Councilman has change of heart on personnel moves

07/16/2014 5:10 PM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (from left), Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter in Town Hall.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (from left), Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter in Town Hall.

Riverhead Town Board members again debated the issue of political caucuses at Tuesday’s board meeting, when two council members thought the board was in agreement on three personnel moves — only to see them fall flat in a 2-2 vote.

Councilman George Gabrielsen was absent from Tuesday’s board meeting, and following the personnel votes, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten said that the change came as a result of a closed door political caucus, something board members argued about earlier this year.

Mr. Walter said he stopped attending the meetings in January.

“I don’t know what transpired between executive session on Thursday and today, unless it was something I wasn’t at,” Mr. Wooten said on Tuesday. “You see, Jim, you and I did not attend (GOP chairman) Mason Haas’ caucus,” Mr. Walter said.

“It was not a caucus,” Ms. Giglio said. “There were only two board members there. And I was always a ‘no’ on this.”

Mr. Walter suggested that “Somebody politically is going to get a job” as a result of the votes.

But Councilman John Dunleavy had a change of heart on Wednesday.

Mr. Dunleavy said on Wednesday that he has since changed his vote, after discussing it after Tuesdays’s meeting, and now plans to vote in favor of the three personnel moves, which he now believes will save the town money.

The Town Board will be holding a special town board meeting on Thursday to “take up time sensitive employee resolutions.”

Ms. Giglio said on Tuesday that she first heard about the personnel moves at Thursday’s work session and wanted more information. The resolutions included a transfer of a highway employee to a janitor position in the senior center, a transfer of a cook in the senior center to a highway position and the hiring of a temporary cook in the senior center.

She said the main reason for the caucus was an unrelated issue: to discuss Mr. Walter’s refusal to sign a contract for a new building department software program that the rest of the board voted to authorize him to sign. Mr. Walter said that he believes this contract required a competitive bid.

Mr. Dunleavy said after Tuesday’s meeting that he voted no because by transferring a cook in the senior center to the highway department, the town would be short one cook.