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Jan 5, 2010 6:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bernard returns; Adams will be new East Hampton town attorney

Jan 5, 2010 6:59 PM

A new legal team led the shakeup at East Hampton Town Hall, as Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s Republican majority announced its appointments at an organizational meeting on Monday.

Former Southampton Town Attorney Dan Adams, who stepped down from that post on December 31 will now serve as East Hampton town attorney.

John Jilnicki, who has served as town attorney since Laura Molinari’s sudden departure in June 2008, will stay on as deputy town attorney, and Assistant Town Attorney Madeline Narvilas will also remain with the town’s legal staff.

Deputy Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato and Assistant Town Attorney Beth Baldwin were both told just before the new administration took office that they would lose their jobs with the town.

They will be replaced by Carl Irace, an attorney in the Bronx District Attorney’s office, who will begin work later this month, and Catherine Santiago, a former attorney for Brookhaven Town.

The new administration’s plans also include an addition of a familiar face in the financial department. Len Bernard, who served as budget officer under former Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, was unanimously appointed to his old job by the four board members present. Councilman Pete Hammerle was out of town and was not at Monday’s meeting.

Mr. Bernard said that Town Comptroller Janet Verneuille will continue to work for the town, but added that he and Ms. Verneuille had not yet broken down the division of their duties. Ms. Verneuille, who has long called for more professional help in the town’s finance department, is the first Certified Public Accountant to serve the town and is also the town’s first-ever comptroller.

On Tuesday, January 5, the board voted to cut Ms. Verneuille’s salary from $130,000 to $90,000. Mr. Hammerle and Town Board member Julia Prince, who were both on the board when Ms. Verneuille was hired, voted against the resolution.

Mr. Wilkinson said that if the town’s financial health was better, he would have prefered not to cut Ms. Verneuille’s salary.

Mr. Bernard, who just left his position as the Sag Harbor School District’s business official, where he was paid $107,000, will also take a cut in pay in his new position, with a salary of $95,000. The town’s former budget officer, Ted Hults, was paid just over $80,000 when he resigned in May shortly before his arrest in the midst of the town’s financial crisis.

“It is in no way a reflection of Janet’s performance,” Mr. Wilkinson said of the comptroller’s pay cut. “I thought the town could only afford this structure.... It has implications on everything we do. I’m sorry for not only the real but the psychic impact that comes with that. Under better times this would not happen.”

Amid a flurry of other changes at Town Hall announced Monday morning, all regular Town Board meetings will now be held in the evenings, on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m., beginning this Thursday, January 7. Mr. Wilkinson and his running mates promised during the election that they would make meetings, which had been held Friday mornings, more accessible for people who work during the week.

Work sessions will still be held on the first, second and third Tuesdays of each month at 10 a.m., though instead of being rotated between Town Hall, the Montauk Firehouse and the Springs Firehouse, they will all initially be held at Town Hall. Mr. Wilkinson said Tuesday that he intends to rotate the meetings to different locations around town in the future. An additional work session has been added for the last Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. Mr. Wilkinson said Tuesday that the additional meeting was designed to accommodate second-home owners.

Mr. Wilkinson appointed his running mate, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, as deputy town supervisor, though he told the crowd that he “took her stipend away.” Councilman Pete Hammerle, who had formerly been the deputy town supervisor, took home an extra $10,000 per year above his $60,000 Town Board salary. Mr. Wilkinson said that his administration plans to suspend stipends for management for at least the first quarter.

The new administration also made numerous changes to the town’s Architectural Review Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, one of which met with bristles from town Democrats in the audience.

Robert Schwagerl, who was active in 2008 along with new Town Board member Dominick Stanzione in a group that opposed a law to limit the size of houses, was appointed chairman of the town’s Architectural Review Board. Chris DiSunno was named vice chairman of the ARB. Reed Jones was named to the Planning Board and Alex Walters was named to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Larry Koncelik, Ms. Quigley’s brother, was appointed to and named the chairman of the Licensing Review Board, though the Town Board on Tuesday rescinded both resolutions regarding Mr. Koncelik because Ms. Quigley said that she had intended to recuse herself from that vote, but had instead remained silent, leading the Town Clerk to register an aye vote. Councilwoman Julia Prince, the lone Democrat at Monday’s meeting, abstained from voting on all four appointments.

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Janet V. was looking for competent help in unraveling East Hamptons books (or lack thereof) she now has it. Good luck and welcome back Len Bernard.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Jan 5, 10 8:58 AM
I hope hiring Bernard and paying more than $10,000 over his predecessor is not indication of how this new regime plans to operate. The finances of the town are not as complicated as the press and politicos make it out. The simple fact is the town spends more than it receives. Cut spending. Sell long term assets to cure long term liability from past, i.e. under accrued pension liabilities.

Transparency is mantra of the day. Any business today can close its books any time it wants. ...more
By voter (33), Amagansett on Jan 5, 10 12:11 PM
It is wonderful that Len Bernard is back. If he had been there in the last six years we wouldn't be in the fianancial difficulty we are, Bill McGintee got in office and gave all his cronies raises, including his office staff. As far as the positions on all the boards to the victors go the spoils and the democrats in the audience have done that for six years and they will do it again. Good Luck to Len Bernard and the new town board.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Jan 5, 10 5:24 PM
The thieves are out, a new broom sweeps clean, Len Bernard will do right as he has always done. Stanzione is not one I would have elected, (anti old buildings and pro tear them down) Already they are apointing family members and friends, rather than reaching out to local talented people, business as usual I feel will happen, obvious by the new appointments to the various boards without putting a call out for real talent.
By glorydays (6), east hampton on Jan 5, 10 8:28 PM
Small town needs only one working full time attorney, with a clerk/paralegal
By Observer1 (5), East Hampton on Jan 6, 10 4:20 PM
We have here a new administration that was part of an administration that left us with a $10,000,000 surplus. A surplus the outgoing administration spent and darned near another $30,000,000 over the income recieved. This will not be a day one cure, but we now have a program with which a return to a balanced budget is the goal. Better, it is a real posibility.

Mr. Len Bernard will do his usual good job to help reach that goal.
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on Jan 7, 10 11:00 AM
Len Bernard is a true professional with a heart devoted to East Hampton. It appears the Town has a most competent financial team in place. Now the hard part begins -- getting the fiscal house in order with a goal of reducing expenses and ultimately taxes.
By Peconic County (2), Bridgehampton on Jan 8, 10 9:22 AM
gee wizz i wonder how pat mansir secured the sanation job when they are going to lay off employees?maybe her son who works at the sanitation deptartment put in the good word for her.business as usual
By asurest (117), easthampton on Jan 10, 10 10:46 AM