Written by Alan Krawitz Friday, 12 March 2010 00:00
Brian Harty, the former mayor of Port Jefferson and official with the Brookhaven Department of Buildings and Fire Prevention, was named as Farmingdale Village’s new Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer at the last village board meeting on March 1.
Harty, who replaces former Clerk Dave Smollet, was hired at a yearly salary of $100,000. His contract is set to run until April 2011. Prior to his work with the Town of Brookhaven, Harty served as an economic development official with Brooklyn Union Gas (now Con Edison) and the Gas Technology Institute.
Harty was appointed to Port Jefferson’s board in 2003 and became mayor in 2007. He resigned from the Brookhaven Department of Buildings on Jan. 13, 2009. His term as mayor ended in July 2009. He opted not to run for re-election in June 2009.
At the March 1 meeting, Georgiana Sena, a 10-year Farmingdale resident whom some have called the “village reformer,” questioned Harty’s tenure as both mayor of Port Jefferson and as an official with the Brookhaven Department of Buildings. Sena also publishes a newsletter that tracks village business and regularly questions Mayor George “Butch” Starkie’s administration regarding expenditures and other budget items.
Sena, who ran two unsuccessful campaigns for trustee in the village in 2008 and 2009, asked about media reports in both Newsday and the Times Beacon-Record in Port Jefferson that chronicled a public reprimand of then-mayor Harty last year for allegedly mismanaging village finances, failing to communicate with the board and utilizing a village computer to send emails to a dating site.
Harty has denied any allegations of mismanagement and poor communication. Moreover, Bob Juliano, Port Jefferson’s village administrator, had determined that no village codes or laws had been violated because the village had no policy regarding the sending or receiving of emails using village equipment.
At the time, Port Jefferson trustee Carmine Dell Aquila said there were “a tremendous amount of issues with [Harty’s] behavior and his procedural conflicts and misleading information.”
Harty declined to answer any questions, referring all inquiries to Starkie.
Asked about the Port Jefferson Board’s no-confidence vote in Harty, Starkie seemed unfazed.
“He was a mayor on a split board and sadly these things happen in politics. I wanted to know the facts and was satisfied with Mr. Harty’s explanation. These were allegations not facts,” Starkie said.
Regarding allegations that Harty utilized a village computer for personal reasons, Starkie took a pragmatic approach stating that he didn’t think it appropriate for village employees to use village computers for personal business, but that he wasn’t sure what Harty was doing on the site, only that it was personal email.
“I also live in the real world and if I let every person go at Starkie Brothers Garden Center that I caught for tweeting, or using their personal email, I would be there by myself,” said Starkie. “I still do not condone it. I will remind all village staff of our policy.”
Asked for comment about Harty’s hiring in Farmingdale, Aquila, a former Farmingdale resident himself, did not hold back. In an emailed statement, he said “Unbelievable. Your board should be ashamed of themselves. Even his buddies at Crookhaven (sic) turned him loose.”
He added, “Does everyone think it’s okay to sell out your residents for political or other personal gain, did you look into his bar violations?”
Aquila was referring to Harty’s co-ownership of the Old Port Pub on Main Street in Port Jefferson with his business partner John Springer. Springer was one of four people arrested at the bar on Dec. 13, 2008 on State Liquor Authority violations that included selling alcohol to minors and gambling on the premises.
According to state records, Springer paid a civil penalty of $3,000 last year to resolve the issue.
Starkie said he and the trustees were aware of Harty’s co-ownership of the Old Port Pub.
“I was told he was in the process of selling his interest in the business,” Starkie said. “I did not know about the issues with his business partner nor do I think it would have had any effect on my hiring decision.”