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Jun 10, 2009 4:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Political advertisement causes a stir in Westhampton Beach

Jun 10, 2009 4:07 PM

An advertisement appearing in last week’s The Southampton Press Western Edition that endorses Westhampton Beach Village Board incumbents Joan Levan and Hank Tucker has stirred up a pre-election brouhaha.

At question is who paid for and authorized the quarter-page advertisement that appears on Page A9 and urges Westhampton Beach residents to cast their ballots in support of Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker in the village election on Friday, June 19. The bottom of the advertisement states that it was “Paid for by The First Hampton Party.”

Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker announced last month that they are seeking reelection to the board as members of the brand new Lightning Party, a name they said they chose in order to distance themselves from the First Hampton Party and Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller. Both incumbents ran for office under that party banner in 2007, and the First Hampton Party typically has been associated with the mayor. Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker are being challenged by former Southampton Town Police Officer Stephen Arrasate and Main Street business owner Elyse Richman.

In a separate advertisement that is running in this week’s edition, Mayor Teller states that the First Hampton Party no longer exists and charges that Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker essentially endorsed themselves by indirectly paying for last week’s advertisement.

Angelo de la Fuente of Remsenburg, who owns Angelo’s Auto Works on Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton Beach, said he is the new treasurer of the First Hampton Party and that he signed the check to pay for the advertisement. But Ms. Levan’s name appears at the top of the Suffolk County National Bank check that was used to pay for the advertisement—a fact that Ms. Levan says perplexes even her. She previously served as treasurer of the First Hampton Party, a post she says she stepped down from when launching the Lightning Party.

“I have no idea why my name is in the left-hand corner of the check,” Ms. Levan said when reached on Tuesday.

Mr. de la Fuente, who identified himself during last week’s Village Board meeting as the new treasurer of the First Hampton Party, announced at the same meeting that he had signed the check that paid for the advertisement. When reached on Tuesday to ask why he signed a check that bore Ms. Levan’s name, Mr. de la Fuente declined to comment.

“You and your editor have no integrity,” he said before hanging up the phone on a reporter.

According to Rich Davies, a head teller at Suffolk County National Bank, it would have been legal for Mr. de la Fuente to sign the check as long as his name was added to the account. Mr. Davies said he could not disclose whether or not Mr. de la Fuente’s name had been added to the account.

Mr. Davies also said that the check used to pay for the political advertisement was not valid. He added that he could not explain why the check might be invalidated.

The check used by Mr. de la Fuente looked as if it came from a brand new account, as there was no number listed in the top right corner. He handwrote the number “100” when paying for the advertisement.

According to documents on file in Village Hall, Ms. Levan was still the official treasurer of the First Hampton Party on Monday, June 1, the day that Mr. de la Fuente paid for the advertisement. Mr. de la Fuente did not become the treasurer of the First Hampton Party until a week later, on Monday, June 8, when he filled out the required paperwork to take over that role, according to village records. Also on June 8, Ms. Levan filled out the required forms to become the treasurer of the Lightning Party, even though she said she filed the financial disclosure statements for that party in late May.

“On May 19, I filled out the disclosures for the Lightning Party as the treasurer,” Ms. Levan said. “Never was I told to fill out a form to be an official treasurer.”

Westhampton Beach Village Clerk Kathy McGinnis took the blame for the error, explaining that she should have asked Ms. Levan to fill out the required form when the Lightning Party was first established. “I should have given it to her from the first filing, but didn’t,” Ms. McGinnis said.

Mayor Teller, meanwhile, said that neither he nor Village Board member Toni-Jo Birk, who ran together on the First Hampton Party line last year along with Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler, authorized the check to pay for last week’s advertisement. “Jim Kametler could’ve endorsed them,” Mayor Teller added.

Mr. Kametler did not return calls this week.

Ms. McGinnis explained that the deadline for the second filing of financial disclosure statements for this year’s campaign season was Monday. All campaign committees that receive more than $1,000 in contributions or donations must fill out financial disclosure information, she explained.

According to records on file with the village, the campaign committee for the First Hampton Party had $1,158 in its bank account at the close of last year’s election season. After payment for the advertisement in The Press was issued, the account had a balance of about $491, Ms. McGinnis said.

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C'mon Hank - telll the truth. The ad and endorsement was you and Joan blowing your own horns. Be a man, stop taking the health benefits and start making your own decisions. Stop the lies and deceit. Otherwise, you will fall to Elyse or Steve.

By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 9, 09 6:28 PM
BTW pretty funny what Angelo has to say about SHP reporter and editors. He should look in the mirror. SHP keep it real and honest!

By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 9, 09 6:30 PM
I've read this account and that of the Beach blog, and two things are pretty obvious:

1.- Joan Levan has been busted!

2.- Hank Tucker can't think on his feet -- man is not a pressure -player.

This is the same sort of think that caused the un-incorporation of Pine Valley over here in the early 90's, except they had fist-fights on the village board!

How sad for Westhampton Beach.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 9, 09 6:43 PM
Lets follow this story, who can answer the question who is the First Hampton Party ?
Who is funding the First Hampton Party?
Why the need for all the coverups?
Disturbing to me and many other village residents !
By shock (70), whb on Jun 9, 09 10:20 PM
Who at the First Hampton Party has said this advertisement was unauthorized?

That seems to be the crux of the matter.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 10, 09 7:30 AM
But if the 2 incumbents broke away from the First Hampton Party, why would the check still bear her name ?Who is donating money to the First Hampton Party to pay for this campaign ad and 2 who approved this money to be taken out of this account, If this money was in the account of The First Hampton Party who had the approval to take this money from that account.
No one seems to want to speak the truth here, and according to political campaigning we need disclosure here.Lets see who donated ...more
By shock (70), whb on Jun 10, 09 8:00 AM
Why is the SHP always so bent on interfering with Village of Westhampton Beach Elections? Instead of printing accurate information the SHP always propagates rumors and half-truths, paraphrases replies and deliberately distorts the truth. Frankly… Frank this is why the SHP never receives any awards for journalism… there isn’t any. Anyone with even the slightest commonsense realizes that the act of leaving a Party position means that remnants of when you were part of that party remain. This check ...more
By Resident (42), Westhampton Beach on Jun 10, 09 9:18 AM
Hey resident your back.
The SHP gets involved because they shed light on the dirty politics that NOT The Deans, Tellers or Strebels or have created , but, the dirty politics that JImmy, Joan and Hank have been playing.
If it wasnt for the SHP or Dean Speir's blog the average person might fall for the line of continuous horse manure thats thrown out there by Jimmy and Joan and Hank.
They have used thier antics to turn this Village into a Circus.
Read the E-mails posted on OTTB ...more
By foundthefacts (8), westhampton on Jun 10, 09 10:14 AM
Hasn't the SHP received any awards??? My my..... just because the SHP reports the truth Resident gets angry.....

Maybe the DA should be looking in the election shananigans like non residents voting.... remember a certain chinese food magnate from years past....

Keep all eyes out on the non resident factor in this years race.

Good luck to Elyse and Steve. They will be throwing everything nasty your way in the next weeks.

SHP and Frank C - keep up the good ...more
By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 10, 09 10:29 AM
"Why is the SHP always so bent on interfering with Village of Westhampton Beach Elections?"

Well, resident, it doesn't look like that from here! They seem to be reporting on something the ones you are trying to defend don't want to see surface. You just don't like it when your people are held accountable, and I'm getting a pretty good sense of just who you might be, possible someone running an illegal boarding house. (That's if you are just one person and actually female.)

"Frankly… ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 10, 09 11:04 AM
Dear Resident-looks like Jessica reported a very accurate account of what happened and tried to interview all the parties involved. Joan did something wrong and got caught. The SHP was very responsible in reporting this story and we are very lucky they are there to stay on top of things.

I'm sure by next Monday they will be reporting that Joan withdrew from the election for personal family reasons.
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jun 10, 09 11:31 AM
The Suffolk County District Attorney was nominated by the Democrats and endorsed by the Republicans.

Joan Levan and Hank Tucker are running on a Lightning Party ticket, and their old First Hampton Party has endorsed them. Has anyone claimed this endorsement was unauthorized? This is a non-issue.

These independent parties really don’t mean anything, they aren’t like national parties that speak to grand issues like universal health care, deficit spending, and bailouts.

In ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 10, 09 11:53 AM
Publicus, yours is one of the more lucid comments yet... thank you.

"Has anyone claimed this endorsement was unauthorized? This is a non-issue."

I thought that the Mayor HAD raised that, so it would be an issue. And the Beach blog looked at another side of that, that some of the Mayor's own campaign funds were being used by whoever that party is now, against him. Clever political move or an illegal one?

"Did they get bad legal counsel from the Village Attorney when the ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 10, 09 12:55 PM
Oh my dear Publius.
Very good political strategy.
Four big paragraphs about how great your candidates are and that they brought this and that to everybodys attention
Everything they have brought to light in the past month has been going on for four years, it only became an issue when it came election time.
If Ray Deans comp time was such an issue why wasn't it addressed before....do we really want candidates that sit on issues until it may benefit them.
The goal of a RE-ELECTION ...more
By foundthefacts (8), westhampton on Jun 10, 09 1:08 PM
Jim did not return a call
he was cleaning his gun??
or hiding under a rock!!!!!!
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jun 10, 09 8:45 PM
SJD - finally something we can agree upon!
By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 10, 09 9:31 PM
Better late then never
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jun 11, 09 7:34 AM
Maybe we can get granny to cook up some possum stew(from Jimmy's hunting collection) and we can break bread!
By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 11, 09 9:49 AM
"gordie howe (hockeytown usa)," huh?!

You're probably Dean Spier who writes the Beach blog. He's a big Red wings fan, he's old enough to have seen the real Gordie Howe play, and Detroit likes to call itself "hockeytown usa."

It's not always obvious who some of the Comment-makers here are, but you've "been outted!" 'Fess up!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 11, 09 10:45 AM
Lets figure something else out.
I reaaly would not want to go near anything Jim "the gun man" touched
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jun 11, 09 5:13 PM
Frank thank you for thinking I'm as sarcastic and erudite as the great and powerful DS ... but I'm better looking! And isn't WHB hockeytown USA?
By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 11, 09 6:39 PM
Now you've confused me -- "WHB hockeytown USA?" Not the last time I was though there!

But I notice you didn't deny that you are "DS." And how is he/you "powerful?"
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 11, 09 10:21 PM
Can't wait to see who the Press endorses in this mess. Tough choice.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 12, 09 11:01 AM
The Teller advertisement is very telling:

Is he really enraged over who has control over the decisions made in the First Hampton Party (obviously it wasn't him)? Or is he angry that it is his job, in his role as Mayor and Commissioner of Police, to investigate the Chief of Police's claim to more than 500 hours of comp time, when his contract limits the Chief to 200 hours? It seems the Mayor did nothing about the comp time because he didn't care, and the four trustees were not going to ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 12, 09 11:23 AM
It is indeed teling, Publius, with your spin on it. What the four Trustees did is by any standards, including the NYS Open Meetings Law, illegal.

And while you are working dilligently, as you always seem to do, any pretext of non-partisanship has fallen by the wayside.

So let's see how you explain how those four Trustees never got around to the issue of the "comp time" 'til three weeks prior to your Village's election.

I don't think you're quite the "spin-master" you fancy ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 12, 09 11:57 AM
Mr. Wheeler,

you are correct when you recognize that I completely support Joan Levan and Hank Tucker for trustee this year. This is a conclusion I have reached over the past couple of weeks as the antics of the Mayor have unfolded. There is no pretext or pretense at all.

In my estimation Joan Levan and Hank Tucker are trying their best to do what is best for this village. I have watched comments that deride them for receiving health insurance, when the same people endorse ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 12, 09 1:00 PM
Thank you, Publius -- I don't have a horse in this race, but I find the shennigans in your Village as interesting as those over the past several election seasons in Riverhead. It's closer to me, but in a different town.

Right now, the greater interest is in the Town of East Hampton. When your Chief appeared on the front page of the newspapers, it wasn't in handcuffs.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 12, 09 1:07 PM
The only winners in Westhampton Beach are going to be the lawyers.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 12, 09 6:32 PM
Hey Frank....

"great amd powerful" as in the Wizard of Oz.....

and I'm better looking then DS - so I can't be DS.

Love your comment about EH......

By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 12, 09 7:57 PM
What does "Jim could have" mean???
Did Jim "The Gun" or did'nt he
Time to FINALLY start telling the truth
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Jun 13, 09 10:18 AM
Did everyone withe 11978 zip code receive the campaign letter from Joan and Hank?I did not, however,I did read a copy, very revealing, sounds like they may possibly be opening the door for more than one lawsuit for the village.
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Jun 13, 09 7:53 PM
What letter? Out with it!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 14, 09 3:11 PM
curious-you were not one of the "selected voters"-only selected people received the letter
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 14, 09 9:16 PM
WHAT letter, damn it?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 14, 09 11:07 PM
There is a lot of critcism of Joan Levan and Hank Tucker. They have put there positions out there.

1. NO ERUV. They recognize the requirements of the Establishment Clause (often referred to as separation of church and state). Each have vowed that they will not proclaim that any village property or thoroughfare is privately Jewish, (an eruv) even if it were to be promised that it would only be a "symbolic" declaration.

They understand symbolism IS important. Whether it be the confederate ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 15, 09 10:56 AM
For the third time, WHAT LETTER??? Will no one answer that?

And my dear Publius, now that you are fully out of the Levan-Tucker closet -- thank you for that declaration -- I must laugh when you say "the 4 Trustees attempted to resolve this discretely."

The truth of the matter is that what for you might be discrete, for everyone else turns out to have been secret and illegal, didn't it?

I think your credibility just suffered a BIG set-back!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 15, 09 2:27 PM
By shock (70), whb on Jun 15, 09 2:48 PM
Frank , The letter can be read in its entirety on Dean"s blog.which also points out the truth behind this letter,which was sent to only a few select voters in the village.Please go to the blog and read for yourself,it's interesting and a bit scary how these people connive to get votes. I hope the people will stand up for the truth this election,two more years of this and the possibility of law suits,isn't what this village needs.Why do they have time to mail this,but not have time to debate in ...more
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Jun 15, 09 3:26 PM
Mr Wheeler,

from reading your posts you have some experiences and observations to share that could prove valuable to other readers (Pine Valley, etc.) If you share this with other readers you will elevate the discussion. It is only when someone alleges facts that their credibility is in question. I have presented arguments, these do not present an occasion for belief or disbelief. It is more a question of whether other readers find the arguments persuasive or not persuasive.

When ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 15, 09 4:20 PM
Freedom of the Press is a constitutionally recognized check on government. From that lofty concept citizens know the press often falls far short of that ideal. The story above reports on part of an intramural fight in the First Hampton Party. Only part.

Interestingly, when principles of the First Hampton Party attempted to correct what they contend are misconceptions propagated in the Press and by a local blogger that effort was rejected.

The Press may have had good reason for ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 16, 09 7:53 AM
The following was copied from the blog which reports that this ad copy was provided to the blogger by the Press after the Press refused to run the advertisement. (Posted here because because internet content is so easily changed or removed.)

First Hampton Party Endorsement

The Village of Westhampton Beach has 2 seats open for Trustees. There are several important issues facing our residents this election, the two major ones being the Eruv and the renegotiation of the Police Chief's ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 16, 09 8:56 AM
In response to Publius above:

I'm not sure what you're referring to. This is the advertisement that appeared on Page A9 of the June 4 edition of The Southampton Press Western Edition. In fact, the article above results from the publication of that advertisement.

The Press did, in fact, refuse to accept an advertisement, ostensibly from the First Hampton Party, for the current (June 18) edition--but only because the party placing the ad refused to provide the names of any of its ...more
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Jun 16, 09 9:34 AM
Lets stick to current issues in this election !!
The ERUV has no part in this years trustee election.
The village voters in this village are smarter than this.
The reality is the ERUV application was withdrawn last year
and if you see what the 2 incumbents said to the Paper in March
( you can google the article) :
they both stated they would not use the ERUV in their campaign for another
term . Make you choice, Choose Peace Harmony & Integrity.
Elyse Richman
By shock (70), whb on Jun 16, 09 9:46 AM
Publius, you have quickly descended from lucid to, if not out-and-out wacky then at least confused.

What you seem to have cut and pasted from that link is an advertisement which obviously wasn't rejected -- but at this point is old news.

While I don't always agree with The Southampton Press' editorial positions, the equate with the city dailys like the News and the Post, seems a little extreme.

And aren't your chosen candidates doing exactly as you recommend, using direct ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 16, 09 10:16 AM
Mr. Shaw,

thank you for the clarification. It still leaves the question of whether that proposed ad copy was forwarded to the blogger in support of the opposition camp. That is well within anyone's perrogative to do so, but the Press' decision to do so (if it did) should be considered by readers together with the coverage of these issues.

With respect to these independent "parties" that are created from time to time, you have struck upon an a problem that arises from what are ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 16, 09 10:29 AM

I made that decision, based solely on the notion that it was a reasonable request about a newsworthy issue. To be honest, upon reflection, I'm not sure it was the right decision. I can assure you, it was not politically motivated.

In the future, though, I'm going to defer those kinds of decisions to the advertising department and to the publisher, just so there's no question about the motive for either releasing or withholding something like that.

I like the ...more
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Jun 16, 09 10:56 AM
Mr. Shaw,

Thank you for your candid response.

You indicated that providing copy of the rejected advertisement (rejected by the Press for good cause) to the blogger was, as I understand your post, a response to "a reasonable request about a newsworthy issue."

What was the request? Was it some standing request from the blogger concerning the disclosure of all ad copy submitted for publication?

The Press is often placed in the middle of things when parties ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 16, 09 11:44 AM
Is publius's name Ralph?
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 16, 09 2:53 PM
Well, according to the Beach blog, it's someone named Harris Palmer. http://www.whbqt.info/template_permalink.asp?id=782 . I don't know either of the individuals.

To me it sounds like Publius is at least two different persons, the calm and objectively (but openly partisan) one, and then someone who gets a little nuts.

But it'll all be over in three days, and some other scandal will drive everyone's interest, like Linda Kabor and Anita Throne-Holst and Jim Malone!

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 16, 09 3:40 PM
Friday, June 19, 2009
2009 Election Results
The politics of fear prevailed in Westhampton Beach today as both incumbents were returned to office by convincing margins.

Unofficial results of the 2009
Westhampton Beach Election
Office Candidate Row Votes
Trustee Stephen Arrasate A 182
Trustee Elyse Richman B 140
Trustee Joan Levan C 332
Trustee Hank Tucker C 380

Approximately 25 Absentee Ballots were not counted tonight as there were not ...more
By T.J. (31), WHB on Jun 19, 09 10:19 PM