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Bill to Hire Supe's Political Consultant as Town Employee Put on Hold

Supervisor Sean Walter tabled a measure to hire political consultant Anthony Coates as a legislative secretary with the town at a cost of $65,000.

The town board tabled a bill Tuesday night that would have hired a paid political consultant of Supervisor Sean Walter's after it failed to receive enough support.

Walter had hoped to appoint Anthony Coates as legislative secretary - a $65,000-a-year job that would come with benefits, should it come back up - to market and lobby the town's property at Enterprise Park at Calverton. Coates has generally been paid a fee of $1,000 per month since August of 2010 from the supervisor's campaign fund.

The supervisor has been developing legislation for nearly a year and working with state elected officials to create an inter-governmental body to streamline applications at EPCAL, rather than sending potential developers through application processes at local, county, and state levels. The legislative secretary position would work toward passing that legislation, and preparing the property for development - at least until the position expires on March 31, 2013.

Councilman John Dunleavy supported the supervisor in granting Coates the job, but colleagues Jim Wooten, Jodi Giglio, and George Gabrielsen didn't favor the resolution. A couple of them spoke out not so much against the political connection between the two, but the position itself.

"It's time for the state to move forward with this," said Gabrielsen. "I feel strongly that if we had a state Assemblyman and state Senator who have a big stake in this, I'd like to see them take this and move forward. They know their colleagues are. It's time for them to step in and move this forward."

Wooten pointed to a $47,500 after a

"The timing is just not good," Wooten said. "I don't think it's a wise investment. We spent 400-and-something dollars to hire VHB and then we can bring all factions together and collate a feasible plan. They're doing their job."

Wooten added that , the hire was a tough pill to swallow.

"In order to get this through the legislature, we have to lobby the legislature," Walter said. "This is a heavy lift. And this position was meant to do that. What people have to understand is that we've had this property for years and years and years. And we can't save our way prosperity. It just cannot be done."

Coates, who recently took a trip up to Albany recently with Walter and Deputy Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti and spoke with town board members at a work session upon his return, said his past suits him well for the position. Coates said he has experience in the financial sector - working as a senior investment officer for Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney and other firms - as well as the public affairs realm - going as far back as working for Presiding Officer Floyd Linton in the late 1970s.

ABetterWayforRiverhead March 21, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I have to commend Mr. Wooten on his position- "It reeks too much of political payback," Wooten said. I would also like to know from Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen the reasons why they personally oppose this resolution and I am quite disappointed that Mr. Dunleavy has been convinced that this appointment would be appropriate. How come I get the feeling that Mr. Coates is attempting to win this position through the court of public opinion. I thought certain personnel issues were mandated to be discussed and resolved by the Town Board in executive (closed) session. This is the type of "transparency" that the good people of Riverhead Town can expect from their renegade supervisor as he continues to push around his partisan council!

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