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Sep 8, 2009 7:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Zwirn gets AFL-CIO endorsement

Sep 8, 2009 7:50 PM

Democratic East Hampton Town Supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn recently won two endorsements—one from the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, which includes the town employees’ CSEA labor union, and one from former Sag Harbor Village Mayor Gregory Ferraris, who is a registered Republican.

Long Island AFL-CIO president John R. Durso sent a letter to Mr. Zwirn notifying him of the union’s endorsement on August 25.

“Our endorsement represents our belief that your campaign best represents the interests and values of our membership, Long Island’s working families,” wrote Mr. Durso in the letter.

At a Democratic fund-raiser at the home of former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean’s mother, Andree Dean, on Sunday night, Mr. Zwirn told the crowd of loyal Democrats that the AFL-CIO had said that he would be fair to the union’s members, though he cautioned that “staff reductions” at Town Hall were a distinct possibility.

“We may have to reduce the staff very carefully,” he said, adding that, while he cut the Town of North Hempstead’s work force by 40 percent when he was the town supervisor there in the early 1990s, East Hampton represents “a different time and a different place. Most of the employees are working two to three jobs just to make ends meet.”

The town’s CSEA has not yet endorsed any candidates. GOP Town Supervisor candidate Bill Wilkinson has said that he was concerned that Mr. Zwirn had told an ad hoc panel on the town’s finances that “similar efficiencies” existed between his layoffs in North Hempstead and East Hampton’s situation in January, before he became a candidate, but had later backpedaled on the idea. Mr. Wilkinson, a former vice president for human resources at The Walt Disney Company, has said that he would first institute a hiring freeze and attempt to improve morale among town workers.

Mr. Zwirn also said on Sunday that he plans to make all of the town’s outside consultants justify their paychecks, go after the town’s former auditors, Albrecht, Viggiano and Zureck, to collect $500,000 that the town spent on software provided by the auditors that it couldn’t use, and to look into taking control of the town’s sewage treatment plant from its private operator.

“The town should be run like a civics class, with everything out in the open,” he said, adding that he cut taxes for four years in a row in North Hempstead, while East Hampton this year will face another tax increase on top of the 24-percent hike last year.

Mr. Ferraris, who is a certified public accountant, said in his endorsement of Mr. Zwirn that “the learning curve for supervisor is just too great for these dire times in East Hampton ... During these tough times we need to rise above party politics and promote the most qualified candidate to lead.”

Meanwhile, GOP candidates for Town Board and supervisor will hold a Meet the Candidates night at the Three Mile Harbor Boat Yard, this Saturday, September 12, from 5:30 p.m. to sunset. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served and the Republicans, who have been holding an average of one low-cost fund-raiser per month since the beginning of the year, are asking attendees to pay $25 per person. Bill Wilkinson, Town Board candidates Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley, and other members of the GOP team will be on hand.

Prudence Carabine, who earlier this year created her own party, the Bonac Beach Party, is now planning a write-in campaign for a Town Board seat after her petitions were thrown out last week by the Suffolk County Board of Elections in response to a challenge by Independence Party chair Elaine Jones. Ms. Carabine said this week that she’d ruled out an appeal of the elections board’s decision. She said that polls conducted earlier this year by Ben Zwirn’s political consultant, Lona Rubenstein, showed that she was the second most likely to succeed among the Town Board candidates, after GOP candidate Theresa Quigley.

Ms. Rubenstein had no comment on whether the polls were conducted, who they were conducted for, or what the results may have been.

“My husband looked at the Democratic and Republican petitions and they had the same errors,” said Ms. Carabine. “Nobody challenged them. But I feel this has done me a huge favor. A lot of people are really angry that I was challenged, but I’m not angry. I’m just steaming along doing everything I can think of to do. I’m doing the best I can do to educate and encourage the public, but a write-in ballot is a steep hill to climb. But I’m climbing it, like the little engine that could.”

Ms. Jones also scored another victory last week, after her challenge to Democratic Town Board candidate Patti Leber’s attempt to create another line for the Democrats, the Common Ground Party, was upheld by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Ms. Jones said that she had managed to knock Ms. Leber’s name off the Common Ground Party’s line, but had not directly challenged the other candidates, whose names will appear on the party line. Ms. Leber had initially created the line after she was the only Democratic candidate not endorsed by the Working Families Party, and she will now be the only Democratic candidate with just one line on the ballot, while her running mates will have three lines each.

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Anyone who votes for Zwirn or any town board members should be checked into a insane assylum
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Sep 8, 09 4:05 PM
razza5350 I cant agree with you more. People need to open their eyes and see the big picture. Come on East Hampton do the right thing. Go Wilkinson!!!
By letskeepitreal (15), sagharbor on Sep 8, 09 4:20 PM
I agree - where, pray-tell - does the AFL-CIO fit in with this Town? I am asking sincerely. Is this an endorsement for the CSEA? I think not.

Dear Beth: Could you please contact the CSEA and see where they stand before you make the giant leap and imply that the local CSEA supports Zwirn? I am just curious and you are just not doing your job. Sorry.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 9, 09 1:17 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Beth Young (7), Sag Harbor on Sep 11, 09 11:17 AM
@ Board Watcher:

Your observation above is valid, but I'm going to ask you politely to stop personally attacking my reporter in your comments. It's not the first time, and it's inappropriate.

You can feel free to criticize the paper and its coverage all you want, and ask valid questions about stories, but our policy doesn't allow personal attacks on anyone, including reporters, in comments, and I'm not going to continue to allow it.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Sep 11, 09 12:21 PM
P.S. The story does state that the CSEA has not officially endorsed any candidates.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Sep 11, 09 1:45 PM
Your policies are sound, Mr. Shaw, and I agree that it is inappropriate to criticize a reporter personally for articles that s/he may be directed to write, or in general. I apologize to Ms. Young. As for the article, the word I used was IMPLY and I am referring to the first sentence. i read the story - I see that the CSEA has not officially endorsed any candidates. My question was (and is) whose endorsement matters? The up-island AFL-CIO or our own CSEA - so where is the CSEA on this? Has ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 12, 09 8:52 AM
Probably one of the most least important endorsements you can get. They didn't even contact the Republican candidates -- not even with a questionnaire. The upisland AFL-CIO continously harasses local government when local non-union vendors win bids for local public projects. Anti local business labor unions from upisland are not the groups I would be seeking to back me. The local CSEA on the other hand is a different story. You think the local CSEA is happy with the local Democrat party that ...more
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Sep 25, 09 6:02 PM