Village Board members sworn in; split over rehiring attorney

04/07/2015 7:00 AM |
(L-R) Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts, Trustee and Deputy Mayor Jack Martilotta and Mayor George Hubbard recite the pledge of allegiance at Monday's meeting (Credit: Paul Squire).

From left, Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts, deputy mayor Jack Martilotta and Mayor George Hubbard at Monday’s reorganizational meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Two new Greenport Village trustees were sworn in Monday night.

And it didn’t take long for them to buck from the norm.

After winning the March 18 election, Trustees Doug Roberts and Jack Martilotta, along with Mayor George Hubbard, officially took their seats at the Village Board dais during the annual reorganizational meeting Monday night.

But when it came time to appoint village administrators, Mr. Martilotta — who was named deputy mayor by Mr. Hubbard at the meeting — and Mr. Roberts both voted against rehiring village attorney Joseph Prokop. The pair later abstained from voting to reappoint the village clerk Sylvia Pirillo.

Both Mr. Prokop and Ms. Pirillo were reappointed in split votes after Mr. Hubbard and Trustees Mary Bess Phillips and Julia Robins voted in favor of rehiring them. The other village positions, including treasurer and village administrator, were all approved unanimously.

In interviews after the meeting, Mr. Martilotta and Mr. Roberts both said they voted against Mr. Prokop’s reappointment because they believe residents are displeased with how the village has been advised in legal matters.

“I think you saw with some of the votes tonight that there’s not enough change in this administration for us,” Mr. Roberts said. “The voters spoke pretty clearly on election night, so we felt that — while we’re only two votes — that it’s important we try to pay attention to what the voters told us.”

Mr. Roberts said he took issue with the “secrecy” in Village Hall.

“I think, in general, we need a different approach with our legal counsel,” Mr. Roberts said. “It’s nothing against Joe. I’m grateful for the work he did over the years and we’re going to continue working with him, but [Mr. Martilotta and I] think we should go in a different direction.”

“Mr. Prokop is a very nice guy,” Mr. Martilotta said. “We have a new mayor. We have a couple of new trustees. I didn’t think that voting ‘no’ was going to make a change. However, we changed a lot of things. Maybe it’s time to change a couple more.

“The board said ‘no’ and that’s just fine.”

As for Ms. Pirillo, Mr. Martilotta said that he wasn’t as comfortable voting for Ms. Pirillo as he was with the other positions, mainly because he had worked with the other employees more.

“I think Sylvia is gonna do a great job and has done a great job,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for six hours and I’ve got to make a year-long appointment … I need to know this is the best thing for the village.”

Mr. Martilotta said he had spoken to Ms. Pirillo ahead of the meeting to explain why he was abstaining from the vote.

Mr. Roberts added that while he believed voters were unhappy with the “culture” inside Village Hall, he wasn’t ready to blame Ms. Pirillo.

“It’s not clear to me that [the culture] was an issue with staff,” he said. “That may have been an issue with the way things were run by elected officials. Either way, I wish we didn’t have to make a decision so quickly. We felt an abstention was the way to go.”

In another change, the board voted to reschedule its work sessions and board meetings.

Work session will now be held on the third Thursday of the month, with regular meetings on the fourth Thursday. Those meetings will now be held at 7 p.m., an hour later than they are now.

The meetings had been held on Thursdays a decade ago, but about six years ago the meetings were moved to Monday, largely to accommodate The Suffolk Times’ print schedule, Mr. Hubbard said.

But now the meetings will be put back on for Thursday nights, which Mr. Hubbard said would give village employees more time to prepare for meetings and would hopefully allow more residents to attend.

“We welcome you,” the mayor said. “We want you to join us.”

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