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Apr 4, 2013 10:22 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Trustees Want To Bring Former Westhampton Beach Village Clerk Out Of Retirement

Apr 10, 2013 9:25 AM

Several members of the Westhampton Beach Village Board made it clear this week that they want to bring a former village clerk out of retirement to oversee the training of the next village clerk once the position has been filled.

At a heated meeting last Thursday night, April 4, Deputy Mayor Hank Tucker introduced a walk-on resolution to rehire former Village Clerk Kathy McGinnis as an “independent contractor to serve in the interim and to train the new village administrator or clerk/treasurer when the search is complete.” The move sparked a strong reaction from Mayor Conrad Teller, who refused to accept a motion for the resolution to be added to the agenda, as well as Trustee Ralph Urban, and several members of the audience.

The resolution, which was never voted on during the meeting, sought to bring in Ms. McGinnis so she could train the still unnamed replacement for current Village Clerk Rebecca Molinaro, who recently accepted a new post in East Hampton Village and starts next month. Ms. McGinnis, who retired in December 2010, spent six months training Ms. Molinaro to be her replacement.

“Our clerk/treasurer is leaving in just three short weeks,” Mr. Tucker said during the meeting. “That is hardly enough time to train anyone for the position. While we continue our search, we see no other choice than to seek someone who is experienced to help us with the transition and train the new person when hired.”

The reading of the resolution, which specifies Ms. McGinnis by name, sparked a public outcry, with current Deputy Clerk Elizabeth Lindtvit—one of seven people confirmed to have interviewed to replace Ms. Molinaro, and a rumored front-runner for the position—announcing that she will refuse to work with Ms. McGinnis again.

At the same time, former Deputy Mayor Toni-Jo Birk also chastised the board, saying that in her time as a trustee Mr. Tucker never gave Ms. McGinnis the time of day, and that the move to bring her back in a supervisory role is “despicable.”

With Mr. Teller refusing to add the resolution, Mr. Tucker called for a motion to include the item, which was successfully added to the village agenda with a 3-2 vote. Mr. Tucker and Trustees Patricia DiBenedetto and Charlie Palmer voted in favor, and Mr. Teller and Mr. Urban opposed.

Before the vote, Mr. Urban criticized Mr. Tucker for not presenting the resolution to all of the trustees before the meeting, even going as far as to question his motives.

“Mr. Tucker, this is the first time I’ve heard of this,” Mr. Urban said. “I think it is highly unreasonable for you to expect us to have a decision right now. These surprise tactics are ridiculous, and I think you are acting as mayor when you were never elected to that position.”

In order to restore order to the meeting and to have a private conversation with Village Attorney Richard Haefeli, Mr. Teller called for a five-minute recess and, when the meeting resumed, they never voted on the actual resolution.

In the days following the meeting, the status of the resolution remained unclear, as Mr. Tucker said he was under the impression that the vote had passed. On Tuesday afternoon, he said he had been unable to review the tape of the meeting, but said if necessary, trustees will re-approach the resolution at a future meeting and possibly during the work session scheduled for April 17.

According to Mr. Tucker, Ms. McGinnis, who had worked for the village for 16 years, has the necessary experience to train Ms. Molinaro’s replacement, though after the meeting it was unclear what position Ms. McGinnis would be training if hired. During the meeting, Mr. Tucker proposed eliminating the village clerk/treasurer position—which answers only to the mayor—in favor of hiring a village administrator, which would answer to the entire board.

According to the resolution, Ms. McGinnis would be hired at a rate of $60 per hour and would remain on staff until she feels confident that the new clerk can handle the duties and responsibilities of the position. This week, Mr. Tucker said it is not meant to be a permanent position, and is just to ensure the new village hire has the training necessary to handle financial transactions.

“I am in favor of this,” Ms. McGinnis said in a phone interview on Friday. “I ended up working for six months with Rebecca, and I took her right up through the village election and budget. Since Rebecca will be leaving, it seems to make sense to me that the trustees would do this.”

Mr. Tucker’s proposal came after what he called financial discrepancies and back-door deals on the part of the mayor and Ms. Molinaro were discovered by an independent outside audit being conducted by Scott Augustine. Mr. Tucker declined to specify what illicit activities were discovered, but said they include but are not limited to taxpayer money being spent without necessary resolutions. He said he will be able to share more information about the activities of the mayor once the audit report, which has not yet been adopted, is discussed in executive session by Trustees Mr. Teller and Mr. Augustine, and village labor attorney Richard Zuckerman.

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Current Deputy Village Clerk and her Village employee cohort should be fired for their public outburst at that meeting. The nerve of these Village employees carrying on like this is embarassing. They should consider themselves lucky to have these jobs - especially with their pay and benefits. I know a lot of qualified people who can take their place. I hope this Deputy clerk has no real financial responsibility in their tasks as the professionalsm in this public arena shows exactly what they bring ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 5, 13 12:56 PM
LIKE THIS IS EMBARASSING? Your post here shows that it is embarassing! As to Professionalisim, the "REDUX" of Cathy McGinnis is an absolute prelude to un-professionalissim. Shall we bring up the hiring practice that provided a position for her son?
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 6, 13 11:17 PM
The hiring of her son did not happen in a vacuum. Ms. McGinnis does not have voting power to hire her son. That means that the board voted to hire him. Don't lay this all at Ms. McGinnis's feet.

Besides, has anyone said he was bad at his job?
By MainSt978 (9), Westhampton Beach on Apr 7, 13 8:53 PM
What is embarassing, are actions of this dysfunctional Village Board. How can anybody keep a straight when Hank Tucker comes out with things like his resolution to hire the former village clerk. Maybe she can get her son a job again.
By officegals (4), westhampton beach on Apr 5, 13 1:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
Really? It's a crazy idea to hire a former clerk who was there for 16 years to show the new person how to run the village properly?

Maybe I missed it but I didnt see anything about anyones son being hired either.

Its not the idea from the board that's ridiculous, its the comments bashing it only because of who came up with the idea.
By MainSt978 (9), Westhampton Beach on Apr 5, 13 6:38 PM
So let me understand this. The Deputy Village clerk declares in an outburst at a public meeting "I WILL NOT WORK WITH THIS PERSON" to our Mayor and the community. Is she vying for the position? Does she know something we don't know? Really. This person being brought onto to train a new candidate. What would she have to do with that person. Hmmmm. What's up Mr Mayor. More cronyism? And/or is this a classic case of the inmates running the asylum? Where's your leadership???
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 5, 13 8:26 PM
The current Deputy Treasurer as well as the past village trustee were both reacting to the absolute collusion of the Three Village Trusstees who are working, or, acting in unison. The most important part of the proposed resolution is, that the "Trio" want to retain the services of Ms. Cathy McGinnis as an independent contractor. As a contractor, you are dictated by a contract, which stipulates the mandated, starting date, as well as the ending date. Contrary to the proposed resolution that stipulates ...more
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 6, 13 11:12 PM
3 members liked this comment
Consultants rarely make the average going rate as their employment is not continued and indefinite. I have also found consultants who have prior experience on jobs to be the best candidates. As far as the extent and length of contract needed to train a new person the board can make that decision. As far as the "trio" bringing the current clerks competence into question- they did an excellent job as the results have been outlined previously and hence she has resigned- thankfully. As a note look ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 7, 13 8:51 AM
There is an absolute difference between a consultant, and an outside CONTRACTOR. The trustees proposed in the resolution the need for Ms McGinnis as an OUTSIDE CONTRACTOR. Check into bussiness law.
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 7, 13 4:50 PM
the commentary here is so devoid of facts it is laughable...that includes the last sentence of the article itself... "the mistake, which has since been corrected" in the last paragraph of the article itself. What is the source beyond that?
By personal.usage2013@yahoo.com (3), Southampton on Apr 7, 13 8:37 PM
"The source beyond that?" What does that mean? Do you care to elaborate in terms that intelligent people might rcognize?
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 7, 13 9:01 PM
As far as the meeting goes, are they not waiting on the final auditor's report...Who is claiming the payroll is correct? The Mayor? The Village Clerk? It certainly isn't the auditor yet.
By personal.usage2013@yahoo.com (3), Southampton on Apr 7, 13 9:03 PM
It is true that it is a village mayor's prerogative to fill a vacancy in the office of village clerk. Nonetheless, the clerk / treasurer "shall also perform such other duties not inconsistent with his office as shall be determined by resolution of the board of trustees."

The village clerk/treasurer is to serve not only the mayor, but the entire board of trustees.

For the past year the Westhampton Beach Clerk/Treasurer has been put in the untenable position of serving two masters, ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Apr 10, 13 9:15 PM
Serving two masters has only been brought abought by the designs of three infidels..... Look at their liasons for the village.... Pat, Village Marina.... Still not open after accepting the bid from an asphault company to repair the docks.... Charlie, the Insurance liasion who does not have the where with all to require that boaters who have been granted space through lottery, carry insurance naming the village as a beneficiary... As Southampton Town Requires...
Of course there are the issues ...more
By officegals (4), westhampton beach on May 15, 13 11:35 PM