2012 Top Story No. 5: Public in-fighting on the Town Board

12/27/2012 8:00 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead councilwoman Jodi Giglio, right, and Supervisor Sean Walter, center, didn’t always agree in 2012.

There were some public apologies made in 2012 after disputes within the all-Republican Riverhead Town Board.

After a simmering feud between Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio boiled over in June with a Walter tirade in Town Hall, it was the supervisor who apologized during a Town Board meeting days later for “being out of line” for screaming and cursing at Ms. Giglio. According to several accounts, Mr. Walter lost his temper with the councilwoman while suspecting her of working behind his back to get his friend and adviser, Anthony Coates, banned from town cars and Town Hall.

Ms. Giglio called the public apology “nice,” but never said she accepted it. She later filed a harassment complaint against Mr. Walter with town police, though she reportedly asked for no charges to be filed and requested the report “for documentation purposes.”

Things quieted down for awhile — at least publicly — until three council members, Ms. Giglio, James Wooten and George Gabrielsen, pulled a controversial resolution off the floor, meaning it wasn’t on the agenda, at a Nov. 7 Town Board meeting.

The resolution called for the sudden firing of Town Board coordinator Linda Hulse, whom Ms. Giglio said lost some councilmembers’ trust.

“This is an evil act right here,” Mr. Walter said of the measure, lamenting the fact that Ms. Hulse was never told ahead of time.

“How many other employees are you planning to fire this way?“

Mr. Walter tried to stall the vote and sway some minds as the board argued publicly for over an hour, but to no avail. The move passed 3-2.

Mr. Dunleavy, who voted against the firing, said he was never informed of the plan and said Mr. Hulse should have been told, too.

“This is a coward’s position to let them go without talking to them,” he said.

Mr. Dunleavy then accused Mr. Wooten of being “rude” ever since he got elected. “That’s not true,” Mr. Wooten responded.

At the start of the next week’s more cordial Town Board work session, a regretful Mr. Wooten apologized for the way the firing was handled.

“I was reminded last night it was very unprofessional,” he said, choking up a bit. “It wasn’t businesslike, and for that, I’m sorry.”

Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen offered no apologies.

At an event in Jamesport that same night, where Mr. Coates announced plans to run for Town Board in 2013, Mr. Walter said “Giglio is toast.”

mwhite@timesreview.com

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