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Story - News

Apr 20, 2011 10:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Board Opens Up Chief Position To Lieutenants

Apr 20, 2011 11:53 AM

As of Friday, April 8, the Southampton Town Board was poised to appoint what seemed to be the obvious choice to succeed now retired Town Police Chief James P. Overton—his longtime second-in-command, Captain Anthony Tenaglia.

But by the following Monday, everything had changed.

In what many Town Hall insiders saw as a surprise move, a faction of the board hastily called for an interview of Southampton Village Police Chief William Wilson Jr. for the position.

And in a second unexpected development, this past Friday, a special meeting of the board called just days earlier, with the promise of a police chief appointment, was canceled just moments before it was scheduled to take place. Instead, board members announced that they were opening up interviews to the Town Police Department’s three lieutenants, Robert Iberger, Robert Pearce and Lawrence Schurek, widening the field to five candidates.

With accusations flying about political party and police union influence on the pending appointment, board members have remained mostly silent, citing it as a personnel issue only to be discussed behind closed doors.

What unraveled this week was a winding time line of events chronicling the board’s hesitation on a key personnel decision, resulting from the chief’s retirement after 21 years.

It began on Friday, April 8, when the board held an executive session meeting, during which members interviewed Capt. Tenaglia for the position. At the time, he was the only candidate being considered for the job.

Capt. Tenaglia, 58, joined the Town Police department in 1975 as a radio operator. He became a part-time officer the following year and steadily climbed to the position of captain in 1990. He served as Chief Overton’s executive officer for the past two decades.

Town Hall sources, who requested anonymity, said following the captain’s interview on Friday, the Town Board’s five members essentially were in agreement to appoint him at a meeting on April 12, bypassing a search for other candidates.

But three days later, an email was circulated to all Town Board members signed by an unusual alliance—Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Town Councilman Jim Malone—stating that the three were interested in interviewing Chief Wilson for the job.

The email came as a surprise to Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, who supplied The Press with a copy of the e-mail last week. At the time, she said she had heard rumors that Mr. Malone was being pressured by the Suffolk County Conservative Party to push for Chief Wilson’s appointment. Mr. Malone, however, last week denied that his decision was influenced by politics. Mr. Malone, Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Ms. Fleming did not return calls seeking comment this week.

Chief Wilson was interviewed by the board in executive session on April 12, the day after the email was sent out. Chief Wilson, who said previously that he had applied for the position shortly after Chief Overton announced his retirement in March, declined to comment this week. Chief Wilson, 46, was hired by the village in 1989. He became chief in 2006.

On Wednesday afternoon, April 13, Ms. Throne-Holst’s office sent out an email announcing that a special meeting would be held on Friday, April 15, following an executive session meeting, to appoint a new police chief. The notice was sent out with full knowledge that Ms. Fleming was out of town and would be absent. Ms. Graboski suggested that Ms. Throne-Holst believed she would have enough votes—even with Ms. Fleming’s absence—to appoint Chief Wilson.

This week, Ms. Throne-Holst said the board members had agreed last week to come to the Friday special meeting with their decisions made. She declined to comment further, repeatedly citing “executive session privilege” as to why she could not divulge more information.

After Town Board members emerged from the closed-door executive session last Friday, Ms. Throne-Holst said the board was “not prepared” to make a decision and cancelled the special meeting that was to follow. Mr. Malone, Mr. Nuzzi and Ms. Graboski retreated to their offices and remained behind closed doors.

“Basically, what I have to say is that this was not the outcome I expected today,” she said at the time.

Nobody is saying exactly what happened in the executive session on Friday.

Ms. Graboski said she was still unclear why there was a push to interview Chief Wilson, but added that the email signed by the three board members was telling. “I don’t know what happened, but you read the communique,” she said. “It speaks for itself.”

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Democracy in action?
By PBR (4952), Southampton on Apr 21, 11 5:58 PM
Open the job up to all qualified applicants with any top law enforcement experience, not just the Southampton cops. If it's only Southampton cops considered then the system stays the same. It's the entitlement culture that needs to be changed in these police departments on Long Island, especially Southampton Town and Westhampton Beach..Bring in someone from off the Island.
By sayitaintsojoe (100), Westhampton on Apr 22, 11 11:07 AM
2 members liked this comment
This was a comment that someone left on another blog. I just love the ATH2 comment as in Bridget the side kick for ATH.
Wonderful. The appearance of impartiality will be upheld before ATH, ATH2 & Honest Jim Malone vote for Wilson.
I totally agree its all smoke and mirrors, more interviewing is being done to make it seem like a process is being followed. The gang of 3 ATH, Bridget and Malone want Wilson, and have taken the walking order from the PBA and Ed Walsh the SC leader of the Conservative ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Apr 22, 11 12:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
I know I'm a bad boy. But ever since I read this story I have this cartoonish image in my mind...
Dead center looming large in the picture sitting on a throne, pun intended, sits a hot looking Anna outfitted in a tight latex catwoman suit complete with stiletto healed boots, two leashes in her hand. The first leads to Bridget, curled up on her lap. She wears a collar on which is written the world "kitten" from her mouth a bubble says "Purrr, Purrr". The other leash leads down to the floor. ...more
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on Apr 22, 11 3:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
If you are opposed to what this GANG OF 3 are trying to pull with appointing Chief Wilson for self gain. Call Town Hall and ask for the Town Council Office, or the Supervisors Office and leave them a message. The telephone # is
283-6000. One other thing you could do, go to the next Town Board Meeting, at the Public Portion you are allowed to speak on any subject you want.
The next meeting is Tuesday, April 26 st 6PM.
ATH and company will give away this town to the PBA and conservative ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Apr 23, 11 9:55 AM
None of the critics posting under this and related articles even allow for the possibility that that considering more than one candidate for the chief's job might just be the right thing to do, apart from politics. Sounds like the critics are a little warped by politics themselves. Of course, maybe they just don't like an open hiring process. Maybe they're saying this appointment should be handled like the coronation of Russell Kratoville as Management Services Administrator -- pick a pal for ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Apr 23, 11 9:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Turkey dont be so blind. They already know who they want. There only doing this interview process to cover their behinds. Its like the Roony rule in the NFL, its a waste peoples time and resources.
By GoldenBoy (350), EastEnd on Apr 23, 11 10:13 AM
Golden Boy, you're normally pretty sharp, but with respect, I think it's you who's being blind here. As I said, you're not even allowing for any possibility that it might be a good idea to consider five candidates instead of just one for a vital and highly paid town job. That's not a proposition you can successfully defend. Say you think it's political, fine, but don't just rule out any chance that it might be otherwise.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Apr 23, 11 10:27 AM
I think it's politics, and I think what's happening is the Republicans are losing for a change at the game they play so much. And they hate it. And they're screaming. What crybabies! Suck it up and move on.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Apr 23, 11 10:39 AM
Sounds like I'd would hesitate to back the Conservative Party's pick. Just saying. It sounds great that we should open up the interviewing to outsiders. You can see how that has served the Schools and protected the taxpayers. At least we know who we are dealing with. Bridget I recalled bragged about her having the PBA in her corner. I think maybe we should look at this.
By RonM (8), Hampton Bays on Apr 23, 11 10:18 PM
So typical of Turkey Bridge, also known as George Lynch, loyal member of the Southampton Town Democrat Committee and loyal supporter of ATH and Bridget.
Naturally he would spin this in favor of ATH, ATH2 (and Jim Malone who is also in favor of Wilson).
George this is smoke and mirrors, interviewing others and you know it! .
This was a back room deal at its worst and you know that too. This is about the conservative party and the PBA calling the shots. How much dishonesty should we ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Apr 24, 11 9:41 AM
Well, reg rep, I admit you and your friends know all about back room deals at their worst -- does the name Kratoville ring any bells? BTW, even if who you say I am were true, so what? What I say is right or it's wrong, regardless of who I am. We don't know who you are and no one cares. Your comments are unpersuasive whoever you are.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Apr 24, 11 10:25 AM
You know for a guy with a Kratoville appointment fixation, I haven't seen any criticism of Mr. Kratoville's on the job performance. So perhaps the guy hiding behind an anonymous handle might want to make full disclosure of his own agenda. Hard to give credence to a guy who complains about backroom deals but hides behind a cloak of darkness him or her self. Just some not so revolutionary thoughts from a former Town Democratic Committee Chairman and Democratic Elections Commissioner. Some of us ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Apr 24, 11 11:50 AM
The below section of the NYS Election Law might well be applicably were an elected official to make an appointment in return for the endorsement (line) of a political party. I would respectfully suggest that those claiming political interference in the appointment of the Town's Chief of Police read it and give careful consideration to the gravity of the charge being leveled. Let us at least to attempt to act like mature adults. Former U.S. Senator Patrick Moynihan was fond of reminded us all that ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Apr 24, 11 12:28 PM
Neil Tiger you could have just called George aka Turkey Bridge and told him what you stated above.
I hope that ATH, Bridget and Jim Malone take the advise and warnings that you printed above. But if you read the entire article, a letter should not come from the SC Sheriff endorcing anyone, nor should the SC Conservative party have an interest in seeing Chief Wilson appointed as SHT Chief. It also states that ATH might be eyeing the conservative party endorsement.
Politics should have not ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Apr 25, 11 12:40 AM
I wish you would stop spinning this story into a political drama…If the Southampton Town Board wishes to interview other Town or Village Chiefs, in addition to their own internal personnel, then so be it. I am in Town Hall almost every day and this whole debate has been self-created by those that happen to be in the minority opinion concerning who should replace Chief Overton.

In addition, isn’t Wilson a registered Republican, Reg Rep?
By K Aventi (33), Southampton on Apr 25, 11 11:42 AM
Does anyone know how and when this job opening was advertised?

The current job listings on the SH Town website do not list it:

http://www.southamptontownny.gov/content/72/837/851/default.aspx

Was this opening ever listed on the Town site?

Coincidentally (?) there IS a listing for Affirmative Action Officer, who may be a bit late to the party in correcting what would appear to be a "locals only" hiring process which may be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Were ...more
By PBR (4952), Southampton on Apr 25, 11 12:36 PM
How can anyone say the town should only look at one guy for this job? How can anyone say that with a straight face?
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Apr 25, 11 1:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Aventi
You are missing the point or choosing to do so. Of course the job should be opened to anyone who is qualified, taking the time necessary to select the right person. But it should not be handed to someone because of political pressure.
Are you saying that the PBA never send a letter to endorse Wilson for chief? Are you saying that the SC Conservative Sheriff did not send a letter endorsing Chief Wilson? That is the point Aventi, did you not read the article’s in this paper? ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Apr 25, 11 1:54 PM
Councilwoman Graboski has "heard rumors"? Here's Nancy Graboski, who used to be one of our more promising public officials, now sadly reduced to the rural stereotype of small-town gossipmonger. Pathetic.

So is Wilson a registered Republican or not?
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Apr 25, 11 2:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By PBR (4952), Southampton on Apr 25, 11 10:03 PM
I, for one, wish to thank the lieutenants for their willingness to take part in this political oeuvre. It will be feckless, since Wilson is the heir apparent, but will stand them in good stead in the Town and elsewhere when political police (and other) appointments come under consideration in the future.

The willingness to be a "team player" is so under-appreciated in today's political environment. What's a few hours pointlessly asserting your credentials compared to the bigger picture ...more
By highhatsize (4177), East Quogue on Apr 25, 11 11:06 PM
At noon today April 26 and executive session will be held to resume the interview process for chief. The Lieutenants from the SHTPD will be interviewed. Will a decision be made as early as today? Will a walk on resolution to appoint be put on tonights agenda? We will see. I do hope they take as much time as needed to select the right person for the right reason.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Apr 26, 11 10:55 AM
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