To Fill Enforcement Positions Before Summer Onslaught

Jun 12, 2018 4:35 PM

With the height of the summer season looming, East Hampton Town officials are scrambling to fill two key positions at the top of the Ordinance Enforcement Department after recent departures.

The town has been without a director of code enforcement since December, when longtime director Betsy Bambrick retired in the wake of a disciplinary investigation that resulted in the firing of one of the department’s officers, Arthur Bloom, and a scathing report about Ms. Bambrick’s handling of charges against Mr. Bloom.

And, last month, the town’s assistant director of public safety, Kelly Kampf, who had been overseeing the enforcement of town codes for two years, resigned to take a job as a Sag Harbor Village Police officer.

The Ordinance Enforcement Department’s eight full- and part-time officers are typically the front line in the town’s fight against illegal housing arrangements, like summer share houses and overcrowded or illegally converted living arrangements, as well as commercial code complaints and building code violations, and the enforcement of contractor and taxi licensing.

The town’s director of public safety, David Betts, said that the department has been keeping up with the early-season complaints, which he said had thankfully been relatively low since Memorial Day because of cool weather. But, he added, he is eager to get the department back to full staff.

“It’s not a rudderless ship, we have some pretty experienced people down there, and I’m handling a lot of day-to-day stuff,” he said. “We’d like to get those positions filled by Fourth of July, yes. And we’d like to be completely staffed, and I’d like to have someone of Kelly’s caliber in there so we will be looking.”

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said the town has held interviews with potential candidates for both the director of code enforcement and the assistant director of public safety roles and hopes to fill both positions.

Ms. Bambrick had been earning about $90,000 base salary. Ms. Kampf earned about $72,000 base salary.

On Tuesday, the Town Board approved reclassifying Mr. Betts’s job to that of code compliance and emergency management administrator, which also puts the emergency preparedness staff under his oversight. He will earn the same $90,982 base salary.

Ms. Bambrick, who spoke at a recent Town Board meeting, was highly critical of the town’s proposed retooling of Mr. Betts’s role, claiming that the town was sidestepping Civil Service requirements in hiring him and paying him a full salary.

Mr. Betts earns $59,836 a year in pension benefits from the Southampton Village Police Department, from which he retired in 2001. Civil Service law requires that any such retiree who wishes to take on a new Civil Service job and draw a salary of more than $30,000 a year must be granted a waiver by the State Department of Civil Service. Mr. Betts was granted a waiver when he came to East Hampton Town from the same role in Southampton Town but it expired in 2016. Mr. Van Scoyoc said the town has applied for a new waiver for Mr. Betts, which is pending before the state.

Mr. Van Scoyoc said that state Civil Service laws that are meant to protect against nepotism and unqualified appointments often wind up being tedious hurdles for small towns like East Hampton that face a variety of challenges to hiring qualified individuals for demanding jobs like Mr. Betts’s.

“They tell you that someone who scored highest was the best person for the job, then you interview them and they don’t know anything—but you have an employee in-house who would be excellent but might not have scored so well,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “It’s frustrating.”

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Hate to tell you this but if it's mid-June and you're "scrambling to fill positions" by July 4th then you most certainly do have a rudderless ship! and "I'm handling day-to-day stuff?" From where: Key West? Betts was out of town over Memorial Day weekend and did not log in even 1 hour for the entire month of January (when he should have been prepping for the summer season). Unfortunately- the outcome of this disaster won't become obvious until the damage is done.
By dogtired (22), north sea on Jun 13, 18 12:34 PM
Bambrick ran a great department. The Department ran well. She had a great reputation with staff - work colleagues - and constituents. She was fair and objective.
Betts is the opposite. He is calling it it. Complicit are Cantwell and Van Scoyac.
They all talk a great game.
By pluff (44), East Hampton on Jun 13, 18 5:08 PM
So let me see if I got this straight: while being in charge of code enforcement in Southampton in 2012, David Betts sleeps through his supervisory duties while an officer under his command gets arrested for dealing drugs. (search article in 27 east)
Now in East Hampton, Betts in all his zeal fires a steady and trustworthy inspector for a missing piece of paper. The EH town board ignores their accountability while Betts completely eviscerates what was once a credible department.
Best of ...more
By dogtired (22), north sea on Jul 4, 18 4:22 PM
History repeats - EH Code Inspector arrested this weekend. Just watch, Betts will do something press release worthy to try and divert the attention away from how he's taken a solid trustworthy investigatory department and run it into the rocks. A rudderless ship indeed. Zero oversight from the Board.
By dogtired (22), north sea on Jul 23, 18 7:48 PM