Outgoing state Supreme Court Justice Emily Pines has been appointed to become chief of staff for the Brookhaven Town supervisor, a top administrative post.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct last month dismissed a complaint that Pines improperly awarded foreclosure work to a political party leader. The commission determined that the Nassau Independence Party leader had been hired without Pines’ knowledge.
Pines, 65, a former Brookhaven town attorney and former deputy Suffolk County attorney, will serve as chief of staff to Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, a Republican. She replaces Edward Morris, who has been both town parks commissioner and chief of staff for the past two years. Morris will keep his parks job.
Pines, also a Republican, is to formally take the town post on Jan. 7, Romaine said in an interview on Wednesday. As chief of staff, Pines will work with town department heads, coordinate meetings, ensure town board resolutions are implemented and “deal with any issue that comes up, as the representative of the supervisor,” Romaine said.
“What I needed was a full-time chief of staff, because what I don’t have is a full-time chief of staff or a full-time deputy supervisor,” Romaine said. Councilman Dan Panico serves as the town’s deputy supervisor.
“I think she brings a wealth of municipal background,” Romaine said of Pines. “I think that she’ll be a good chief of staff.”
Pines said in a telephone interview that she has been asked by town officials to deal with issues such as human rights and personnel disputes.
“I love working for government. I love the law,” Pines said. “The town, I think, is a much more complex governmental entity than it was when I was there. There are a lot of complex issues.” Pines was town attorney from 1993 to 1998.
Pines finishes a 14-year term on the state Supreme Court bench on Thursday. She was defeated for re-election in November. Previously she was a Suffolk District Court judge and a lawyer for New York City government.
Romaine said Pines will be paid $107,000 annually to serve as chief of staff, plus $20,000 as a special counsel in the town attorney’s office. As a judge, she was paid $174,000.
Newsday reported last year that Pines violated court rules when Richard Bellando, who was the Nassau Independence Party leader, was hired by a court-appointed receiver to work as a property manager on an office building in foreclosure. Court rules bar judges from appointing political leaders for fiduciary work. Pines later acknowledged the mistake and reopened the case.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct last month dismissed a complaint against Pines, saying Pines was not aware of Bellando’s appointment.
Romaine declined to comment on Pines’ role in the Bellando case.
“We all make mistakes, but I think her record over the breadth of her career is an extremely good record,” he said. “I’m not looking for the perfect chief of staff. I’m looking for the person who can help me get things done.”
Romaine said Pines’ appointment will free up Morris to devote more time to town parks, including major projects building or renovating parks in Selden and Blue Point.
“This is a good time for Eddie to focus on parks,” Romaine said.
Morris said he welcomed the change after serving two years as temporary chief of staff.
“The time was right,” he said Wednesday. “I was ready to go back to parks.”