Tattered Trust - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2072706

Tattered Trust

It is heartening to see The Press move from wish-filled hopes for workforce housing to a near indictment of “Liberty Gardens,” which was presented and promoted as local workforce housing and exposed by public scrutiny to be anything but [“Bait and Switch,” Editorial, January 19].

While clarification is welcome, some lying, misrepresentation and elisions persist; namely, the fuzziness and manipulation of the timing. Who knew what, and when?

Your editorial states that “at some point” after the Concern for Independent Living plan was greeted favorably, “details began to change. It was no longer being promoted as workforce housing, but as affordable housing.” Promoted by whom? Changes questioned by whom? Anyone?

Liberty Gardens was persistently touted as anything but what it really was, until the truth couldn’t be held back any longer.

The devil in the details referred to in your editorial is the impression that information evolved or was modified over time. New information didn’t come out over time — the truth emerged when the town was made to address what it was attempting to hide.

Housing for the homeless, rehab patients, and physically and psychologically impaired veterans is prescribed by the State Office of Mental Health, which heavily funds Concern for Independent Living and is explicit in the legal statements of both organizations.

Hard to give any credence to Jay Schneiderman’s pusillanimous admission that he “struggled a little bit” upon “learning” whom the housing was meant for, and that “it would have been nice” (sic) if the developer hadn’t modified the proposal. But saying it’s for “veterans,” and “it’s very hard” to turn his back on homeless veterans, only serves to buy him time.

What’s very easy for him is to turn his back on public records, his oath of office and official responsibilities; to duck due diligence; to whip his compliant board and “planners” into line. A bit harder, but still easy: to bury the proscribed mandates accompanying funding. Easy, also, to encourage the disruptive takeover of public meetings, to host Ralph Fasano’s veterans and watch the public being emotionally blackmailed and castigated. No sweat to push a discredited draft environmental impact statement, to utilize Michael Daly as a battering ram, and to ignore input from Southampton Village.

And now there is a new fund — easy money, sans restrictions, with an “advisory committee” handpicked by Schneiderman & Co. and overseen by him until he officially turns his back and leaves. What goes with Schneiderman is the tattered trust of a public he turned his back on long ago, one overtaxed with providing the diligence he and his factotums shunted.

What can restore trust? Cyndi McNamara is a good start. If only because she read what was dangled in front of her and questioned it.

Frances Genovese