Collaborative Effort? - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1928396

Collaborative Effort?

Once past Cailin Riley’s gushing over John Bennett’s “heroism” in her lopsided coverage of the registry law public hearing [“Residents Voice Concerns About Southampton Village Rental Registry Law,”, April 13], I can only wonder if she was fully awake.

While enumerating the “many ways” Bennett “was the hero of the night” (supporting the registration law making him a contender in her eyes), while dictating his list of changes to the board elicited “cheers and encouragement from the attending group of landlords,” she omits entirely the furious opposition to this overreaching law (with attendant cheers and encouragement), and the furious condemnation of the Village Board’s underhandedness in rolling out this law (anger, cheers and applause).

Bennett was heroic because he faced down the local Madame Defarge, Trustee Gina Arresta, and her wagging hand signals to cut him off, pushing on to finish his comments.

I, on the other hand, was not given that courtesy — nor were six other speakers who tried to cede their three minutes to me. Instead, Mayor Jesse Warren turned in befuddlement to his inauspicious attorney, who declared it illegal for me to continue on their time, despite Warren allowing it in the past.

What, I try to imagine, would this hapless and incompetent board have done if confronted by Stacy Kaufman? Her obit, which sadly appeared in last week’s Press, didn’t mention her arrest and subsequent status as a folk heroine after she leapt onto the dais to stand over a cowering Vince Cannuscio demanding answers. And she was a sitting judge!

As for the unctuous spinning of Jesse Warren, who was caught pants down trying to ram through the 12-page version of the town law, he kept oozing that all he wanted was a “collaborative effort” with the public. It was apparent that none of the trustees even read this onerous law before attempting to impose it under the radar. And, as it turns out, Mr. Bennett was amending Version 5 of the draft law, while the public had Version 3. Legal?

No trustee could answer a question or articulate a thought about it, save for Roy Stevenson, who mused that he only wanted it so landlords could get their money in advance. He probably meant rich landlords who could afford the hurdles, not the struggling homeowners, forced to rent to offset escalating taxes, who would be crippled and deterred by them.

The ploy was to stress one aspect of the law as a “carrot” and downplay the heavy “stick” of the registration that follows with its seismic shift of power to tenants, potential for litigation, invasion of privacy, curbing of freedom, and invasive data collection.

Doubtful these trustees spent three minutes on this; it will take a lot longer to clean up their mess.

Frances Genovese