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Nov 11, 2009 10:52 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tymann defeat mocked at cemetery that clashed with Southampton Town Trustees

Nov 11, 2009 10:52 AM

The Southampton Town Trustees leveled harsh criticism this week at the architects of a celebration of sorts, one applauding the defeat of one of their own at the polls last week.

After Trustee Brian Tymann lost his reelection bid by finishing sixth in the balloting behind Democratic challenger Bill Pell and his four Republican running mates—the first time an incumbent Trustees candidate has lost in more than 30 years—a mock grave shaped out of flowers, with one of Mr. Tymann’s reelection campaign signs serving as a headstone, appeared near the entrance to the Westhampton Cemetery. It clearly was a stab at Mr. Tymann and the Trustees for their recent dealings with the cemetery’s board of directors.

Earlier this year, the Trustees refused to enter into a land swap with the cemetery that would provide land for a cemetery expansion. The cemetery board has said the Trustees led them to believe that a swap would be possible if they purchased a nearby parcel. The Trustees said they never made any such offer and would not relinquish the waterfront parcel they own under any circumstances.

Mr. Tymann, who lives in Westhampton, apparently got the brunt of the blame for the cemetery issue because it is on his home turf.

The “grave” remained in place at the cemetery for nearly two days before it was removed. Who ultimately took it down is not known.

The veteran members of the Trustees said they were outraged by the gesture, calling it both personally hurtful to Mr. Tymann and disrespectful of the sacred tradition of burial in western culture.

“I was furious when I saw that,” Board of Trustees President Jon Semlear said. “To make some kind of a mockery of something sacred like a cemetery memorial is sickening. It’s mean-spirited and it showed the worst in human nature. He lost an election—so what? That’s how you treat your fellow man?”

Mr. Tymann said he took the gesture as a personal insult, not a political one.

“In all honesty, I was very hurt,” Mr. Tymann, who was appointed to the Trustees in August 2007 and elected to a two-year term a few months later, said this week. “I have not said that in my short political career thus far. I was taught not to react to politics emotionally, but this hurt my family and friends. We’re adults here, and in politics you may have a difference of opinion, but you acknowledge it’s opinion. This was wanting to hurt someone personally.”

Mr. Tymann would not speculate who might have put up the symbolic grave but noted that regardless of who had assembled it, the cemetery’s directors allowed it to remain. And he thinks that when it was taken down, it was removed by a town employee, not one of the cemetery caretakers.

“Who knows how long they would have allowed it to stay up,” he said. “If it wasn’t one of them, I would think one of their members would have called me and said, ‘Brian, we had nothing to do with it,’ and that it was in bad taste. But no one reached out to me. I hope I run into some of them in the coffee shop one of these days.”

Tom Betjemann, president of the Cemetery Association board, said that the mock grave was actually taken down by Gordon Werner, owner of a funeral home located on Mill Road in Westhampton Beach and a member of the association board. Mr. Betjemann said that he learned of the mock grave at 8 a.m. the day after the election and that he ordered cemetery workers to remove it when he arrived at the cemetery two hours later, but that Mr. Werner had beat them to it.

“It was gone by Wednesday at noon,” Mr. Betjemann said. “I felt it was inappropriate. I don’t know why Brian took the hit, he wasn’t even on the Trustees when this whole process started. He’s a good man.”

Westhampton Cemetery Association officials had hoped to trade their land, which they had purchased about two years ago for $190,000 and is located off Station Road, with a similar-sized parcel that the Town Trustees own and abuts the cemetery’s northern boundary.

Whether the cemetery issue played a role in Mr. Tymann’s 508-vote loss to Mr. Pell on election night remains a topic of speculation. Mr. Tymann polled strongly in his home districts of Westhampton, Westhampton Beach and Remsenburg, and he said he felt his loss was mostly the result of being on only two ballot lines. Three of his running mates had their names on four lines, including the Independence Party, which drew more than 1,000 votes for most candidates.

“There’s no way the cemetery issue played into it much,” said longtime Trustee Eric Shultz, an East Quogue resident. “As many e-mails and letters as we got supporting the swap we got just as many from Westhampton and all over saying we should stand firm on it. It wasn’t a deciding factor.”

On election night, Mr. Tymann pointed to his party endorsements and ballot position as the factors he thought hurt him the most. Even with support from those with an interest in the cemetery, he would not have come close to making up the 500 votes between him and Mr. Pell, he said this week.

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Tynann's probably right about having only two lines hurting him -- the top three GOP Trustees had between 1300 and 1500 votes on the Independence and Working Families lines.

The question is, why did Tynann only have the two lines?

The other Trustees can spin this however they like, but an incumbent Trustee lost and they seem to be in denial that the cemetery matter was a factor. It's a very emotional -- and not always rational -- issue/
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Nov 11, 09 11:20 AM
Here's a clue - it did hurt Mr. Tymann's run. I personally voted for Mr. Pell and Mr. Garvey. If there had been three other candidates running, I would have voted for them also. I know of a number of other local Westhampton residents who voted and did the same. In any other election year without this issue, I would have voted Republican across the Board. What amazes me is that no one at the SH Press has contacted a prior Trustee Scott Strough to determine what his recollection of the original negotiations ...more
By Native Westhamptonite (14), Westhampton on Nov 11, 09 3:42 PM
That was a childish thing to do all right.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 11, 09 4:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Very bad taste!!
Mr. Tom Betjemann should have take it down right again, he didn't have to wait for anybody!!!!!
By Bel (86), southampton on Nov 11, 09 4:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Though I did not vote for Mr. Tymann, I find the mock grave site is in really bad taste. Whoever did it needs to grow up.
By double standard (1506), quogue on Nov 11, 09 6:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
stay classy, people. Stay classy.
By littleplains (305), olde england on Nov 11, 09 7:27 PM
Gordan is a mighty and powerful wizard in that area - don't kid yourself. Brian did not deserve that type of treatment by anyone - not even Gordon.

Mr. Pell's mouth will be his demise, he has no filter and in politics, if your filter is broken or missing, you'll end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.and lose. Pell was (at his former Pell's Dock) a notorious DEC violator, with many fines in his past. I guess you can say he's a born again environmentalist now.

These are interesting ...more
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Nov 11, 09 11:00 PM
Lawsuit & Lawsuits, Bill may fit right in, my Trustees love to sue, when in doubt & otherwise, just budget up an other outside law firm
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Nov 14, 09 12:19 AM
I am absolutely disgusted by this childish display. Whoever put it up should be ashamed of themselves. Brian Tymann is a great man and cares deeply for his community. This whole cemetary debate has gotten a little ridiculous; and it is NOT Brian's fault! Let politics be politics; but it's very sad when people go out of their way to hurt others. Its bad enough that he didn't win. Leave it at that. And to whoever did this, supports this, and/or did not take it down...GROW UP!
By Jessica713 (20), Easy Quogue on Nov 11, 09 11:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Great men" don't say things like (the cemetery group ia) "too emotionally bent out of shape."

"Great men" recognize the other side's problem(s) and work to resolve that problem.

Tynann didn't, The situation may not be his fault, but Tynann didn't bring anything positive to the table, and his language (the examples on this site are numerous) was combative rather than conciliatory must less productive.

Your understanding of the matter seems at best shallow, Jessica714.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Nov 12, 09 1:18 AM
it's TyMann. Before stating one's opinion, one should be familiar with the topics at hand (or at the very least the parties involved).
By jillibean (2), Westhampton Beach on Nov 12, 09 1:19 PM
Please note that my previous capilitization of the letter M in Tymann was to accentuate the correct spelling of Mr. Tymann's name.
By jillibean (2), Westhampton Beach on Nov 13, 09 10:17 AM
There's nothing worse than a sore winner.....what a tasteless and cowardly act. I'm sure the ones who did it were proud of their clever deed...why don't they stand up and be counted...take credit for it...come on, we're waiting....show your faces...let's see what you're REALLY made of...
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Nov 12, 09 8:32 AM
You first.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Nov 12, 09 11:57 PM
DISGUSTING! As someone who works to preserve unmarked burial grounds in the town, I find this to be completely classless. I had really felt for the Westhampton cemetery and hoped they could find a resolution in the new year. But the fact that someone would setup a display like this over a political loss has my stomach turning. There is no mention in the article of the cemetery committee trying to look into who the culprit is. If anyone involved was truly appalled, they would find out who did this ...more
By LMVT (56), Hampton Bays on Nov 12, 09 9:03 AM
Well one thing is absolutely true ... Tymann's "master of the universe", combative stance in a small community hurt him and any future he may have thought he had in politics. His arrogance was displayed throughout -- even if you disagree with your constituents there is a courtesy warranted that Tymann never exhibited. Analyze the vote for trustees all you want but folks in the know felt he cared little for the interests of his home community and totally ignored the real issue of a future resting ...more
By JimmyKBond (156), Hampton Bays on Nov 12, 09 9:57 AM
Ouch! Lol. I understand someone taking that personally but it is really only about his career in the trustees and that is kind of over... To tell you the truth, I drive by the cemetery everyday and I didn’t even see it so if the paper did not point it out, I don’t think most of us would have realized it was up. I feel like Mr. Tymann likes to draw a bit of attention to himself, always falling as the ‘victim’. As I read the article, it sounds kind of like he is threatening someone when he states, ...more
By IzLove (1), WHB on Nov 12, 09 11:02 AM
It was a mean spirited thing to do. I bet the floral arrangement's were swiped from real people who had died, which is despicable, while the jerk who did it sniggered with his friends about his "clever" joke. It speaks volumes about the Westhampton Cemetery Association.

By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 13, 09 6:47 PM
If I were associated with the cemetery,I would not want the sign & floral arrangements at the cemetery, maybe Brian's front lawn , but not at the cemetery.
At least Bill Pell's truck with signs was not parked on Brian's front lawn, as that is what happened in East Hampton with the highway supervisor election.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Nov 14, 09 12:05 AM
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