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Mar 28, 2012 11:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Forces Tried To Oust Southampton Town Police Chief

Apr 5, 2012 11:13 AM

At least two attempts were made in late 2011 to oust Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. from his post, town officials revealed this week, and although some say the Republican Party is trying to cut him loose, no one is claiming responsibility.

In the first instance, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said this week, an intermediary delivered a message in December from “GOP leadership,” offering a deal in which Town Board members would agree to swap votes: the Republican board members would support the supervisor’s reappointment of then-Town Comptroller Tamara Wright, in exchange for Ms. Throne-Holst agreeing to oust the chief.

Ms. Throne-Holst said this week the offer came via a cellphone call from a third party—whom she declined to identify—while she was away on vacation in late December. The caller was someone she knows personally and is not a Republican Party official, she said, but was asked to deliver the message on behalf of the GOP leadership. The messenger, the supervisor said, acknowledged having been “put in a strange position” by being asked to deliver the message.

“I was indignant and furious at the thought that anyone would think I’d entertain that,” Ms. Throne-Holst said this week.

David Gilmartin Jr., the vice chairman of the Southampton Town Republican Committee, dismissed the supervisor’s allegation this week. “It’s not true, simply not true. It’s a joke,” he said, declining further comment. Mr. Gilmartin also described any suggestion that the GOP has targeted the chief and is seeking his dismissal as “nonsense.”

But in another episode, also in December, Chief Wilson said he was offered a buyout—an offer that he turned down.

Chief Wilson this week confirmed reports that he had been offered a financial incentive—he declined to say how much—by Town Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville to leave the post he had just been appointed to last spring. He said the figure was purely an incentive and did not represent earned or accrued time.

The chief said he and Mr. Kratoville had a discussion in late November or December about police department issues, including the challenges of navigating the Town Board. During that discussion, according to the chief, Mr. Kratoville broached the notion of Chief Wilson accepting a financial incentive to step down. Chief Wilson said this week that he entertained the idea, but, when Mr. Kratoville passed him a document outlining the terms about a week later, he declined.

“I declined because I still have the desire to serve the community and I am dedicated to my law enforcement career,” Chief Wilson said.

He said he did not know if the offer had been pre-approved by the Town Board or was to be finalized subsequently. He deferred questions on the offer amount to the Town Board.

Mr. Kratoville on Monday declined to comment on the issue, stating that it is a personnel issue. “It’s really not appropriate for me to speak about a conversation I may or may not have had with an employee,” he said.

Mr. Kratoville also said he does not have such a document in his possession. When asked in general about who would review such offers if they are offered to town employees, he replied, “Any type of outside-of-contractual agreement would certainly need to go in front of the board for approval.” As for the storage of such records, he said they would be kept if agreed upon. He said he did not know if such offers would be destroyed if an employee rejects an offer.

When asked about the alleged offer this week, Town Board members largely said they were unaware that one had been made to Chief Wilson.

Ms. Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member who is endorsed by the Democrats, said she heard about the buyout offer from the chief only after the fact and was not aware of any discussions regarding a potential offer. “I never saw one, and certainly was never involved in one,” the supervisor said, adding that she did not know ahead of time about the conversation between Mr. Kratoville and Chief Wilson.

Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat, said she did not know anything about the offer, but added, “I know that my colleagues have made it very difficult for Chief Wilson to do his job, so I’m not entirely surprised that that might have been offered. But I don’t have specific information on it.”

When reached this week, Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi, one of two Republicans on the Town Board, declined to comment on the situation. “That’s not something I could speak to … I think it’s inappropriate to be discussed in this way, in a story,” he said. He also acknowledged that “there have been disagreements with the chief on policies.”

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I call BS on some of this... the Republicans were never AGAINST re-appointing Tamara Wright - they simply asked for a one meet extension so the newest board member could sit down with her and Ms. Wright was subsequently unanimously reappointed. What a joke these local politics are becoming
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Mar 30, 12 10:24 AM
2 members liked this comment
Is there anyone on the Town Board capable of A] telling the truth, and B] doing the business they were elected to do instead of playing politics?
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Mar 30, 12 10:48 AM
Didn't the Republican majority vote to re-appoint Tamara Wright? This conspiracy theory doesn't make any sense. I am getting sick and tired of Anna blaming others for playing politics and then claiming to be squeaky clean. The lady doth protest too much.
By Wagoneer (28), Southampton on Mar 30, 12 11:49 AM
2 members liked this comment
I have no inside knowledge but my take on the Tamara incident was that the GOP was sending a message. Yes, in the end they voted to keep her because they knew how invaluable she really was. But they were saying behave or else. Your future is in our hands not the supervisor's. I think Tamara blindsided them by showing she was not going to spend the next few years kissing their you-know-what. And so the town is now paying the price for the bulying tactics of the GOP.
By baywoman (165), southampton on Mar 30, 12 1:45 PM
"No comment", "Not sure", "Wasn't me", It's a personnel issue", Don't know anything about it", Doesn't return our calls". Sounds like a bunch of kids being asked about a broken window. Take this to the bank folks: After 45 years of going to the polls I'm not voting in local elections anymore! I wish there was a lever for "None of the Above" on the ballot. I wonder if they are doing business at the back table of Shippy's over dinner before the board meetings like they used to.
By Sandflea (35), Southampton on Mar 30, 12 1:50 PM
3 members liked this comment
Another mysterious message that involves Anna Throne-Holst? This time she's saying she got one but last time she said she didn't and lied when her Police cronies called her about the Kabot arrest. So now we are supposed to believe her?

They all need to go including this Chief. Anyone who can't effectively manage a police force with 90 officers without using $700,000 in overtime needs to go. What's amazing is Overton was able to keep overtime at half that with the same size force.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Mar 30, 12 3:11 PM
Because Overton made public safety his last priority.....he dropped cars and didn't care about the public or the officers on the road, best thing for this town is when him and his"cronie" Tenaglia retired
By mrobin (119), North Sea on Mar 30, 12 5:56 PM
Well your wrong. When the town board had Chief Wilson at Town Hall to answer questions why there was so much overtime, the board presented a review of overtime for previous years. When they looked at years where the department had a similar amount of officers, the board found that there was "a similar amount of overtime". Wilson is doing no worse than Overton.
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Mar 31, 12 4:34 PM
Actually you are wrong, compare the past 3 years of money spent of overtime. Its all available online.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Apr 1, 12 2:01 PM
How much crime has decreased under wilson? Provide something to back up your statement.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Apr 1, 12 2:03 PM
I did compare the amount of HOURS of overtime worked. And acording to the Town Board, and yes even the people that are against Chief Wilson, the amount of overtime generated when there are only 90 officers is THE SAME. Please pay attention as I did not mention anything about crime rate. The amount of MONEY spent on overtime is not comparable as police officer pay is determined by the TOWN BOARD, not the Police Chief, and obviosly police pay is higher now than it was 5 or 10 years ago. As for "something ...more
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Apr 1, 12 6:12 PM
How do you like your boy Russell now, NT?
By Turkey Bridge (1957), Quiogue on Mar 30, 12 3:43 PM
Looks like their still gambling at Rick's place...Le plus ca change...the more it stays the same.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Mar 30, 12 6:45 PM
Keep the politics out of our great Police Department, and let the Chief and the
dedicated men and women of the Southampton Town Police Department perform their duties. Also, the Police Department should receive the requested
technology upgrades it needs as an accredited agency to assist in serving us citizens.

p.s. They need a new Police Facility (Heasdquarters) as well ! The present one is a disgrace! Just look at Southampton Village, Sag Harbor Village and the New York State ...more
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Mar 30, 12 9:15 PM
Hey, when they try to buy you out, you know they're close to folding. This is good news for Wilson. Just ride it out, man, and they'll start to come around before they look like even bigger idiots than they do now.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Mar 31, 12 2:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By LI native (127), east moriches on Mar 31, 12 5:43 AM
Wow! This seems to be another story about nothing. Why would the press print a story that is front page and takes up almost half a full page of the paper on a subject that no one on either side will comment on or has no knowledge of! What's the point! So what if they asked the Chief if he wanted a buy out. Is that considered a threat? In Ms. Throne-Holst' short time on the Town Board we hear about phone calls in the middle of the night (Kabot case). Now secret messages delivered by "intermediaries". ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Mar 31, 12 10:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Couldn't have said it better! I would only ad, in ATH's mind, "It's Bush's fault."
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Mar 31, 12 10:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
The locals are claiming (rumors) that Wilson has a good press agent so maybe having friends at the press is good when you need it. Like everything all in good time.
By whbtax2much (1), Westhampton on Mar 31, 12 11:53 AM
The Republicans offered ATH a deal to get rid of Wilson? Sounds dubious. Wilson is the anointed choice of the PBA and ATH is a PBA surrogate from the bottom of her heels to the top of her hairdo. Even the dumbest Republican is aware that ATH would never defy PBA marching orders.
By highhatsize (4149), East Quogue on Mar 31, 12 1:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Scalera-Preston has started out with a bang, but has no comment when asked. Southampton Town Board now has two come from the world of Brookhaven Town Republican politics. That will not bode well for Southampton taxpayers.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Mar 31, 12 5:25 PM
seems to me crusader she's smart enough to stay out of the rhetoric! BRAVO to her!
By sassy (6), new york on Mar 31, 12 7:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
A couple of points to be made here: 1) Dave Gilmartin is as honest as the day is long - if he says there was no call to ATH I believe him, especially since ATH has already been caught lying about calls she received and did not receive; 2) If there was a deal offered - Wright for Wilson - then why was Wright reappointed without Wilson leaving? Would the Republicans have backed down so completely when rebuffed by ATH? I think not; 3) Scalera and Nuzzi have more on the ball then any two Town Board ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Mar 31, 12 10:51 PM
Dave Gilmartin is a gentleman and a great guy, that is why it is so disapointing to hear him say there was no call made. There was and the Supervisor isn't lying. Now the good people are lying. Nuzzi and Malone are just bullies who hide behind their positions. If everyone would just do their jobs and stop jockying for future positions the people in this town just may be served honorably.
By carson (79), southampton on Apr 11, 12 2:06 PM
It appears the current trend in government is to cut the work force and pile on the extra duties to those employees that don't get laid off. The exception exists in the case of the captain promotion, which was clearly put in place for when they try to oust Chief Wilson. It is unfortunate that this board would rather risk a law suit than allow Chief Wilson do his job. For those that say it's not politics, than I ask what is it?
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Apr 1, 12 3:01 PM
There has to be some truth to politics playing a role here. Is it not true that Kiernan was promoted to Lieutenant? He is a Republican and also sits on the screening committee. Wouldn't that mean that he would have chosen Nuzzi and Scalera to run? There should be rules preventing such a conflict of interest. If his promotion doesn't sound like a political pay back from the GOP, then I don't know what does. Wonder if that promotion was Wilson's idea or if it was the boards doing, just like Pearce?
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Apr 1, 12 4:50 PM
Of course its political, look at all the pictures that are on the Southampton Republican website, Kiernan is in a lot of them. I wonder if he's the "officer" that the board majority refuses to take Wilson's recommendation on discipline, now that would be political!!!
By mrobin (119), North Sea on Apr 1, 12 8:20 PM
All I hear is bad morale and unhappiness. Fire all the unhappy, and hire Iraq and Afganistan veterans they would love a 100k job with great benefits.. Most of the current cops are decent people, but they need to cut the cry babies.
By chief1 (2768), southampton on Apr 1, 12 7:35 PM
A little dramatic, don't you think Chief1. Get a hobby !
By carson (79), southampton on Apr 11, 12 2:58 PM
It would be no surprise that the Republican board members want to get rid of Wilson. It used to be that the relationship between chief and patrolman was similar to that between manager and worker. Now, however, with Wilson having been chosen as their chief by the PBA, the relationship is more like shop steward and union member. One outcome of this has been the staggering increase in overtime pay handed out by Wilson. Additionally, he has requested $$750K for a "technology upgrade". Replacing ...more
By highhatsize (4149), East Quogue on Apr 1, 12 9:08 PM
I hear what you are saying highhatsize and I agree that the current Chief is not a fiscal conservative, just look at the past southampton Village police budgets, but I still don't understand how the press could do a full page article on a subject that no one will comment on or have no information on! When you eliminate the "no comment" or "I don't know anything" comments you are left with nothing but a few of Anna's unsubstantiated innuendoes and hollow accusations. There is less substantiated ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Apr 2, 12 6:29 AM
It's not that simple, Sug. You're right about light backup, but a couple of people who could have denied all this didn't do that, and the fact that they didn't says something. Both Kratoville and Nuzzi begged off on the ground that it would be "inappropriate" to discuss. That's true, but there wouldn't be anything wrong with their denying that anything happened. Dave Gilmartin had no problem doing that, and Malone and Fleming had no problem saying they didn't know anything about it. Kratoville ...more
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Apr 2, 12 7:56 AM
For a board who wanted change and forward movement for our Police Department, they certainly are not doing it. Time to change the board
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Apr 6, 12 9:26 AM
How do we know the Stonybrook PHD's did not release contaminated shell fish spawn into our Bays. There have been grassy lawns adjacent to the bay for 50 years. Have they ever tested for this saxotoxin before this season. It looks like someone looking for another grant so they can justify their existence.
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 12 4:57 PM
Not only posted to the wrong thread, but WAY out of line.
By Mr. Z (11552), North Sea on Apr 15, 12 7:14 PM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend