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Mar 8, 2016 1:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

James Burke Appointed Southampton Town Attorney Tuesday

James M. Burke was appointed the new Southampton Town attorney on Tuesday afternoon. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Mar 8, 2016 4:50 PM

James Burke, formerly of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, was appointed the new Southampton Town attorney at a Town Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Burke replaces former Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato, who announced her resignation in January. Filling the appointment has led to a political back-and-forth between new Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and members of the Town Republican Committee. The board voted unanimously to approve Mr. Burke on Tuesday, who will be paid an annual salary of $132,651.

Mr. Burke, who has worked for the state attorney general’s office since 2011, said on Tuesday that he has done a lot of work in Southampton Town.

“I have worked in the private sector and the public sector, and I have always enjoyed the public sector more,” Mr. Burke said from his new office. “You can practice law, but at the same time you can have a positive impact on the people around you. I enjoy that and I am motivated by it.”

Mr. Burke graduated from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1986. From there, he went on to represent the Nassau County Department of Public Works at the Nassau County Attorney’s Office from 1987 through 1992. After three years at the private law firm Tsunis and Associates LLP in Hauppauge, Mr. Burke spent several years with the Suffolk County Department of Real Estate in Hauppauge.

Twice in his career, from 1992 through 1996, and again from 2006 through 2009, Mr. Burke served as a deputy town attorney for Brookhaven Town. There he was second in command of the municipal law department, in charge of 12 attorneys and a staff totaling 35 people. He also served as the counsel for the Planning Board, focusing on major zoning and land use issues, and as counsel for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Most recently, Mr. Burke worked as the assistant attorney general for the state attorney general’s office, where he headed the real property bureau for Long Island and the five boroughs.

“He has a broad base of experience both in the private and the public sectors, and a long history of municipal law advising planning and zoning boards and other entities,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

“We are very happy to welcome you aboard,” he told Mr. Burke.

After Ms. Scarlato announced her resignation. Mr. Schneiderman had hoped to hire NancyLynn Ferrini, the wife of State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., but she accepted a job with East Hampton Town instead. Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray turned down the position in Southampton Town, but was filling in as acting town attorney while Mr. Schneiderman looked for a full-time replacement.

On February 24, Damon Hagan, a former Town Board candidate and also a candidate for the town attorney position, released a joint statement with the chairman of the Town Republican Committee, William Wright, saying that Mr. Schneiderman was playing party politics in not giving Mr. Hagan the position. An Independence Party member, Mr. Schneiderman has denied that party politics came into play in selecting the new town attorney.

Mr. Burke is registered as a member of the Conservative Party.

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And there we have it. "Mr. Burke is registered as a member of the Conservative Party".

I was wondering what the pay off for Julies endorsement by the Conservative Party would be... Now we know.

Not that I'm surprised, or shocked. Just another day on Hampton Road.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 8, 16 4:20 PM
2 members liked this comment
Was Mr. Hagan interviewed?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 8, 16 4:23 PM
Wow didn't think the payback would be that soon and that obvious.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Mar 8, 16 5:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sounds like he's very qualified
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Mar 8, 16 7:10 PM
Wonder if he is related to the Ex Chief James Burke. Corruption written all over it. Good job Jay you waited for your pockets to be filled before you kept your promise. Corrupted weasel at its finest.
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Mar 8, 16 7:54 PM
Mr. Burke appears to have all the credentials a Town would desire in its Town Attorney.

As for this attempt to tie his enrollment as a Conservative to that parties endorsement of Councilperson Hofstad it falls flat. My understanding is that in the State of New York Assistant Attorney Generals do not participate as active members of whatever political party they are enrolled in. I.E. Can not be committee persons.

So until someone can establish a tie between Mr. Burke and the ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 9, 16 11:52 AM
2 members liked this comment
Of course its a payoff to the Conservative party and its criminal leader Ed Walsh. That job should have gone to a local DEMOCRAT. Someone who actually represents our ideals. Why do Gordon Herr and George Lynch continue to allow these lesser third party sycophants to act like they are Democrats and steal an opportunity from a Real Democrat Candidate? We need to stop supporting anyone who is not a Democrat from running as a Democrat. You can see what happens. Democrats win the election and somehow ...more
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Mar 9, 16 2:39 PM
blah, blah, blah
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 9, 16 9:27 PM
Consider that there were no Democrats with either the credentials or desire to be selected for the post.

I would hardly say that the appointment of one enrolled Conservative, with a background of working for a Democratic Party Attorney General constitutes "the Conservatives are moving into Town Hall."

There is an ongoing war between the county conservatives and republicans. The county conservatives are gunning for the resignation of the republican county chair. That is what the ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 9, 16 3:09 PM
For the Editor and Reporter:


An individual is registered to vote, and "enrolled" in a political party. The two is election parlance are not synonymous. Just for accuracy purposes. I believe the same nomenclature is also used in another article in tomorrow's edition.

Thus the sentence "Mr. Burke is registered as a member of the Conservative Party" should more properly read - Mr. Burke is enrolled as a member of the Conservative Party.

By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 9, 16 9:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Congratulations to Damon Hagan upon his election as Chairperson of the Southampton Town Republican Committee and his new Vice Chair Judge Ed Burke, Sr.

The should put to rest complaints by Reps and Rep supporters regarding the selection of Town Attorney.

Presumably Mr. Hagan can now place himself on the list of future robe wearers.

By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 9, 16 10:20 PM
Neil, I'm still not sure that the appointment wasn't a repayment of Julies endorsement by the Conservative Party. To quote Steve Earle, "Just because you're paranoid, it don't mean they ain't out to get you".

I heard that Damon was selected to take over as Town GOP Chair. Good for him. I believe he will be great at his job and will move the party forward in the next election.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 10, 16 6:25 AM

You gonna lose your Republican status revealing that you know lyrics of a lefty singer like Mr. Earle.

Just say the word and I will invite you along next time we go hear him.

Also suggest you read his novel.

Apolitical it is.

I would think Damon will find himself for more comfortable at the helm of the Town Rep Committee then in the TA's office.

As for payback or meritorious why don't you play detective and look for a smoking gun connecting ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 10, 16 3:07 PM

I've been a Steve Earle fan since Guitartown. Just because I think a man is the best American songwriter, doesn't mean I subscribe to his politics. I'm well aware that he's a self proclaimed socialist. I'm also well aware of his stances on the death penalty. That being said, "Jonathons Song" (Over Yonder) is quite brilliant. "Rich Mans War" is amazing.
And my favorite album is "Together at the Bluebird Cafe"...

Yes, I believe that Damon is well suited for his new position ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 18, 16 5:03 PM
Gobble Gobble,

Any update on democratic Ex- Councilman Brad Bender? Geez between Bender and Burke you could start a DARE program for kids. What is going on around here with these party's.
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on Mar 10, 16 6:54 AM
I get more of my news from NTiger's posts than anywhere else.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Mar 10, 16 12:13 PM
1 member liked this comment