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Jul 9, 2014 11:17 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Moore Sworn In As Mayor In Westhampton Beach: Announces Search For New Police Chief

Jul 9, 2014 12:32 PM

Attorney Maria Moore officially took the reins as the first female mayor in Westhampton Beach history on Monday night as she was sworn into office during the Village Board’s organizational meeting.

While her administration officially began at noon that day, when Ms. Moore replaced longtime Mayor Conrad Teller, it remains unclear exactly how Village Hall will look under the new mayor. Trustee Charles Palmer was named deputy mayor at the meeting, but a slew of other appointments—those typically made during the annual meeting—were postponed for a month, as Ms. Moore said she plans on speaking with every village employee before making any decisions.

Positions in need of appointment include: village attorney, special district attorney, acting village justice, marriage officer, clerk-treasurer, deputy treasurer, Architectural Review Board chairman, Zoning Board of Appeals chairman and Planning Board chairman. Also, open positions need to be filled on the village’s planning, zoning and architectural review boards.

Appointments are typically introduced by the mayor and voted on by the trustees, though Ms. Moore has the ability to handpick two positions—the village attorney, currently held by Richard Haefeli, and clerk-treasurer, now held by Elizabeth Lindtvit—without requiring board approval, according to Village Trustee Hank Tucker. The board still votes on those appointments but, even if they oppose the selection, the nominees could hold those positions until the mayor selects a new candidate—an obligation that sets no deadline.

“Technically, they can be held over for the whole year,” Mr. Tucker explained.

Ms. Lindtvit, who is set to earn $85,000 this year, declined to comment on the situation, while Mr. Haefeli, who is supposed to make $63,000, has not returned multiple calls.

Additionally, Ms. Moore and the Village Board must hire a new chief of police to replace Chief Ray Dean, who retired late last month, though the new mayor made it clear that she would not simply rubber-stamp Chief Dean’s suggested replacement, Lieutenant Trevor Gonce.

“[The appointments were adjourned] just to give me an opportunity to meet with everybody and speak with them,” Ms. Moore said on Monday night. “You know, I just got sworn in today, so tomorrow I’m going to start setting up meetings with people.”

Regarding filling Chief Dean’s old position, Ms. Moore said she plans to find a candidate quickly, although she intends on conducting an open search rather than simply hiring from within, as Chief Dean encouraged her to do before abruptly leaving office.

Ms. Moore said she has already begun compiling a list of potential candidates for the trustees to consider, reaching out to people through her own contacts and speaking to interested parties who have contacted her. She said she has several names on the list already, although she declined to disclose any of them. In the interim, Ms. Moore said Lt. Gonce will continue to head the department until a permanent chief is named, adding that Lt. Gonce is still in the running for the position.

“By virtue of him being the highest officer in the department, he is in charge,” Ms. Moore said. “I spoke with him and he knows he’s the officer in command on a temporary basis.”

As second-in-command under Chief Dean, as well as the former chief’s pick to lead the department, Lt. Gonce has had his eye on the position for years, particularly while running day-to-day operations at the department. Lt. Gonce said he was unaware that an external search was being orchestrated until he was informed of such by a member of The Press on Monday night.

The lieutenant said he expects the mayor and board to conduct a thorough search to find the most qualified candidate, and if they find someone better suited for the job than him he will respect the decision and put his support behind the new chief.

“However, I am confident that between by professional training for this role, as well as the relationships I have with people in the community and with the trustees, I will prevail and I look forward to serving this village as the next police chief,” Lt. Gonce said on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Palmer, Ms. Moore’s running mate on the Progress for Westhampton Beach ticket during last month’s election, was also sworn into office on Monday night alongside Trustee Ralph Urban, the former deputy mayor. Both men are starting their second two-year terms.

Mr. Palmer noted that as deputy mayor one of his priorities will be getting the police department accredited, a process in which the department must meet the 133 standards set out by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, including personnel practices, fiscal management and records keeping. Since joining the board in 2012, Mr. Palmer, a senior accountant with the Suffolk County Police Department, has championed the push for accreditation, sometimes butting heads with Chief Dean and Mr. Teller, a former village and Southampton Town Police chief.

“One thing I’ve always been wanting to do ever since I got on was the accreditation of the police department, so I’d like to maybe move a little more forward with that,” Mr. Palmer said. “That’s always something I’ve wanted to do, it’s kind of a little stagnant but, you know, it’s something we can move forward with.”

Mr. Palmer said there have been no official talks regarding the search for a new police chief, but he said he and the mayor have floated ideas back and forth, adding that he thinks the search will be a collaborative effort involving all the members of the board.

Currently, there are vacant seats on all three of the village’s main appointed boards—the ARB, Planning and ZBA. ARB member Andrea Kaloustian and ZBA member Joseph Musnicki are all up for reappointment as their terms expired on July 1. Planning Board member George Lawrence announced that he will not be seeking reappointment, meaning a new board member must be named to replace him. Each board position pays $1,500 per annum and members serve five-year terms.

In addition to filling those seats, Planning Board Chairman Victor Levy, ARB Chairman Gregory Minasian and ZBA Chairman Gerard Piering are all up for reappointment to their respective chairman posts. All three chairmen are paid $3,600 annually and must be reappointed every year.

Re-Examining Code
Enforcement Penalties

In accordance with her campaign promise to change penalties for code enforcement violations, Ms. Moore will lead a public hearing on Thursday, August 7, to discuss altering the punishments for those who violate the village’s sign and dumping ordinances.

“There are penalty provisions for up to six months incarceration and I personally didn’t think that was appropriate, so I put it on the agenda so the trustees can discuss it as well,” Ms. Moore said.

Ms. Moore said she and the trustees will discuss how exactly they’d like to see the code altered, adding that Village Attorney Richard Haefeli is working on an amendment to the village to remove the jail time provision from the code.

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And once again... I quote the ever intelligent Realistic:

Realistic - you said it best.... And I quote:

"....Beachbme- Holywood- Did i hit a sensitive cord? A relative of your? Were you on the "friends and family" plan of the Mayor also?

Ms. Moore said she has already begun compiling a list of potential candidates for the trustees to consider, reaching out to people through her own contacts and speaking to interested parties who have contacted her. She said she has several ...more
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jul 9, 14 12:09 PM
I commend her for taking her time and interviewing a number of candidates- speaking to the people that are there. Look at Teller and the debacle he created with the Chief and his sister- stating the obvious. The sister was paying people off the books at the beach last year- handing out beach passes where they were not warranted. Hopefully we will get some more ethical people in the positions. Oh and BTW- I know you will say I have no proof- so google 27East- April 26, 2013- "Two Westhampton Beach ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 10, 14 8:57 AM
What proof is that. Those are just more accusations obviously two on your team brought that up but the other three didn't have a problem with the hiring. Once again it's your friends and family plan of your own taking place
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 10, 14 10:29 AM
Back on May 17, 2014 our new Mayor wrote a letter on why she is running for Mayor and in it she states "change is always happening it can be change for the better or change for the worse. Keeping the status quo in a changing world isn't possible. You are either in decline or you are improving." By bringing in somebody from the outside to run the PD, she must be referring to change for the worse because there is nothing worse to be a member of a dept or buisness that there is no hope for moving ...more
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 9, 14 2:52 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 10, 14 10:36 AM
Realistic- those are once again - allegations and nothing was found. She should interview candidates - even the Lieutenant agreed with that - but why should they people she knows through her own contacts - why is she not posting the job for ALL eligible candidates to apply along with the Lieutenant who is doing the job now? You often contradict yourself. I will be waiting on your comments when Moore's pick for Chief from her "group of contacts" is making the same if not a few dollars less than Chief ...more
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jul 11, 14 8:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. Palmer said there have been no official talks regarding the search for a new police chief, but he said he and the mayor have floated ideas back and forth, adding that he thinks the search will be a collaborative effort involving all the members of the board.

How have their been no official talks - but he and the Mayor not including the other 3 members floated ideas? But the Mayor states prior to that Ms. Moore said she has already begun compiling a list of potential candidates for the ...more
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jul 11, 14 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Beachbme- "not familiar with the residents etc" - its a 2.5 sq mile town. Shoudltnt take that long. Look at the history of Teller-Dean (google WHB, Police Dept is Caught in Tempest Provoked by one of its own" or NY Times on :"Chief Teller" and you will see why anyone connected to or recommended by either one of those two shold be disgarded.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 11, 14 1:50 PM
Wow realistic you actually did research I'm impressed, however the officer involved in that incident and all the other officers involved in the other allegations brought up were hired before Teller became Chief. That particular officer became disgruntled after being disciplined and brought up on charges to be fired by Teller and the village board. That started the cleaning out of the Department of all the officers that were brought up by that disgruntled officer. That officer brought up a lot of ...more
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 11, 14 9:55 PM
Realistic, as always you are ignorant and contradictory in your commentary. It is a 2.5 sq. mile ( actually 3 ) town and you claimed to not even know who Ray Dean was until you saw him in the paper all you had to do was go onto his office and speak to him ( as you said previously, he stayed in there). He GREW UP in this village and you make that a bad thing, why ? Most small towns want a PD who are familiar with the area, the roads etc., I'll bet the new Mayor is unfamiliar with most areas of the ...more
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 11, 14 10:35 PM
So who is Lt. Gonce? Have no idea. Another once obviously hiding himself in Village Hall not getting to know the locals. You sure are pushing this guy instead of finding the best person available. Like I said before anyone who is recommended by Teller and/Dean should immediately be discounted. This Village needs to move beyond the scandals of those two.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 13, 14 8:01 AM
This Village needs to move beyond the scandal of you. It's 1 thing to have an opinion but you are just ignorant. As I said in the past- realistic quit while you are ahead. Isn't there any real estate for you to sell? Or you can't because of Teller & Dean? This Village is a great place to visit live and grow up in with 1 exception- people like you.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jul 13, 14 1:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who are you? You certainly aren't a local. Lt Gonce knows all the locals he was born, raised and graduated High School here. So who are you? You are the one that is apparently in hiding since you apparently see nobody or know anybody.
Once again the only scandals being made are the ones that you and the bunch of non locals you associate with are fabricating. Why don't you explain exactly what you want out of the police dept. This should be interesting. I'm looking forward to here what you have ...more
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 13, 14 10:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
You are not embarrassed to make a statement like this? A local- who was born, raised and graduated HS here- What does that have to do with being qualified? BTW I pay taxes here and could give a crap about whos a local or not. You really are not embarrassed to make a statement like that?
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 14, 14 11:06 AM
What is embarassing about Hollywood's statement? He answered the question you asked. "So who is Lt. Gonce? Have no idea." It doesn't have anything to do with him being qualified, Hollywood did not state that it did. It goes back to your original statement regarding a Police Chief from the outside coming in and being unfamiliar with the residents and the businesses. However, you also claim to be at the meetings which Lieutenant Gonce attends on occasion, I know, it is probably a coincidence that ...more
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jul 14, 14 12:00 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 14, 14 12:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Hollywood (86), Westhampton Beach on Jul 14, 14 12:56 PM