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Oct 23, 2019 10:15 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Mayor Dismisses Two Attorneys

Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren. GREG WEHNER
Oct 23, 2019 10:27 AM


Just over 100 days into his new role, Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren shook up Village Hall last week by calling on the Village Board to replace the village’s legal team.

On Wednesday, October 16, Mr. Warren fired Village Attorney Wayne Bruyn and, in a split vote on October 10, the Village Board discharged attorney Beau Robinson, who served the village for 20 years, providing institutional knowledge to regulatory boards like the Board of Historic and Architectural Review and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Also on October 10, the board appointed Alice Cooley and David Kirst, both of the East Hampton-based law firm Matthews, Kirst and Cooley, to replace Mr. Robinson.

“As I told Wayne, and as I told Beau, I was elected on a platform of change, and part of that comes with bringing in a new team — a new legal team,” Mr. Warren said last Thursday, October 17. “It wasn’t a surprise to them, but it was something that I thought we should do to bring in a new era to the village.”

Mr. Robinson, who declined this week to comment on his termination, is expected to continue in his role through November 15. Mr. Bruyn, of the Southampton-based law firm O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bruyn, would only confirm his dismissal. He is expected to remain in his role with the village through October 31.

Mr. Warren said Alexandra Halsey-Storch of Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quartararo, who was appointed as an assistant village attorney last month, will help take over Mr. Bruyn’s responsibilities until a permanent replacement is found.

At the beginning of the Village Board meeting on October 10, Mr. Warren told the board that he was presenting Ms. Cooley and Mr. Kirst as attorneys to advise the Planning Board, ARB and ZBA for terms expiring on June 30, 2020.

Village Board member Andrew Pilaro abstained from the vote because, he said, he was not involved in the interview process for the new attorneys, nor was he spoken to about the appointments before the meeting. He also said he had never met Mr. Kirst or Ms. Cooley in person.

Board member Mark Parash also raised concerns about Mr. Warren’s rush to appoint attorneys. Although he sat in on the interviews, he said there was a third candidate who was expected to be interviewed but never was.

Mr. Warren said that person was not going to be interviewed, and that, as mayor, he was putting forward Ms. Cooley and Mr. Kirst to replace Mr. Robinson, for board action.

When the vote was taken, Mr. Warren and board members Richard Yastrzemski and Kimberly Allan voted in favor of replacing Mr. Robinson with Ms. Cooley and Mr. Kirst, while Mr. Parash voted against the measure, and Mr. Pilaro abstained.

Mr. Warren said he was elected on a platform of change, and he intends to make changes.

“I know not everybody will be happy with that, but that’s why I was elected,” he said. “There’s no way I’d be sitting up here if people wanted the status quo. So, unfortunately, I know not all of our board agreed with this decision, but those are the names I put forward and I am confident that the Village of Southampton will be thrilled and pleased with our new attorneys. They are up and coming, they are smart and knowledgeable, and I have every bit of confidence that they are not only going to succeed, but they’ll be excellent.”

Mr. Warren said that he understands why Mr. Pilaro abstained, saying he has known Mr. Robinson for a long time. But the move signified Mr. Pilaro did not want change, according to Mr. Warren.

“That’s the reality. But, luckily, we had a board that was willing to try new people,” he said. “Anyone’s welcome to abstain and vote ‘no,’ but the reality was a vote ‘no’ was a vote for Beau.”

Mr. Pilaro said it was not the change that he disagreed with, but it was the way in which it was done. “It’s all about the process,” he said.

The appointment of village attorneys has been in question since Mr. Warren was elected in June.

Typically, the first meeting in July — after elected officials are sworn in — is used as an organizational meeting. During the meeting, expired regulatory board seats are filled, and other appointments, including attorneys, the village administrator and various other positions in the village, are made.

But Mr. Warren decided to take his time in appointing many of the positions.

“We’ve had a process in the past when people get appointed and the village carries on with its obligations and work,” Ms. Allan continued. “These are all holdovers, which the mayor has the authority to do. Because he has intended to do that … there’s a discomfort level on behalf of the employees, simply because it introduces a large degree of uncertainty.”

Mr. Warren said this week that it is not uncommon for new administrations to take their time appointing people to positions — he said it is actually “perfectly normal.”

Those who are in positions that get reappointed have been informed by Mr. Warren that he wants to move slowly and do the research to make sure he gets the right people appointed.

On October 10, Mr. Warren began making some of the appointments.

Christine Redding, who served on the ARB, and Jim Zuhusky, who served on the ZBA, both recently resigned from their seats, and one seat was open on the Planning Board.

To fill the vacancies, Mr. Warren appointed Sarah Latham to fill Ms. Redding’s seat on the ARB, Julia McCormick to fill Mr. Zuhusky’s seat on the ZBA, and Anthony Piazza to replace Zach Epley on the Planning Board.

Mr. Warren also appointed Southampton High School student Tonoa Pender to fill his own seat on the Planning Commission.

“Bringing in the younger generation is important,” he said. “It is very easy to lose touch. I want to make sure we’re connected to the younger generation.”

While Mr. Warren is moving slowly on matters like appointments, he is moving quickly on other matters. He has also been criticized as not meeting one of the main issues he ran on: transparency.

Traditionally, meeting agendas are posted on the Southampton Village website days prior to a meeting. While an agenda may still be posted days — or sometimes hours — ahead of a meeting, in some cases recently, changes have been made only minutes before the meeting, forcing officials to print out new agendas before the meeting begins.

Posting an agenda online allows people to plan and determine whether they want to attend a meeting if a particular topic is going to be discussed. When an item is added at the last minute, some have said, it goes against the board’s efforts to be transparent.

“I think we’ve been very transparent,” Mr. Warren countered. “We’re moving very quickly and we’re always adding … Things get added to the agenda because we want to get them on the agenda. We only have two meetings per month.

“We’re moving faster than any administration in the last 14 years, so we’re putting things on the agenda as they arrive,” he added.

Ms. Allan said she and other village officials are in the process of tightening down the agenda process to make sure it is available for the public, well in advance of the meetings.

Still, even though some have expressed concerns about how Mr. Warren is running the meetings, he stands by the fact that he is abiding by the law.

“Of course, people are going to be concerned about change — but we are following the law,” he said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

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Whoa, jessie, pull in the reins... Not the time to reinvent the wheel. Act like a mayor. Sloooww down and make RIGHT decisions. Rich ????
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 18, 19 6:53 PM
You didn’t say what was wrong about this change. Two lawyers were replaced with 2 other lawyers. If they all know the law, what’s different?
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 19, 19 4:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By banned (191), Hampton Bays on Oct 18, 19 8:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good for this guy - second swamp he has drained in the last week.
By SHlocal88 (1), Southampton on Oct 18, 19 9:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
MSGA!
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 19, 19 4:38 AM
Not Possible
Oct 19, 19 7:30 AM appended by themarlinspike
The least qualified human to be a mayor has become the mayor. The Village's collapse is now within sight. This guy does twirl a pencil very well though.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Oct 19, 19 7:30 AM
lol well then don't tell me your a Trump supporter. Just replace mayor with President and Village with Country and your below statement actually rings true. Minus the pencil twirling though, pretty sure Mr. President can't do that.
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 8:55 AM
Sounds to me like you weren't born in Southampton .
Who cares what you interlopers say.
You transplants ruined this whole place.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Oct 24, 19 9:45 AM
Whose next, the Village Clerk, police chief or???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 19, 19 3:15 PM
Whose next, the Village Clerk, police chief or???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 19, 19 3:16 PM
Now you’re talkin’!
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 20, 19 7:14 AM
Now you’re talkin’!
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 20, 19 7:14 AM
How about get rid of the court and the village police. The village police terrify Hispanics and is a bunch of nonsense cops
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 19, 19 6:46 PM
How about get rid of the court and the village police. The village police terrify Hispanics and is a bunch of nonsense cops
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 19, 19 6:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By BostonStrong (8), Orlando on Oct 19, 19 6:52 PM
2 members liked this comment
My father always said a new broom sweeps well...let's see what happens..
By dan4150 (5), East Hampton on Oct 20, 19 2:18 PM
My father always said that a new broom sweeps well..let's see what happens
By dan4150 (5), East Hampton on Oct 20, 19 2:20 PM
Talk about political...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 20, 19 5:02 PM
Boston strong 3/4 of the village budget is for the village cops. They cant do much except give out tickets.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 20, 19 6:26 PM
The budget is so high because most SH Village cops retire on disability 3/4 tax free pensions. Higher % than the MTA are on disability. its crazy.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Oct 25, 19 2:17 PM
Boston strong 3/4 of the village budget is for the village cops. They cant do much except give out tickets.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 20, 19 6:26 PM
They can’t do much except give out tickets hmmm. Have you had a loved one stop breathing or have a heart attack in your home? The cops are there in less then a minute. Have you had your home broken into and called police? How about if there is an unruly patron in your store? Numerous other incidents when village police are there in minutes.
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on Oct 20, 19 7:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps a thorough audit of the time the police work and what they do is in order so the public and the government can ascertain how many policemen are needed and what jobs they should do. As a matter of public safety the village should retain policemen to help with traffic on weekdays at rush hours on the highway and certainly on weekends in the summer in the village. In addition, it should be a matter of public safety for policemen to help with traffic when an accident or incident closes Hill ...more
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 7:36 AM
Perhaps a thorough audit of the time the police work and what they do is in order so the public and the government can ascertain how many policemen are needed and what jobs they should do. As a matter of public safety the village should retain policemen to help with traffic on weekdays at rush hours on the highway and certainly on weekends in the summer in the village. In addition, it should be a matter of public safety for policemen to help with traffic when an accident or incident closes Hill ...more
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 7:36 AM
Is there an echo in here?
By even fIow (60), Westhampton Beach on Oct 21, 19 10:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Time to get rid of the old Epley regime....great job Jesse.
By anapple (4), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 11:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
I don’t see any great job here. I see a lack of transparency. Certainly the mayor can bring in his people but have an agenda, let the board and public be aware of the agenda.
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on Oct 21, 19 1:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
WOW
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 11:32 AM
WOW
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 11:32 AM
He fired Wayne without actually having a replacement? Wow...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 9:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
And hearts bleed & tiny little violins play.
By East End 2 (151), Southampton on Oct 24, 19 9:36 AM
Epley and his group HAD an agenda.....hoping this mayo does a DEEP CLEAN UP!!!!!
By Mate (55), Southampton on Oct 21, 19 9:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
No worries for Wayne.He has great income from Discovery Land in EQ.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Oct 24, 19 9:47 AM
Just like art in the windows on Job's Lane, window dressing for the Village government takeover by the SA.
By hamptonyte (14), Southampton on Oct 24, 19 11:35 AM
We have more cops per full time resident then any village in the state. The cops sit on CR 39 and give out tickets to try to raise revenue and it's technically not their jurisdiction. We have had scandal after scandal in the police e dept and no one is responsible. A joke
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 24, 19 5:14 PM
And documentation or sources on this?
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on Oct 25, 19 3:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who is the next to go??? Assistant to the clerk is going quickly, trouble in paradise???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 24, 19 5:42 PM
You have a funny definition of paradise. The municipalities of LI have been electing the same chumps year after year after year after year....while wondering why nothing changes.

Career bureaucrats are not the answer.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 26, 19 7:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think it was a cheap shot to go to SH
Southampton High School and brain wash the 17 years old to vote for them . I do not believe Mayor Irving was invited or told of this
Dispicable! Taking a page with this change from Obama's playbook. Look how that turned out !
By bayview (160), Southampton on Oct 26, 19 12:55 PM
I think it was a cheap shot to go to SH
Southampton High School and brain wash the 17 years old to vote for them . I do not believe Mayor Irving was invited or told of this
Dispicable! Taking a page with this change from Obama's playbook. Look how that turned out !
By bayview (160), Southampton on Oct 26, 19 12:55 PM
Anyone who actually knows Warren, knows that he’s highly incompetent and it’s only a matter of time before he besmirches the seat or even worse, inadvertently breaks the law. Pray for him.
By Alice Addertongue (2), Hampton Bays on Oct 27, 19 8:25 AM
Yeah, the mayor of Southampton could really do some damage. Imagine if the Christmas Trees didn't get put up on schedule?!
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 27, 19 8:43 AM
Impeach Village Mayor Jesse Warren, he's a Russian agent employed by the DNC & in cahoots with the filthy Clinton family.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Oct 27, 19 8:46 AM
Change is good. The old boys are scared.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Oct 27, 19 8:42 AM
2 members liked this comment