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Feb 24, 2016 12:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pending Southampton Town Attorney Appointment Leads To Political Squabble

Damon Hagan
Mar 2, 2016 12:29 PM

The Southampton Town Republican Committee last week charged Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman with refusing to screen former GOP Town Board candidate Damon Hagan for the vacant town attorney position because of his affiliations with the party.

In a press release issued on February 24, Committee Chairman William Wright said it was a shame Mr. Hagan was not being considered for the position, citing his experience. Mr. Wright added that he feared the decision not to consider Mr. Hagan would mark the beginning of a long streak of partisanship by Mr. Schneiderman, an Independence Party member who caucuses with the Democrats.

“Sadly, it appears that the supervisor is more interested in party politics than hearing ideas from across the aisle,” Mr. Wright said. “[The] supervisor’s refusal to even interview a popular Republican who is active in and knowledgeable of the local community is indicative of the close-mindedness, hostility and bigotry toward ideas and opinions that may differ from the supervisor. I believe this is just the tip of the exclusionary iceberg we can expect from Jay Schneiderman and his Democrat-controlled board for the next two years.”

Mr. Schneiderman vehemently countered the allegations a day later, saying that there were candidates who were simply more qualified for the position than Mr. Hagan. He went on to say he believes the top two candidates currently being considered, Jim Burke of Brookhaven and Stephen O’Brien of Smithtown, are both registered Republicans.

According to Mr. Schneiderman, Mr. Burke is a former deputy town attorney for the Town of Brookhaven and has extensive experience in private practice and municipal law. Mr. O’Brien, who currently works at a Smithtown private practice, also worked for a decade at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

“I declined to interview a number of people that did not meet the minimum requirements,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “He has no municipal law experience—zero,” he said of Mr. Hagan. “I have candidates that are much stronger, and I was not going to waste his time.”

The Southampton Town attorney position became available in January when Tiffany Scarlato announced her resignation. For a while, Mr. Schneiderman was hoping to hire NancyLynn Ferrini, wife of Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., but she accepted a job with East Hampton Town instead. Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray turned down the role, but has been filling in as acting town attorney while Mr. Schneiderman looks for a full-time replacement.

Mr. Schneiderman also explained that, traditionally, it is the town supervisor who gets to pick the attorney, but that the board does have to approve the decision. He was also hesitant to pick an attorney in January before a vacant board seat was filled, he said.

Mr. Hagan unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Town Board in November’s election, coming in fourth behind fellow Republican Christine Scalera, and Democrats John Bouvier and Julie Lofstad. Most recently, he ran the campaign for Richard Yastrzemski in a special election to fill the vacant seat on the Town Board. Mr. Hagan highlights his experience working as an attorney focusing on labor issues in Patchogue.

“The idea that the supervisor was not interested in even sitting down with me because I am Republican is hurtful and scary,” Mr. Hagan said in the release. “If the supervisor is not willing to work with Republicans now, what can we expect for the future?”

Mr. Schneiderman maintained that he did everything he could to include the Republicans in selecting the town attorney. He said both of the top candidates would be interviewed by the entire board in the next two weeks during an executive, or closed-door, session and that he hopes to be able to name the new attorney shortly afterward.

“The notion that this is political motivation is ridiculous,” he said.

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How can Jay expect us to belive Hagen doesn't have experience? So people in Smithtown and Brookhaven are better than someone that was quized on local issues in a ton of debates. It's pretty obvious that it's just more of the same democrat garbage they have been serving us.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Feb 24, 16 12:55 PM
I think everyone should be interviewed especially anyone who lives in the town. I would bet a Southampton Town Resident knows more about SH then a guy from Brookhaven or Smithtownm, or at the very least cares more. I also bet if Hagen did not run against Jay's team he would have been interviewed.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 1:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
What's wrong with having to sleep in the bed you've made?
By FiddlerCrab (96), Westhampton Beach on Feb 27, 16 1:23 AM
Why would he have been interviewed? He has no municipal experience. Yes, that's right, he has no municipal experience. The two top contenders are both Republicans.
Cant see the forest for the trees. Where was Mr. Wright rallying for Dems when the Republicans held control forever and a day?
Gimme a break , get your heads out of the darkness.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 16 12:45 PM
Here's Jay, the guy who hired "The Campo Brothers" from Port Jeff, big developers, to build his house in Southampton Village. All we'll see from this guy is favoritism & paybacks. He was at the County level of government, now he's back at the Town level. (FYI, the builders sign in front of the house isn't legally posted. It has a logo on it. ARB Doesn't allow that.)

Damon isn't qualified? Really? If he was a Democrat would he be qualified? Probably.

By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 1:08 PM
So now they know how it feels, remember when Kratoville was hired
By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Feb 24, 16 1:11 PM
4 members liked this comment
The thing that concerns me is why isn't a DEMOCRAT being hired for this position. Jay Schneiderman rode the democrat parties coat tails to get into office. If there is a need for a Town Attorney then that should be going to a Democrat. That is why I have been saying that we need to get rid of these third party people and support real Democrat candidates like David Calone.
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 1:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Vote for David Calone in the June primary against Anna Throne-Holst for Congress.

Mark your calendar & bring some friends and family.
By FiddlerCrab (96), Westhampton Beach on Feb 27, 16 1:25 AM
There really needs to be an audit of future and current hires. I don't mean the clerk who shows up everday working the counter and makes $37,000 a year. I'm talking about hires like Kratoville that make over $100,000 when they fired the guy before him (Richard Blowes) because they didn't "need" him and not one person can tell what Kratoville does. If Damon gets interviewed can a background check be done please!
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 24, 16 1:30 PM
They didn't fire anyone. Blowes aged out.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 16 12:46 PM
And his position was slated for elimination until russ needed a job
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Feb 29, 16 5:56 PM
background checks should be done on all hires in Town Hall and drug test's also
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 1:33 PM
Background checks yes. You'd be opening a can of worms with Drug tests. You know how many of my teacher friends smoke pot and partake in a couple of other drugs?
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 25, 16 1:00 AM
Hey - it would saved the Town a lot of trouble with Bender !
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 9:02 AM
I agree. But he was dealing drugs. It's a fine line. I know teachers who say to their students "Don't do drugs" then go home, sit on the couch, light a doobie and say what a rough day, I hate those kids. Then wake up, go to school and do a good job teaching. He was selling really harmful drugs. Maybe just legalize Marijuana is what I'm saying then...
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 26, 16 10:00 AM
So here come the usual brickbats from the usual people. It's Bill Wright's Teabagger Brigade, lurching out of the swamp, scratching its collective butt and spitting venom.

Illogical venom at that. What ever happened to the notion that elections have consequences? What ever happened to the idea that an elected executive is entitled to name his own team as long as they're qualified?

Unlike the federal constitution, the Southampton town code has no provision for an obstructionist ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 24, 16 2:21 PM
The online Definition of "Teabagger"... You probably mean "Member of the Tea Party", George. LOL

"Teabagger" is yet another shining example of "civil discourse" by left wingers in America. The etymology of the word "teabagging" involves a slang term originating in American homosexual subculture (ref-NSFW) involving a specific (typically humiliating based on context) sexual activity between two homosexual males.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 3:20 PM
Here's a thought. How about choosing a town attorney who is a, you know, professional attorney & not someone interested in running for office. Past, present, or future.
By East End 2 (151), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 2:29 PM
6 members liked this comment
So then TurkeyBridge is confirming the Republicans are right. The Supervisor is only interested in party politics because he won and if you are a Republican from Southampton then you are not welcome and ineligible. The Supervisor should just admit that and skip the dog and pony show?
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Feb 24, 16 2:41 PM
And he knows Teabagging when he sees it...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 3:06 PM
Here we go with turkey bridge eating his own words. Me. Havana credentials are far way better than any candidate that is running for that spot. Jay covered his ass by making a call to his buddies in east Hampton so his boyfriend Thiele's wife wouldn't interupt with Julie vs Rich. Also Mr. Turkey after looking into the BOE I find it funny people in your party are double voting in the city and out here on Long Island. Huh wonder how that happens? But that is another issue that will come up down the ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Feb 24, 16 3:15 PM
Mr. Hagans credentials
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Feb 24, 16 3:17 PM
I like Mr. Havana...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 6:24 PM
Another knee to the groin of the southampton republican commitee Hoo-YA!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Feb 24, 16 7:36 PM
.......and this is exactly why I would never get into politics. Many good ideas, never any real solutions. It's just the way the system is supposed to work.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 11:02 PM
Amen!
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Feb 25, 16 7:55 AM
"Hurtful and scary?" ..... come on!
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 25, 16 2:43 PM
... "popular" ??? .... come on!
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Feb 25, 16 3:17 PM
how about interviewing every applicant and make a decision based on knowledge, law experience and NOT on any party affiliation.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 25, 16 6:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
The only thing "hurtful and scary" is this guy. He is an unethical lowlife whose only concern is money. Besides being unqualified for the job, why would a Democratic-controlled administration want to rely on a Republican who ran a campaign against Democrats for legal advice? Take this one as a loss Hagan, you're out of your depth. Go chase another ambulance.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Feb 25, 16 8:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's interesting that party that's so against entitlements feels so entitled....
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Feb 25, 16 8:40 PM
What entitlement - Bird? Entitled to be interviewed for a position? Sounds more like a human right that is being violated. Yes - he is entitled to be interviewed for the position - in a democracy.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 9:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Interesting that you question what entitlement and then insist he is entitled. Guess what, he's not. The taxpayers twice rejected him and he is not entitled to a back door in. Wasn't the Kratoville debacle slimy enough. Why is it that republicans feel "entitled" to be in power even when they have been rejected by the voters?
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Feb 28, 16 12:15 PM
Damon only ran once. Yaz ran in the Special.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 29, 16 7:20 AM
And his campaign was run by who? That's right, Mr Hagan.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Feb 29, 16 7:35 PM
Dems, Reps, Indies lend me your eyes. I come not to praise Schneiderman nor disparage Hagan, and certainly not to resurrect the George Lynch propensity to overdramatize and leave himself open as a target.

But when in the course of Town events it becomes necessary to appoint a new Town Attorney we simply cannot allow ourselves to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous political games playing, reminiscent only of the disrespect some in Washington continue to display against the Office ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 10:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Funny Main issue stated in comment is Dems are in control not Rep. Who's zooming who? Let's stop the slander which was used thoughout the debates and it didn't work. LOL!!! Face it the elections is OVER!!!!
By GOTGOD (14), Southampton on Feb 26, 16 7:57 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By GOTGOD (14), Southampton on Feb 26, 16 7:57 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By GOTGOD (14), Southampton on Feb 26, 16 7:58 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By GOTGOD (14), Southampton on Feb 26, 16 7:58 PM
Speaking of overdramatizing, NTiger, your lengthy, turgid Shakespeare-themed post is literally overdramatizing the matter, I'd say. Get over yourself.

And yes, I do make myself a target for certain commenters because I don't hesitate to call them what they are -- super-partisans who will stop at nothing to make the Republican/conservative/Tea Party point, who care about nothing but getting that case across.

Unlike you, I don't get chummy with these guys, I don't spout pious rubbish ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 27, 16 10:46 AM
> " super-partisans"

TB, did you at least have the good graces to throw up a little on your keyboard when you typed that?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 27, 16 2:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
George Lynch, who advised former Democratic Town Councilwoman Sally Pope on her campaign, was angered by the move. At the end of his comments, he angrily slapped the podium and cried, “Enough!”

SH Press, Dec 1, 2010
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 4, 16 7:16 AM
George, shall we dispense with the First Amendment? Shall we conduct our lives with our ears, eyes and minds closed to any views in opposition to our own?

Isn't that what we see in Washington D.C.?

Do you remember the discussions that had JFK not been so brutally assassinated he and Mr. AUH2O (Barry Goldwater) intended to campaign against each other together?

Respecting each others opinions is not pious rubbish, it is a fundamental necessity for the proper governance of ...more
Feb 27, 16 12:46 PM appended by NTiger
I should remind you all that Scalia and Ginsberg as fundamentally philosophically opposed as any two might be enjoyed socializing together. If they could why can't the rest of us emulate them?
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Feb 27, 16 12:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
NTiger, I grok it fine on the level of comprehending it, but not on the level of becoming one with it. Let's just leave it that we disagree on a couple of things and save our fire for the opposition.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 27, 16 1:09 PM
That's fine George.

So long as you understand that our definitions of "the opposition" may not always coincide.

I have tossed my partisan hat into the wind. I find good and bad attributes with both major political parties and their candidates and elected officials.

I will not hold "my fire" when I see democratic party candidates or party officials acting in manners that I can not condone. Nor will I attack republican party candidate or officials simply predicated on ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Feb 27, 16 4:09 PM
I think these comments are mostly missing the point. The position is for Town Attorney. The person in charge of the Town's Legal dept. It seems pretty obvious to me the person hired should be experienced in Municipal Law.

If I were getting a divorce, I would hire someone specializing in divorce. If I were an accident victim, I would hire a lawyer specializing in that.

If Hagen were a Municipal Law expert and a Republican, then he should be interviewed. If he's not a Municipal ...more
By baywoman (165), southampton on Feb 27, 16 6:17 PM
"Super Partisans" Hmmm. I believe, Turkey Bridge, that you fall into that category as well. You would endorse a Seagull if it dressed in blue. And turn on him/her when you no longer have a use for them. ATH is case in point.

Although we differ greatly on many things, NTiger has gained my respect. I read his posts with an open mind. Your posts are the very thing you complain most about. And when the Conservatives come lurching out of the swamp, scratching our collective butts and spitting ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 28, 16 7:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
On the day to which you refer, Draggerman, we weren't only calling registered Dems, we were calling others, too. It's called reaching out, the very thing which you and NTiger are advocating. As you say, "It's not always about party lines." Be consistent, please.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 28, 16 11:18 AM
Getting back to the storyline topic here I did a quick google check seeking the backgrounds of the 2 named contenders for Town Attorney and found the following:

There is a Jim Burke serving as a Deputy Town Attorney in Brookhaven. So we can assume he has some experience with municipal law, etc.

I could find only a Stephen L. O'Brien in Smithtown. His firm website contains the following biographical info on him.
Stephen L. O'Brien became a partner in the firm in the fall of ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Feb 28, 16 11:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Question: I don't know the players but is Jim Burke related to Ed Burke. And isn't Ed Burke's daughter's name O'Brien? Are any of these people elated to Ed Burke?
By baywoman (165), southampton on Mar 5, 16 9:04 PM
Finally, NTiger, after a very great deal of what I'll charitably call "discussion," you get to the nub of it in the 9th and 10th paragraphs of your above post. Hagan's loud-and-clear positions in the last two campaigns, one as candidate and one as campaign manager, absolutely preclude him from becoming part of the new administration's team -- right!

And just as you say, everyone knows that, including Haganand Wright. It's this hypocrisy, especially on Wright's part, that gets me so exercised ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 28, 16 4:53 PM
Hey George lynch it's Sunday - go enjoy your family and have a glass of wine. Also word on the street is Julie meet with the "hills team" and she told them she was opened minded on the project. No need to comment on it. Time will tell. Since she ran against the project
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Feb 28, 16 7:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
What troubles me about this article is that instead of focusing on the two named contenders, you know, one of whom might become our next Town Attorney. The scrivener and her editor evidently did not see fit to discover anything about those upislanders, instead focusing surely to the delight of Damon and Bill on the absurd.

One would hope that this weeks edition of the Press might find a more revealing glance at the potentials rather than the politically inspired verbiage of this article.

The ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Feb 28, 16 7:58 PM
Very good question.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 29, 16 9:20 AM
It sounds like, based on Neil's research, DH is as qualified as Mr. O'Brien. And he's from SH Town.

And TB, I'm not suggesting that campaigning to change peoples vote isn't a bad thing. But the 3 postcards I received in my mailbox everyday may have sufficed.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 29, 16 11:02 AM
Actually we only know that neither has a record of Municipal Law experience.

We do not know the details of the qualifications either has apart from that common lack of Muni Law.

So it is not accurate for you or I for that matter to state that one is as qualified as the other.

Nor has the Supervisor chosen to reveal exactly what criteria he utilized to rank and/or rate each individual seeking the position.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 2, 16 7:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
Glad to see this article was expanded. It does confirm that one of the two named contenders by the Supervisor has no more municipal law experience than Mr. Hagan. The District Attorney's Office engages in the practice of Criminal Law not Municipal and according to the bio of Mr. O'Brien on his firm's website, he became a partner there in 1999 (so apparently his time in the D.A.'s office ended some 17 years ago) and continues to practice criminal law.

It is disappointing to me that Mr. ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 2, 16 2:27 PM
1 member liked this comment