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Suffolk Civil Service chief Alan Schneider resigns

Alan Schneider filed a letter of resignation late

Alan Schneider filed a letter of resignation late Monday, just hours after a state Supreme Court judge had temporarily reinstated him as Suffolk County's top Civil Service official. Credit: David Pokress

Hours after a judge temporarily reinstated Alan Schneider as Suffolk County's top Civil Service official, the 36-year county veteran late Monday filed a letter of resignation.

“I wrote the letter over the weekend, but I wanted to see the results of the case, and the court decided there was no reason for me to go,” Schneider said in an interview.

But he said, “It was obvious they did not want me there. So now [County Executive Steve] Bellone gets what he wants.”

State Supreme Justice Joseph Santorelli temporarily restored Schneider to his post after Babylon and Brookhaven towns said Bellone illegally ousted him as county personnel director and installed Jo-Anne Taormina without getting legislature approval.

Santorelli's order is effective until March 12, when he is scheduled to hear the towns’ request for a preliminary injunction.

It was unclear Monday night how Schneider's resignation  affects the case.

Santorelli, in his ruling, said unless the legislature acts to confirm Taormino, Bellone was not to interfere “in any way with … Schneider’s performance of the powers, duties and responsibilities of county personnel officer.”

The order came after a half-hour closed hearing in chambers. County attorney Dennis Brown declined to comment immediately.

Bellone spokesman Jason Elan said later that Bellone would "immediately go to the Appellate Division to seek a stay" of Santorelli's order.

The towns argued they were damaged by Bellone’s move because Suffolk's top Civil Service official oversees not only the merit system for county workers but for employees of towns and villages, as well as schools, libraries and fire districts.

The towns said the personnel officer has wide power affecting towns including certifying payrolls, establishing competitive Civil Service lists and exams and approval of promotions.

Theodore Sklar, attorney for the towns, said the county website also identifies Taormina as “acting personnel director” when the county has no authorized job with that title.

“Babylon and Brookhaven are immediately and irreparably aggrieved and harmed when the civil service system is administered by a person who is not duly appointed and approved,” Sklar said.

The towns also said Schneider, as an appointee with a term, under law was to remain as a holdover to protect the independence of the agency until the county legislature confirms Bellone's nominee for the post.

Prior to the court ruling, Bellone in an interview released by his office said, “Allegations have come forward that have prompted serious concern.” Bellone said he was ordering the hiring of an outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation.

Bellone declined to disclose the nature of the allegations or the name of the outside attorney hired to conduct the inquiry.

Schneider said he was not aware of any allegation against him, and that the issue played no role in his decision to step aside.

Before the scheduled end of Schneider's term on Feb. 12, Bellone told him he would not reappoint him to another term. All 10 town supervisors then issued a letter calling for Schneider’s reappointment.

On Feb. 15, Bellone issued a news release announcing Taormina's nomination after county executive aides had removed Schneider from his office.

Schneider said Monday it was “time to seek other employment." He thanked officials in Babylon and Brookhaven and county lawmakers including Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) for supporting him.

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