YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A handful of firms that responded to the Town Board’s request for proposals, or RFPs, to serve as municipal counsel may learn their fate as soon as the board’s regular meeting next week.
The board has been weighing its options since it held interviews in closed session on Tuesday, May 8, with representatives of five firms interested in the permanent position. The position was left vacant on Feb. 2, when Michael McDermott’s resignation took effect.
McDermott, who also serves as town justice in Somers, was appointed town attorney by the previous administration in January 2016. Newly sworn Democratic Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert appointed the Oxman Law Group PLLC of White Plains to serve on an interim basis on Jan. 16, the day McDermott submitted his resignation, pending a search for a permanent replacement. The move, however, drew the ire of Councilmen Ed Lachterman and Tom Diana, Republicans who had been aligned with former Town Supervisor Michael Grace, with the former claiming it presented a conflict of interest because Oxman had been a supporter of local Democratic candidates and had initially led a lawsuit against the board on behalf of United Taxpayers of Yorktown president Ed Ciffone.
Gilbert denied any conflict of interest and defended his decision as being proactive “to protect the town.” The board voted along party lines, 3-2, to award a contract to Oxman, which has been receiving $9,750 a month.
Attorney Richard Abbate has taken the reins for the law firm at Town Board meetings.
When asked about the status of the recruitment process in a phone interview last week, Gilbert said, “It is my intention to try to have something done by the Aug. 7 meeting.”
Oxman is among the contenders for the permanent job. Its namesake founder and principal trial attorney, Marc S., is a former Westchester County Democratic Party executive director and chairman of the Yorktown Democratic Committee and served as town justice in Yorktown from 1976 to 1984.
Also in the running are Blanchard & Wilson LLP and McCarthy Fingar LLP, both of White Plains; Keane & Beane PC, with offices in White Plains, Fishkill and Manhattan; and Catania, Mahon, Milligram & Rider PLLC, with offices in Newburgh, Chestnut Ridge and Fishkill.