Bid To Hire Morabito As Port Chester Village Clerk Fails

Board of Trustees rejects ex-Rye town supervisor in 4-3 vote that included board member attending via video conferencing.

A proposal to hire former Rye town supervisor Robert Morabito as Port Chester's next village clerk was rejected Monday night after a heated debate over the selection process for the job and a controversy about a Board of Trustees member voting via video conferencing.

Trustee Saverio Terenzi's proposal to appoint Morabito, a Port Chester resident, failed in a 4-3 vote and trustees decided to continue with a review of five candidates to replace retiring Village Clerk Joan Mancuso.

The vote on whether to hire Morabito, who was outsed by current Rye Town Supervisor Joseph Carvin, attracted vocal opponents to attend the Board of Trustees session Monday at the Port Chester Village Court. The vote also drew Trustee John Branca, who because of illness, has not been able to attend board meetings for months.

However, Branca did not attend in-person, but via video conferencing from his home. Branca voted with Terenzi in favor of hiring Morabito. But opposition led by Mayor Dennis Pilla received suprise support from Trustee Bart Didden and the appointment was blocked.

Monday's vote, to some, was itself a surprise because the Board of Trustees has not interviewed any candidates to replace Mancuso, who is in her final two weeks as village clerk. The trustees were slated to meet last week to review candidates, but that meeting was scrapped by Pilla because he could not get enough trustees to attend.

Terenzi said he proposed hiring Morabito, a former political opponent, because he believes Morabito is qualified for the position. While Terenzi admits he was highly critical of Morabito when he was supervisor, Terenzi contends Morabito has paid for any bad decisions he may have made as supervisor by losing that office.

Pilla said he does not believe Morabito is qualified to be village clerk, contending that Morabito's time as supervisor did not prepare him to run the functions of the Village Clerk's Office. 

Terenzi's proposal called for hiring Morabito at a salary of $75,000. Mancuso makes $90,000 as clerk.

As the Board of Trustees prepared to vote, Trustee Daniel Brakewood suggested there were possible legal problems with the meeting itself because of Branca participating from home via video conferencing. To accomodate the electronic appearance by Branca, the village had to declare that Branca's home was also a public meeting place for Monday's board meeting in addition to the Port Chester Village Court.

Brakewood said two people had attempted to gain access to Branca's home to attend the meeting, but were turned away. Branca, speaking via the video link, denied that anyone had been turned away.

Pilla decided to allow the meeting to continue, leading to the vote on Morabito. Pilla said after Monday's meeting that it appears several people who went to Branca's home were able to gain access and watch the meeting from that location.

What's next? The trustees are going to review candidates who have applied for the position. Pilla said that if the post cannot be filled before Mancuso leaves the office, Village Manager Christoper Russo and village staff will oversee operations of the office until a new clerk is named.

Terenzi said one motivating factor in his decision to back Morabito for the post is that Morabito is a village resident. However, as the voting was done, Pilla suggested that the village begin looking at whether Port Chester would benefit by consolidating the village clerk and the Rye Town Clerk's Office.

Pilla contends this concept would allow Port Chester to take advantage of state grants encouraging government consolidation to improve the village's records-keeping system. Port Chester and Rye Town officials have agreed to look into the possible consolidation.

Bob June 05, 2012 at 11:02 AM
I do not know Mr Morabiyo personally but with all the criticism while he was Rye Town Supervisor, I think the voting was correct.
Bob June 05, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I am not sure Mr Pilla's suggestion of merging the Department with Rye Town is good either. Isn't there a study going on to dissolve the Twon of Rye? If it's done what then?
Joe June 05, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Lets see, a village of 30,000 residents and I bet they will hire a out of towner.I hope we won't have to pay for moving them up from FLA. - Or their horse
Aidan June 05, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Last night's display was nothing short of three hours of political dysfunction. I am embarrassed for every citizen. It was disgusting from start to finish.
Bart Didden June 05, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Watch for my blog post later today here on the Patch. The article will talk about "surprise support" and the twist that seems to have been over looked by the public and the press. I will be writing about surprise political bedfellows and the hypocrisy of Pilla, Brakewood & Branca that was completely overshadowed by the Morabito vote.
JJ June 05, 2012 at 01:07 PM
"While Terenzi admits he was highly critical of Morabito when he was supervisor, Terenzi contends Morabito has paid for any bad decisions he may have made as supervisor by losing that office." This is NOT what citizens want to hear in these hard pressed economic times. Voting to place "someone" in a position that the Village of Port Chester has NOT fully screened yet is not only reckless but stupid as well. Let Mr. Morabito be "screened" along with the rest of the candidates. Mr. Terenzi has already admitted that Mr. Morabito has made some "bad decisions" . Appointing him in this callous manner would be ANOTHER BIG mistake.
Bob June 05, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I agree with JJ. I don't want to say someone is guilty of anything wrong but there was enough controversy surrounding Mr Morabito while Rye Town Supervisor to eliminate the possibility of cronyism
Bob June 05, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I've heard comments that someone is not loyal if they don't vote "the party line", thats BS. The party line should be what is in the best interest of the taxpayers of this village not party. This is not Albany or Washington, this is Port Chester guys. Let's get our heads on straight or be gone.
Anne Latella June 05, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Give Mr. Morabito the job!Stop the politics. He certainly is a long time resident of Port Chester and is qualified for this job.
Itsallpolitical June 05, 2012 at 02:13 PM
It's an appointed job, not elected. Mr Morabito was up for the appointment, was more than qualified and should have been appointed. Mr. Brakewood should also be ashamed of himself for what he did to Councilman Branca, absolutely disgusting display. Like one citizen, Mr Smith said last night, it's time to get out of this town, especially if its being run by the likes of Pilla and Brakewood. That meeting last night was an amazing display of dysfunctional government.
EABAD June 05, 2012 at 02:36 PM
im sure they will hire another person from out of town. pay him well over $90K..pay for their move and horses AND give them a car they can take home. remember its not what you know its WHO you know. port chester is a joke of a town now and no one want to live here anymore.
Jaime nielsen June 05, 2012 at 03:03 PM
well said
Al Dente June 05, 2012 at 05:48 PM
What is all this talk of horses? What I watched of last night's meeting was despicable, and it had nothing to do with horses. Somebody (Mr. Terenzi?)convinced a visibly ailing trustee to Skype into the meeting and cast a vote for a person to be our next village clerk. Apparently Mr. Terenzi forgot to poll his other colleagues to make sure he had enough votes to pull off his patronage scheme. A dirty mess ensued. Unfortunately, this is what happens when "process" and "professionalism" are cast to the wayside in a hiring process. The most disturbing quotes of the evening came when Trustee Terenzi posed "he doesn't beat his wife, and he hasn't been convicted for a crime, yet..." as good reasons to appoint someone to a professional position in the village. Apparently our standards have dropped to such levels.
Bob June 05, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I disagree that Mr Morabito should have neen appointed to the position without being interviewed with the other candidates. Should we hire someone because they are a long time resident or the BEST qualified person for the job. I really don't know Mr Morabito so I have zero skin in the game. I am a long time resident of the village and know the history of his tenure on the Rye Town Board and just from that I think he should not be considered for the positon. I agree with others who posted that the last board meeeting was a total disgrace. What Mr Brakewoood obviously orchestrated by sending people, his wife and others to Mr Branca's house was dispicable. He and his wife who is on the school board should be voted out of office for doing something like that. Mr Branca is very very ill and to pull a stunt like that, and that is what it was, a stunt is shameful.
Bob June 05, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Al Dante, I agree with you and I stated the Village should interview for the best person. Not political patronage or "someone from PC. I don't care if the next clerk is from Mars as long as they are the BEST qualified and has no baggage a with Mr Terenzi's nomination.
American Woman June 06, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I have never in my life witnessed the disgusting display of events that went on last night. The people in this town are a joke. That is starting with Mayor Pilla, right down to the most inhumane person who showed his face, Mr. Able, you're doing a fantastic job of following in your ever so pleasant fathers footsteps. Lets start with Able, HOW DARE YOU subject Mr. Branca the pain of showing himself on a computer so YOU can watch him. YOU are a poor excuse for a human, i can't say that more honestly. Mr. Brakewood, yourself and your wife have to be the lowest of the low. As an elected trustee and her as an elected school board member should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves. I'm not sure who raised you, but morals, class and dignity was definitely lost somewhere. Mr. Pilla, to state that Mr. Morabito has baggage, it's funny, has he ever been arrested or had any charges placed against him? While in office you did get a DWI correct? It was covered up until YOUR "friend" leaked the gossip. Mr. Morabito should have been appointed to this position. It is an APPOINTED position, that means there does not have to be any interviews. He is highly qualified. If you're crying because your taxes went up due to Reval, then maybe you should have reported the changes to your property in a timely fashion. If I was him, I would have made you pay retro back. As for resigning from the DEF his mother was terminally ill for 3.5 years. He stayed home with her. He is dedicated and loyal
Linda Turturino June 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM
cant wait Bart ....
Robski48 June 06, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I have to say shame on everyone last night. Shame on which ever board member put John in the position to have to "Skype" to get a vote and shame on Dan Brakewood for sending people to john's house last night to watch the board meeting. From what I understand Carolee was the only one at John's house last night. Amazing that she never shows up to BOT meeting except when she was able to go to John's house last night. Funny Bea Conetta mentioned mixing Terenzi ad BOT politics with the school board election then Carolee (who Bea is memorized by the Brakewoods) would mix Board of Ed with BOT politics. Where is your outrage now? Or is it ok now? Shame on everyone and Bea!!!
JJ June 06, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Good comments; however it BOILS down to whomever is most qualified. In these trouble economic times we need NEED trusted and the most qualified people. Politicians , FROM BOTH SIDES, have gotten us into this mess. Do you personally KNOW who the rest of the candidates were to make to make these comments? Port Chester has ALWAYS been ruled by popularity NEVER by intelligence nor qualifications. This is why the City of Rye succeeds and we don't. Too much is at stake here ..........
Al Dente June 06, 2012 at 04:52 AM
I disagree with your criticism of trustees who try to uphold the Open Meetings law designed to protect the rights of the public. What is shameful is that you have NO criticism for trustees who try to appoint a crony with a track record of robbing Rye Town taxpayers blind.
Al Dente June 06, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Robski48, Shame on you for spreading lies. From what I understand, NOBODY watched the meeting from the Branca home except the Branca family.
Joe June 06, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Al, If you were paying attention, when the cronyism of hiring Mr. Russo and paying for him to come up from Fla.and the other perks he has received. he should be asked to live in the village he works so hard for. If we need to get a hold of him in the middle of the night, how long dose it take for him to come to town.As for the horse, when Mr.Russo ($ 175,000.) put up Mr. Steers for $175,000. code enforcement job,besides moving expenses from FLA we paid to move his horse! Nice and they have take home cars?Move to the Village and take a taxi. As for Mrs. Breakout going to John's home ,I guess that was Mr Backwoods form of harassment for john being on the village medical plan( remember the fight with Mayor Isillo), it just shows how a person was brought up.No compassion for a ailing person.We need to stop giving the high price jobs that keep going to out of towners, and moving their pets!
Aidan June 06, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I'm with Al Dente. There is now way one can support the appointment of a man whose background is completely pitted with questionable records and deeds. This was an old time bit of cronyism ... the type we all have vowed against. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Terenzi for trying to pull this one off. It stunk from the start.
Aidan June 06, 2012 at 11:41 AM
I agree. This is hardly Mr. Brakewood's shining moment in public office ... BUT I'm not sure what alternative he had to block this insanity. When you shovel all the grime, there's one person to blame for this forgettable display of political rot, and that's Mr. Terenzi. Btw, this particular vote was hardly the only the lowlight in a meeting that we'd all like to forget. It hardly resembled a conclave of civic minded stars. It was a dreadful display of politics on the part of many ... board members and public commenters alike.
Robski48 June 06, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Al Dente- if you watched the meeting then you would have heard John state, and Terenzi later quote him, that "brakewood's wife was stalking his residence". And Brakwood gets a e-mail during the meeting that no one was allowed into John's house and that they were rejected at the door. He then is paying more attention to his phone, presumably e-mailing or texting, then to the meeting. You can watch it all on-line when it is available.
Aidan June 06, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Stop right there. We've got our problems ... for sure. But Rye's not quite the poster child for political astuteness. I'd rather have our political laundry on display than have backroom hijinks. This is not the end of the world. In fact, I think some good might eventually emerge. I don't think we're likely to witness anymore sleazy appointment efforts on the part of political partisans. That was shut down. Are we struggling here? Of course, we are. But this village didn't fall off the rails over-night ... and we are not gonna cure every ill over night either. Slow and steady is the course. This is still a stop 'n go process ... patience is still a primary virtue. We'll get there because, despite that wretched display the other evening, the rule of law did prevail ... and the process (though messy) worked. I'd love to see less manufactured messes ... and a reaffirmation that partisan politics is unacceptable. This village is more important than petty political jockeying. To bring about such a division ... in the name of party allegiance ... is disgusting.
American Woman June 06, 2012 at 01:01 PM
As a matter of fact Al Dente and Aidan, Brakewwod sent his wife to the house, and her friends. They were all invited in. Disgraceful, classless, and disturbing. Especially considering this person is an elected school board official. You don't get anywhere in life by trying to hurt others. That's something i learned in Kindergarten, in PORT CHESTER SCHOOL SYSTEM where i learned how to READ (with reading teachers).
Gina Pierro August 08, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Wake up, people! Russo was never in it for the long haul. His horse doesn't like the snow, either. Let's get someone who really cares about our town. Not a fly by night snow bird who gets paid the big bucks to do exactly what? Really. Really?


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