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Amityville trustees object to village justice appointee

Amityville Village Mayor James Wandell has appointed an associate village justice over the objections of two village trustees.

The appointee, Alison M. Varley, formerly the Zoning Board of Appeals chairwoman, is an attorney with about 10 years experience, most recently as deputy county attorney at the Nassau County attorney's office from 2010 through 2013. She teaches police science at Nassau BOCES' Joseph M. Barry Career and Technical Education Center in Westbury.

Trustees Kevin Smith and Dennis Siry at Monday night's Village Board meeting questioned if she had adequate criminal justice experience, turning her swearing-in ceremony -- typically a grip-and-grin photo op for the nominee's family and friends -- into a tense encounter.

"She was great as a ZBA person, but I don't know as associate justice," Siry said, adding that the only notice of the appointment was an email that day. Smith also said he'd asked Wandell to discuss it before the appointment, but had gotten no response.

"I'm deeply saddened that is the way you feel," Varley said. "I graduated in the top third of my law class, I civilly prosecuted child abuse and neglect cases, and I teach criminal law and vehicular and traffic law every day." She added: "That is my daily experience. I'm sorry you don't feel that is enough."

Shortly afterward, Smith and Siry joined the other trustees for an awkward celebratory photo with Varley.

Later, trustee Nick LaLota said Smith and Siry had failed to offer any of their own candidates in the past month and a half. "It's a pity such a spectacle was made in front of the family," he said.

Varley will be paid an annual salary of $10,800 for the part-time job. She will replace Elizabeth Niemi, who resigned this fall.

Niemi worked as a Legal Aid attorney and served as a federal probation officer before her 2006 appointment.

Tracy Cullen will replace Varley on the ZBA.


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