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Jul 14, 2009 6:51 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Letter snafus causes trouble for Zwirn

Jul 14, 2009 6:51 PM

Democratic Town Supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn is in a bit of hot water with the current Town Board this week, after his campaign circulated a draft letter to the press, written by the candidate, presumably on behalf of the Town Board, asking Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman to draft legislation waiving tax penalties for East Hampton taxpayers who missed the May 30 deadline.

“This has nothing to do with the Town Board... This is not our letter,” said Town Supervisor Bill McGintee after he received a copy from a reporter this week. “This is the first time I’ve seen it.”

Mr. Zwirn could not be reached for comment before this edition’s deadline, but his political consultant, Lona Rubenstein, who circulated the letter, said Tuesday that the draft letter was written by Mr. Zwirn for Mr. Schneiderman to send to the Town Board, despite the fact that the letter is addressed “Dear Mr. Schneiderman” and is signed “Town of East Hampton.”

“Ben was making the work easier for people involved to move it along,” said Ms. Rubenstein.

Some members of the Town Board, however, said when the letter was circulated at a work session Tuesday morning that they did not want residents of the town blaming the county for their inability to pay their taxes on time.

“It’s ‘the dog ate my homework,’” said Mr. McGintee. “It’s everybody else’s fault every time.”

Town Councilman Pete Hammerle said that he was equally opposed to the boilerplate language in the brief letter, which states that “the Town Board doesn’t want to see its residents penalized for paying their taxes late this year because of the failure of the reminder notice. We are, therefore, 
requesting legislation to enable Suffolk County to reimburse these residents for the penalties they incurred.”

“I’m not signing a letter like that,” said Mr. Hammerle. “I don’t like that we’re being dragged into it.”

Mr. Zwirn said earlier this week that he believed Town Board members Pat Mansir and Julia Prince were in favor of asking Mr. Schneiderman to draft the law. Ms. Mansir expressed lukewarm support for the concept at Tuesday’s work session and Ms. Prince was not there.

“I’m shocked that the Democratic candidate would release such a letter without Town Board knowledge or approval,” said GOP Town Supervisor candidate Bill Wilkinson, who attended the work session.

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No wonder why everyone I have talked to doesn't like this guy! Regardless of his intentions this was not only unacceptable but arrogant. Stick to your business "UP ISLAND" unless you get elected which is highly doubtful. By the way, was that letter really signed "East Hampton Town" ??? Where is Molanari when we need her?
By disappointed (96), wainscott on Jul 14, 09 6:32 PM
Why would a letter FROM Jay Schneiderman TO the Town Board say "the Town Board doesn't want to see its residents penalized for paying taxes late...." Zwirn's campaign can't even make excuses in a truthful or believable manner. If Zwirn cannot manage his campaign how can one expect him to manage the Town? After the illerate letter sent out by Zwirn in May that contained passages like "Partisan sabotages solutions and has no place in a local election"...huh? How can anyone take this candidate ...more
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Jul 14, 09 11:37 PM
Politics has reared its ugly head over the failure of the Town to send out reminder notices for second half taxes this year...While the Republicans do what they do best...point fingers and look to blame I have tried to bring relief to those taxpayers who paid hundreds of thousands of dollares in fines and penalties thru no fault of their own....East Hampton was the ONLY Town in Suffolk County that failed to send out reminder notices this year...I have reached across Party lines to enlist Legislator ...more
By benzwirn (11), east hampton on Jul 18, 09 9:01 AM
If both Republican party hacks and their I-told-you-so candidate and the dysfunctional Democratic Town Board in the persons of Hammerle and McGIntee are all ganging up on candidate Ben Zwirn (on a phony issue about a draft?) he must be doing something right. They're listening to the footsteps, Ben. Keep on fighting for the people of our town.
By veritas (7), East Hampton on Jul 18, 09 9:40 AM