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Sep 19, 2018 9:26 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Approves Resignation For Two Who Never Resigned

Sep 19, 2018 10:44 AM

The Southampton Town Board approved the resignation of two founding members of the Southampton Arts and Culture Committee on September 11—even though neither person officially turned in a letter of resignation.

The two members, Brenda Simmons and Dorothy Lichtenstein, were both listed as members of the committee until recently. According to the committee’s chairwoman, Hope Sandrow, she was asked by a town official to provide a list of committee members who were serving. Along with that list, she told the official that both Ms. Simmons and Ms. Lichtenstein no longer wanted to serve.

For Ms. Lichtenstein, that was accurate. In fact, on Tuesday morning, she said she never officially accepted her appointment to the committee, noting that her name was “listed mistakenly.”

Even though she never officially sent a letter of resignation, Ms. Lichtenstein said she asked to have her name removed from the site.

Ms. Simmons, however, when asked on Tuesday morning why she resigned, was stunned. “I did not put in an official resignation,” she said. “Part of this could be from me not attending enough meetings, to be fair.”

She added that there is a rule that members are not allowed to miss more than four meetings, and, according to Ms. Sandrow, Ms. Simmons had attended only one meeting since the board was created 18 months ago.

Ms. Sandrow refused to speak negatively of any of the board members, both past and present, noting that she wants everyone to get along.

“It wasn’t so much that they resigned. They just could not make the meetings,” she said. “In order to prosper and make our projects successful … we need everyone involved.”

After Town Board members voted on the resolution, a copy was sent to Ms. Sandrow, and the word that jumped off the paper, in her eyes, was “resignation.”

“I never used the word resignation,” she said. “It’s a misunderstanding.”

According to town officials, it is common to use the word “resignation” in resolutions when removing people from committees. But most resignations are voted upon by the board after people ask to step off of committees.

“I usually have something in writing,” Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said on Tuesday, admitting that he erroneously assumed Ms. Simmons and Ms. Lichtenstein had asked to be removed from the board. “I didn’t check in this case to make sure there was a formal resignation.”

Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni, who sponsored the resolution, said he was surprised to find out on Tuesday that Ms. Simmons never turned in her resignation.

“The chair of the Arts and Culture Committee submitted those as resignations,” he said. “I assumed there was a conversation with those members.”

Mr. Schneiderman said if either Ms. Simmons or Ms. Lichtenstein still want to serve, it would be an honor to have them come back to the committee. He added that the resolution that was approved by the board members could be recalled and amended.

The surprise resignations come at a time when the committee is finally getting on track. In fact, later this month, on September 29, the committee plans to host Southampton Arts and Culture, or SHACC, On The Road, where 16 members of the community will load onto a bus and travel to the Robert Wilson Watermill Center and Madoo Conservancy. The tour will be hosted by Mr. Schneiderman, and Ms. Sandrow will be the guide.

Mr. Schiavoni called Ms. Sandrow the “brainchild” of the committee, which was created to promote the arts and many different cultures of Southampton.

He added that Southampton is a destination for many different artists, along with a big part of the economy. Which is why, he said, the “On The Road” event is fitting.

Something else the committee has worked on is a calendar where nonprofit organizations can post their cultural or artistic events.

The calendar, Ms. Sandrow said, is available to nonprofits on both the North Fork and South Fork, and is intended to get groups to collaborate when planning their events, in order to avoid competing events being planned on the same day.

For example, if an organization in East Hampton plans to have an event on the same day as the Parrish Art Museum, the calendar would indicate that.

“It’s really hard to drive to both of them,” Ms. Sandrow said, explaining that traffic in the summer can be horrendous. “The idea is to help prevent conflicting events.”

When traffic is heavy, events like On The Road could help get people out to view the cultural institutions in Southampton.

Those interested in attending the first one on September 29 are invited to RSVP to Mr. Schiavoni by emailing him at tjschiavoni@southamptontownny.gov. The buses leave from Town Hall on Hampton Road at 10 a.m. and are expected to return by 4 p.m. Organizers are encouraging attendees to bring a bag lunch.

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What a dumb story
By HB90 (160), southampton on Sep 19, 18 8:20 PM
3 members liked this comment
SHACC moving ahead towards its second year with a new mix of committee members without two valued ones who couldn't participate as they had wanted to when they accepted. Sadly this article focuses on a side issue - including misrepresenting that Sandrow presented this change as resignations which the reporter and Schiavoni know isn't the case - instead of focusing on the important work done to benefit the community; SHACC's call for more folks to become involved and participate.
By blue moon (7), Southampton on Sep 20, 18 11:39 AM
Guess the Board needs people that have input and attend meetings. Don't need honorary members. jmo
By knitter (1725), Southampton on Sep 20, 18 1:07 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser