UPDATE: Town Reaches Disposition with Suspended Employee

On the day a hearing was scheduled, lawyers on both sides negotiate a deal.

Update, 5:45 p.m.: At about 3:30 p.m., an attorney for Linda Norris announced that an agreement had been reached with the town representatives after nearly five hours of negotiations.

Under the disposition, Norris, the Adult Day Care program supervisor in the town's human services department, will continue working for the town, but in the housing department, she told East Hampton Patch on Friday afternoon.

She was unsure of the exact title, as her attorneys Tom Horn and Lawrence Kelly were finalizing the details with the town, but she said she will still continue her work helping the community. The housing department, she said, was an area she was interested in working in from the start.

Kelly would not get into specifics about the disposition, including salary, noting that the town board has to ratify the agreement. He expected it to go to a vote sometime before Christmas.

"Linda has indicated to me that the resolution of this matter she feels positively about," Kelly told the dozen supporters left of the initial 75 that showed up on Friday for a hearing on her suspension. Many left throughout the day. The hearing never took place.

While the town did not drop the charges, "Everybody gives in negotiations," he said. "I believe we have reached a successful culmination of this process."

Norris was suspended for 30 days without pay on eight counts of misconduct and incompetence. She hired private attorneys to fight the charges and opted to make her hearing public, which is rarely done.

Her attorneys felt having members of the public turnout in support sent a message to the town. "I don't know what else gets that kind of turnout to Town Hall on a Friday morning," Kelly said. "It wouldn't have happened except for the efforts of today," he told her supporters.

Norris said the strong turnout of her former colleagues, volunteers at the Adult Day Care Center, and caregivers of her clients, was both "validating and overwhelming." She said, "I'm glad to have this almost put behind me," adding that she has been anxiety-ridden for two months.

Will you miss Linda Norris at the Adult Day Care Center? Leave a comment below.

Previously: About 75 people turned out at Town Hall on Friday for a hearing for a town employee who was suspended from the human services department.

However, three hours after at the hearing was supposed to begin, attorneys for the town and Linda Norris were engaged in discussions behind closed doors.

"You've had a positive impact," Lawrence Kelly, who is representing Norris with Tom Horn, told the crowd that had gathered for the hearing. "The idea Tom had to open the process to the public and bring the people's impression to the public worked well," he said.

Kelly said he expected to know more within the hour.

The town board unanimously approved suspending Norris, the Adult Day Care program supervisor, for 30 days without pay, effective Oct. 10, after eight charges — five for misconduct and three for incompetence — were brought against her by Diane Patrizio, the head of the human services department.

Norris and her attorneys decided to make the hearing public, a rare move, but one that they thought was important in fighting the charges.

Norris' supporters that packed the town hall meeting room included her family, friends, former co-workers, volunteers at Adult Day Care Center, and caregivers of clients. Some were upset the hearing was delayed for so long, saying it was inconsiderate of the town. Many said they had to leave and the crowd dwindled to less than 20 by the early afternoon.

Linda Norris' father, Ted Norris, addressed the crowd and thanked them for sticking around for as long as they had. "Your presence is being felt and it is very positive," he said.

In an interview with East Hampton Patch, he said, "It's heartwarming to show my daughter she is so well thought of. Her loving care is shown."

Ted Norris, a retired carpenter who worked at Madison Square Garden for 33 years and has been in Montauk since 1978, said he hopes his daughter can get a fair hearing and he was confident she would be vindicated. "My daughter is very passionate about the old people," he said.

Norris has worked for the town for 17 years. She lives in Montauk.

Edna Steck, who was the director of the human services department for a quarter-century until she retired in 2010, was among Norris' supporters who worked with Norris. She said she wasn't surprised at all by the large turnout to rally around Norris.

She recalled how Norris was hired to oversee the Montauk location for adult day care at first. "She's highly professional and highly competent," Steck said. "She did not a great job with the caregivers as well as the clients," she said.

pat December 07, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Supporters of Linda Norris were prompt for the 10 a.m. meeting. I left at 12:30 p.m., and the numbers were still strong. The family of Linda Norris graciously thanked those gathered. Town officials' score on this is zero--not one representative of the town acknowledged the attendance of so many voters, even simply by coming out of talks to say "we know you are here." Incredibly insensitive.
airporttruth2012 December 07, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Are you kidding me? The Town by law really can't say anything on an ongoing matter, to do so would be irresponsible and probably illegal. Even on airport matters we understand the legal parameters within which one must operate. It would have been cool to have a hearing in public. I heard there were all sorts of people lined up to testify. I want a hearing for the airport because we have plenty of people lined up to testify. These things are normally settled when the accused has done something wrong so it is no surprise that it was settled. What I don't get is if the lady had such a good case why is she moving to a new department and why did she settle on anything? Everything that her attorneys said made it sound like she would have won - hands down/no question - yet she settled? Why? I would not have agreed to anything if I was her and had a great case, just like I would not agree to any matter related to the airport that I know is untrue or incorrect. It tells me there is more to this and I for one would like to know. I guess the agreement will show what happened.
pat December 08, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I didn't expect real news. Just a simple " negotiations are continuing" would have been sufficient. Not good public relations on the part of the town.
burnttoast December 08, 2012 at 01:59 PM
now that this thing is settled and Ms. Norris and her attorney's said they wanted everything open and her attorney said he wanted the details of the charges made public i would hope they release all the specifics of the charges and Ms. Norris' response at least for the benefit of the dozens of people who sat around all day and waited for the hearing Ms. Norris and her lawyers wanted to be done in public. What were the specific allegations and charges who made them and how did they impact the settlement. After all the talk by her attorneys leading up to yesterday they owe it to the public, who they tried to use as a foil , to tell us what the charges were specifically and what Ms. Norris' response is. Mr. Kelly and Horn can't just walk away without sharing the details and the response and the settlement details.
Ross MacKae December 08, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I think the answer to your questions are self evident. Let's look at the facts with the blind support for the town not coloring them. 1.Linda Norris has worked in that capacity for decades, receiving accolades from the former director, coworkers, staff members, etc. 2.The Town Board backed the New director and suspended Linda Norris without her having any due process. 3.The Town attorneys began negotiating a settlement when the Voters arrived in such large numbers to witness and testify at the after-the-fact hearing. Question: Would the Town attorneys have even considered a settlement had Linda Norris not made her trial open to public? Conclusion: I think something is a bit rotten on the east end. Comment: Your opening statement is inaccurate!. It is not ILLEGAL for the Town representatives being courteous, polite, and showing respect for the electorate who turned out in number and were held all day without any communication. The Town representatives are fully protected under both Constitutions to communicate social gestures. Admitted the same Constitutions protect their right to remain silent, but respect is earned, not granted. The lack in courtesy has earned the Town representatives no respect this day.
Ross MacKae December 08, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I agree. It appears that the ones keeping the public in the dark is the Town. I think that since Ms Norris has made it clear that she waives her right to privacy in this matter and wants the issue heard publicly, the Town should be compelled to disclose that which they have worked so diligently to keep secret.
David Buda December 08, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Mr. MacKae, you are not correct. The Town cannot discuss all particulars of this employment matter just because a public hearing was requested by the employee. On the other hand, Ms. Norris can discuss in public whatever she wants about the specific charges and her respone thereto, unless precluded by the terms of the "settlement."
Debra Brodie Foster December 08, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Since the Wilkinson administration took over 3 years ago, many long time local employees are being threatened , bullied and dismissed in shame after years of service to this community . Edna Steck, Audrey Gaines, and Larry Penny were some of those who were drop kicked by Wilkinson and Company. One respected employee has had to retain an attorney to protect her from harassment by Mr. Wilkinson and Mrs Quigley. Another young productive bright worker , after threats by those 2 board members, left the closed door meeting in tears. She was 8 months pregnant. Next November the real employers will have their opportunity in the voting booth to drop kick this majority out of office.
Ross MacKae December 08, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Mr. Buda, you missed the point of my statement and although your statement may be correct regarding the limitations of the Town representatives discussing the specific particulars of the case, you are completely wrong in negating my statement which is that the Town representatives have the right to speak courteously and with respect to the electorate who were there to witness or testify. They were free to inform those in attendance that: "negotiations were being conducted", "We appreciate your patience," We have no idea as to how long the hearing will be delayed." etc. They also had the option of telling everyone that the negotiations do not appear to be ending soon. Please com back this afternoon at 3:00pm or whatever. There was a lot they could have done regarding courteous communication and respect to those there. Being elected to a local government position does not grant them the free pass to treat the very electorate that gave them their positions with disrespect and rudeness.
Neil December 08, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Linda Norris gets my vote for the town employee of the year. As one of the families using the Adult Day Care Center for a 91 year old, I can attest that she was simply fantastic and really impossible to replace. Note that ever since the Quilkinson team was elected there was lots of anxiety among staff and the families that the Adult Day Care Center would be shut down. They did little to alleviate these fears and their very real threats to town employees in general have not helped. I think they need to take a course on personnel management... :-)
burnttoast December 08, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I just did a quick search on this site and 27 east and can't find any articles about harassment charges against wilkinson and quigly, is this a public thing? or is something you heard? i agree with mr. buda that the town can't say anything legally but ms. norris can tell us what she was charged with and the details and what her response was and what the details of the settlement are. that would be fair to everyone who invested time and effort yesterday. all of that info should tell us whether the charges were valid and whether things were handled properly and who was right and all that. shouldn't we know what the charges were and who was making them and what all the circumstances were around the situation. Why did she agree to leave her current job and go to another department? is it a lower job? why is she saying that she always wanted to work for housing "from the start" if she was so good working for edna steck "from the start". Something is a little fishy here.
Ross MacKae December 08, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Butterntoast ... It appears that some of the questions you ask were in the article. "The town board unanimously approved suspending Norris, the Adult Day Care program supervisor, for 30 days without pay, effective Oct. 10, after eight charges — five for misconduct and three for incompetence — were brought against her by Diane Patrizio, the head of the human services department." SO the charges were levied by one person: Diane Patrizio The Town Board voted on Ms Patricio's complaint to suspend Ms Norris. The charges were misconduct and incompetence. Also mentioned in article: "Edna Steck, who was the director of the human services department for a quarter-century until she retired in 2010,.. She recalled how Norris was hired to oversee the Montauk location for adult day care at first. "She's highly professional and highly competent," Steck said" It seems to me that time speaks volumes, and timing of allegations equally speaks volumes
burnttoast December 08, 2012 at 11:31 PM
To mr. Mackae "But, Horn claims the allegations filed fail to answer "who, what, where, when and why," despite the law requiring them to be specific. "It's very difficult to defend such vagueness," he said." This is what Ms. Norris' attorney said on Dec 5 which means the charges were not detailed in his opinion, so obviously more detail was provided yesterday and all of a sudden Mr. Horn wanted to settle rather than have the hearing and get out the specifics in the public which he was demanding. By Mr. Horn's own words the charges lacked specifics which we were supposed to get from the hearing but neither Horn nor Kelly nor Norris gave us any details that might have been presented by the town that led to the settlement. After the settlement kelly left and gave none of the details and someone else said there were people seen in the town hall basement with patrizio who were obviously going to be witnesses. I and others would like to know what they were going to say and what Hors's, Kelly's and Norris's response is. We what sun light like mr. horn demanded on Wednesday.
Ross MacKae December 09, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Butterntoast.. I thank you for you additional colloquy and clarification. I believe that we are of similar position yet from oblique perspectives. One of the issues that raises such alarm in me is the Town's pulmogation of "The Big Lie." "The Big Lie" is defined, as I understand it to be; when a person or entity states 1/2 truths and innuendos loudly and frequently enough that the masses perceive that their must be some sort of validity to their claim or it wouldn't be told so often and by so many. In a Constitutional and legitimate indictment there would include a Bill of Particulars. In other-words a clear and precise explanation or definition of the charges being leveled against a person with dates, times, and specifics. It is almost impossible to defend against vague accusations. I agree so very much with you regarding this.
Ross MacKae December 09, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I may be misunderstanding you, ie "nor Norris gave us any details that might have been presented by the town that led to the settlement." As I do not fault Norris for not presenting defense evidence at this time when the accusations have not been specified to any specificity. No competent defense attorney would do so at this time. Doing so would allow the Town to tailor their prosecution to circumvent the truth further and deny them a defense. I do tend to side with Ms. Norris as she is NOT the party promulgating innuendos, and non specific charges. Such actions scream of being half truths. As one of the electorate in this community, I am extremely alarmed by the Town's actions. I do not know Ms. Norris, however, no citizen of this country in this day and time should have to endure this behavior from her own government.
burnttoast December 09, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Mr. Mackae your statements contradict themselves, make little logically sense, you can't say we have details then say we don't have them, and the charges were brought by the 5 town board members unanimously after reviewing whatever evidence of problems the town has. That's a bi-partisan vote of 5 to 0 who saw the evidence - the same evidence I thought Kelly, Horn and Norris wanted everyone to see but now is not sharing it with us or giving us their response. They decided to "settle" instead and leave us all in the dark. They and only they, as mr. Buda states, have the opportunity to give the town permission to release the information and they then can respnd publically like Mr. Kelly seems to enjoy. That's it. I gues we will all see what the settlement is whenever it becomes official. We will see what ms. Norris was willing to accept after seeing the specific evidence against her and not letting us see it. if you want to use these cute little phrases about half truths, etc, I can say that innocent people don't settle and admit to guilt.
Ross MacKae December 10, 2012 at 06:05 AM
butterntoast... I guess I have to agree that we do disagree. I have personally known of wrongfully accused individuals who were railroaded into plea agreements. If a person in this country belongs to the wrong cast and finds him/herself on the wrong side of the tracks accused by persons of a higher cast ... they are going to loose regardless of innocence or guilt. That is a reality. Now that is taking a plea bargain where guilt or innocence are the issue that is ignored. In the instant case you utilize this analogy to a civil settlement. Wrong doing has absolutely nothing to do with a civil settlement, Many settlements are made with clear statements of no wrong doing. And contrary to you innuendos regarding Ms Norris, the very fact the Town settled speaks volumes as Town doesn't settle unless it knows its going to loose. I feel it is wrong to disparage Ms Norris reputation because she accepted a settlement rather than forcing the action into a trial just to satisfy the Enquirer zeal of a few of the citizenry.
Ross MacKae December 10, 2012 at 06:06 AM
I will concede that we will never agree on this matter. You apparently believe that an accusation is proof of guilt. I might even suspect that had she been found not guilty of any wrong doing by a jury, you would still condemn her if that trial didn't allow spectators. I do not. As far as working in a different department, no sane person would go back and work for the same powers that had just wronged her. She's going to work under someone other than her tormentor. The 5 - 0 vote you referenced conveniently ignores that their "evidence" was the report of one person. (This is debating the above article. If you have independent knowledge, then please state what facts you personally know to be true that are not included in the article. Otherwise, I just agree that we will always disagree. In Summation... Ms Norris ... Congrats!!!!


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