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Jan 31, 2012 3:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Comptroller Tamara Wright Headed To Brookhaven Town

Feb 1, 2012 11:17 AM

Southampton Town Comptroller Tamara Wright said this week that she has decided to take a position with the Town of Brookhaven, ending weeks of speculation about her future.

Ms. Wright informed the Southampton Town Board on Tuesday that she had agreed to accept a position as the Brookhaven Town commissioner of finance.

“There are a lot of new challenges to take on there,” Ms. Wright said on Tuesday. “They are working on a lot of new and innovative ways to deliver government services. I’m happy.”

Ms. Wright gave the board one month’s notice. She will begin her new job on March 1.

“She’s a superstar,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko said earlier this week. “I think she sees an exciting challenge here in Brookhaven.”

Mr. Lesko said the seven-member Brookhaven Town Board will discuss a resolution to appoint Ms. Wright at a work session today, February 2, and most likely will appoint her on February 7.

Ms. Wright, an East Hampton resident who plans to move closer to her new office, currently earns an annual salary of $117,300 with Southampton Town, and will earn $133,000 per year in her new two-year appointment.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said she was “extremely disappointed” in the news that Ms. Wright was leaving.

“With Tamara’s leadership, we have been able to right the town’s financial ship,” she said. “Her guidance, expertise and, certainly, her level of commitment was absolutely crucial to that progress. It’s a tremendous loss to the town.

“She’s enormously talented, and I hope she has great success in Brookhaven,” she added.

Although the Brookhaven Town Board was poised to appoint Ms. Wright to the new post at its January 19 meeting, some board members had concerns regarding a $651,653 tax lien against her filed by the Internal Revenue Service in 2009. Ms. Wright, who said she disclosed the lien during meetings with Brookhaven Town Board members in mid-January, received formal documentation from the IRS last Wednesday, January 25, indicating that the lien was released earlier that day.

“It has never been an issue for me to be put under a microscope and grilled on every personal issue that may affect my trustworthiness, including my disagreements with the IRS,” Ms. Wright wrote in a statement last week.

The lien, which first came to light in 2010, is based on two years—2002 and 2003—during which Ms. Wright was employed as a chief operating officer in the financial industry in the United Kingdom. Ms. Wright has long maintained that she produced evidence to the Town Board in 2010 proving that she did not owe the money and the lien was a mistake. While the lien still exists on the Suffolk County clerk’s website, officials at the clerk’s office said that it could take six to eight weeks for information to be entered and show up in the system.

After learning that the lien had been lifted, Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico, who had expressed reservations last week about Ms. Wright’s potential appointment, said he was relieved. “There is definitely a better likelihood that I would support her now that this has been formally resolved,” Mr. Panico said.

Despite the fact that he was apprehensive due to the lien, Mr. Panico said no other candidates had been interviewed, and he believed Ms. Wright would be put forward as the new appointee.

Ms. Wright said her decision to interview with Brookhaven Town was not prompted by the Southampton Town Board’s Republican-Conservative majority’s hesitation in reappointing her and Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato to new two-year terms in early January. Both were unanimously reappointed on January 10.

Instead, Ms. Wright said Brookhaven Town officials reached out to her on January 8 after the unexpected resignation of Brookhaven Commissioner of Finance John O’Neill, who left after having worked with the town for just less than two years, to accept a position in the Nassau County comptroller’s office.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, however, said this week that she believes it was the delay in reappointing Ms. Wright that sparked Brookhaven Town’s interest.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this, and that there was any level of delay or doubt as to what are the sometimes unenviable consequences of not acting in a timely and appropriate fashion when someone has contributed at the level she has,” the supervisor said. “It’s a testimony to her reputation that she has acquired that it took less than 24 hours of the larger world finding out that her appointment had been held up for her to get phone calls from other parties that recognized her talents.”

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And, not a moment too soon!
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Jan 31, 12 4:46 PM
ATH and her clone castigated Christine Scalera for wanting some time to interview Tamara Wright. Apparently they had no clue that TM was fishing for a new job while they grand-standed. Had they made the slightest inquiry during their total backing of TM perhaps they might have learned of TM's desire to leave. So much for their intellectual romance with reality.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Jan 31, 12 5:32 PM
Speaking of clues, you really don't have a clue, do you? If Ms. Scalera had done her homework instead of keeping a valuable public servant waiting on tenterhooks to learn if she'd keep her job, and if her colleagues Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone hadn't consistently beaten up on Tamara Wright for a year and more, maybe Ms. Wright wouldn't have left Southampton.

Of course, if you do have a clue and you're just twisting the facts, that's really reprehensible. Either way, you're coming on with ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Jan 31, 12 6:12 PM
And, of course, you're not the least bit partisan?
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Feb 1, 12 7:41 AM
Tennyson, how can you try to spin this when it is clear as day that Wright was not only deserving of keeping her job, but was seen as such an asset that she was snatched away before it was even official that she was leaving southampton......we are all guilty at times of interpreting news in whatever fashion is most inline with our beliefs but this is just a ridiculous stretch by you
By SayWhat (14), Southampton on Feb 1, 12 2:49 PM
Tamara Wright was reappointed by SHT Board and subsequently chose to move over to Brookhaven. I seriously doubt she was snatched away from us by/for receiving a substantial raise at Brookhaven. And as far as interrupting the news, we are not clones of each other thusly we might see events in a different light.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Feb 1, 12 8:21 PM
She was only reappointed after too much time had passed. Time for her to entertain other, apparently more appealing, offers. Bottom line, certain members of our town board left the door wide open for this to happen. The fact that she took a higher paying job after feeling slighted by her colleagues can't simply be summed up by her "fishing" all along, without acknowledging the slip up of our own board.
By SayWhat (14), Southampton on Feb 2, 12 1:19 AM
Sure I'm partisan, Tennyson, but now that we're past that, let's look at what I said. You can't deny that Ms. Wright was kept waiting to learn if she'd keep her job despite her admittedly excellent track record for the Town. Neither can you deny that Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone have harassed her continually. The conclusion that these factors would have helped influence her to go elsewhere is self-evident. So, partisan or not, I'm right. Right?
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Feb 5, 12 7:02 AM
Blah blah blah ... next.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jan 31, 12 6:51 PM
thanks Malone Nuzzi and Scalera you have just lost the only person who has been able to keep us in order
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 31, 12 7:48 PM
This is bad news.
Goog luck Ms. Wright. As a Southampton town resident, I thank you for a job well done.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jan 31, 12 7:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thanks Ms Wright for your dedicated service,I understand you would not want to get into a political battle between members of the Town Board,you were treated in a very unprofessional manner and making you wait for reappointment after the great work you have done for this Town was a low point in this Town Board history.You made the correct decision get out of town and work where you will be appreciated,the current Board does not understand the value of a professional they would rather fight in the ...more
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Jan 31, 12 8:33 PM
Good Job Republicans! The only person that had a clue on the finances of the town and you make her feel uncomfortable and she leaves. What surprise person are the Republicans going to throw into the ring for controller? The last two they had were missing 25 million dollars!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 1, 12 12:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
Now she can run around Brookhaven town hall and yell at all those employees like she is gods gift town town government.. Good riddance!!!!!!!!
By Local dad (51), North Sea on Feb 1, 12 5:45 AM
1 member liked this comment

This is all as it should be, the way the Comptroller's job is structured. IT IS A VERY POLITICAL POSITION AND IS A FUNCTION OF THE PREVAILING POLITICAL WINDS!

Charlene Kagel was a political tool of Skip Heaney and TW was a political tool of ATH as insiders know all too well. Can one expect a different result. That's why the Republicans treated TW that way. The Town should professionalize the position and put in people who won't just do the bidding of the Supervisor no matter what.

It's ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Feb 1, 12 6:46 AM
Give me a break, "Comptroller" is a bean counting position, anyone who can balance a check book can do it. Hire someone new and cut the dramatics.
By Wagoneer (28), Southampton on Feb 1, 12 9:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
Maybe we'll see another brilliant move by Nuzzi and spineless Jim similar to the Kratoville appointment. Have we all forgotten that insult to the taxpayers? What rock is he hiding under these days, counting his exorbitant salary, giggling??
Wait a minute.....what's going on with the recent charges against Jim? I haven't forgotten that he's getting two fat paychecks from gov't jobs (when he promised to leave one). Funny, we haven't heard any more about it.
Actually, none of the nonsense ...more
By voiceofreason (9), southampton on Feb 1, 12 10:04 AM
1 member liked this comment

Jim "I'm a finance guy" Malone is perhaps not understood because he speaks almost in shorthand.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 1, 12 6:30 PM
more like Jim "I'm a spineless guy"....is perhaps not understood because he speaks only to himself.

By voiceofreason (9), southampton on Feb 1, 12 7:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gotta love the conspiracy theorists! How is her job @ Brookhaven any more secure than her job @ Southampton? Both are two year (contractual) appointments. Brookhaven is substantially farther (at least 40 miles) further west (so far that Ms. Wright will be moving west) and have serious financial problems (Supervisor stated they may be bankrupt in 2015). You folks who think she left because Christine Preston wanted to sit down with her (and then voted to re-hire her) are fishing off the wrong side ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Feb 1, 12 8:49 PM
1 member liked this comment

"anyone who makes enough money to have a lein like that has to be doing something "wright"). "

This is the most hilarious quote of the decade - that problems with the IRS about alleged non-payment of taxes, is a great indication of excellence and life success.

By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Feb 2, 12 7:32 PM
Having a 600k IRS lien is not a good reason to hire a comptroller. lol. Poor judgement
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 2, 12 7:54 PM
Sarcasm... try it out! (I even through a pun in there in case you missed it. . . (
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Feb 3, 12 10:28 AM
Good luck Tamara.
By Bridgehampton (36), Bridgehampton on Feb 6, 12 12:54 AM
What happened here is that the Republican/Conservative faction finally forced Tamara Wright out after much effort. The fact that the vote to reappoint her was unanimous is deceiving. After giving this valuable public servant a slap in the face by holding up her reappointment, the new Gang of Three (Nuzzi/Scalera/Malone) had absolutely no ground to resist keeping her on, given her fine record. A vote against her would have been too embarrassing, even for them.

Not that they didn't try ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 7, 12 6:26 AM