Truth be told, we had our doubts about the official fisheries lobbyist for East Hampton Town when Arnold Leo was first appointed some years ago. However, in the time that he held the job and based on reports from people in the industry, our opinion changed.
This year, despite a sharp reduction in the town budget line for his position, Mr. Leo had intended to stay on, working with Albany and Washington. That is, until he was precipitously fired by the town board along party lines earlier this month. No one has been named to replace him, leaving the town without representation at upcoming important regional meetings.
If there were valid criticisms of Mr. Leo’s performance, as Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has hinted, we have not heard them, nor has Mr. Leo, who was surprised by the Republicans’ sudden disapproval. With Mr. Leo’s $15,000 stipend for 2011 the only thing at stake and already in the budget, it would make sense for the board to return him to the post — at least until a replacement is settled upon. There are issues and regulatory battles just ahead for the town’s commercial and recreational fishing interests, and it is essential that an experienced hand is at the helm.