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Jul 8, 2009 11:36 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Housing director claims discrimination by Southampton Town

Jul 8, 2009 11:36 AM

Southampton Town Housing Director John White has filed a notice of claim against the town, and a charge of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights, asserting that the town has violated his civil rights since he was hired by the town in April 2003.

In a seven-page complaint filed with the state, Mr. White, who is African-American, maintains that he has received less compensation than other administrators at Town Hall—such as the highway superintendent, town attorney, and town planning and development director—has not been provided with adequate staff, has been undermined by the Town Board, and that the town has systematically attempted to abolish his office. All of this has been done, Mr. White charges, because of his race and ethnicity.

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said she would not comment on the case other than saying that Mr. White’s charges of racism were baseless. “I don’t conduct myself with any racial bias,” she said.

The notice of claim, also filed this week, is a first step toward a potential lawsuit. According to Mr. White’s attorney, Frederick K. Brewington, the dispute is in its very preliminary stages, and his client has not stated what he is seeking in terms of damages. “That is all to be determined,” he said.

When he was first hired by the town, Mr. White received an annual salary of $80,000, with an oral agreement from then-Town Supervisor Patrick Heaney for a $10,000 raise the following year, which Mr. White said was granted. By 2004, with additional stipends, Mr. White’s salary was $94,600. According to Mr. White, other top administrators at the time were making $94,700. In 2005, Mr. White received a $100 raise, pushing his salary to $94,700, but the salaries of other administrators increased to $98,000.

According to Mr. White’s claim, the Town Board hired a consultant to perform a compensation study that, Mr. White suggests, was due to review his salary. “This suggestive behavior was one of the first times I noticed some dissent among the town regarding my position and salary,” Mr. White states in his complaint. That compensation study, Mr. White says, concluded that his salary should be equal to his “white counterparts.” Shortly after, Mr. White states, he complained in writing to the town that his salary should be equivalent to other administrators at his level, and never received a response.

But Mr. White’s claims the more serious aspects of the case started in 2006 when his salary was raised to $98,500 while other department heads saw their salaries increase to $102,000, and again in 2007 when his pay was increased to $100,000 while the pay of “other white top administrators” jumped to $106,080. After it reached $100,000, Mr. White says, his salary was frozen.

Then, in November 2007, when Linda Kabot was elected town supervisor, Mr. White claims her first order of business was to remove him from his position and dismantle the housing office. According to Mr. White, Ms. Kabot publicly stated that his background and qualifications were insufficient for the needs of the housing office. The Town Board then transferred the duties of the housing office to the departments of Human Services and Land Management and moved Mr. White to the Community Development Department.

In his complaint, Mr. White states that these actions are “clearly discriminatory.” He listed his qualifications: licensed architect since 1986; 20 years of experience working on community renewal projects for the Town of Hempstead; project architect for six years with a Manhattan-based firm, where he managed multimillion-dollar developments; and the creation of a housing authority for the Town of Southampton, where he coordinated such affordable housing projects as Bridgehampton Mews.

Abolishing the housing authority, Mr. White alleges, was the town’s attempt to circumvent his civil service protections. Mr. White’s complaints reads: “The Town and the Board internalized prejudices and racism based on my heritage as an African-American man working for the Town of Southampton where demographics currently illustrate a mostly white community with a long history of differential treatment towards non-whites, including matters relating to hiring of attorneys and other professionals.”

Mr. White said on December 11, 2007, his pay was reduced from $100,000 to $80,000, while other administrators received raises from $110,300 to $115,000. “My administrative salary was the only salary reduced,” Mr. White states in his complaint. “The administrative salaries were never cut across the board; I was the sole exception. In fact, administrative salaries of my white counterparts were increased.”

As did Ms. Kabot, Southampton Town Attorney Dan Adams reserved comment due to the pending litigation, but added, “Whatever the town has done or not done has been on valid grounds and has nothing to do with race.”

Mr. White remains employed by the town.

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The WHOLE COUNRTY is getting rael tired of seeing this race card being played. I can not wait to see how this is going to be handled
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 2, 09 7:23 PM
The discrimination occured when he got the job. Why does he think he ws chosen?
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Jul 2, 09 9:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
I hate it when someone plays the race card (or other card) when uncalled for.
I have observed John White since he was hired (although not close up, I will admit). His job performance always been a big disappointment to me .
If the town were truly that biased, he would not have been hired in the first place. Perhaps his failure to keep up with others salary-wise is based on poor job performance.
Seems like a nice guy but fairly incompetent.

By baywoman (162), southampton on Jul 2, 09 10:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Jul 3, 09 6:40 AM
what phanex said.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Jul 3, 09 6:53 AM
Boy i wish i made 80,000 - 100,000 dollars . I would not be complaining. I could afford to live in southampton town ship. All this money these people are making and they still have no clue were it goes? Boy if i was making that I could account for every dollar. Just raise our taxes again to give yourself another rasie.
By frmr 1203 hauler (6), HB on Jul 3, 09 7:43 AM
why do we even need a housing commissioner? To supervise lawncare and fountains for the mansions on Ox Pasture Road?
By littleplains (305), olde england on Jul 3, 09 7:55 AM
After reading what "baywoman" wrote maybe his pay was cut because he was NOT doing the job. If he was not working up to standard maybe he shoud have been fired,but town was worried about race card being played as it is now.This type of thing all so goes on in Southampton PD and it should be stopped.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 3, 09 7:55 AM
I agree with Baywoman.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jul 3, 09 10:37 AM
I hope to see the day when AFFIRMATIVE ACTIION is removed and people are hired based on their ability to perform their given jobs...Perhaps the caucasion race should have a similar law on the books. Wouldn't that be an interesting turn of events...What would they do then.....
By lgfla (8), Southampton on Jul 3, 09 10:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
lgfla : That won't happen in our life time. did you know there is pending legislation that will make Hate crimes penalties more severe but only if committed against blacks , latinos , gays , etc. but these harsher penalties won't apply if the victim is White ?
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jul 3, 09 12:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
IPrivateerMatt
I understand and there should be punishment for HATE crimes. I'm speaking of affirmative action and the way our population is exploding in a non-caucasion way, in another 20 years this law may be obsolete. I really should be abolished now
By lgfla (8), Southampton on Jul 3, 09 12:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
John..., in a economic down turn, take some simply advise. Take a look in the mirror, thank God you still have a job, your familys not looking for food or housing, like some of us. Stop your bitchin, loose the race card crap, and grow up. This is not the type of conduct do I (as a taxpayer) care to hear from Town employees especially when our taxes pay your salary. I know my Town Board members, (Rep or Dem) NONE are racists, If you dont like working at TownHall, by all means Please leave!!!! We've ...more
By nazz (22), Flanders on Jul 3, 09 1:03 PM
"Affordable housing" is a joke. The vested interests have no interest in offering anything more than token support for it. This "Housing office" is itself an example of one of these tokens.

Southampton Zoning rules dictate that the only thing you can build here is mega-mansions, and if you want to be affordable, you can live up-island and commute 2+ hours each day.

Which, by the way, is what John White does. He commutes from Hicksville, or some far-off place.

Zoning ...more
By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Jul 3, 09 3:16 PM
Is Mr. White THAT bad at his job? Or is this ill-concealed racism?

Where is that old rabble-rouser Lucius Ware who has a whole deck of race cards which he's never reluctatnt to play?
By Frank Wheeler (1809), Northampton on Jul 3, 09 3:20 PM
Also, i've seen him, and i didnt think he was african-american; he's very light-skinned; some of his "WHITE COUNTERPARTS" are actually darker than he is.

Of course, i dont sit around thinking about race and ethnicity all day, like these parasite lawyers do. How much time will the town attorneys office have to waste on this stupid lawsuit?

Perhaps this is why minorities are not hired as often as their "WHITE COUNTERPARTS"; perhaps employers are fearful of these lawsuits.,,,
By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Jul 3, 09 3:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
"and the creation of a housing authority for the Town of Southampton, where he coordinated such affordable housing projects as Bridgehampton Mews."

Like the creation of the Mews and....? What have you done for the past 6 years? How much affordable housing do we actually have? What did you do for ~$100k year as Town Housing Director?

Looks like the Southampton Business Alliance Housing Initiative Corp. got tired of waiting for the people employed by the Town to do their job. Sagaponack ...more
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Jul 3, 09 3:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
John White is not a leader. He's basically a whiner. He received a pay cut because the only thing he's done in the past six years is oversee 7 affordable housing apartments with extremely strict guidelines Let the market sort it out like it is. We don't need you John. Go take your savings and go away....
By lirider (265), Westhampton Beach on Jul 3, 09 9:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
Let's hope with the Supreme Court decision in regards to the firefighters in CT the race card will put an end to suing due to race. The burden of legal expenses should fall on the loser..that might make someone think before they move ahead with a suit and free up our court systems.
By BeachGal (72), Hampton Bays on Jul 4, 09 8:37 AM
I agree with all of you! And furthermore, they are all overpaid in my opinion. People are losing jobs by the thousands everyday. He should be glad he can pay his bills. The race card is just a fear tactic to get the town to give him what he wants. The only thing this kind of action does is to dilute the real cases of blatant racism that happen everyday. People have become very numb to these kind of claims. Al Sharpton should be riding in any day.
By squeaky (289), hampton bays on Jul 4, 09 9:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
Another thing to look at is that Mr. White came from the Town of Hempstead.
I grew up in Hempstead in the 60's and it WAS a great town but look at it now. The race card was payed there and it is now a dump. Seems like Mr. White should go back to were he came from. The Town better stand up to this creep and get him the hell out of Southampton.As others have said what does he do anyway??? They talk about money problems,so lets save 100,000 and tell him to pack his bags and get out of town.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 4, 09 11:30 AM
Blacks playing the race card today, are contributing to an injustice to those Blacks who truly have reason too. But, now its like the boy who cried wolf one too many times. Thanks John you just watered it down a little more, your brothers must be proud.
By nazz (22), Flanders on Jul 4, 09 9:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Now that we are in such tight financial time,I hope the New Super Anna T WILL HAVE A CLOSE LOOK AT ALL the departments tha have sprung up durinh the Reign OF King Pat HEANY and Queen LINDA,,Mr White you are fortunate to have a job,,,What do you do??????????
By Etians rd (515), Southampton on Jul 5, 09 11:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
I, too agree with baywoman. A discrimination lawsuit in his case would be totally unfounded and without merit. Shame on John White for using a legitimate option in such an unjustified way.
By Yes we can (16), Eastport on Jul 5, 09 1:57 PM
I guess all of you are all white?
By tulip (8), calverton on Jul 5, 09 3:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 5, 09 9:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
i am white, my wife is carribbean and several of my closest friends are african american ... from egypt, south africa and morocco - try telling THEM they are 'african american' and they wil laugh in your face.
is john white black? if he is why cant he say it/why does he have to try and increase his societal footprint by refering to 2 of the largest continents on the planet?
your shud hear these people speak about race...its only the whites that are not allowed to have racial preferences.
everyone ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Jul 6, 09 8:29 AM
"david h"
Like you I have many freinds of different race. I will never understand why people can not just say they are "americans" and leave it at that.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 6, 09 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
John you're not getting raises because you don't do a thing. Why is the County threatening to take back all the affordable housing parcels they donated to the Town? Maybe becuase absolutly nothing has been down with them! Do the Town a favor and leave!
You want a raise produce results!
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Jul 6, 09 9:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
Pretty abysmal behavior on Mr. White's part. What ever happened to the clause "serves at the pleasure of the Supervisor?" Did Mr. White have a contract or was he solely civil service? Even if he is civil service departments are downsized/eliminated all the time. I remember when it was announced he was appointed to the position, and I thought it seemed to be just another layer of govenment being added for show. Skip, what were you thinking?
I guess Mr. White will look for a buyout (and his attorney ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Jul 6, 09 4:56 PM
hmmmm, maybe they simply don't like him because he's a jackass and jackasses come in all shapes, sizes and color!
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Jul 6, 09 10:17 PM
4 members liked this comment
....Well, many of you commenting sound rather racist to begin with.
First of all, the reason Affirmative Action was implemented was because blacks were and STILL ARE (2009) being discriminated on a daily basis. If your peoples were continually being denied employment or advances in job opportunities because of your skin color...what would you choose to call it? Why is it that any time a black person is bringing up a charge of discrimination you guys call it "playing the race card"? If ...more
By eb (2), Southampton on Jul 7, 09 4:22 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 7, 09 10:50 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 7, 09 11:50 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 8, 09 9:09 AM
Any job should be filled according to your ability to do the job. Why would anyone want a job because of their color? EB, nothing here is racist. When someone cries wolf they dilute the claim for anyone with a legitimate complaint. Obama is not president because of his color, he was voted in by a democratic system. How racist are you to call everyone here racist? He is being criticized for being ineffective in his position. My children are being raised just to view each person as individuals not ...more
By squeaky (289), hampton bays on Jul 8, 09 10:08 AM
2 members liked this comment
Last time I checked, whites are still the majority in this counrty and the majority elected a black man. Martin Luther King said not to judge by the color of one's skin, but the content of one's character! What happened to that?
We should all be judged by the work we do. That should be the final guideline in every case, black or white!
By Waincott Resident (42), Wainscott on Jul 8, 09 12:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
The nerve of this guy! What makes him think he should be treated like everyone else. It is obvious he is inferior. We should tar and feather him and run him out of town on a rail, like the good ole days. After all everything here is ours fair and square!
By youteast (11), East Hampton on Jul 9, 09 11:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Interesting claim! The town jobs that Mr. White uses as salary comparisons is like comparing raw apples to cooked spinach. Town Highway Supt. and Town Planning Dir. are complex multi-level management positions with responsibilities that far exceed those of Mr. White in the capacity that he has served and executed in terms of managing people (0) and project completion (1). As well there is little provision in the current Town code for affordable housing because land here is too expensive and the ...more
By maggie (16), East Quogue on Jul 9, 09 11:53 AM
2 members liked this comment
It can be said that most people will never understand racism I mean look at how ignorant youteast is lol. It amazes me that you had the mental capacity to type that, it must have taken you a while huh? Why don't you try saying that statement around the wrong people?....... Whats true is that ethnicity is spreading rapidly throughout the United States....Ethnic people were here first.....and the world as we know is reverting back to the way it was before settlers came and destroyed everything.....so ...more
By Lahleas (12), Southampton on Jul 9, 09 1:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Lahleas, I think he was using sarcasm....lol
By squeaky (289), hampton bays on Jul 9, 09 4:19 PM
John White is useless. I understand that is why the Business Alliance formed the new Corp. to build workforce housing - they kept hitting a brick wall with Mr White so took matters into their own hands and in 14 months they held a ground breaking on their first project. And they did it in their spare time. No paid employess only volunteers - What has Mr. White done in 6 years with his six figure salary? If he worked for my company he would be fired years ago!
By WorkingWoman (5), Southampton on Jul 9, 09 9:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Zowie.! What a bunch of racists! It's nice there's a site like this to flush you buggers out. Just when I thought the "n" word was stuffed back into the closet, you guys are just dying to use it, aren't you? What a proud American moment for every man, woman and child to read. I wonder...if the Bible was written and put on a blog like this today, would it have ever survived? Would there be a Christian religion that became the very founding of the nation you nuts are seemingly so proud of today? ...more
By Dodger (156), Southampton Village on Jul 11, 09 12:02 PM
I get it Dodger, he's black so he is only being criticized because he's black. I guess a bunch of bigots like on here are too simple minded to form any other thought than that. How simple of you.
By squeaky (289), hampton bays on Jul 11, 09 5:01 PM
its all good, he can sue cuz hes black. if he was a white chick, with a good reason to sue it would be wrong
By ratboy (17), sousd-hampton on Jul 12, 09 10:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
My God, I have never seen such blatant racism on display in such an overt manner. For a moment I had to check an make sure I did not inadvertently sign on to the KKK website. You posters should be ashamed of yourselves.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 12, 09 1:08 PM
"dagdavid"
If you read what was siad it is not racisme as you say but it is people stating facts fo the matter. Even people who work with this person state how he does not do his job.So tell me what would you do with someone who does not do his job??
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jul 14, 09 12:57 PM
SJD, I have, in fact, read every single comment on this page and, contrary to your assertion that people are stating facts, what I see is are opinions. An overwhelming majority of which are blatantly racist and hateful. To SQUEAKY, yes, it does appear that many posters here "are too simple minded for any other thought" than a hateful, racist one.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 16, 09 9:33 AM
dagdavid, please list for us the accomplishments of Mr. White in his 6 years of working for the Town? Those are OUR TAX DOLLARS that are paying his six figure salary. No matter the color of his skin - what has he done to justify his position with the Town. Do you see any affordable housing done by him anywhere in this town???? 6 years on the payroll - name his accomplishments PLEASE ! I do not have a racist bone in my body and in my opinion this is reverse discrimination - if he was caucasian he ...more
By WorkingWoman (5), Southampton on Jul 17, 09 7:41 PM
Hey workingwoman, how can you claim not to have a racist bone in your body and then start screaming about "reverse discrimination" and using the "race card"?
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jul 18, 09 4:48 PM
This new trend of white, neocon zealots screaming "Reverse Racism!" would be hilarious if it weren't so disturbing. White men especially have absolutely no idea whatsoever what it truly means to be a victim of racism based upon the color of your skin.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 18, 09 4:51 PM