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Jun 13, 2008 3:35 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Deputy Mayor orders blogger to 'cease and desist'

Jun 13, 2008 3:35 PM

Westhampton Beach Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler has filed a cease and desist letter with Dean Speir, the author of a local blog, stating that most of the comments posted on the site are “false and defamatory,” including references that Mr. Kametler and his wife, Carol Meyer, have operated a bed-and-breakfast in the village without the necessary permits.

In addition, various postings on Mr. Speir’s website, “On the Beach Blog,” have offered his opinion as to why the deputy mayor retired from the Westhampton Beach Village Police Department several years ago, and how Mr. Kametler was investigated last year by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office after he illegally discharged his handgun five times at an opossum in his backyard. Mr. Kametler, up for reelection this year, initially denied that he was ever questioned by the DA’s office and, after being told that The Press had obtained a copy of the police report—the release of which was delayed several months due to the investigation—claimed that the opossum was “rabid.”

Mr. Speir, the former village webmaster, lost his bid for village trustee last June by six votes and was subsequently terminated from his position. On Friday, Mr. Speir explained in an e-mail that he received “by common carrier an unsigned copy of a document purporting to be a ‘cease and desist letter’ earlier this week.”

He said that he is “not certain what sort of force and effect it has since ... it wasn’t signed.”

The letter, which was received by The Press from an anonymous source, is dated June 9.

Mr. Kametler has not returned calls from The Press in the past two months. At last week’s Village Board meeting, Mr. Kametler read a prepared statement, noting that circulated accusations about the bed-and-breakfast were “misleading, scurrilous and false.” He did not offer any additional explanation when questioned by audience members.

His attorney, Richard Hamburger of the Melville-based Hamburger, Maxson, Yaffe, Wishod & Knauer, LLP, would not clarify any of the 10 points included in the cease and desist letter when reached on Friday, stating that the document addressed to Mr. Speir was clear. He then hung up on a reporter.

Mr. Speir noted that the copy mailed to him was never signed by Mr. Hamburger. A follow-up call to Mr. Hamburger, asking if the letter was official since it lacked a signature, was not returned.

The cease and desist letter states that “we consider virtually all references to Mr. Kametler and Ms. Meyer currently on the site to be false and defamatory.” It also demands that Mr. Speir publish a retraction of the defamatory statements and identify the source of all quoted text on his blog or remove such unattributed comments.

The cease and desist letter does not seek any monetary damages.

However, the document contains several typos; for example, the order alternatively states that Mr. Kametler’s address is 27 Oak Street and 24 Oak Street. Ms. Meyer is the listed owner of 24 Oak Street, according to village records. It is that address that had been posted on at least three bed-and-breakfast websites in recent months. Mr. Speir’s blog and a recent article by The Press have both made the same observation.

As for Mr. Speir, he said he does not know what to make of the cease and desist letter. “For all I know it could be some sort of fake hatched by other individuals,” he wrote in his e-mail. “In reading the document, assuming that it is genuine, the attorney who drafted it is unaware of the facts.”

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