Details emerge on admin candidates after email sent ‘in error’

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, right, at a Village Board meeting in February 2012.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, right, at a Village Board meeting in February 2012.

One of two candidates being considered for the Greenport Village administrator job was dismissed from a similar position in Nassau County, according to minutes from a meeting last summer.

David Smollett, who served four years as the village administrator in Lawrence, was interviewed by the Greenport Village Board Friday evening, according to an agenda for a special meeting held that night.

Mr. Smollett, a resident of Lynbrook, was replaced during an Aug. 29 meeting of the Lawrence Board of Trustees. According to Five Towns Patch, which covered the meeting, controversy cropped up during the vote to replace Mr. Smollett after one trustee abstained from voting.

That trustee told Patch he had no knowledge of the plan prior to the meeting, according to the article, in which Lawrence’s mayor was quoted as saying Mr. Smollett was looking to retire.

But the article also states that Mr. Smollett — who as Lawrence Village administrator was being paid about $155,000 annually, according to public records — had been publicly criticized at previous meetings.

Mr. Smollett’s resumé, which was emailed in error by Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips to community residents and The Suffolk Times last week, states that as of Jan. 9 he was the village administrator in Lawrence.

He explained to The Suffolk Times Monday that he left his post in Lawrence “to semi-retire,” but has continued to work as a consultant during the transition. He declined further comment, saying he didn’t expect his resumé to be emailed to the public and that he felt it would be premature to discuss his employment history with the press this early in the interview process.

Ms. Phillips said the email that included the resumé of Mr. Smollett and another candidate was delivered accidentally.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” she said. “In all honesty, I don’t know how that got onto that email. I meant to send out the Planning Board agenda. Somehow they got merged.”

The Village of Greenport has been searching for a replacement to current village administrator David Abatelli since he announced late last year that he plans to retire in 2014. Mayor David Nyce has said the position will be combined with the vacant utilities director job.

Those two positions carried a combined salary of $192,000 in 2013, records show.

Village of Rockville Centre electric utilities director Paul Pallas, a resident of Manorville, was also interviewed Friday, according to Ms. Phillips’ email. Records show he earned about $138,000 in Rockville Centre last year.

The Greenport Village Board has been mostly quiet about Friday’s meeting, which took place in executive session and was publicly noticed as a special meeting to “discuss employee related matters.” Mr. Nyce said at the start of the meeting that no official action would be taken by the board, saying only that it was conducting “interviews” regarding “personnel.”

The mayor told The Suffolk Times Monday that believes neither the details of Friday’s meeting, nor the erroneous email, were worthy of a story.

The power plant and village electric bills have been a hot-button issue in Greenport since residents received several spikes in their bills late last year. A notice was posted to the village website Thursday telling residents to expect volatility with their bills moving forward.

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