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Monday, December 19, 2011

Mayor names Small to big post

Wallingford Law Dept. shuffle involves three

As published in the Record Journal, Saturday December 17, 2011

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

— The town’s new corporation counsel is a familiar face in the Law Department.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. announced Friday that Town Attorney Janis Small would be taking over as corporation counsel, filling a vacancy created when Adam Mantzaris retired after 37 years. Small has been town attorney since 1988.

The appointment comes amid a shuffle of personnel in the Law Department. Assistant Town Attorney Gerald E. Farrell Sr. will take over the duties of town attorney, but on a part-time basis, and local attorney Geoffrey T. Einhorn was named the new assistant town attorney.

In her new role, Small, 53, will have more job security. Both the town attorney and the corporation counsel are appointed by the mayor, but the mayor also has the power under the charter to remove a town attorney. Corporation counsel is a classified service job, meaning that if a new mayor were elected, he or she could not remove Small.

“Full-time classified positions, those job openings don’t come along very often,” Small said. “I enjoy the work; it’s an area of law I want to remain in. This was a good opportunity for me.”

Dickinson said that while the town attorney is the head of the Law Department and oversees the corporation counsel, the duties of the two are very similar.

Town Councilor Jerry Farrell, Jr., a Republican who did not seek re-election in November and is the son of Gerald E. Farrell Sr., had expressed interest in the open positions in the

Law Department, but ultimately told Dickinson he no longer wanted to be considered.

“I started my own business, and that’s occupying me full time,” he said. “I don’t know that I would have the time.”

Farrell Jr. added that if he were appointed to a position in the office, his father would have had to leave the office because of nepotism policies.

“I didn’t want the mayor to have to make that choice,” he said. “Him staying on is best for the town.”

Farrell Sr., 69, has been assistant town attorney for 28 years, and was retained as counsel for the town before that, in the 1970s. Dickinson said that Farrell has spent a number of years doing legal work for the town’s utility departments, and he didn’t want to lose that experience, necessitating the shift to a part-time town attorney position.

“Gerry wasn’t interested in a full-time position,” Dickinson said. “We didn’t want to lose that expertise.”

Farrell Sr. said that while he couldn’t commit full-time and drop his private practice, he wanted to continue “to see the town move forward.”

“I’ve lived in town for 45 years; I’m proud of the town and I want to see it continue,” he said. “Being involved with helping that come about is important to me.”

Einhorn, who operates a private practice on Route 5, will join the Law Department as a part-time employee. He has been practicing law for 12 years, including 10 for a firm in Hamden and more recently at his Wallingford office. He has been a resident of Wallingford since 2002.

“The mayor is a very persuasive guy,” Einhorn said of his decision to take the job. “It’s an honor to be asked. It seems to complement my practice.”

Einhorn, 39, said that he had worked on cases in which the town was a defendant and had experience with Small and Farrell Sr.

Dickinson said the Law Department is “an important asset,” and he was happy to say there would be “no major changes” in service.

“They bring a lot of experience and legal knowledge to the town,” he said.

Small will make $136,162 in her new job, Farrell Sr. will make $25,000 in his part time role and Einhorn will earn $23,166, according to Personnel Director Terrence Sullivan. The new appointments will take effect Jan. 3.