Pattern Is Clear - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2246846

Pattern Is Clear

I’m concerned about another punitive and poorly conceived measure proposed by Bill Manger and the Southampton Village trustees. This time, their focus is on limiting remote participation at meetings, specifically targeting volunteer members of land use boards [“Debate Over Parameters for Attending Meetings Via Videoconference Takes Center Stage at Southampton Village Board Meeting,”, April 17]. According to their proposed new law, these volunteers are allowed only three remote meetings per year. Exceeding this number could result in their votes being disregarded, or even removal from the boards.

As the world increasingly embraces remote work and technology, it seems our village leadership is stubbornly moving in the opposite direction. Susan Stevenson, a member of the Architectural Review Board, rightly described this measure as “adversarial,” while Zoning Board of Appeals member Julia McCormack called it “punitive for some members.” Instead of penalizing our volunteers, we should be supporting and thanking them for their dedication and hard work.

The board’s approach is not isolated to our volunteers; it reflects a broader trend of punitive measures. Whether it’s residents like myself facing unreasonable and unfair calculations of taxable assessed value, multiple small-business owners being fined, concerned citizens not being heard on Pond Lane, or anyone who dares to disagree with their policies, the pattern is clear.

Contrary to Bill Manger’s claims, there is no state mandate that compels such strict restrictions. In fact, according to the Committee on Open Government, Public Law Sec. 103-a(2)(c) was amended to allow municipalities to establish standard procedures for remote meeting attendance. But it appears that Southampton Village’s approach is more restrictive than what is necessary.

Mark McIntire, the chairperson of the ARB, suggested adopting a more lenient policy, similar to the East Hampton board’s code, which allows a broader interpretation of “extraordinary circumstances.” Unfortunately, his reasonable proposal was overlooked in favor of a more restrictive and exclusionary policy.

Adding to the hypocrisy, Trustee Robin Brown, who frequently attends meetings via Zoom, often without contributing, exemplifies a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. While the trustees push for stringent rules on remote participation, they do not hold themselves to the same standards.

It is time for all residents of Southampton Village to recognize that our local government should be enhancing community engagement, not restricting it. It’s time for a referendum. Voting out Gina Arresta and Len Zinnanti in June will send a strong message to the Village Board that it’s time for a change.

David Rung

Southampton Village