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Mar 13, 2012 4:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Politically Divided Southampton Town Board Names New Police Captain

Mar 14, 2012 1:17 PM

The room was thick with tension on Tuesday afternoon as the Southampton Town Board voted 3-2 to promote Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Robert Pearce to captain—a move that lacked the support of both Police Chief William Wilson Jr. and the police officers’ union.

The split board was at odds over the vote, with Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, a member of the Independence Party who was endorsed by the Democratic Party, and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat, objecting to the move, as Republicans Chris Nuzzi and Christine Scalera and Conservative Party member Jim Malone pushed through the promotion.

Ms. Throne-Holst and Ms. Fleming both cited concerns over funding for the position and alluded to a confidential personnel matter that they said should have been considered prior to the appointment.

Capt. Pearce will fill the seat left vacant by Captain Anthony Tenaglia, who officially retired last month. The Town Board had previously decided it would not fill the captain’s slot, and funding for the position was eliminated from this year’s budget.

Chief Wilson confirmed that he did not propose promoting Capt. Pearce and did not know about the board’s plans until Monday morning, after it was brought up during a work session meeting of the board on Friday.

“That sounds like some kind of political deal to me,” the chief said following Tuesday’s vote. “I didn’t recommend it.”

Patrolman’s Benevolent Association Vice President Kevin Gwinn said the union did not support the promotion, which he described as “political patronage.”

Since Capt. Tenaglia’s retirement, Captain Pearce, as a lieutenant, has been the acting executive officer of the department—a fact cited by Mr. Malone and Mr. Nuzzi when asked why they would promote him to captain without Chief Wilson’s support. The funding was eliminated from the current budget—in a resolution sponsored by Mr. Malone in November—but the position remains in the department’s organizational chart.

Councilmen Malone and Nuzzi both stated after the meeting that the position was included in the 2012 police budget. But copies of the budget indicate that the funding for the position, $87,800, was removed from the budget in November—the amount left on the budget line for the position was meant to pay Capt. Tenaglia prior to his retirement.

“It was in the budget,” Mr. Malone maintained, adding that anyone who suggested otherwise was providing “misleading” information.

Mr. Nuzzi said anyone stating that the position wasn’t in the budget was perpetuating a misconception and inaccurate. “The captain’s position is in the budget,” he said.

While the funding for the captain position had been cut, Mr. Nuzzi and Mr. Malone explained, the promotion of Capt. Pearce means the addition of only $14,000 to the budget. Capt. Pearce was earning a salary of $139,133, and will earn $153,958 as captain.

Ms. Throne-Holst still criticized the promotion, noting that the money could have been allocated for other expenses, such as being put toward another entry-level position or overtime in the police department.

A letter written by Officer Gwinn on behalf of the PBA last month blasted the proposed creation of a captain’s position, because it was not in the final 2012 police budget. He noted that his officers had agreed to thousands of dollars’ worth of concessions in order to balance the budget.

“After our union and families agreed to hundreds of thousands in concessions to keep our members working, a move like this is a disgrace,” he said Tuesday. “What upset us is, where is this money coming from? It was not in the budget. And if that money has been found, shouldn’t the 73 members of the PBA be reimbursed those concessions, or one or two of the superior officers who were forced to retire be allowed to stay?”

Officer Gwinn also said the PBA found it disturbing that Captain Pearce, who is president of the Southampton Town Superior Officers Association, the union that represents high-ranking police officers in the department, would accept the captain’s position rather than fight to get ranking members forced into retirement reinstated.

After extensive research, Officer Gwinn said he could not find another instance in the history of New York State where a civilian board created a position and promoted a captain without a police chief’s and department’s support.

“It appears to me that what is going on has to do with the fact that the old guard of the Republican Party did not get the person they wanted for chief of police, and I believe it is those Town Board members who are working around the parameters of the police department rules and procedures, without the support of Chief Wilson, whom they did not support,” Officer Gwinn said in reference to Chief Wilson’s appointment last spring.

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Bob Pearce is as solid a citizen as you're likely to meet, great guy. I actually like the fact that Chief Overtime Wilson isn't ok with this, perhaps it will provide some ballast to the STPD.
By Wagoneer (28), Southampton on Mar 13, 12 5:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
Now we know that Chief Wilson does not run the police department.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Mar 13, 12 5:26 PM
Regardless of ur feelings of Pearce, the town board stooges added a position to the 2012 budget that was not there. What happened to fiscal responsibility, what happened to "money guy" jim Malone? What they did today made no sense, what was the other info that Bridget and Anna were speaking about? Why do I have a feeling some town board members might b back peddling soon. Something smells rotten
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Mar 13, 12 5:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
CONGRATULATIONS, Captain Pearce! Well and long deserved! An honest and dedicated officer who received his position in the same manor. Honestly!
By frances (4), hampton bays on Mar 13, 12 5:52 PM
Business as usual for the SH Town Board!

Very limited notice to Chief Wilson, and everyone else.

Sad indeed.

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Mar 13, 12 6:06 PM
Gee, I thought the Chief of Police got to choose his own staff?!!!!!!!!
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Mar 13, 12 6:09 PM
Political Patronage? Isnt that how Wilson got his job? Congrats Capt. Pierce, well deserved.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Mar 13, 12 6:46 PM
Congratulations, Captian Pearce!! I do not understand how Bridget Fleming can first commend Pearce on years of dedicated service and then try to smear him with "some unknown issue" that she knows has nothing to do with him. After well more than 20 years on the force with a spotless record this was a good pick. Considering the unlimited budget the current chief was used to in Southampton Village if the Town Board is doing it's job this will be just one of many disagreements it has with the Chief. ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Mar 13, 12 6:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By carson (79), southampton on Mar 14, 12 11:00 PM
I would think any union wouldn't like it because it's putting a position into the budget that doesnt exist. From what I read every union in the town gave concessions. And I'm sorry, do u know something the public and Bridget isn't aware of? How do u know these issues have nothing to do with him?
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Mar 13, 12 7:00 PM
Why hire a police chief if you are not going to follow him. Jim Mallone says only $14,000 they increased the budget. Unlike the $100,000 they gave to Russell Kratorville for a position that was eliminated. Guess that too is no big deal. Just no credibility. Elections cannot come fast enough.
By mikeaxelrad (4), quogue on Mar 13, 12 7:13 PM
Ditto...and ditto. Where on earth is Kratoville these days? Have never heard a word about him since he was handed his outrageous salary. What happened to spineless wonder Malone after his recent incident at the County Center? (I'd call it abuse of power, but really, he's a County Clerk...power?) I'm not even involved in a party, but I can't stand to see these two wimps sitting up there for another four years....let's not forget!!
By voiceofreason (9), southampton on Mar 15, 12 9:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
Wilson better get in line before he is fired for insubordiation.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Mar 13, 12 7:18 PM
2 members liked this comment
By frances (4), east end on Mar 13, 12 7:22 PM
Well said!!!
By getalife (61), Southampton on Mar 15, 12 1:03 PM
Congrats Captian Pearse! Hey mrobin, elections already came and went 4 months ago, the majority who just promoted Pearse won that one also.
By gusbeme (33), southampton on Mar 13, 12 7:21 PM
With all the school districts out here laying off teachers left and right, wanting to reopen contact negotions, and implement pay freezes, and the county 500 million in debt, how is it that the police dept basically prints its own money? Ridiculous salaries comparative to ....well anywhere, twice as much starting salary as Nassau, where the police actually do something, and overtime like you wouldn't believe, mainly because so many officers are out on disabilty( although I see a few of these "injured ...more
By bubby (236), southampton on Mar 13, 12 7:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
The best part is Southampton town like Suffolk County is also broke. Their pension contributions by 2015 can't be met. Do you here of a plan to fix this? Nope. The same jerks spending money they don't have. Time to fire all the town cops in 24 hours you can have 100 new cops at 30 percent less in salary. We don't need overpriced traffic cops anymore. Since when does the union say who they want promoted? We didn't elect the union to make hiring decisions.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 13, 12 7:58 PM
2 members liked this comment
I think most "jerks" know the difference between here as in a location....and HEAR as in your ears....some jerks actually have more between the ears than posters HERE on this blog.....right Chiefy?
By Bama-Slama (41), Hampton bays on Mar 13, 12 9:02 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 13, 12 7:59 PM
So brilliant you posted twice.....here here!!
By Bama-Slama (41), Hampton bays on Mar 13, 12 9:04 PM
“That sounds like some kind of political appointment to me,” the chief said following Tuesday’s vote. “I didn’t recommend it.”
The irony of this line is SO funny in SO many ways that it brought tears to my eyes. Only a person of epochal self-awareness and perception could have spoken it seriously.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 13, 12 8:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Congratulations to Captain Pearce. It is nice to see that hard work and dedication actually gets rewarded. It's also very comforting to know that such an honest and honorable man is holding that position.
By Summer lovin ' (1), East Moriches on Mar 13, 12 9:02 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By carson (79), southampton on Mar 14, 12 11:05 PM
This is the same deal as the Kratoville appointment. Robert Pearce may well be a fine fellow and a dedicated, accomplished public servant, just as some claimed Russell Kratoville was. But that's not the point. The point is the way in which the appointment was done, as another steamroller job by an out-of-control Board majority, with no notice to the chief, without the chief's approval, without money for it in a perilously tight budget, without public consultation, and over the strong objections ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 14, 12 4:54 AM
OK, there you go agani Turkey Bridge! This sounds like another simple case of the majority not agreeing with the minority and you just won't accept that. Isn't it just possible that the majority just believes Pearse is needed in that Department? Does it always have to be political? Is Anna always right in every disagreement? After all it should be clear to everyone by now that the current Chief wasn't doing much managing of the Southampton Village PD. Shouldn't they have someone in a management ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Mar 14, 12 8:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hit the wrong button again -- no, I did not "LIKE" this comment!

While I would NEVER attempt to speak for T. Bridge, I believe that it's not the "who" but the "how" this was done, and whatever merits the Pearce promotion might have, the way the three vote bloc-ers went about it, stinks.

The Town is is not even awash in debt, it's sinking! Not that the Town Board has taken official note of this situation.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 14, 12 1:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why does this Town board continue to undermine the new Chief ? He was put in place to bring morale up , make some significant changes , and make The Town Police a "wanted" job , here less then 10 months later 3 heros on the town board feel the need for them to choose who should be placed and promoted . And without the Chiefs input .....and this should definatly be a slap in the face to the union who gave up concessions to stop layoffs and forced retirements , and now not only did they get a promotion ...more
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 14, 12 8:29 AM
3 members liked this comment
Beacuse he is a bad guy.
By getalife (61), Southampton on Mar 15, 12 1:04 PM
And also .......where is the aticle about the DA looking into shredding of documents back before the New Chief took over ? Is that what they are referring to as a personnel matter ? Hmmmmmmm....... Very sketchy ........
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 14, 12 8:34 AM
"A paper shredding cop who was not qualified to be Chief gets a $14,000 promotion to a position that does not exist." That should be the headline.
Or maybe "Donation to Malone and the Republican Party gets rewarded."
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Mar 14, 12 9:18 AM
Spinny OHO: I've must have missed the evidence presented by the D.A. When did Pearce become charged with this "crime" (paper shredding)? Tell us where we can see this proof.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Mar 14, 12 1:38 PM
you can't because it's been shredded.
By milkdilk (49), Southampton on Mar 18, 12 9:02 AM
Capt. Pearce is a stand up person and exactly what the Town Police Department needs. Good for the Town Board Majority for standing up to the special interests and the attempts to smear the reputation of a loyal and dedicated public servant; unlike the Board Minority
By southfork11960 (14), Southampton on Mar 14, 12 9:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes he probably was standing up when he shredded the paperwork about how incompetent him and the former Capt. Tanaglia were. He was also standing up when acting as "Executuive Officer" he shredded the documents about the THREE investigations into Malone. And what special interest did the Republicans stand up against? The Chief acting in the best interest of the Police Department or the town labor attorney acting in the best interest of the town? Malone acted in the best interest of himself.
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Mar 14, 12 11:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Do you have ANY proof to back up your claims? ANY?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 14, 12 10:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
When the old chief was in charge there was no shredding. Pearce\Tanaglia take over and the shredding begins. New chief takes over and shredding stops. It does not take a genius to figure out what went on. When Tanaglia\Pearce were in charge they had control over the documents. I am sure that they do not leave sensitive documents in the hallway for all to see. If it was a subordinate, they would of handled the situation themselves and there would be no need for a external investigation. It's not ...more
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Mar 15, 12 6:33 AM
To an extent, he does have "proof".

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 15, 12 8:02 PM
Where is the coverage of the DA investigation on paper shredding
Where is the coverage of the Mr Malone incident at the County Center?
Is there collusion between the newspapers and the Southampton Town Board,keeping the public in the dark does not work well,where Carl Iacone when we need him.
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Mar 14, 12 9:47 AM
2 members liked this comment
Chief Wilson called it "some sort of Political deal" The PBA head called it "political patronage" and SHTGOV is divided along party lines. It does not matter if Pearce is stand up or not - there is obviously a ever growing divide both within the ranks of the SHTPD and the SHTGOV. Even the old PBA head - also known for missing paperwork..........has expressed his displeasure. Is anyone in charge @ the SHTPD? Or is it a leaderless free for all?
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 14, 12 10:54 AM
There isn't any positive spin to be put on this appointment. It was, as has already been noted, crammed though by the Republicans a la Russell Kratoville and was opposed by the distaff PBA bag-carrying Council members. The only interest that WASN'T served was the public interest.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 14, 12 12:57 PM
4 members liked this comment
Very well said.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 14, 12 3:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
When is a reporter, not in the pocket of the republican party, going to follow up on the allegations against Mr. Malone in regards to locking a contractor in his office and exerting his political power against him? Did everyone just forget about that?

How much more is it going to take for the public to see that the republican party is out for itself and running this great town into the ground? Mr. Malone has not had a single thought of his own since he took office. Unless told what ...more
By HBGuy (14), Hampton Bays on Mar 14, 12 4:24 PM
The only reason this resolution passed is that Scalera is Malone and Nuzzi's puppet. Look at everything she's voted on it's never against what Malone and Nuzzi want. What a mistake adding her to the town board. Come November the town board needs to be cleaned out.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Mar 14, 12 4:34 PM
>> "Come November the town board needs to be cleaned out."

Pay attention, you can clean out Congress and the White House "come November," but you'll have to wait 'til 2013 to do anything about Southampton Town Hall -- if we survive that long.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 15, 12 12:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
We're supposed to believe that we are lead by honorable men. The joke is on us. While they distribute patronage,cash their paychecks and enjoy their benefits. Sure makes you feel like you are being taken advantage of. And you are. Big time
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Mar 14, 12 6:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
Frank Wheeler, with all due respect I think you and Turkey Bridge have it wrong. You keep saying wait until the next election. Why? we just had an election 4 months ago where some people who blog on this site were saying they were going to vote the Republicans out, but the Republican majority was voted back in! Could it be that a majority of the Town believes that Chris Nuzzi has done a good job representing them? Could it be that the taxpayers are concerned about a police chief that takes ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Mar 15, 12 7:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
What say I?

One think I didn't say was "wait'll next election." I pointed out to Ms. Lifesaver that she'd have to wait 'til November 2013 rather than THIS November to have the Town Board "cleaned out."

I still believe that the root of the problem was the 11th hour appointment of Bill Wilson over the heir apparent who had been actually running the Town PD for a number of years: Anthony Tenaglia.

So if T. Bridge and I are both wrong on an issue, then end times are near.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 15, 12 12:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
What a joke......Malone, Nuzzi and whats her name need to go...let the Chief run his department, the last thing you want to to is to start undermining him in a department whose morale has been at an all time low, not because of the Chief, but because of the politicians who obviously have there own agenda and haven't filled anyone else in....disgraceful!
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Mar 15, 12 11:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
how can one make the statement the Chief cannot follow a budget? Didnt he inherit the past Chiefs budget from Jan 2011, then he take over and attempts to address all the problems that have fallen on deaf ears for years, he added an extra car in the Flanders area, he is trying to take care of the sagaponack residents, who pay for police presence and most of the time in the past the first car to get cut off the schedule was an east end car. Rumor is he is trying to get a canine officer or two, all ...more
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 15, 12 1:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
What happened to the required (promotional) civil service test for Captain ?
By bayarea (46), hampton bays on Mar 15, 12 1:27 PM
nothing happened to it-- Pearce is number 3 on list (number 1 is retiring next month, number 2 does not work for SHT PD)
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Mar 15, 12 9:52 PM
why not name both of them? That way we can pay 2 six-figure salaries, lifetime pensions, etc. while they work outside jobs too.
By littleplains (305), olde england on Mar 15, 12 2:18 PM
So the same Conservative Councilperson Malone who along with Democrat Fleming and Independence Party Throne-Holst provided the votes to hire Chief Wilson (as I recall Republican Councilperson Nuzzi's vote for Chief Wilson was made while he held his nose) now votes for a promotion which from what one reads here undermines his choice of Chief Wilson. Might that have something to do with garnering the support of Republican Committee persons upset about his vote for Chief? so Mr. Malone, tell us, ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 15, 12 2:45 PM
So the Republican/Conservatives council members have aligned themselves with the STPD SOA and the Democrat/Independence members have plumped for the STPD PBA. Only the future will tell which was the prescient political decision within the civic limits of Southampton Police Department (and Town) government.

On second thought, as long as the council members remember their place and don't threaten STPD pay and perks, they shouldn't suffer any adverse consequences.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 15, 12 3:18 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Greatgoogamooga, Southampton on Mar 15, 12 4:44 PM
2 members liked this comment
"it was in the budget- anyone saying otherwise is providing misleading information" Really Malone?? Please explain exactly where it is in the budget ( which is available on the town web site for anyone to see) because the only budget line for Captain in the police budget I can find is only funded for $25,000 salary ( for the recenty retired captain).

That would mean that the position is NOT funded for the remainder of this year.. So, either Malone is a liar, or he has no ...more
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Mar 15, 12 10:25 PM
Putting aside the who, if there is no one appointed to captain, who would serves as the executive officer?
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Mar 16, 12 2:18 PM
A Capt isnt necessary for there to be an XO. It can be anyone from Sgt-LT. Someone who is appointed by the Chief
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Mar 19, 12 10:05 AM
Appointed by the Chief of Police? What if he chose a Lt. for XO, and the Town Board appointed a Captain? Are you meaning designate a XO?
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Mar 19, 12 11:03 PM
Articles about cops shredding documents, articles about police dogs in schools, articles about police positions being created that aren't there. Republicans and cops drinking coffee and smoking big cigars, slowly milking the town and the county under the auspices of protection. Keep being scared of what they want you to be, and they will get you to believe anything they say. and fight for it. Southampton, and Suffolk County are doomed because its greatest, hard-working people are easily manipulated. ...more
By milkdilk (49), Southampton on Mar 18, 12 9:05 AM
2 members liked this comment
Chief Wilson, whose career credentials were the keystone cops (village police) doesn't think a career town police officer is qualified? What a surprise, if qualifications mattered, Chief Wilson would still be head of the Keystone Cops!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Mar 21, 12 12:01 PM
aww, thats sad that you must use name calling to the Village Police, are you one of those who were smoking dope and getting arrested when others were bettering themselves and taking civil service tests.....I feel bad for you...but maybe you shouldnt resaort to name calling. Keystone or whatever name you call them they are still making a 6 figure salary, plus benefits, overtime, and oh yes 20 yr retirement and take their benefits with them......and lets be honest the only thing that Chief Wilson ...more
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 21, 12 12:07 PM
Chief wilson you are coming up on your year anniversary, you tried and have been undermined by the town board, some of those thay needed to go, have gone now, hold your head up high, you tried....you can retire now at a much larger sum, (you dont need the stress) now that you have enrolled in the better retirement, look who has won ...you have.....take that much better retirement and walk away, and let the poiticians who think they know how to run a police dept, run it, morale will be right back ...more
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 21, 12 12:02 PM
If Chief Wilson were to leave now he'd be giving in to what the town board wanted, after they were the ones who voted him in. The best thing for the town is for him to stand fast and run his department to get it out of the dark ages, the town definitely needs that. And Walt was there anyone with better qualifications? I think not
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Mar 21, 12 12:45 PM
Everyone who wants to condemn the chief keep this in mind: He is the successor of a police department that has been plagued by years of of doing "business" shall we say" a certain way".It's my understanding that he is trying CHANGE the improprieties of the past and turn the dept. in to an agency that the citizens of Southampton Town can be proud of and have faith in. CHANGE TAKES TIME!!! After all, the situation didn't get this way in just one year and it not going to be corrected that quickly ...more
By joeshoreline (2), Hampton bays on Jun 22, 12 5:04 AM