Village employees stage silent sit-in at Greenport board meeting

Almost a year after their contract with Greenport expired, members of the Civil Service Employees Association staged a silent sit-in at the Village Board’s annual reorganization meeting Thursday night.

Dressed in CSEA T-shirts, about 15 of the 23 union members who work for the village filed in, took seats and listened without comment.

“We want to remind them about the contract,” said village employee Jay Diaz, who is the village’s labor relations specialist.

“I’m actually thrilled to see village employees who are here to join us,” Mayor David Nyce said before taking his oath of office.

“There was a lot of transition” during the previous four years, the mayor said of his time in office. “There still is a lot of transition.” He thanked board members, department chiefs and workers for the progress he said had been achieved.

Looking back, Mr. Nyce said he and his wife, Jennifer Benton, promised each other four years ago that if he became mayor, it wouldn’t “change who we are. I’m still the idealistic knucklehead you married 20 years ago,” he assured her Thursday night.

Proceeding with his list of appointments, he had a few surprises.

Mayoral appointees are typically named to three-year terms, but this time one-year appointments were approved for village clerk Sylvia Lazzari Pirillo, treasurer Charlene Kagel, village administrator David Abatelli, utilities director Jack Naylor, attorney Joseph Prokop and deputy clerk Jeanmarie Oddon.

“I need for people to not be complacent,” the mayor explained in an interview Friday morning. At the same time, he noted, he fully intends “to appoint them all again” next year.

By law, once the mayor appoints someone, it’s illegal to remove them short of some dire behavior that would require such action, Mr. Nyce said.

The mayor announced that Greenport was issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) for professional services, including village attorney, labor counsel, computer maintenance, telecommunication, auditing and transcription services. The move was in line with a recommendation in a recent state comptroller’s report that was critical of some village procedures. While the law doesn’t require RFPs for those positions, best practices call for using them to ensure that taxpayers get the best bang for their buck from those who secure such contracts, Mr. Nyce said.

The list of positions for which RFPs will be issued will “grow or shrink annually,” the mayor said. “The aim is to save the village money.” The Village Board isn’t obligated to accept the lowest bid for such services, but to make decisions based both on price and on which bidders are deemed capable of delivering the best services.

The mayor allocated specific responsibilities to individual trustees, appointing himself as liaison to the utilities department, which has major projects are under way to upgrade both the sewer and light plants. Mary Bess Phillips was named liaison to the village clerk’s office and George Hubbard Jr. liaison to the road department. Chris Kempner was charged with economic development and David Murray was assigned recreation and parks.

Mr. Nyce did not make liaison appointments when he first took office four years ago, even though they were standard procedure under his predecessor David Kapell. Mr. Nyce he said he was new then, as were all but one board members, and he didn’t know their individual talents and interests. Some stepped up and took hold of certain responsibilities on their own, the mayor said, while others didn’t.

Giving all four trustees specific assignments will free up his time to attend to the utilities department, he said.

The mayor did not reappoint Kenneth McDonald as harbormaster, but Mr. McDonald will continue to do work at the Mitchell Park Marina. Board members decided instead to use the money they had paid the part-time harbormaster to hire a town bay constable during the busy summer season.

The harbormaster hasn’t had much authority to enforce rules affecting boaters, Mr. Nyce explained Friday morning. It made more sense to use bay constables, who coordinate their work with Southold police, he said. Upgrading of village’s mooring field will be carried out by a private contractor, he said.

In other appointments, Frank Uellendahl was named Historic Preservation Commission chairman on an interim basis, replacing Mr. Murray, who stepped down after he was elected to Village Board. Lara McNeil will continue as Planning Board chairwoman and was reappointed to the board for a term to expire March 31, 2016.

Doug Moore will remain chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Jack Reardon was reappointed to the Planning Board for a term to expire March 31, 2012; Denise Rathbun was appointed to the ZBA for a term to expire March 31, 2016; and Dennis McMahon was appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission through March 31, 2016.

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