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355 Comments by Publius

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Westhampton Beach Village Board votes behind closed doors

The New York State Senate passed the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act. This act IS applicable to villages and it makes it easy for citizens to eliminate villages. Iff the employees of the village don't think they might find themselves looking for other work, then they should think again.

The Chief's salary shows what has been wrong with village governments for years - cronyism that is worse than happens at any other level of government. Okay, at least it is is just as bad.

Two things can happen, get village costs in line or say the end to the gravy train. Everyone at the contract negotiating table, trustees and employees alike should consider whether they really want to kill the golden goose. It could be goose eggs for you!" Jun 4, 09 2:09 PM

Civil Service Laws were designed to protect hard working public servants from the whims of elected officials, officials who might demand kickbacks or simply pander to the electorate. But...

Here you have a guy who got a contract that was more than generous and provided for annual increases that have exceeded the average rate of inflation for all recorded time. This begs the question, "Who needs to be protected, Mr. Dean from present politicians, or the public from past politicians?" I guess the answer to that question depends on whether you are the payor or the payee.

Greenport PD came to an end. Is this the goal of Mr. Dean? He sure is inviting that result." Jun 5, 09 8:05 AM

It looks like the Village Trustees have finally put a stop to the escalation of Mr. Dean's pay as had been in the contract "negotiated" when he had greater favor with the trustees. Who where those trustees anyway?

In any event, the pay escalation is ended and good faith negotiations can continue. However, it is time for a thorough examination of his comp time records, and if he filed fraudulent records then charges should be filed. If everything is in order, and if he is the consumate professional some claim, then he can expect to continue with his employment and earn the public's trust.

The public's confidence is certainly diminished when he thinks he can claim more than 200 hours of comp time when the contract is clear. He obviously thinks that is the case because that is what he has filed, Right?" Jun 5, 09 12:24 PM

Board rescinds motion but still targeting Westhampton Beach Village police chief

To Tired:

NY Village Law:

§ 8-800. Police departments

The board of trustees of a village may, by resolution, establish a police department in such village and appoint a chief of police and such personnel as may be needed, and fix their compensation. The board of trustees may abolish a police department established pursuant to this section by local law, subject to permissive referendum, and the department shall be deemed abolished as presented in such proposition. The board of trustees of a village, upon establishing or abolishing a police department, shall notify the commissioner of the division of criminal justice services of such action within thirty days thereafter." Jun 7, 09 7:37 PM

To Frank Wheeler:

When Greenport PD was abolished the civil service employees had a preference when applying for a job with Southold PD. Obviously, there would no longer be any need for a chief (one queen bee per hive)." Jun 8, 09 12:53 PM

To Curious: Greenport had many many problems with crime and the department itself was the subject of a grand jury investigation. See

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/17/nyregion/police-force-in-greenport-is-off-duty-for-good.html

There is nothing to support the suggestion that the Greenport PD was keeping crime under control. Greenport had a crime problem with the Greenport PD and it has a crime problem without it.

Today it is covered by the Southold Police Department, and Greenport can decide how much policing it gets through its contract with the town. If residents want more coverage, they can contract for it, and not have to pay the administrative salary of a chief to get it (of course they share the cost of the Southold chief, but that is spread across the taxpayers of entire north fork.)

I am not in any way suggesting that there are problems in the WHB PD like there were in Greenport, only that everyone who has a vested interest in having the WHB Police Department continue should be careful to police themselves or the public may do it for you.

" Jun 8, 09 7:24 PM

Curious, one other thing suggesting that crime rate in Greenport increased after the Greenport PD was abolished (an unsupported assertion) is like saying the Westhampton PD was responsible for the Shane Daniels' beating.

http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/d/shane_daniels/index.html

WHB PD needs to be careful, and that begins with the Chief himself. They all have a pretty good deal and should prefer to keep a much lower profile.

Good luck with contract negotiations." Jun 8, 09 8:22 PM

Political advertisement causes a stir in Westhampton Beach

Who at the First Hampton Party has said this advertisement was unauthorized?

That seems to be the crux of the matter. " Jun 10, 09 7:30 AM

The Suffolk County District Attorney was nominated by the Democrats and endorsed by the Republicans.

Joan Levan and Hank Tucker are running on a Lightning Party ticket, and their old First Hampton Party has endorsed them. Has anyone claimed this endorsement was unauthorized? This is a non-issue.

These independent parties really don’t mean anything, they aren’t like national parties that speak to grand issues like universal health care, deficit spending, and bailouts.

In every village election there are two real issues for the residents and taxpayers of Westhampton Beach.

The first real issue is:

“Of the candidates running, who will make sure that the village is properly run; that snow is plowed in the winter; the beach is clean and safe in the summer; leaves are picked up in the fall; and that village employees do the work they were hired to do, and perform the contracts they are legally obligated to perform?”

This paper recently reported on just such an issue. The Chief of Police had reported that he had accumulated more than 500 hours of comp. time when his contract limits him to the accumulation of 200 hours. This was an important matter to get straightened out. The Village needed to know it was not accruing some future liability it would have to pay out should the Chief retire and expect payment. At the same time, the Chief of Police needed to know (if he didn’t already) that accumulating more than 200 hours of comp time was not a retirement strategy that was contractually available to him.

The Mayor is the executive arm of the village board. It is the Mayor who has a legal duty to investigate claims against the village. The Police Chief’s claim to more than 500 hours of comp time when his contract provided for no more than 200 was for the Mayor to address. He didn’t.

Four of the village trustees brought this to the Mayor’s attention. It was discussed in executive session, and there is no debate that executive session is a proper place for such discussions, but the trustees then they voted to have the records corrected. Absent express statutory authority to vote upon a matter in executive session, a vote must be in public. The four trustees did vote to have the comp time records corrected, and this was a matter that should have been done by the Mayor as is his duty as the executive.

So voters now know that there are four trustees who voted to have the contract enforced in accordance with the law, the Mayor had not corrected the discrepancy already, and hasn’t corrected it yet.

Of these four trustees, two are up for re-election, Joan Levan and Hank Tucker.


The second real issue: “When it is time to negotiate employment contracts, who will best represent the interests of all of the residents?”

In the immediate future we have the contracts for Chief of Police and all of the rank and file officers up for negotiation.

We already know that Mayor Teller, a former policeman, will be at the table; Jim Kametler, a former policeman, will be voting, and Toni-Jo Birk will be voting too.

This leaves our residents with the choices of a newcomer, a former Southampton Town policeman, who has been largely absent from the campaign. Will he be largely absent from the job, and if not, when police contract negotiations are on the table, is that a good thing?

There is Elyse who is running again, but with her twitter campaign, she hasn’t spoken up about the comp time issue, or anything of substance, except previously she declared she was in favor of public declaration and endorsement of a religious boundary in the village.

That leaves Joan Levan and Hank Tucker. Have they tripped on occasion? Sure. Did they get bad legal counsel from the Village Attorney when the four trustees voted in exective session? Absolutely. Was that a big deal that can’t be corrected? Yes and No. Yes, it was a big deal that the Mayor had not corrected the records and that he needs to be told to do so. No, the executive session voted has already been corrected (and now the Mayor has voted too!)

On June 19th residents will answer these two issues, and vote to award a job that lasts for two years. Its your village.
" Jun 10, 09 11:53 AM

No debate again this year in Westhampton Beach

Debates are great; but absent that we have certain facts known to everyone and a debate complete with cat calls would not add much.

In every village election there are two real issues for the residents and taxpayers of Westhampton Beach.

The first real issue is:

“Of the candidates running, who will make sure that the village is properly run; that snow is plowed in the winter; the beach is clean and safe in the summer; leaves are picked up in the fall; and that village employees do the work they were hired to do, and perform the contracts they are legally obligated to perform?”

This paper recently reported on just such an issue. The Chief of Police had reported that he had accumulated more than 500 hours of comp. time when his contract limits him to the accumulation of 200 hours. This was an important matter to get straightened out. The Village needed to know it was not accruing some future liability it would have to pay out should the Chief retire and expect payment. At the same time, the Chief of Police needed to know (if he didn’t already) that accumulating more than 200 hours of comp time was not a retirement strategy that was contractually available to him.

The Mayor is the executive arm of the village board. It is the Mayor who has a legal duty to investigate claims against the village. The Police Chief’s claim to more than 500 hours of comp time when his contract provided for no more than 200 was for the Mayor to address. He didn’t.

Four of the village trustees brought this to the Mayor’s attention. It was discussed in executive session, and there is no debate that executive session is a proper place for such discussions, but the trustees then they voted to have the records corrected. Absent express statutory authority to vote upon a matter in executive session, a vote must be in public. The four trustees did vote to have the comp time records corrected, and this was a matter that should have been done by the Mayor as is his duty as the executive.

So voters now know that there are four trustees who voted to have the contract enforced in accordance with the law, the Mayor had not corrected the discrepancy already, and hasn’t corrected it yet.

Of these four trustees, two are up for re-election, Joan Levan and Hank Tucker.


The second real issue: “When it is time to negotiate employment contracts, who will best represent the interests of all of the residents?”

In the immediate future we have the contracts for Chief of Police and all of the rank and file officers up for negotiation.

We already know that Mayor Teller, a former policeman, will be at the table; Jim Kametler, a former policeman, will be voting, and Toni-Jo Birk will be voting too.

This leaves our residents with the choices of a newcomer, a former Southampton Town policeman, who has been largely absent from the campaign. Will he be largely absent from the job, and if not, when police contract negotiations are on the table, is that a good thing?

There is Elyse who is running again, but with her twitter campaign, she hasn’t spoken up about the comp time issue, or anything of substance, except previously she declared she was in favor of public declaration and endorsement of a religious boundary in the village. Apparently, she is disappointed by her e-mail, but should this stop a candidate with something valuable to contribute to the public discourse?

That leaves Joan Levan and Hank Tucker. Have they tripped on occasion? Sure. Did they get bad legal counsel, or none at all, from the Village Attorney when the four trustees voted in exective session? Absolutely. Was that a big deal that can’t be corrected? Yes and No. Yes, it was a big deal that the Mayor had not corrected the records and that he needs to be told to do so. No, the executive session vote has already been corrected (and now the Mayor has voted too!)


On June 19th residents will answer these two issues, and vote to award two jobs that each last for two years. Its your village." Jun 10, 09 2:59 PM

Who said the eruv is a dead letter, a non-issue? Remember who was on the eruv committee?

“I think that anyone, any candidate running for public office in a contested election, should have an obligation to debate issues,” said Mr. Greenbaum, who also sits on the Westhampton Beach School Board."

Wait for it...

http://www.27east.com/story_detail.cfm?id=135850&town=Westhampton%20Beach&page=2

Click!" Jun 11, 09 3:31 PM

Political advertisement causes a stir in Westhampton Beach

The Teller advertisement is very telling:

Is he really enraged over who has control over the decisions made in the First Hampton Party (obviously it wasn't him)? Or is he angry that it is his job, in his role as Mayor and Commissioner of Police, to investigate the Chief of Police's claim to more than 500 hours of comp time, when his contract limits the Chief to 200 hours? It seems the Mayor did nothing about the comp time because he didn't care, and the four trustees were not going to accept that.

Isn't this comp time an important matter to get straightened out? Doesn't the Village need to know it is not accruing some future liability it will have to pay out if the Chief retires and expects payment?

The Mayor is the executive arm of the village board, and is the Commissioner of Police. It was the Mayor who has a legal duty to investigate the Chief's comp time claims against the village.

It was four of the village trustees who brought this to the Mayor’s attention. It was discussed in executive session and the four trustees voted to have it corrected. Then the executive session becomes an issue in the local paper, who did that? Was it the four trustees who went to the Press when they wanted it in executive session?

Or, was it the Mayor who might want to divert attention from his own failure to act by raising the improper exec. session issue with this paper? Why would the Mayor out himself? Because he was going to be outed no matter what; the four trustees expected him to do his job.

The exec. session brohaha was easily corrected with a public vote, and it should never have been such a big deal.

So voters now know that there are four trustees who voted to have the Chief's contract enforced in accordance with the law, the Mayor had not corrected the discrepancy already, and hasn’t corrected it yet.

Of these four trustees, two are up for re-election, Joan Levan and Hank Tucker and Mayor Teller now takes out an attack add and he isn't even up for election.

In this same ad Teller endorses an ex police officer for trustee who, if elected, would vote on the Chief of Police's contract and the contract for all of the other village officers.

Very Telling." Jun 12, 09 11:23 AM

Mr. Wheeler,

you are correct when you recognize that I completely support Joan Levan and Hank Tucker for trustee this year. This is a conclusion I have reached over the past couple of weeks as the antics of the Mayor have unfolded. There is no pretext or pretense at all.

In my estimation Joan Levan and Hank Tucker are trying their best to do what is best for this village. I have watched comments that deride them for receiving health insurance, when the same people endorse the compensation of an overpaid Chief of Police who seeks comp. time in excess of the limits of his contract.

I have watched as this newspaper has ignored the question of whether the Village Attorney told the four Trustees that the vote in executive session was improper. That would be an important fact to know. It remains ignored, and I can only infer from the Village Attorney's public comments that he would have told this paper that the executive session vote was against his advice, if it was. As you recall, the Village Attorney, shortly after the meeting, made declarations to the press that the vote was illegal. Was the Village Attorney acting as a partisan in favor of the Mayor, the official who appointed him?

Are you really troubled that the attempt to correct comp. time records was done in executive session. The secrecy would only benefit the Chief of Police and the Mayor himself. If you are familiar with the Open Meetings Law, you know that such an executive session vote can be challenged in Court, and the Court has the discretion to void it or not! More importantly, that vote could not be carried out except by public acts that would be known to all interested parties.

The four trustees have now vacated the exec. session vote, and properly passed a resolution in public. It was a small misstep without consequence, other than if permitted our residents to watch and judge as this issue played out between the Mayor and the four Trustees.

The overarching issue is that the Trustees should not have had to vote at all, the Mayor should have directed that the comp. time records be corrected in accordance with the contract and let both the Chief of Police and the Trustees know it had been corrected. It would then be up to the Chief of Police to commence an action to claim 500 plus hours of comp. time when his contract expressly states he can only carry 200.

You suggest that the four trustees have raised the comp. time issue for the purposes of a campain, but the four trustees addressed it in executive session. That is hardly, a viable campaign strategy. Comp time was a Mayor's issue, the Mayor's responsibility, he controlled when he did or did not address it.

It appears to me, and I can only draw inferences from facts that do not appear to be in dispute, that the Mayor does not care whether comp. time is accumulated in excess of the contractual limitations. The trouble is that the Trustees who awarded the contract to the Chief of Police voted to place those comp time restrictions in the contract, and it is not for Mayor Teller to disregard the will of the Board of Trustees. This doesn't even begin to address whether that 9 year contract was an exercise of prudent judgment by that previous Board of Trustees.

So, am I surprised that the Mayor is at odds with his fellow Trustees? No. The last few weeks have shown me his true colors, and I don't like what I see. If all this is okay with you, you are free to support him and his efforts to get another police officer elected to the Board of Trustees right when we are negotiating police contracts.

For me, I will support both Joan Levan and Hank Tucker.

For those who read these comments, and I don't think there are all that many, they can decide for themselves what posts make sense and what posts are spin. " Jun 12, 09 1:00 PM

No debate again this year in Westhampton Beach

There is a lot of critcism of Joan Levan and Hank Tucker. They have put there positions out there.

1. NO ERUV. They recognize the requirements of the Establishment Clause (often referred to as separation of church and state). Each have vowed that they will not proclaim that any village property or thoroughfare is privately Jewish, (an eruv) even if it were to be promised that it would only be a "symbolic" declaration.

They understand symbolism IS important. Whether it be the confederate flag, the American flag, or an eruv. Last year Mayor Teller failed to put that issue promptly to rest, instead, the most extreme voices took the stage on a matter that should have been promptly concluded. To this date, the Mayor has not unequivocally stated he would, or would not, issue a proclamation that part of our village is the extension of private Jewish property. The embarassment to this village is his failure that let the issue persist and permitted extreme voices to present themselves as representative of everyone.

2. Waldbaums is disgraceful. Is is it within the legal authority for Joan Levan and Hank Tucker to make Waldbaums more responsive to our community? Of course not. That does not mean our Trustees should remain silent. Waldbaums needs to clearly hear that the residents are disturbed by the loss of National, and the continued deplorable condition of the Waldbaums store itself is unacceptable. If Waldbaums does not get the message soon people will vote with their feet, and National wont be the only vacant store on that lot. That would be a shame for everyone.

3. All Village Employees must be held accountable, including the Chief of Police. That must be the case even if the Mayor used to be a Chief of Police and is in sympathy with the current Police Chief.

Joan Levan and Hank Tucker, along with the two other trustees attempted to address what should have been a simple problem. The Chief of Police was claiming he had more than 500 hours of comp. time when his contract limited his accumulation to 200 hours. That is undisputed! Yet, when the 4 Trustees attempted to resolve this discretely for the benefit of the Chief (who should have known the limits of his contract) and Mayor Teller (who should have known and performed his legal duty to correct the records) it became a great issue on the pages of the Press. A grand distraction, not by the 4 Trustees, but by the Mayor and the Village Attorney. The Mayor should have corrected the records of the Chief of Police promptly.

The positions that Joan Levan and Hank Tucker have presented to the community are not lies, they are honorable positions.

Who is Arrasate, what does he say?

He is retired on disablity as a police officer from the Town of Southampton, is he sympathetic to the interests of police? When the Chief of Police and the Westhampton Police Officers are negotiating their new contract will he favor the police, or the resident taxpayers?

Where is Elyse on each of these issues? Is she now opposed to the Eruv, does she think it is Anti Semetic to uphold the principles of separation of church and state.

It is very late for the challengers seeking to be village trustee to be declaring their position now. The election is Friday. Don't they know what they stand for?" Jun 15, 09 10:43 AM

Political advertisement causes a stir in Westhampton Beach

There is a lot of critcism of Joan Levan and Hank Tucker. They have put there positions out there.

1. NO ERUV. They recognize the requirements of the Establishment Clause (often referred to as separation of church and state). Each have vowed that they will not proclaim that any village property or thoroughfare is privately Jewish, (an eruv) even if it were to be promised that it would only be a "symbolic" declaration.

They understand symbolism IS important. Whether it be the confederate flag, the American flag, or an eruv. Last year Mayor Teller failed to put that issue promptly to rest, instead, the most extreme voices took the stage on a matter that should have been promptly concluded. To this date, the Mayor has not unequivocally stated he would, or would not, issue a proclamation that part of our village is the extension of private Jewish property. The embarassment to this village is his failure that let the issue persist and permitted extreme voices to present themselves as representative of everyone.

2. Waldbaums is disgraceful. Is is it within the legal authority for Joan Levan and Hank Tucker to make Waldbaums more responsive to our community? Of course not. That does not mean our Trustees should remain silent. Waldbaums needs to clearly hear that the residents are disturbed by the loss of National, and the continued deplorable condition of the Waldbaums store itself is unacceptable. If Waldbaums does not get the message soon people will vote with their feet, and National wont be the only vacant store on that lot. That would be a shame for everyone.

3. All Village Employees must be held accountable, including the Chief of Police. That must be the case even if the Mayor used to be a Chief of Police and is in sympathy with the current Police Chief.

Joan Levan and Hank Tucker, along with the two other trustees attempted to address what should have been a simple problem. The Chief of Police was claiming he had more than 500 hours of comp. time when his contract limited his accumulation to 200 hours. That is undisputed! Yet, when the 4 Trustees attempted to resolve this discretely for the benefit of the Chief (who should have known the limits of his contract) and Mayor Teller (who should have known and performed his legal duty to correct the records) it became a great issue on the pages of the Press. A grand distraction, not by the 4 Trustees, but by the Mayor and the Village Attorney. The Mayor should have corrected the records of the Chief of Police promptly.

The positions that Joan Levan and Hank Tucker have presented to the community are not lies, they are honorable positions.

Who is Arrasate, what does he say?

He is retired on disablity as a police officer from the Town of Southampton, is he sympathetic to the interests of police? When the Chief of Police and the Westhampton Police Officers are negotiating their new contract will he favor the police, or the resident taxpayers?

Where is Elyse on each of these issues? Is she now opposed to the Eruv, does she think it is Anti Semetic to uphold the principles of separation of church and state.

It is very late for the challengers seeking to be village trustee to be declaring their position now. The election is Friday. Don't they know what they stand for?" Jun 15, 09 10:56 AM

Mr Wheeler,

from reading your posts you have some experiences and observations to share that could prove valuable to other readers (Pine Valley, etc.) If you share this with other readers you will elevate the discussion. It is only when someone alleges facts that their credibility is in question. I have presented arguments, these do not present an occasion for belief or disbelief. It is more a question of whether other readers find the arguments persuasive or not persuasive.

When you, and others, read posts that are all anonymous, it would be important to sift the posts and eliminate unsupported factual assertions, and arguments. For example see the previous post "Everyone knows what Tucker Laven are about, and Arrasate and Richman are a chance for a change." OR The suggestion that the eruv question is gone, is a misrepresentation. It was withdrawn until the Rabbi could educate the WHB community. (My Opinion, I think with the ready available of internet resources, the community did indeed learn about the complete symbolism that attends an eruv with recognition proclaimed by government officials.) The issue of the eruv did appear to be decisive in the last election, but it would be fallacious to assume that it was Antisemitism that was decisive.

I encourage you to help elevate the discussion with the knowledge and experience you have. With that example, perhaps the comments will help our community be more informed, not simply uninformed and irate." Jun 15, 09 4:20 PM

Freedom of the Press is a constitutionally recognized check on government. From that lofty concept citizens know the press often falls far short of that ideal. The story above reports on part of an intramural fight in the First Hampton Party. Only part.

Interestingly, when principles of the First Hampton Party attempted to correct what they contend are misconceptions propagated in the Press and by a local blogger that effort was rejected.

The Press may have had good reason for this, but it becomes more doubtful when that same advertisement copy was then forwarded to the opposition camp.

The advertisement is posted there at the link below. Check on it soon, it may not stay there very long.

http://www.whbqt.info/UserFiles/levan_check.html#adv

The Press, in the tradition of partisan, yellow journalism, is showing that it does not engage in responsible journalism. " Jun 16, 09 7:53 AM

The following was copied from the blog which reports that this ad copy was provided to the blogger by the Press after the Press refused to run the advertisement. (Posted here because because internet content is so easily changed or removed.)

First Hampton Party Endorsement

The Village of Westhampton Beach has 2 seats open for Trustees. There are several important issues facing our residents this election, the two major ones being the Eruv and the renegotiation of the Police Chief's expired contract. In the past, the First Hampton Party had endorsed the Mayor and the current Board of Trustees. At a recent Trustee meeting when asked "Are you happy the way the board is working?" the Mayor told the public "YES", "The board has completed 99% of what we set out to do". Despite that, the Mayor is backing another candidate, an ex- cop, close friend of the Police Chief and a member of the Architectural Review Board where he has missed 20% of the public meetings he took an oath to attend. It is Disturbing he has never attended a Trustee meeting and worse, would make the 3rd ex-cop on the Board. The Mayor (an ex– Police Chief himself) has tried to block the Trustees in their efforts to clean up the Police Department, curb spending and has failed to be prudent on negotiations in handling the Police Chief's expired contract (of more than $200,000 in salary, benefits and perks he earned last year, more than the Governor of New York). At this time we have lost all confidence in the Mayor and no longer support him as a member of the First Hampton Party. The 2nd candidate has been the single biggest violator of our Village Code for many years, and has told the Board of Trustees they should allow an ERUV in Westhampton Beach. We couldn't disagree any stronger. This candidate has bragged about being a sign violator. That's not who we need making and upholding laws. The last 2 candidates are incumbents Joan Levan & Hank Tucker. They have shown their opposition to the Eruv, been extremely responsible in the handling of the Village budget and taxes, the Village looks better than it ever has, and these candidates do a lot for this community, taking care of the issues that have meaning to the residents. The choice is clear. The First Hampton Party strongly endorses a vote for Levan &Tucker. Vote Row C. The vote takes place Friday, June 19th between 12:00 &9:00.


Paid for by The First Hampton Party


Advertisers should probably use direct mail, it is certainly more reliable." Jun 16, 09 8:56 AM

Mr. Shaw,

thank you for the clarification. It still leaves the question of whether that proposed ad copy was forwarded to the blogger in support of the opposition camp. That is well within anyone's perrogative to do so, but the Press' decision to do so (if it did) should be considered by readers together with the coverage of these issues.

With respect to these independent "parties" that are created from time to time, you have struck upon an a problem that arises from what are mostly informal alliances that are obviously subject to change.

I am glad that the Press provides for online comments such as these where matters of public concern can be aired in a more fluid manner than the weekly news cycle otherwise permits.

" Jun 16, 09 10:29 AM

Mr. Shaw,

Thank you for your candid response.

You indicated that providing copy of the rejected advertisement (rejected by the Press for good cause) to the blogger was, as I understand your post, a response to "a reasonable request about a newsworthy issue."

What was the request? Was it some standing request from the blogger concerning the disclosure of all ad copy submitted for publication?

The Press is often placed in the middle of things when parties to an issue each attempt to gain an upper hand. Relations are critical to maintaining access to news, and at the same time those relations can present difficult challenges to the press.

Thank you again.



" Jun 16, 09 11:44 AM

Four candidates are seeking two open seats in Westhampton Beach election

On Tuesday of this week a local blogger who vociferously supports the election of Stephan Arrasate stated that the Press had rejected an advertisement that had been submitted by a person who supports the incumbents in this election. That was reasonable under the circumstances as explainded by Mr Shaw:

“The Press did, in fact, refuse to accept an advertisement, ostensibly from the First Hampton Party, for the current (June 18) edition--but only because the party placing the ad refused to provide the names of any of its officers. After the confusion over the June 4 ad, the paper wanted to make sure any ads placed by political parties were authentic.
Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (Hampton Bays)”

However, there was some more to this story than might initially meet the eye. When the ad copy was rejected for publication in the Press, Mr. Shaw then delivered the ad copy to the partisan blogger.


Mr. Shaw was asked about the delivery of the ad copy to the blogger and he responded with some candor:


“I made that decision, based solely on the notion that it was a reasonable request about a newsworthy issue. To be honest, upon reflection, I'm not sure it was the right decision. I can assure you, it was not politically motivated.

In the future, though, I'm going to defer those kinds of decisions to the advertising department and to the publisher, just so there's no question about the motive for either releasing or withholding something like that.”
Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (Hampton Bays)”

This answer prompted the following inquiry:

“Mr. Shaw,

Thank you for your candid response.

You indicated that providing copy of the rejected advertisement (rejected by the Press for good cause) to the blogger was, as I understand your post, a response to "a reasonable request about a newsworthy issue."

What was the request? Was it some standing request from the blogger concerning the disclosure of all ad copy submitted for publication?

The Press is often placed in the middle of things when parties to an issue each attempt to gain an upper hand. Relations are critical to maintaining access to news, and at the same time those relations can present difficult challenges to the press.

Thank you again.”



This exchange took place on Tuesday with the final question posed before the lunch hour. Mr. Shaw has since made a number of posts to the online forum, but to date has not responded to the last question, and the article and comments are now no longer posted. That could be the normal cycling of news from the web page, but as previously stated no answer was forthcoming.

With similar comportment, the partisan blogger acknowledged that he is following this exchange with Mr. Shaw about the delivery of the ad copy to him, but he too remains silent.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

It is important for the readers of the Press to evaluate the stories concerning this election for both accuracy and completeness, and in making this evaluation to do so with the understanding that there appears to be some affiliation between the partisan blogger and the Executive Editor at the Press.

To be fair, I have decided to support the candidacies of Joan Levan and Hank Tucker, they are not perfect but they have demonstrated a willingness to take the job of Trustee seriously, when others approach these duties with what at times seems ill informed indifference.

In the end it will be for the voters to determine whether they support the election of a third former police officer to the Board of Trustees when the contract for the Chief of Police is being negotiated and the contract for the rank and file officers is upon for re-negotiation as well.

With respect to the Elyse Richman’s candidacy, she is a lovely person, but states that she does not think an eruv is a big deal. Some argue that asking where the candidates stand on the eruv issue is playing Anti-Semitic politics. However, the greatest challenge to the eruv comes from the majority of the Jewish community itself.

The principles of separation of church and state are essential to a plural society, and a public declaration that there is an area in our village that has been declared by village officials to be Jewish is offensive and contrary to constitutional principles. One might contend this as a non-issue because the constitution protects against the Establishment of Religion by the government, but last year the Mayor did not decisively dismiss the request and all of the candidates have been temporizing on this issue. It is only the incumbents who have now made an unequivocal commitment to constitutional principles. Mr. Arrasate wants to put it to the voters, and the Ms Richman won’t say.


Mr. Levy’s post above directs readers to that partisan blog referred to above. In his post on that blog he reflects his willingness to accept the notion that a negotiated contract that limits comp time to 200 hours can be ignored by Trustees. He intimates that others are carrying more than contractually limited comp. time on the books, but that the Chief is a target. If there is more extra-contractual comp time on the books that should be eliminated, but then again, he did not really say it. It was just innuendo.

It appears that Joan Levan and Hank Tucker have an uphill battle as the Press is likely to endorse their opponents on the editorial pages. It will be up to the voters to determine whether that opinion is well-founded or just old style politics.


Thanks to the Press for this forum, and for its willingness to publish constructive criticism of the Press itself. That this can be published at all on the Press’ own web pages is a statement about its desire to be on the up and up. The Editors and Staff are only human with biases and foibles like the rest of us. Its just better to have them on the table.


" Jun 17, 09 6:09 PM

Mr. Levy,

you have argued that comp. time can not just disappear. In truth, it can. Employees in all walks of life have contracts that provide if you don't use vacation time in a calendar year, it is lost. The limitation on the accumulation of comp. time is the same. The better practice for good employee relations would be for management (in this instance the Mayor) to stay on top of the issue, address it immediately, and make sure an employee was not surprised when excess comp. time could not be either paid upon departure or used as the equivalent of vacation time.

You correctly point out the purpose of the limitation; we don't want the Village being stuck with a large bill at the end of an employee's tenure. If comp. time is accumulated, the employee must use it so that a large bill does not come due on some future administration. PAYGO to use common parlance.

In the blog you argue that rank and file police officers have the ear of the incumbents and that this undermines the authority of the Chief. I can not speak to whether that is true or not. I am not sure of your basis for believing this. Did either of the Trustees tell you that, or the rank and file officers?

What is not argued is that the Chief claimed more than 500 hours of comp. time when he was contractually limited to 200 hours. (It could be discussed whether the Chief of Police should be salaried, without comp. time at all. That would seem to be proper for the compensation level we are talking about.) It was the Mayor's duty, both as Mayor and Commissioner of Police, to correct what can most kindly be described as an error. He did not.

Instead, 4 Trustees attempted to fill this leadership void and made the mistake of attempting to address an employee question in executive session. That was all proper, except for the vote which, as I am sure you know, all they needed to do was vote to come out of executive session and then take the vote. An error that you would have avoided? Surely, but it is small potatoes and part of the learning curve. It fits in the category of white heart, empty head. (Lets not restart the learning curve with two new trustees).

No one genuinely can attribute either malice or politics to the 4 Trustees' effort to correct the Chief's mistake and the Mayor's inaction. It has since been corrected without any harm except that it has been used as election year campaign fodder.

The Chief may or may not be a terrific guy, but it seems the original jockeying to get appointment as Chief, and then the 9 year contract he got has placed him under a cloud that might be unfair to him, but, nonetheless, it remains difficult to remove.

Are you advocating the Press endorse the incumbents with a kiss?

One thing I am sure we can agree upon, we can be glad we are not in Tehran." Jun 17, 09 7:25 PM

Mr. Wheeler and all others who post:

I would like to issue a friendly challenge that we all post comments that are constructive, thoughtful and made with every effort to be polite. The Press has afforded us a forum with their online paper that is valuable to everyone.

Maybe in doing so we can model more decorous behavior for those who run for public office, and at the same time discuss issues with a reasonable measure of civility.

I know it is easy to fire off an e-mail or a post when an issue is important, but restraint would still be helpful. It does seem that some who have no stake in the issues presented, nonetheless, attack others who comment. That is sort of like graffiti that just pollutes this space.

The challenge to all who post is to respect the forum provided to us all. I don't claim to always meet that measure, but I agree to try." Jun 17, 09 11:03 PM

Mr. Wheeler,
do you remember the commercials years ago "When E.F. Hunton speaks everybody listens." They knew that people like to take mental short cuts. Many people want to rely upon a persons reputation (hearsay) when they decide whether to accept an argument rather than wade into the nitty gritty. I am not going to offer my personal standing (or lack of it) as a yard stick to measure my arguments. The use of pen name eliminates the short cut, my posts should be taken at face value for whatever they are worth.

I am also well aware that in a small village, or town, people rely upon one another and that some who might disagree with the arguments presented would exact some measure of retribution either against your business or when you must engage them in some other exchange. A pen name guards against that as well. The use of a pen name has potential for abuse when used to slander others, but I believe I have steered clear of that abuse and only offered arguments. My friendly challenge to civility remains open to all, including you." Jun 18, 09 8:06 AM

Westhampton Beach school officials urge residents to protest tuition rate changes

Mustang (remsenburg) has identified the love - hate relationship between the sending districts and WHB school district. They love the education, hate to pay for it. District boundaries remain a fault line that will repeatedly fracture, particularly during ecomonic stress." Jun 18, 09 10:14 AM

Four candidates are seeking two open seats in Westhampton Beach election

The Press has reported on the favorable prognosis for Mr. Tucker’s temporary eye problem. Is there a report with respect to Mr. Arrasate’s physical condition?

Is candidate Arrasate on a disability retirement from the Southampton Police Department?

Disabled people perform many important jobs and often do so better than many people who do not handicapped. That is not the question.

The real question is If candidate Arrasate is unable to perform even light duty as a police officer, answering the phone, filing papers, is he capable of fulfilling the obligations of a Trustee?

Put another way, if he can perform meaningful work as a Trustee, why can’t he provide meaningful work in the police department?
" Jun 19, 09 7:52 AM

The implication is that the Press felt it relevant to speak about Mr. Tucker's health, but remained silent about Mr. Arrasate's disability as it has now been reported by Mr. Levy above. In my post I raised questions, Mr. Levy now makes assertions about the nature of the disability. Mr. Levy also states that former Trustee Mark Raynor "had a similar situation."

Why couldn't this have been addressed by the newspaper, as it did with Mr. Tucker?

Why couldn't this have been addressed by the candidate, Mr. Arrasate, himself?

Don't the voters deserve to know? Or is that on the QT in WHB and very hush hush?

" Jun 19, 09 11:57 AM

There is nothing defamatory about asking questions when no one is giving answers.

Maybe Mr. Arrasate could make a guest appearance and answer some of these questions.

The questions of the incumbents are fast and furious, and they should be. Why is someone who wants their job exempt from inquiry?" Jun 19, 09 12:28 PM

Mr. Levy,

between your posts on Mr. Speir's webpage and here, it appears you have no objection to paying employees for comp. time carried in excess of that permitted by their respective contracts. You also argue that a "retirement that includes some disability" is not a matter for public inquiry.

You contend by asking question I "made the insinuation that there is some evil connection between a disability retirement from a police officers job and running for trustee." That could not be further from the truth. I do not think it is "evil" or even illegal for someone to take every advantage of the system they can.

However, not everyone just limits their conduct to what is not evil and not illegal.

The questions are appropriate.

" Jun 19, 09 2:56 PM

The point is, some people hold themselves to higher standards than that." Jun 19, 09 4:45 PM

Incumbents sweep in Westhampton Beach, Southampton

Village residents spoke clearly and unambiguously. We will not accept a community with religious divisions, and we will not accept a community with divisions between those who were born here and those who have chosen to live here. This village embraces unity. From this moment forward there is no division between winners and losers. We are one village." Jun 20, 09 12:44 PM

"foundthefacts" J.P.O.E. recognized that a small faction of separatists wanted public officials to declare that certain public property and roadways within boundaries in our community are private property belonging to them. These declarations, when they have been made, were complete with a lease agreement for the area in issue granting property rights from the government to the applicant.

As best I can tell, J.P.O.E. was incensed because good community relations that have existed were being sorely tested by an insular minority requesting these property rights, with a statement that it would only be symbolic recognition of public property as private.

As I have commented before symbolism is important whether it be the confederate flag, the American flag, or the declaration that public property and roadways belong only to some in our village.

Westhampton would have been best served if at the very outset all elected officials had simply informed this small group that they were mistaken about the nature of American government with both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause that bookend these questions from the formation of our nation.

The sooner it is clear that such public declarations will not be considered, and are not the business of government, the better. This election cycle began that process with the clear statement of the two Trustees. Once we have a Mayor who doesn't vacillate on such basic issues of governance then the issue will be truly concluded.

The election of Levan and Tucker was in favor of good community relations, it was in favor of a community for all, not just a few." Jun 20, 09 5:29 PM

Westhampton Cemetery expansion continues to hit obstacles

The following are three separate web links and a portion of the related material.

http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9802/12/t_t/burial.ground/
Far beneath the busy cityscape of New York's lower Manhattan lies a centuries-old cemetery. The burial ground, discovered in 1991 by construction workers, contains more than 400 remains of what is believed to be the first group of African slaves brought to the city. It also tells a little-known story of early New York.


http://www.ibsgwatch.imagedjinn.com/learn/newyorklaw.htm
The office or parks and recreation shall have the power to designate any Indian cemetery or burial ground as a place of historic interest pursuant to subdivision one of section 3.09 of the parks and recreation law provided, however, that each cemetery or burial ground is not located upon any Indian reservation located wholly or partly within the state. No person shall destroy, alter, convert, or in any way impair any such cemetery or burial ground which has been so designated as a place of historic interest or any artifact or other object thereon which is or may be of relevance to the historic interest thereof without the prior express written permission of the office of parks and recreation.
The attorney general, at the request of the office of parks and recreation, is hereby authorized to institute an action in supreme court in the judicial destrict wherein such cemetery or burial ground is located to enjoin violations or threatened violations of this section.

http://www.nps.gov/vive/
Deliberately setting aside the controversies of the war, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who served when their Nation called upon them.


When you drive on the Long Island Expressway to Manhattan you can see the great expanse of Calvary Cemetery, it is a "thriving" necropolis.

The question is, how do we best honor our love ones? " Jun 29, 09 8:39 AM

Turkey Bridge,

the transfer of public property to an unincorporated cemetery association is not a simple matter for an oral agreement.

The requirement that agreements for the sale / transfer of real property must be in writing is founded upon the understanding that the significant rights that are being transferred should be in writing so there can be no misunderstanding or disagreement.

For the cemetery association to claim it was relying upon oral representations should call into question both the wisdom or accuracy of that contention.

For the cemetery association to expend money on what is nothing other than a political advertisement requires that the nature of the association itself be examined. What is the entity "Friends of the Westhampton Cemetery" ?

Is either the "Association" or the "Friends" a not-for-profit corporation; are either recognized as a charity; do either have any obligations to the public, are either operated for private benefit?

The targeting of the Trustees on this issue should be critically examined. The interests of all should be considered.

These are questions that merit consideration. The are not offered for speculation, but are facts that should be presented for the public to consider as the issue has been put before the community for its input.
" Jun 30, 09 10:22 PM

The contention that the property is "landlocked" is of doubtful validity.

There is the doctrine of easement by necessity which permits an owner of property that has no access to a public road to obtain an easement to reach the road. That would require a court action to establish ($$$), and it is questionable whether such an easement would be created that would accommodate funeral processions under that doctrine.

Maybe that is why the 2 acres went for $200,000.

Is the "swap" of a "similarly sized" lot that is not landlocked, and would not require a court action to open an easement, be in the public interest?" Jun 30, 09 11:01 PM

Empire and hospitals take negotiations to the wire; no deal in sight

highatsize is right in part. See http://www.nyhealthcarecommission.org/docs/final/appendix2-longislandrac.pdf the relevant portion of the Berger report." Jul 28, 09 9:43 PM

Councilwoman wants to crack down on owners of vehicles cited for violations

Vehicle Forfeiture is a bad idea, and will create more problems than it solves. It does, however, have a certain shallow political appeal.

WHAT COULD HAPPEN WITH THIS LAW:

Consider this: Junior gets a ticket and either forgets to go to court, or forgets to pay the fine. The dutiful court sends notice to the DMV and Junior's license is suspended. Friday night Junior is allowed to use the family car (to be home by 10:00 because these parents know where their children are). Junior is fiddling with the radio and the car begins to drift to the shoulder. Responsible Officer pulls Junior over to see if Junior might be under the influence, after all it is Friday night. Junior is fine, but his license is suspended.

Here we go, family car is towed (incurring a towing charge) it is impounded (incurring an impound fee) a forfeiture hearing is scheduled (requiring a magistrate, an attorney for the town, and because the family car is at stake, the family attorney).

Maybe the magistrate is reasonable and does not forfeit the $20,000 family car. Now Dad can stop bumming rides to work as he has been doing every day for the past week while the family car was accruing impound fees. Maybe, after they have paid the family lawyer, they have the $200 to pay the tow operator and impound yard to get the car released.


Consider this: Dad likes to take a dip in the ocean after a long day at work, it is refreshing and helps get rid of the spare tire around his waist. Dad usually puts the keys under the mat, its Ponquogue Beach, its pretty safe. Dad leaves his wallet at home because he isn't going to carry it in his Speedo (alright Dad doesn't wear the Speedo, at least we hope he won't until the spare tire is gone) He doesn't leave his wallet in the car because Ponquoge Beach is safe, but not THAT safe.

Dad is like Junior, or Junior is like Dad. Dad is fiddling with the radio and the car begins to drift to the shoulder. Responsible officer pulls Dad over to see if he might be under the influence, after all lots of people like to have a few beers after work. Dad is fine, but when asked for his license and registration he has neither.

Here we go, Dad only has his wet swim suit and the sand that is beginning to chafe. Responsible Officer, while polite, knows that some people give someone else's name and date of birth if their own license is suspended. Responsible Officer knows the failure to produce a license provides her with reasonable suspicion to conclude that Dad is unlicensed.

The tow truck is called, the family car goes to impound, Dad goes to the precinct and hopes that Mom hasn't taken Junior to his ball practice yet so that she can bring his license and registration and this can all be cleared up. Dad is not as irresponsible as Junior, but the tow truck driver has to be paid and maybe some impound fees (the tow wasn't free).


Consider this: Juan is driving the landscaping truck and fails to signal a lane change. Responsible Officer pulls Juan over and Juan can't produce a driver's license. Once again, this is reasonable cause to call for the tow truck, and besides it isn't Stinchi Landscaping.

Assume the hearing is held and while the Truck Owner insists that Juan showed him a license when he was hired, the magistrate gets his coffee at the 7-11 and wasn't born yesterday. Truck is forfeited, Juan pays $50 (if he shows up in Court) Truck Owner loses a $15,000 truck (Okay, he didn't lose the truck it had a lien on it for $20,000 for the loan when he bought the truck) Truck Owner pays impound and towing fees and gets back to the 50 customers he has waiting for him.


TROUBLE AHEAD:

EVEN IF, after hiring Magistrates, more town attorneys, paying tow operators and impound yards a Forfeiture Program turns out to been wildly successful in raising revenues (that is what is what this is about) there is a bigger problem on the horizon.

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the excessive fines clause. A fine must be proportional to the wrong committed. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Bajakajian

There will be attorneys to bring the civil rights actions to argue that the forfeiture of the Mercedes www.mbusa.com/ is excessive and unconstitutional. There will also be another attorney who advances the legal theory is that Juan Chavez is being treated differently than John Smith and that this violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. These actions not only provide for the return of the vehicle, but for attorneys fees as well.


NOT AN ORIGINAL IDEA

Suffolk County has just such a Forfeiture Law and whether that is truly successful from a revenue standpoint (County Attorney Salaries, Magistrate Salaries, Tow Truck Operator's costs) has yet to be completely analyzed, there remains the liability for having actually forfeited vehicles.

The Statute of Limitations on a Civil Rights Action is 3 years so the County could be tagged for compensation for 3 years worth of forfeitures and associated attorneys fees before it undoes what has been done.

WHILE THERE IS A SHALLOW POLITICAL APPEAL, THIS LAW WILL PUT THE TOWN IN DEEP WATER.
" Aug 5, 09 10:37 AM

Former Suffolk Legislator George Guldi is arraigned on 110 charges in alleged mortgage fraud scheme

Thomas T. McVann was also arraigned on two counts in this indictment.. He has been charged with Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. He was represented by the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society." Aug 13, 09 7:47 AM

Math requirements will increase for Westhampton Beach High School students

Way to go ! ! !

Every student in high school can learn and master calculus, with the exception of a very small sliver of a tiny minority who will graduate with IEP diplomas.

Math is nothing more or less than commons sense. If the proper fundamentals of math are taught over the years, every high school student who is encouraged to be confident and work at it can learn even calculus.

Have students failed math in the past. Sure, but does this mean these students did not possess the basic intelligence necessary to learn math through the calculus level? No. It means these students did not receive proper instruction in the fundamentals as they went along, or did not receive appropriate encouragement, or failed to put in enough effort, or some combination of the three.

Every high school athlete knows that even a person of average ability can excel if he/she practices hard and gains confidence. If these same students put the same time in to all studies, including math, as into other endeavors, they can not be stopped and will have an education of which they can be proud.

Bravo to the Board members who encourage the continued education in a rigorous math curriculum.

Our students deserve our high expectations. They can do it." Aug 19, 09 2:38 PM

Price wants village to pay; serves Westhampton Beach with notice of claim

We Do have such laws. In both State and Federal Court sanctions can be imposed and often are imposed in large sums. " Aug 20, 09 3:42 PM

Westhampton Beach trustee, blogger spar over residency issues

It goes without saying that it is critical that the integrity of elections be protected. That means people who are not qualified to vote must be prevented from casting illegal ballots, and that the process of casting a ballot must not become unnecessarily burdened.

It appears that there is good reason to question whether, in the past, unqualified voters cast ballots in a closely contested election and whether those ballots may have determined the outcome of a previous election. That was and remains cause for concern.

This year, in an effort to prevent a repetition of that problem, challenge lists were employed on election day to invoke heightened scrutiny on the part of election officials. In the case of village elections that official was the village clerk.

However, the number of people who found that they were being challenged on election day made the potential for abuse clear. When taken to the extreme, challenge lists could be as disruptive to an election, as the risk of an unqualified voter or two casting a ballot.

I have not read, nor have I heard, that anyone has said the use of challenge lists was illegal. I am surprised to read that an official inquiry was made into whether the process was illegal when that was never presented as the issue.

The question is whether there is a means by which the process can be improved so that unqualified voters can be prevented from affecting elections, and, at the same time, use a process that minimizes delays on voting day that could otherwise be destructive to the electoral process.

There appears to be no reason why a person who appears as an enrolled voter with the Board of Elections months before the village election in June should only first be challenged on election day when passions of those involved run highest and rational thinking runs lowest.

There is no reason that candidates and their ardent supporters should not be required to challenge registered voters in advance of election day. The challengers would be able to present their reasons for their challenge to the qualifications, and the registered voters would be able to present proof. This would be more reasoned, more dispassionate, and less disruptive.

I would expect all elected officials to support an appropriate review and reform the process as required." Sep 4, 09 11:50 PM

The blogger who is the subject of this article has demonstrated how good and valuable tools can be put to bad use. In a recent post on his blog entitled, Six Corners' Stonewall, he has attacked and insulted a public official.

His complaint is that the Village Clerk, whom he refers to as playing "the rule book clown" did not immediately comply with his demand made under FOIL for a letter written by the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and sent to the Village Attorney.

Before the Trustees had even been made aware that this letter had been received by the Village Attorney, this blogger was asking about the letter at the meeting of the Board of Trustees. The blogger then made a FOIL request so that he could "officially" obtain the letter. However the letter was not immediately produced by the Village Clerk, and the insults began to fly in
cyberspace.

I think it is fair for the Trustees to be able to read their mail before the blogger reads their mail.

We should be clear, again, the issue in this Village is NOT whether the blogger broke any law on election day when he presented a written list of voters whom he contended were not qualified to vote in the Village election.
The issue IS whether there is a procedure that could prevent the disruption presented by such numerous last minute challenges.

We want all qualified voters to be able to vote without harassment and without unnecessary delay. At the same time we want to make sure UNqualified voters ARE prevented from voting. No one claims the blogger broke the law, only that he demonstrated how the electoral process was at risk.

The letter from NYCOM is from an informal association, it does not issue binding opinions like a Court, it does not pass laws like the Legislature, and does not even promulgate regulations like State Agencies. It can be a resource, but it is really an informal club. The letter from this club could not be momentous, and it apparently did not address the question for this Village. That question was and remains: What procedures, if any, can be adopted to limit the disruptive effect of the use of last minute challenge lists on election day?.

The blogger reports that he engaged a Trustee in "a[n] hour-long and often heated colloquy on the steps of Village Hall" If there is any discernible indiscretion on the part of the Trustee it is that he listened so long to the blogger. The Trustee went above and beyond being polite in listening for so long.

The blogger, as the article notes, unsuccessfully ran for the office of Trustee, and now seems to be getting derailed from important civic issues in this village and is instead advancing a personal agenda." Sep 10, 09 8:56 AM

Supervisor Kabot will fight DWI charge, stay in race

Setting aside the electoral prospects of a candidate on Town Board when the current financial mess was created, Mrs. Kabot IS presumed innocent.

It seems that the overwhelming majority who have posted to this page presume she was drunk and/or presume she refused to take a breath test. That could turn out to be true, or the evidence might not overcome the presumption of innocence.

The police SAY she failed two field sobriety tests, and refused to take a breath test. If the tests are objectively reasonable and if everyone would agree that she failed, then just run the video tape of her performance on those tests.

The police SAY she refused to take the test, was that a verbal refusal, or an "insufficient sample" as recorded by a machine. For a proper test the subject must blow for at least 4.5 seconds and deliver at least 1.5 liters of air at a flow rate of at least 2.5 liters/minute. Think of that 2 liter bottle of Coke in the fridge, are you ready to fill that two thirds full with your breath? If you don't blow a sufficient sample its called a refusal.

Or, perhaps she demanded a breath test? Again, run the video tape. Another possibility is that Mrs. Kabot did have a couple of drinks, had no conception that to be intoxicated you must be very polluted and out of fear did in fact refuse. (That's bad, it has its own punishment, but doesn't mean she was drunk.)

The overwhelming presumption of guilt expressed on this page is a testament to the experience of the readers which is that they have not personally experienced either negligent police work, or outright malevolent conduct on the part of police. That is heartening, but at the same time, what has been our experience? A speeding ticket when we were in fact speeding?

When the Defendant is a public figure is it possible that police didn't give her the same benefit of the doubt another citizen might get fearing they might be accused of favoritism? Maybe she performed reasonably well on those field tests, but the officer was afraid to cut her loose and risk allegations of favoritism.

We have a Court system because we do not want to grant unchecked power to anyone. Let the checks and balances of our system work. If Mrs. Kabot maintains she is not guilty, let the evidence, or the lack of evidence, be weighed by people who actually get to hear it before rendering a verdict." Sep 10, 09 7:03 PM

Hey, about that 2 liter bottle, and you blew it 2/3 full; let that count as a refusal because it takes 3/4." Sep 10, 09 7:16 PM

Whether Mrs. Kabot is innocent of the charges that have been made or not. You can be sure it is a difficult time for her. Compassion doesn't cost a dime.

When it comes to the legal process, the public, the Legislature, and even the Courts have gone just a little nuts. Consider that a person's drivers license can be suspended without a trial at all.

Sure some will regurgitate the mantra driving is a privilege, not a right. Try living on the East End without that "privilege." That privilege/right distinction is just one example of crazy courts.

Next consider that if a person is found to have refused the test they lose their license for at least six months. However, if they refuse and are convicted of either driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated, then they can immediately have their license back while they take (and pay for) a course.

However, a complete acquittal of the drinking driving charge by a person who has refused makes that person ineligible for the course, and he must sit out the six month period. Guilty pleas are rewarded with the return of driving privileges.

Drunk drivers put all of us at serious risk. Notice how the State is more than happy to license bars in rural areas which almost by definition creates drunk drivers? How much revenue does NY receive in taxes on alcohol? We need to approach this problem consistently. It goes well beyond the Southampton Town Supervisor.

Dispensing with the presumption of innocence if the charge is DWI, as it appears some here want to do, will NOT change anything. Presumed innocent is a bedrock principal that can not be tossed aside. The requirement of proof beyond all reasonable doubt is the measure for all criminal accusations, whether you personally like the Defendant or disagree with her politics.

In the final analysis Mrs. Kabot is a neighbor to us all. She needs to be treated like that no matter what the outcome of her case." Sep 10, 09 9:34 PM

Westhampton Beach still has not endorsed high school district study

"Abolishing tuition will thin the coffers of Westhampton Beach School District, a possibility that Mr. Schwartz pointed out when discussing the issue this week...
We believe Westhampton Beach would not at all benefit financially,” Mr. Schwartz said.

We have no business spending money on a study when the fundamental concept is to shift the tax burden to Westhampton School District residents.

People bought homes in their respective districts and the price was, in part, dictated by school tax rates. Westhampton residents had to pay more to live in a district with lower taxes.

Now Senator LaValle (a former school teacher) thinks it is fair to restructure the district so those who paid more for houses will now pay even more for taxes, and those who paid less for the same homes in another district, will pay less in taxes.

Everyone has made economic choices, some were willing to pay for a more expensive smaller home in order to pay lower taxes.

The voters in Westhampton should be watching the School Board very closely on this one." Sep 10, 09 10:11 PM

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