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Brookhaven Town finalizes hirings, firings

Brookhaven Town officials finalized a host of hirings and firings Thursday that included replacing the town attorney and hiring the town's highest-paid appointee.

Former Islip Town attorney Robert Quinlan took over for Karen Wilutis, whose term was not renewed, at a salary of $115,000. Matthew Miner, formerly a deputy county health chief, was hired as commissioner of waste management and town operations officer at a $147,000 salary, the highest for a Brookhaven appointed official.

Those appointments, and several others, were backed by Democratic Supervisor Mark Lesko, the three town board Democrats and one Republican member. Some were made over the protests of Republican town board member Tim Mazzei and Conservative member Jane Bonner.

"I thought Karen Wilutis was a fine attorney," Bonner said. "She gave a lot of respect even when she didn't get much of it."

Lesko has said the new appointments will not result in a budget increase and are intended to increase efficiency in town hall.

A few members of the public criticized the town board for the appointments, saying the new hires should have been vetted publicly instead of in a closed session during the meeting.

"If you're going to vet candidates, we ask that you do it in open session," said local civic leader Johan McConnell.

In other appointments, John Leonard was hired as deputy commissioner of parks, recreation and sports, and cultural resources, at a salary of $91,800. Carol Bissonette, who had been deputy commissioner, was fired. Former Suffolk Legis. Brian Beedenbender will start work as Lesko's chief of staff on Monday at a salary of about $107,000, sources said.

Gretchen Penn also replaced Kevin Molloy as communications director earlier this week. She will make about $90,000, sources have said.

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