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Mar 10, 2010 2:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village police officers file notices of claim

Mar 10, 2010 2:16 PM

Mr. Bishop warned board members that those resolutions, which were not authored by him and opposed by Mayor Teller and Ms. Birk, could leave the village open to further liability if they were read last Thursday night. Mr. Bishop, who was ordered by another resolution approved by the board’s majority to no longer share his opinion in public, declined after the meeting to explain how the village could be held liable.

Even though he was silenced by the board, Mr. Bishop criticized members for not giving him enough time to properly research the resolutions, and said they should be tabled until they have been properly researched.

“You have no concept of what legal work is about,” Mr. Bishop said. “You don’t have a clue.”

The four resolutions were added on to the meeting’s agenda on March 2, according to Village Clerk and Treasurer Kathy McGinnis. She explained that resolutions are usually written by herself, the village attorney or labor counsel, but board members can also write them.

At last week’s meeting, Mr. Tucker refused to disclose who had authored them, even when pressed by community members. However, village resident and law clerk Thomas Moore, who sits on the Westhampton Beach Zoning Board of Appeals, confirmed Monday that he helped Mr. Tucker write the resolutions.

Since Officers Bruetsch and Pesapane were served with charges in October, Ms. Levan, Mr. Kametler and Mr. Tucker have steadfastly been against holding the disciplinary hearings. Mr. Kametler has maintained that a hearing will cost too much money, and said last Thursday that he’s not going to vote for anything until the board discusses the issue together. Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker have questioned the validity of the internal report that recommended that the two officers be brought up on charges.

Mr. Tucker said he wanted the village to avoid a lawsuit by another police officer. He cited Officer Thomas G. Verbeeck, a former Westhampton Beach Police officer who was the subject of disciplinary hearings in the mid-1990s. He sued the village in 1997, alleging that it had violated his civil rights, and the village ultimately settled with Mr. Verbeeck in 2003, awarding him $600,000.

Also on Thursday, Mr. Tucker made a motion to remove seven resolutions from the agenda, all of which were introduced by Mayor Teller and previously rejected by the board’s majority, which seek to reinstate the charges filed against Officers Bruetsch and Pesapane and require that the village hold disciplinary hearings for them. That motion to quash the seven resolutions was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Mr. Tucker, Ms. Levan and Mr. Kametler voting in favor.

The mayor informed board members at the meeting that he received a legal opinion on March 3 from Richard Zuckerman, the village’s labor attorney with Lamb & Barnosky of Melville, stating that the board should reinstate the charges and hold the hearings. The opinion cites Section 30 of the Village’s Police Rules and Regulations, which states that a hearing must be held after police officers are served with disciplinary charges. Mayor Teller has cited that rule before in trying to get the resolutions passed during previous meetings.

The mayor, who has described the board’s decision not to hold the hearings as “illegal,” last Thursday called for the three dissenting members—Mr. Tucker, Ms. Levan and Mr. Kametler—to step down from their posts if they chose to keep ignoring local and state laws.

“If the board does not concur with following our own internal rules, New York State Village Law and New York State Civil Law, I recommend that they tender their resignations immediately,” Mayor Teller said during the meeting, reading from a prepared statement.

Mr. Tucker accused the mayor of not giving the board’s majority enough notification that the seven resolutions would be back on last week’s agenda, and of leaving them out of his conversations with Mr. Zuckerman.

“You didn’t give us the courtesy of asking us if we had any questions for the labor attorney that would pertain to helping resolve some of the issues here,” Mr. Tucker said, adding that he disagreed with the interpretation of that advice.

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I think this justified as the board is running the village not the Mayor or Police Chief
By LUVSH (28), Southampton on Mar 5, 10 2:40 PM
Outrageous that the board would insult Mr Bishop that way. He deserves to be treated like the competent professional he is. As for Mr Tucker-all I can say is that too much cheese cake must damage the brain.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Mar 5, 10 3:36 PM
2 members liked this comment
Well put LUVSH, the Mayor and Chief have behaved as dictators for some time now and misinform the public at great lengths. It really is time to put a stop to this and get rid of them both!!
By ThatsIncredible (4), Westhampton Beach on Mar 5, 10 5:30 PM
Not that it's important but the wildfires pictured on the mural behind the Village Board (not shown in the SP photo but obvious in tthe elevised record of the meeting) seem quite appropriate. Nero?
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 5, 10 6:09 PM
Why do Westhampton and Quogue have a village police department? Is it mandatory? Hampton Bays seems to get along just fine with Town Police.

Disband the police department and use Town Police. Is there a way to get this on a ballot?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Mar 5, 10 7:01 PM
It is one of those perks of living in an incorporated Village. I am glad I don't have to pay for this waste but others don't seem to care. For 40 years the Town police has always provided professional responsive service for me.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 5, 10 8:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
What a farce this has turned out to be. Looks like from the expression on Jim "the mighty hunter and illegal Bed & Breakfast operator" that he must be looking at pictures of possums and other yard animals to conduct target practice on.
By sayitaintsojoe (100), Westhampton on Mar 6, 10 11:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
WELL HERE WE GO!!!!
Does anyone find it strange that these 2 LIEING cops and LAST CALL LINDA are both being represented by the same attorney????
Since the Board wants to look at police records lets ask to see JIM THE GUN'S police records while he was on the force.
The two LIEING COPS have got to be kidding about what they have suffered.Then should refund their pay to the tax payers for lieing to the Suffok investagators and than be fired with No benifits and jail time would be GREAT.
DEAN ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 6, 10 1:03 PM
Obviously, more is going on here than meets the eye. The confrontation between board members over what should have been a procedural issue is incomprehensible.

I wonder if this is a bluff by the two cops or if they really intend to file suit.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 6, 10 2:54 PM
Did this board decide NOT to have a disciplinary hearing? Is that what the resolutions could be preparing for? The additional resolution against Mr. Bishop seems to make the board look... paranoid. When I first read about this incident I thought it was ridiculous. It has really turned into something of a joke.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Mar 6, 10 4:21 PM
WHBV residents need to watch the video of this meeting. It was posted on you tube. I must say that it was one of the strangest public meetings I have ever seen. There is something so dysfunctional about the behavior of these Trustees that it begs for intervention from the NYS AG's office just to bring order.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 6, 10 6:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ebby-you are right about Mr Bishop. Joan and Hank are very afraid of him because he knows what he is doing and knows the law inside out. Bo also does his homework.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Mar 6, 10 5:07 PM
How do we find out who authored the resolutions????
So we can find what game is being played here.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 6, 10 6:16 PM
Ordinarily the Trustee or the Mayor that is initiating the action asks the Village Clerk or the Village Attorney to put into words a written resolution. I suppose its possible in a small Village to have the Mayor or Village Trustee author a resolution for a vote. Generally you see Boards discuss issues then ask the Village Attorney or Clerk to craft the resolution. Is this any help?
By PBA (14), Southampton on Mar 6, 10 6:57 PM
Yes it does.
Thank You
With all that is going on in this town I think it should be published so we all know who is behind this.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 6, 10 7:45 PM
I think you are referring to the Village sjd, no?
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Mar 6, 10 8:03 PM
Form Albany to Westhampton Beach
Bad Goverment and Bad Cops
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Mar 7, 10 3:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nellie, Help, I don't know what to look for to find the meetings on utube. Thanks
By maggi (7), East Hampton on Mar 8, 10 11:04 AM
The Beach Blogger has links to the ten segments -- they're at http://www.whbqt.info/template_permalink.asp?id=1069
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 8, 10 1:05 PM
The link is found on the westhampton beach blog.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 8, 10 6:11 PM
looks like the board is caught with thier pants down again,read the blog from dean.it's about time the truth comes out,they have been lying and coniving long enough,let the truth come out and get them out of office so the village can finaly get back to normal!They are a disgrace!!! watch the video,the facts are there.
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Mar 9, 10 10:52 AM
3 members liked this comment
One of the best parts of the vodio is when JIM THE GUN is reading he has to be coached.He is a JOKE
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 11, 10 11:18 AM
Wonder how well YOU would have done reading any of the resolutions -- I watched the full-length video on the Westhampton Beach website, and the resolutions go on and on and on.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 17, 10 8:10 AM
BETTER THAN GIM THE GUN
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 18, 10 5:16 PM
SORRY JIM THE GUN
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 18, 10 5:17 PM
Truly pathetic situation. These guys clearly try to set up a fellow officer, and then try to become victims of their own nefarious action, and then threaten to sue!!!!
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Mar 10, 10 3:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
North of Highway:
I believe in previous posts you commented on the fact that you had previously been involved in labor-management relations. Can you describe them? Because judging from your previous post it would seem that you have reached a conclusion without all of the fact, which obviously is inconsistent for someone with formal legal training. Which as you know, any litigator, clearly never does. Unless of course you have, all of the facts. Please enlighten us if so.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Mar 11, 10 10:03 PM
They should ask the Suffolk County DA's office for a letter evaluating the two officers vis-a-vis any future testimony on behalf of the people. If it comes back they are fatally compromised they should be terminated. There would be nothing arbitrary or capricious about it.
By RemembertheDucks (54), Eastport on Mar 11, 10 10:49 AM
3 members liked this comment
Offering such a letter would almost be as stupid as suggesting that they should.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Mar 11, 10 7:11 PM
I tell ya what is stupid is the way this whole incident has been handled.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Mar 13, 10 12:57 PM
remember the fall/demise of Greenport Village, ( not the same incidents) but I can see this happening in this Village. I agree with north of hwy.....they did it, answer for it and move on .....taking up to much room on 27 east....
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 18, 10 11:02 AM