Scott Russell takes personal leave from supervisor’s post

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04/29/2011 1:10 PM |

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Supervisor Scott Russell addresses the town GOP committee during its nominating convention last month.

Following a domestic disturbance with police intervention at his Cutchogue home last Thursday, Supervisor Scott Russell has temporarily turned over his town responsibilities to deputy supervisor Phillip Beltz.

“Town government will continue to function as usual,” Mr. Beltz said on Friday. Regarding Mr. Russell, he added, “We hope that everyone respects the family’s privacy.”

A separate statement attributed in a release to the other five Town Board members said, “Supervisor Russell will be taking some time off to address personal and private matters.”

Police were called to the Russell home Thursday morning, but no charges were filed, according to Captain Martin Flatley. Mr. Russell is married and has two children.

The department has released no additional details on what occurred, which is routine in the case of domestic calls, the captain added.

Town Board members are offering no comment beyond the prepared statement.

Ruthanne Woodhull, Mr. Russell’s confidential secretary, said only that the supervisor “is home and taking care of himself.”
No word has been given as to when Mr. Russell might return. Also unknown is how, or if, his absence might affect his re-election campaign.

A former town assessor, Mr. Russell has served in Southold’s top elected post since 2005. In 2007 he became the town’s first supervisor to win the just-expanded four-year term, taking 83 percent of the vote.

Southold’s Republicans, who during last month’s party convention nominated the supervisor to run for a third term, still expect Mr. Russell to be on the ballot in the fall, said town GOP chairman Denis Noncarrow.

“We have no reason to believe that Scott won’t be at the top of the ticket,” Mr. Noncarrow said. He added that he has not spoken with the supervisor since last week.

“I feel for the guy,” Mr. Noncarrow said. “It’s a stressful job and it gets to you. We’ve all had problems in our lives and we’re all there to support him.”

As to what took place at the Russell home last week, the chairman added, “There are all sorts of rumors out there. But people should not jump to conclusions. We have to give him time to regroup.”

Southold Democratic leader Art Tillman said his party is still screening potential candidates. He also declined to comment on Mr. Russell’s situation.

When the Town Board next meets on Tuesday, Mr. Beltz will run the meeting. However, because the position is appointed, not elected, the deputy supervisor  cannot vote on board resolutions.

Councilman Al Krupski, the board’s lone Democrat, said there’s no reason to fear having a non-elected staffer running Town Hall.

Mr. Beltz, the councilman said, “has been part of town government for years. He’s very familiar with the workings of Town Hall and that makes him very valuable.”

Mr. Krupski met Wednesday with councilmen Vinny Orlando and Bill Ruland to set the board’s meeting agenda, a job usually completed by the supervisor. The councilmen also sat down with Town Hall department heads.

“We asked that everyone just keep doing their job,” said Mr. Krupski. “We have a competent and capable workforce here so nobody’s worried about the functioning of town government. We’re going to plod along.”

Mr. Beltz, who has served as deputy supervisor since 2009, became a town employee in June 2003. He was hired as a part-time senior citizen aide at the town Human Resources Center in Mattituck, assigned to visiting homebound elderly residents to evaluate their need for services.

The Town Board appointed him full-time special projects coordinator in January 2004. His duties in that job were varied, including coordinating he town’s affordable housing program, particularly the development of the The Cottages at Mattituck, a 22-unit project built by the Long Island Housing Partnership.

Mr. Beltz was also heavily involved in youth activities and was responsible for guiding the nine separate hamlet stakeholder groups established by the town to provide input on local long-range planning goals.

Prior to working for the town, Mr. Beltz was development director of a nonprofit agency assisting homeless, runaway and at-risk youths. He was also employed by Horizon House in Philadelphia as director of its homeless services division.
A Peconic resident, Mr. Beltz was named The Suffolk Times’s public servant of the year in 2007.

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462 Comment

  • Personal and private, huh? Lucky thing he’s (was) the super…..anyone else with a doemstic dispute can expect: the police to CB it; the police to text their friends about it; the police t o openly and wantonly talk about others’ “personal and private” matters in public arena’s–at deli’s, restaurants, friends living rooms , etc. (ever been to Wendy’s Deli and thought “hmmm..I don’t think they should be discussing this like this?”; the police to call ottather people’s employers, friends, and relatives, and tell them others’ “personal and private” matters? Civil rights? Better get outta Southold if you don’t want them trampled. How loanything ng before Suffolk Times removes this post? No one is allowed to say anything bad about the SOuthold Town Police–even if their lives have been destroyed by their callous (illegal) stomping of rights. Mind you, it’s not all of them…just the ones who got in around the millenium…Personal and private? lucky you were the supe!!!!!!

  • It is unfortunate when a personal matter becomes a public curiosity …

  • It is unfortunate when a personal matter becomes a public curiosity …

  • Sad but true.

  • Haven’t you heard? Nothing is personal, anymore.

  • I would hope that as its duty and as a public service (considering this IS an election year) the Suffolk Times investigates to the fullest legal limit WHAT HAPPENED as it might effect the electoral process or the public’s right to know about its candidates.

  • Leave the guy alone, it’s personal.

  • to bad you cannot have a private life when your a politician. Perhaps that is why we have a hard time trying to get dedicated people to run for public office. Supervisoe Russell has served the community for at least 15 years how about we give him some private time and give him some space. All those is glass houses please raise thier hands

  • Aint that the truth!!!! You forgot to mention that those Southold Police who have BEEN FOUND GUILTY of doing this (violating federally mandated civil rights) have ZERO REPERCUSSIONS. And the taxpayer gets to shell out thousands to protect the Southold Town Police’s apparent right to violate laws. And I thought I was the only one (just kidding, everyone I know has some story about someone they know having their rights violated by the SHold gestapo….it’s sckening). Leave the man alone, at least one person in Southold deserves to have their rights protected, and if it’s gonna be just one man, he deserves to be the one!!!

  • For those who don’t know: Public employees and elected officials are held to a higher standard of public and private behavior (by statute, by regulation, by employee codes of conduct) because they are often responsible for public resources and public property, and / or hold fiduciary duties involving taxpayer funds.

    That is why there should be little expectation of privacy nor any offered either in good nature or “generosity.” It is not yours to give, either legally or in common sense.

    Arrest records, police reports and personal incidents are all open to scrutiny, in the public interest. So, despite whether or not we want to “leave the guy alone,” we do not have that option, as responsible citizens, or, if one works for the Suffolk Times, as responsible journalists.

    Do not run for office, hold public office, or be a public employee if you want or expect privacy. That is the way it works. Sorry. Go be self-employed or work for a private company that looks the other way or doesn’t care about its shareholders or profits or reputation.

  • Why does everyone assume Mr. Russell was the antagonist in this situation? Also, Mr. Russell has served this community with distinction. Since you don’t know what he is dealing with personally try being a little less critical.

  • I have carefully read the posts below and not one person has assumed that Mr. Russell was the “antagonist” nor has anyone impugned his record.

    Other than desire the appropriate knowledge, it seems the biggest concern is the non-professionalism of some members of the Southold police department.

  • I agree, while I do believe those in public office need to be held to a higher standard, some people are judging him “guilty” without a trial.

  • Supervisor Scott Russell is also a Southold Town Police Commissioner.

  • Since the only people who were around during the incident were Scott and his family, let’s not presume anything. In our world today, if someone makes an accusation, too often we take it for truth. Usually, there are three sides to every argument. And the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Let’s all stop silently hoping that another family will be destroyed by speculation, rumor, and conjecture. I hope Scott and his family can work out whatever issues need to be worked out.

  • “Board members Bill McGrath, Mike Fucito and Leo Greeley said after the meeting that they all take issue with the way board has conducted the search so far, but all declined to elaborate.” Wow! I think this statement says it all. If a faction of our own BOE isn’t satisfied witht the process — why it is expected tht the commuity-at-large should be???

    I implore Mr. McGrath, Mr. Fucito & Mr. Greely to start “elaborating” — remember “sunlight is the best disinfectant!”

  • Ms. Santoriello has sent out a notice to her constituency about her concerns with this process. I replied and requested it be sent out to all, but am re-posting my note here anyway.

    From: richard pluschau
    To: [email protected]
    Cc: Bill McGrath ; Bob Alcorn ; Jack Costas ; Leo Greeley ; Leo Greeley ; Marie Lindell ; Mike Fucito

    Shari – I will keep this brief. I hope that you will pass this on to your constituency to keep them informed. I have many friends who do get the communications you send so they will keep me updated. I trust that you are in fact looking to pass on accurate information.

    This process has not been in the dark.
    The Board has outlined the process that it would follow numerous times.
    Here it is again…directly from the School Leadership website:

    The board has been following this recommended process which is a best practice in the eyes of the experts that we have hired.
    I cannot fathom why a Trustee would make a statement in open session indicating they either are not aware of the process, or don’t agree with the process, given that they were part of it, and agreed to it.

    In the end, we have hired experts, we have followed their recommendations, we have consulted with our attorneys.
    We received a large number of candidates and have been doing our due diligence in terms of Screening, Vetting, Interviews, Protocol and Process for interviews, Background Checks, Reference Checks, Site Visits, etc….according to the process that was presented to us by School Leadership that we all agreed upon. There is no way that anyone can say that they don’t know the process and the 6 that have been present have been involved in every step and action.
    We have seen many outstanding candidates and I am confident that we will be able to get to the point in the very near future of having an outstanding candidate for Superintendent….unless the process gets derailed.

    In the event the process gets derailed, here is what we are in for:
    (1) the money spent on consultants and all the time and energy of the board becomes wasted
    (2) we may have no choice but to go with an interim superintendent
    (3) we may not be able to hire any of the candidates that are worthy this year
    (4) we may have turned off future top caliber candidates from applying next year
    (5) we will be in a very tough position next year with a looming tax cap and an interim superintendent who has no long term vested interest in the success of this district.

    Does anyone want any of that? I for one am doing everything I can to prevent those negatives from occurring…The board IS IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT that we would like to seat a qualified Superintendent. We are without a doubt following the prescribed process by the experts.

    I know there are those that want more community involvement in the process, and I am hopeful that we are able to do that.

    Rich Pluschau
    A few additional points:
    It appears that from the comments below the board is split 4/3…and there is harsh criticism against a group known as “the 4”. In fact, there has been active participation among the 6 that were involved and for the vast majority there has been harmony and agreement in principle on almost all we have done in executive sessions to date.

    Janjay23 – you criticize the 4 for not having experience in education…but what about the other 3? For the most part all are in agreement.

    As for input from experts, School Leadership is a well-reknowned expert in this field and has conducted on our behalf a great deal of research and vetting of candidates. It is with this reason that we agreed to hire an expert search firm. We value their expertise and have used that to date….and while I personally have significant experience in hiring Senior Executive positions, and know how to conduct an interview, I have attempted to work with them as well as the TEAM of board trustees to develop a process that we all felt comfortable with and agreed with unanimously during the interviews.

    Hopefully we are able to continue and not get derailed on this process. We will end up with either an excellent candidate for superintendent, or we will be left with the mess I described above.