Photo: Denise Civiletti

It was an extraordinarily short honeymoon.

The three-member Republican majority on today reappointed the town attorney and two members of the planning and zoning boards, over the objection — and to the apparent surprise of — the new Democratic town supervisor and councilwoman.

Councilman James Wooten offered three resolutions “off the floor” — meaning they were not on the published agenda — after the board adopted the 35 resolutions that were on the agenda.

The first reappointed Robert Kozakiewicz as town attorney.The second reappointed Otto Wittmeier to the zoning board of appeals, reappointed him as vice chairman and reappointed Fred McLaughlin as chairman of the ZBA. The third resolution reappointed Ed Densieski to the planning board, reappointed him as vice chairman and reappointed Stan Carey as chairman of the planning board.

Kozakiewicz, Wittmeier and Densieski are all former Republican town board members. Kozakiewicz served as town supervisor from 2000 to 2003; he was appointed town attorney in 2010. Kozakiewicz previously served as town attorney during the administration of James Stark.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and Councilwoman Catherine Kent voted no on all three resolutions.

“I think it was just partisan politics from the get-go,” Jens-Smith said after the meeting. “It had nothing to do with good government for the town,” she said.

“It would have been nice if they brought this up at the work session. If they wanted to discuss this, they should have brought it up like adults.”

At yesterday’s work session, Jens-Smith asked the board, in the interest of transparency, to advertise all vacancies on the appointed boards and committees, including the planning and zoning boards. No objections were raised. Indeed, none of the three Republican council members indicated they would like to discuss the appointments further.

The resolutions coming off the floor today came as a surprise, she said.

“If they wanted to discuss this, they should have brought it up like adults,” Jens-Smith said. “It’s unfortunate this is the way things went down today.”

Her fellow Democratic council member said at the meeting this was “a very partisan move.”

Catherine Kent said the board had a discussion yesterday about advertising for the positions and nothing was said against it.

“I’m very disappointed,” Kent said during the meeting. “We were committed to openness and transparency,” she said. “Nothing against either of these people.”

Councilman Tim Hubbard said partisan politics had nothing to do with it. He didn’t say anything during yesterday’s town board work session when the supervisor suggested advertising for all positions, he said, “because my intention was to appoint these two people. I think they do the best job. I’m happy with who is there. I felt no reason to say anything.”

Hubbard said Jens-Smith pulled the resolution reappointing Kozakiewicz without first talking to the board about it. “It goes both ways,” Hubbard said.

Wooten said he is not being partisan. “If you remember, I had to primary for my nomination last time,” he said, pointing out that he did not have the support of the Riverhead Republican Committee in 2015.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.