After weeks marked by turmoil and upheaval in the Southampton Town attorney’s office, the town board moved Tuesday to appoint Tiffany Scarlato as the new town attorney, effective March 1.
Scarlato comes to Southampton Town after being told in January 2010 that her contract as deputy town attorney in East Hampton would not be renewed; she and another attorney were simultaneously dismissed after years of service.
At the time, Scarlato said publicly that she was shocked to have been given no reason why she would not be re-appointed; the move followed major changes in and monumental shifts in the town attorney's office after the election of new Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and a GOP majority to the town board.
In an ironic switcheroo, former Southampton Town Attorney Dan Adams went to work as town attorney for East Hampton Town after the election of Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in 2009. He later stepped down to focus on matters of special litigation for the town and focus on his private practice.
Throne-Holst said she feels Scarlato is the perfect choice for the job.
“We are pleased to welcome Ms. Scarlato to spearhead the town attorney’s office. She brings years of municipal law experience and is a much appreciated friend and neighbor to so many through her time as a Sag Harbor village trustee, East Hampton Town attorney and mother.”
Scarlato, a partner in the firm Scarlato & Baldwin PLLC in Sag Harbor, said she is eager to get started.
“I am thrilled that the board chose me for the position and I am ready to jump in and work hard,” she said.
Citing her extensive municipal experience, Scarlato said she believes “it will be of great assistance to the town."
"I am ready to get into the trenches now and ensure the town gets solid legal advice,” she said.
Scarlato's prior experience includes working for the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society before joining the East Hampton Town attorney's office.
Councilman Chris Nuzzi said he is pleased with the appointment.
“Tiffany is a talented local attorney who knows both the job and our community well. I look forward to working with her in the coming months,” he said.
Scarlato’s appointment follows the of former Town Attorney Michael Sordi.
Sordi stepped down after a public outcry following his failure to reply to a against the town — a severe misstep that could result in the town being forced to pay $70 million in a default judgment.
Sordi signed a stipulation of agreement after a 3-0 vote to accept his resignation with Nuzzi and Councilman Jim Malone abstaining, reportedly because they were not satisfied with the stipulation agreement.
Before his resignation, Sordi was forced into the glare of heated public scrutiny after news broke of the possible $70 million default judgment. East Quogue resident Nancy Genovese filed the federal lawsuit against the town and Suffolk County last year after she was arrested in 2009 outside the Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach for taking photos and charged with trespassing.
She was found to have guns and ammunition in her vehicle, according to police, but she said she was coming from a shooting range and was taking photos of an Air National Guard helicopter for a patriotic website. The trespassing charge was dismissed.
At a recent town board meeting, Southampton resident Elaine Kahl begged for “controls” in future hiring practices.
Throne-Holst said Thursday she is seeking to codify the town's hiring process for non-Civil Service posts to guarantee candidates are screened.