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After 30 years, Suffolk’s bar president, 57, leaves private practice for the “chance to do good” for the 448,000 residents of Brookhaven. Q: One month ago, you took office as Brookhaven’s town attorney. What are your thoughts about your new job? A:It’s a very challenging job. For someone to make a chane in the nature of their practice after doing the same type of law for over 30 years, it is exciting to have this opportunity to be involved in helping shape the new governemnt of the town. Q: What are your responsibilities as town attorney? A:I am the lawyer for the town in all aspects. I am the lawyer for every department, for every commissioner, for every deputy commissioner, for every town counsel person and for the supervisor. Any legal problem involving the town of Brookhaven and their residents that’s not criminal in nature, which would be handled at the district attorney’s office, comes to our door. It’s a rather large law firm with many clients. Q: How large a law firm? A:If you include myself and my two deputies, that makes 15 attorneys. Q: How large was long Tuminello Besso Seligman Quinlan & Werner, your old firm in Bay Shore? A:We had six. Q: Up until the last election at least, Brookhaven town government did not have a reputation for probity and honesty. What was your reaction when you were first offered this position? A:I thought it was an exciting challenge. I knew [newly elected Democratic Town Supervisor] Bryan Foley for probably 17 years. I knew the type of person that he is and the type of government that he would bring to Brookhaven. I thought this is a great opportunity to get involved on the ground level of changes to the town I live in; changes that should be exciting and changes that should be very important to anyone who lives in the town. Q: What’s at the top of your agenda? A:Top of my agenda right now is to put in place a good management team. I’ve brought over from the Suffolk County real estate department Jim Burke, who has many years of experience in land planning and is a former town attorney and a former county attorney in Nassau. And I’ve also brought over Derek Robinson, who spent 25 years in the Suffolk County attorney’s office. He had just recently joined Devitt Spellman & Barrett in Smithtown, where he was practicing municipal law. He can bring his years of experience in general municipal litigation to this office. Q: Outside the office, what do you see as your biggest challenges? Are you the new sheriff in town? A:Yes, to some extent. There are on-going investigations still by the U.S. authorities and the district attorney’s office [into corruption charges associated with the prior Republican administration]. We’ll fully cooperate with any investigations by those authorities. The Foley administration has made it clear that any sort of conduct like that will not be tolerated. And we’re encouraging people that if they are aware of any problems to bring it to my attention as town attorney. If we believe there is something that we can investigate we will undertake an investigation. If we believe that it is more appropriate to send it out to a state or federal authority, we will not only send it out, we will cooperate fully with them in any investigation. Q: Wherever the trail may lead? A:Right. And who every may be involved. Q: What became of your private practice: A:I left the partnership. My area of practice, which was generally personal injury, went to another law firm. Long Tuminello decided not to bring in another partner to do personal injury work. Q: What’s the economic impact of this career shift for you? A:Without putting it in dollars and cents, I’ve certainly taken a significant reduction in my salary and benefits of being a partner in a law firm. Q: How large a hit, percentage-wise? A:About a 50 percent drop in income and benefits. Q: You had been a partner at Long Tuminello since 1982 and you’ve been practicing law for more than 30 years. What impelled you to do this at this point in their career? A:I’ve been involved with local politics in the past. I am a former town leader here and as a Democrat I realized that this was an opportunity to become part of changing government for the better in the town, an opportunity that wasn’t there before and may not be there in the future. I could afford to do this. My children are out of college and their education is paid for. It’s something that I felt was a chance to do good that might not be there for me in the future. Q: You’re still the president of the Suffolk County Bar Association. How has this change impacted your duties there? A:Unfortunately, it has had a greater impact on my duties than I thought it would. And that’s because of the nature of the change in government over here at this point. There’s a lot of transition time that’s required my services. Still very active in the bar association, but I’ve had to put off some activities. Q: You were a military policeman at one point in your life. Has any of that experience factored into your job here? A:Not as a military policeman, but as an army officer. It’s just sort of an indication of my commitment to do what I thought was right for my country. I don’t see this as a police position for me. I’m willing to serve my neighbors now in the town. I’ve always had an interest in being involved in government. This is the first time I’ve had a significant opportunity to work toward seeing some of those ideals realized; to see that people are given a fair shake; to see that people are treated fairly and equally; that government is in place to serve the people, not the other way around. Q: Might we see a Quinlan candidacy at some point? A:I don’t see myself as a political candidate. Q:</ Is that not ever or not now? A:Someday would I become a judge? That I would think about. I don’t think I’m going to be a politician running for state Assembly or governor. I’m too old to start playing that game. � Andrew Harris can be reached at [email protected] .

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