Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandSuffolk

Ex-Huntington board member hired for town legal work

The Huntington Town Board recently hired Stuart Besen, who was defeated for re-election to the board in November, as special assistant town attorney.

The newly created part-time salaried job pays $50,000 a year.

Although the town currently has a hiring freeze, town spokesman A.J. Carter said positions can be filled by a vote of the town board.

"There was a need for someone to handle litigation," Carter said, adding that Besen is also going to be counsel to the recently created Huntington Local Development Corp., which will have the power to issue bonds to finance private development projects.

Carter would not say if other attorneys were considered for the job.

"There are jobs where you have a need and you have someone with the talent available," Carter said. "The fit seemed good right away."

Besen is a partner in Besen and Trop in Garden City, where he said Thursday his focus is on municipal litigation, including negligence. He served one term on the town board and had been an assistant town attorney from 1998 to 2005.

"Why not hire someone who has an understanding of how government works combined with my almost 20 years of litigation?" Besen said. "I certainly have the qualifications; I've been victorious in saving the town lots of money in the past."

Town Board members Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland and Glenda Jackson each said Besen's experience in the town attorney's office and as a former town board member is valuable.

"He also has an expertise in defense of personal injury and tort claims," Cuthbertson said.

Carter said the board envisions Besen working about 14 hours a week.

The Jan. 12 resolution was approved 4 to 1. The board member who replaced Besen, Mark Mayoka, voted against it.

Mayoka, the only Republican on the board, said he voted against the measure because it lacked fiscal responsibility. He said he did not know Besen was the person to be hired.

He said he was told the position "was necessary and essential for the welfare of the residents of Huntington. I fail to see how a part-time position in the legal department is necessary and essential to the residents of Huntington."

Besen replaced Mark Capodanno on the town board in 2005. Capodanno is on the town payroll as a part-time executive assistant to the town parks commissioner, Carter said. He is paid $61 an hour, to a maximum of $50,000 a year.

Carter said Capodanno's duties include coordination of the softball leagues and the use of town fields, supervision and troubleshooting of lighting issues at the town's fields and he makes sure the playing fields are compliant with the Americans with Disability Act.

Latest Long Island News