Supervisor acknowledges nodding off at meeting, apologizes

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell apologized Thursday, saying he misled a Suffolk Times reporter and the public this week when he stated that he was texting during a recent Town Board meeting when he had actually “zonked out.”

Mr. Russell said he had recently completed the town budget process and had been battling a stomach virus prior to the Oct. 7 meeting, which was captured on video. He said his doctor prescribed medication – which he identified in an email as Phenadoz — that he now believes he “shouldn’t have taken.”

“I probably shouldn’t have even been at the meeting,” Mr. Russell told a Suffolk Times reporter and two editors in an interview at Town Hall Thursday. “I get criticized because I’ve been missing a lot of meetings … and I really didn’t want to miss the meeting. I was just out of it. I zonked out. I passed out. I was tired. I was extremely mortified and embarrassed by it.

“After I had sort of woken up, I was a little disoriented. I was struck with fear and I just wanted to get out of there. But you don’t know who sees it; no one said anything.”

Mr. Russell said that when he was approached by a resident the day after the meeting about why he appeared to be asleep, he told her he was sending a text message. He said he regrets repeating that version of the story to a reporter.

“I thought the whole thing would blow over,” he said Thursday. “It’s humiliating. It hasn’t happened to me before and it hasn’t happened to me since.

“I didn’t understand why I could have a setback and have it become such a public spectacle. In retrospect, I probably did that to myself.

“I think I insulted the intelligence of the public, frankly.

“The public has a right to know I wasn’t forthright and that I tried to mislead [the newspaper] — and them as a result.”

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