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Jan 9, 2018 5:40 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee Member Is Dropped From The Board

Si Kinsella speaking at a Wainscott CAC meeting in 2016. JON WINKLER
Jan 9, 2018 6:07 PM

Si Kinsella is no longer a member of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee.

The Wainscott resident, who had been with the committee since 2016, sent letters out to the community on Sunday saying that he was left off the current list of 2018 CAC members on the East Hampton Town website.

The committee consists of 16 Wainscott residents who discuss community issues and make recommendations to the East Hampton Town Board, which appoints the members annually after committee members make their own list of recommendations.

Speaking over the phone on Tuesday, Mr. Kinsella said that his name had been on the list recommended by the CAC when it was submitted to the Town Board for approval.

Mr. Kinsella said he first heard about his name being left off the final list from CAC Co-chair Susan Macy, who saw the list of CAC members on the East Hampton Town website last week. Mr. Kinsella said no one had contacted him, Ms. Macy or CAC Co-Chair Barry Frankel about Mr. Kinsella not being on the list before the board voted on it.

He added that Mr. Frankel did try to contact the Town Board for an explanation and said that only Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez called him back, but without “substantially” offering any reasons as to why Mr. Kinsella had been left off the list.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez could not immediately be reached for comment.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday that the board “simply did not reappoint” Mr. Kinsella and declined to comment specifically on why.

“The membership changes from time to time on each of the CACs for various reasons,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “It could have to do with attendance, changing up the dynamics, or bringing in new people who’d like to participate.”

Mr. Kinsella has spoken out about a wide range of issues in Wainscott, most recently private wells that have been found to be contaminated with perfluorinated compounds.

According to a letter obtained through the Freedom of Information Law from the town, Mr. Kinsella was chastised by Town Attorney Michael P. Sendlenski at the beginning of last year for sending out a letter ostensibly from the “environmental subcommittee of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee” that the town felt was inappropriate and beyond the CAC’s scope of authority.

Another letter from Mr. Sendlenski, from October 2016, tells Mr. Kinsella that samples he took from the Suffolk Cement property in Wainscott cannot be used “in any meaningful way,” since the town had no way of knowing how they were secured.

Mr. Frankel said on Tuesday that he and the other CAC members had signed off on the list of recommended CAC members to the Town Board for approval in December, and that Mr. Kinsella’s name was on the list.

The rest of last year’s Wainscott CAC members stayed on the board-approved 2018 list, with Michael Hansen being the only new member in 2018. Mr. Frankel said he has asked Mr. Kinsella to serve on the CAC’s subcommittees, which don’t require Town Board approval and are open to any Wainscott resident.

“I’ve heard from the co-chairs of the CAC and many of the members of the CAC and they all had reactions of shock,” Mr. Kinsella said. “I’ve heard from probably 30 to 40 members of the Wainscott community, writing to me in support and encouragement, expressing the same shock and disappointment in the Town Board.

Mr. Kinsella said that he was feeling “very troubled” by this decision, calling it part of a “trend” of the Town Board interfering with the CAC.

“For the first time, the Town Board has sent a clear message to the Wainscott CAC and the other CACs that if a member of a CAC opposes the town or questions the town, in defense or in the interests of their hamlet, they now risk being struck off,” Mr. Kinsella said. “That’s a very troubling sign of things to come.”

Despite all the confusion and drama, Mr. Kinsella said he will continue to do what he can to make Wainscott a better and safer place to live.

“Whether the Town Board is happy or I’m happy with me doing that, that’s an issue for them,” he said.

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