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Mar 2, 2012 2:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Divided Over Comptroller Appointment

Mar 7, 2012 11:51 AM

Political party lines are once again creating a great divide between Southampton Town Board members, who stalled in choosing a new comptroller on Monday afternoon, despite a special Town Board meeting that was called specifically for that purpose.

Although the meeting was slated for noon on Monday, board members did not file into the Town Hall meeting room until approximately 1 p.m., when they went immediately into a closed-door executive session to discuss the matter.

“There is no consensus,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said after the meeting.

Board members seemed to be divided along party lines.

At issue is a replacement for former Comptroller Tamara Wright, who resigned to take a position with Brookhaven Town; she began her new position as Brookhaven commissioner of finance on Thursday, March 1.

The supervisor added that there was no agreement on who to hire between the top two candidates interviewed—one preferred by Ms. Throne-Holst, and one preferred by the Republican-Conservative majority.

She asked the other board members—Councilwoman Bridget Fleming was absent—that both finalists be invited back for an additional interview.

The majority board members agreed to bring back their preferred candidate, former Smithtown Comptroller John Morris, who was interviewed Friday during an executive session that Ms. Throne-Holst was unable to attend, but refused to bring back her contender, C. Omarr Evans, a deputy commissioner of administration for the Broome County Department of Social Services in Binghamton, who was interviewed in open session a week earlier.

Until this week, board members had said that Mr. Evans and Martha Herrera Wong, a former budget director for Nassau County, were the top two candidates. They were both interviewed publicly on February 24.

“While I recognize that I have the authority to ask both of them back, I had hoped for the courtesy of an agreement to let both of them come back,” Ms. Throne-Holst said of Mr. Morris and Mr. Evans.

According to Ms. Throne-Holst, Mr. Morris is slated to be interviewed this Friday in open session. “This is to give the public the opportunity to view the candidates in an open session and understand the decision-making,” she said.

Mr. Morris, 53, began his work in Smithtown in 2010, according to a Newsday report, but was not reappointed this year after his two-year term expired because Town Board members were reportedly unhappy with him after the way he handled the 2012 budget process, with some members accusing him of ignoring and failing to adequately address their questions about the budget.

Ms. Throne-Holst said she was unable to comment on the reasons why Mr. Morris was not asked back to his post in Smithtown because she was not familiar with the specific details. Councilmen Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone did not comment.

Councilwoman Christine Scalera declined to discuss the appointment rift after the meeting on Monday and said she felt the personnel matter was best left to a private executive session meetings. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss,” she said. “I appreciate the interests of all those who have asked to be considered and am hopeful that this process can be concluded and a decision rendered as soon as possible.”

The supervisor said that she believes there was a “discrepancy” in the process of how potential comptroller candidates were interviewed so far. “My feeling is that they should all be given equal consideration,” she said. “There was no justification for two being interviewed in public and one behind closed doors. In the end, the taxpayers are footing the bill for this—and it’s the number-one most important position in the town, from a fiscal management standpoint. The comptroller is minding the taxpayers’ money, and we have a duty to be entirely transparent in the process.”

The supervisor came out of Monday’s meeting at one point and said that the board members could not agree on who to appoint. The board deliberated for a number of hours on Monday afternoon but couldn’t agree on a candidate. According to Janice Wilson, executive assistant to Ms. Throne-Holst, no resolution to appoint a comptroller had been prepared in advance of Monday’s meeting.

Deputy Town Comptroller Kathy Scott also resigned last Friday—it was unclear who would be tapped to replace her. Ms. Scott, whose last day will be March 15, said she has no plans to follow Ms. Wright to Brookhaven Town, and said she wants to spend more time with her family.

In late 2010, the GOP-Conservative majority of the Town Board drew criticism after they appointed Russell Kratoville, a former GOP committee member in Riverhead, to the position of town general services administrator, a post formerly held by Richard Blowes. The resolution to appoint Mr. Kratoville was sponsored by Mr. Nuzzi, a Republican, and approved by Mr. Malone, a Conservative Party member, and former Republican Councilwoman Nancy Graboski.

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By 27dan (2757), Southampton on Mar 2, 12 10:13 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By 27dan (2757), Southampton on Mar 3, 12 12:29 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Krispy (5), Southampton on Mar 4, 12 6:10 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By 27dan (2757), Southampton on Mar 4, 12 2:17 AM
This censorship is why the truth will never come out before November
By 27dan (2757), Southampton on Mar 4, 12 10:46 AM
Perhaps the conductor is introducing a new standard for the fiddle section?

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle
By Nero (289), Sag Harbor on Mar 5, 12 2:41 PM
so now we have a ship with no one at the rudder??? politics as usual in SOTown. Come on elected officials, let's get YOUR acts together and run this town like a business (which it is) and STOP with the politics. We need a capable person in this position and now there is none. What do we underlings have to do to get directive and positive rulings?? The politics must STOP for the future of the Town. DO YOUR JOBS!!!!!!! Per my previos question "what can we underloings do" perhaps we can VOTE ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Mar 5, 12 5:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
That might be the funniest post I have ever read, if not the most naive.
By dnice (2345), Hampton Bays on Mar 5, 12 9:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
so now we have a ship with no one at the rudder??? politics as usual in SOTown. Come on elected officials, let's get YOUR acts together and run this town like a business (which it is) and STOP with the politics. We need a capable person in this position and now there is none. What do we underlings have to do to get directive and positive rulings?? The politics must STOP for the future of the Town. DO YOUR JOBS!!!!!!! Per my previos question "what can we underloings do" perhaps we can VOTE ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Mar 5, 12 6:39 PM
Deja vu all over again...
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Mar 6, 12 8:49 AM
Sure would love to know what Phil and Dan had going up there, but I have to disagree with Dan and his 9 fans about the "censorship.". Apart from the fact that I normally disagree with Dan, I tend to have an instinctive sense that the keepers of this site know what they're doing, and that when they axe something, there's a good reason for it.

That aside, it's a bloody shame that the Republicans and Conservatives succeeded in driving the very able Tamara Wright out of Town Hall, but they ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1955), Quiogue on Mar 6, 12 11:26 AM
Thanks, Phil.
By Turkey Bridge (1955), Quiogue on Mar 7, 12 3:54 AM
Well, George, there you go again, drafting a comment through the prism of partisan attacks.

Let us review this in a more neutral setting.

First how do you arrive at the declaration that Ms. Wright was driven out of Town Hall by the republican/conservative majority. I believe and correct me if I am wrong that Ms. Wright was first hired by former Supervisor Linda Kabot (you remember her, don't you George, the one who received over 35 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate). ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 7, 12 11:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Greatgoogamooga, Southampton on Mar 6, 12 11:52 AM
Where is Nancy G when we need her,I am sure she has a name in the same folder she found Good old Russell Kratovill,that will bring the Republicans together.
By Etians rd (537), Southampton on Mar 6, 12 12:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
This sounds like another case of the majority not agreeing with the minority Turkey Bridge. Isn't it just possible that the majority believes there candidate is just better? Does it always have to be political? Is Anna always right in every disagreement? I'm just saying...
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Mar 7, 12 7:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Let's hire the OTB guy.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 8, 12 12:56 PM
I can't believe it. The majority wants to hire a guy who apparently failed in Smithtown in their budget process? Is this worse than the Kratoville fiasco?
What are we the final resting place for failed GOP operatives?
By baywoman (165), southampton on Mar 8, 12 5:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
That seems to be the case. They take care of their own. Skip has his cushion at the county as does our Money Man Malone.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Mar 8, 12 6:40 PM
Re my above post: Further investigation reveals that any resolution naming the supervisor's choice for comptroller would have been DOA with the Board majority and thus damaging to the candidate's career, so that introducing such a resolution would have been irresponsible. My mistake.

To NTiger: If I try to answer everything you've thrown, I'll have to do a post as long as yours. Having a few other things to do in my life, I won't be sucked into that again, so I'll just address your first ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1955), Quiogue on Mar 9, 12 4:21 AM
In would appear from what is left out of your response that your prior comments were politically motivated propaganda and opinion rather than fact based. I was hopeful that your accusations ("but they had to get rid if her because her financial housecleaning was embarrassing several prominent Republicans associated with previous administrations") could be substantiated by facts.

Very disappointing George, but as I opened my earlier comment your posts here (including this one) are drafted ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 9, 12 10:40 AM
OK, at the risk of coming off as a loquacious old man like you, I'll correct a couple of your more obvious mistakes. At least six candidates were interviewed for the comptroller job in a process that directly involved the Town Board, the budget & finance committee, the town attorney, and even the redundant, political-sinecure, waste-of-our-money Management Services Administrator, your old friend Russell Kratoville.

Tamara Wright didn't qualify for accrued vacation or sick pay because she ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1955), Quiogue on Mar 10, 12 4:55 AM
At the risk of redundancy, George, there you go again. I ask for a factual response and get from you a response laced with opinion sans fact. Your first paragraph was not at all responsive to my question. I am not certain of the accuracy of your second paragraph vis-a-vis federal and state labor law requirements on forfeiting accrued compensation. Until I hear from Ms. Wright that she was bullied out of town hall, I will remain highly skeptical that that was her primary or even secondary motiviation. ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 12, 12 3:26 PM
My 1st paragraph about the interview process is fully responsive; you questioned the process and I told you how it went. My 2nd paragraph about Southampton employment rules is wholly accurate. If you're "not certain" about it, that's your problem, and you can't credibly challenge my sources on motivation when you don't know what they are. My 3rd paragraph about who's embarrassed is plain old common sense -- not opinion, but common sense, there for all to see.

This is a tired old tactic ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1955), Quiogue on Mar 14, 12 5:41 AM
George you are just plain wrong. As part of her severance package Ms. Wright received close to two months in accrued vacation pay. That is a matter of public record. I'm sure the good folks at the Press can easily confirm that my facts with regard to her severance are accurate and yours not.

What you call common sense is just your opinion. You like to besmirch the reputations of others. Might want to review New York Times v. Sullivan, George.

The only apologies I make are ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 15, 12 10:45 AM
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton