Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons

129 Comments by st

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Hampton Bays Library Project Now Stands At $15.8 Million; Board Intends To Buy Adjoining Property

The Board of the Hampton Bays Library is an appointed, un-elected board, just like the Westhampton Free Library's Board of Trustees. Taxpayers in our community have been asking for an elected board since last summer, and the Board won't budge, disenfranchising the WH taxpayer. (The Press has quite a few articles on this fight for our basic right to vote, plus Letters to the Editor, and even a Viewpoint piece.) It is a simple trustee vote to amend the bylaws to change to an elected board. 13 of the 19 Suffolk County association libraries have elected boards. We no longer want a private club of trustees. We want our right to vote for those who are responsible for millions of our taxpayer dollars. Hampton Bays residents--you may want to push for an elected board of trustees, too. You vote for school board members, why not for your library board?" Apr 18, 16 3:51 PM

Westhampton Library Board, Residents Exchange Barbs Over Vote To Keep Appointed Members

This is democracy hijacked. Five of the six very newly appointed trustees had never attended one library board meeting prior to their recent appointments. In good faith, with due diligence, the board should have called a town hall meeting, requesting taxpayer input on the appointed vs. elected board issue. Residents for a Free Westhampton Free Library researched holding a public referendum, asking the taxpayer what they want to see in library governance. Unfortunately, because the library is a "private corporation" (though funded by multi-millions of taxpayer dollars) we cannot hold a public referendum.
It's hypocritical, too, that voting for our Village mayor and trustees and school board members is expected and encouraged, but voting for our library trustees would be "contentious" and subject to the "roiling electioneering of a political process." Besides, this is America! We were founded on representation with taxation.
And a minor note: Yes, we taxpayers called for evening meetings when it was Levan's board, comprised of three retired individuals, and three others with flexible schedules. We thank the board for moving to evening meetings, but let's not be disingenuous. Do the new full time working board members really want to take a day off a month for morning meetings? I doubt it. The meeting time was changed as much for the taxpayer request as for the convenience of the new board members.
Every item the board chose to highlight in their documents in favor of an appointed board can be rebutted. Much of what they state is opinion, with it is "possible", it is "conceivable" that certain things could happen if we move to an elected board. Guess what? It's just as easily "possible" and "conceivable", too, that the obstacles the Board puts forth won't materialize. The NYS Department of Education has a simple document the library can follow instructing association libraries to amend their bylaws to allow for trustee elections. They are willfully choosing to disenfranchise the taxpayers. The union is a separate issue. Besides, there are many successful examples of association libraries with elected boards and unions. We would not be the pioneers.
We pay library taxes, we should vote for library trustees." Apr 18, 16 5:23 PM

Regarding the trustee application process, the Board states "an election could not have produced different results," "no one has been excluded from service," "there is no surfeit of candidates clamoring to join the ranks of the Board of Trustees," and "the service area [is] as broadly represented as possible." All those statements are false. There were additional taxpayers interested in serving as trustee but did not submit an "application" to join the private club 1) because they believe in elections and 2) because of the politics in this small town they knew they would be rejected outright so why waste the time "applying." The Library isn't a country club or a beach club. There shouldn't be "applications" to join.

In defending an appointed board, the Library Board likens the Westhampton Free Library to "The American Red Cross, Peconic Bay Medical Center and the WHB Historical Society" among others, groups that receive "government subsidies." This is a false analogy. There is a separate earmarked line item on my tax bill specifically for the WHF Library. The American Red Cross isn't listed on my tax bill.

The Board also queries in defense of the Library Board remaining appointed, "With few volunteers, paltry voter turnout at all levels of government and a politicized process likely linking candidate likability with library funding, is an election the best means of seating qualified candidates?" So, these possible circumstances are bad for library elections but can, of course, be said to exist for Village and School Board elections--but in those circumstances it's okay? How about we start appointing our Village mayor?" Apr 19, 16 8:14 AM

Hampton Bays Library Project Now Stands At $15.8 Million; Board Intends To Buy Adjoining Property

I live in Westhampton Beach. I understand that Sandpebble built our Village Hall, our new Firehouse, our new Library, and they (I believe) are on board for the renovation/expansion to our 5 year old library building. And now Hampton Bays Library. Did these jobs get bid out? Even if there is no impropriety whatsoever, it may be said it gives the appearance as such." Apr 27, 16 7:34 AM

I don't know for certain if the jobs were bid out. Many of us tend to think they weren't. It's probably easy enough to find out though. Interestingly, we FOILed the WHF Library's general liability loss runs because we knew that an employee of the painting subcontractor fell and sued. We noticed a $500,000 claim on the Library's loss runs, and we noticed that, too, the Library's insurance nearly doubled from that year forward (the year the person fell and sued). We heard that in the late spring of 2015 "the library lost and paid." We didn't understand why the library taxpayer would have to pay at all and when we questioned it at a monthly board meeting we were told that that's how the insurance was written. We would think it would be only the GC's insurance along with the subcontractor's insurance. We're still investigating.

Why do we even need to pay a construction management company? Why not just use a GC? But I don't know. It's interesting how involved Sandpebble is in all this. Could be nothing. Could be that they're really amazing at what they do and the buildings couldn't get completed without them and only them. Perhaps they've smartly created quite a niche for themselves. I don't know. It's always easy to spend other people's money on all these taxpayer-funded buildings though.

You may want to look to the Library's Board, too. I'm not at all saying there is anything wrong with any of them at all. However, the Hampton Bays Library is an association library like the WHF Library. Both these libraries still appoint their board members. Many of us here are calling on the library board to amend the bylaws so that we taxpayers can elect our trustees. Just like we elect our school board members and the WHB Village mayor and trustees. 13 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries elect their boards. Hampton Bays and WH are in the minority." Apr 27, 16 4:19 PM

The board appoints themselves.

When these association libraries were founded, the original founders became the trustees of the "private corporation." Wealthy benefactors and fundraisers maintained the libraries in the early days, but when the libraries needed more money, school districts levied taxes on residents.

(Which brings me to HB Proud's comment above. Thank you for that information. I'll look into it further, but we've explored some of those avenues and the problem is that the WHF Library is a "private corporation," like the HBays Library. We even wanted a public referendum on the ballot asking taxpayers if they want an elected board--to try to bypass the sitting board that won't allow a vote--and we learned that you can't hold a public referendum on a private corporation.)

Bylaws were written, typically much later, making the trustees the only "members" of the corporation/association, and giving only them the right to vote for future trustees. When a trustee resigns, the sitting trustees appoint a new trustee. There are no elections, often leading to an insular, private club. In Hampton Bays, like in Westhampton for example, we vote for school board members but not for library trustees. In WHB we vote for our mayor and trustees, too. The hypocrisy of not allowing taxpayers to vote for library trustees is stunning.

Through the years, 13 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries amended their bylaws to include all taxpayers in the voting district as members in the association, giving them the right to vote for trustees. There are many success stories across Long Island, NYS and the nation.

Since the summer Residents for a Free Westhampton Library have been calling on our Board of Trustees to amend the bylaws to allow us to vote. The NYS Department of Education even has an Association Library District Model that allows these libraries to maintain a private status yet allow for trustee elections. The library is funded by multi-millions of taxpayer dollars we should vote for those who run our library.

Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information. Also, in the 4/21 and 4/28 editions of The Press there are Letters to the Editor. We've had articles in The Press since the summer, a union went into the library, 5 of 6 trustees resigned, we've written a Viewpoint piece, many attend monthly board meetings, we've distributed flyers in our Village--simply asking for the basic, American, democratic right to vote and we are being denied that right." Apr 28, 16 7:08 AM

Westhampton Library Trustees Say Elected Board Suggestion Still On Table

Hi, Sabina Trager here. Please visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more detailed information, but let me highlight some things in no particular order.

The Library budget increase vote is tomorrow, Tuesday, 5/17, from 7 am to 9 pm at the WHB HS. We are encouraging a VOTE NO for two main reasons. 1) The trustees of our taxpayer funded institution should be elected and 2) There is already a mass accumulation of our tax dollars in the library's bank accounts.

Go on the Library's website, the 11/18/15 meeting minutes. The Board has earmarked $1,000,000 folks for "Land Acquisition (parking lot)"--that's our accumulated tax dollars, just sitting there. They've earmarked $623,000+ for "redesign of the interior space" of our not yet 6 year old building. This is on top of Ann Skovek's $1.3 million donation, earmarked for "Building Expansion"! Enough.

Why do 7 unelected individuals get to decided how to spend our money?

And why has so much money accumulated?

A WHB home assessed at $1 million pays nearly $500/year in Library taxes. That's plenty. WH and WHB: VOTE NO to the budget increase. You will still have library services. The budget simply reverts to last year's numbers. Heck, we have over $4 million liquid dollars already there. The Library will continue to operate just fine without the increase.

Tom Moore is being disingenuous when he says the WHF Library would be the guinea pigs. 13 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries have ELECTED boards. We are in the minority. Port Jefferson association library unionized in 1987 and went to an elected board in 1990; Rogers Memorial in Southampton went the way of an elected board in 1996; Shelter Island in 2011, etc. Bryant Library (association) in Roslyn has a union and an elected board. Why didn't the Board of Appointed Trustees mention even one success story in their academic conversation titled "Report on the Selection of Trustees"?

The Board said "conceivably," "possibly," "maybe" there "could" be harm to our Library if the Board is elected. The opposite is also true. How about the 3 employee lawsuits the Library settled? And I'm going to put it on the table now--Joan Levan didn't like that I wouldn't sign her Village trustee petition last April and I predicted I would be fired, I told quite a number of people. I was an employee with Exceeds Objectives performance appraisals for my 3 years, from 3 different supervisors. She thought she "got" me when I replied to employees when asked what the raises are this year and I said "2-3%". Levan said I "breached confidentiality" and "violated a policy". She denied me unemployment benefits and I hired an attorney. The Dept of Labor asked the Library for a copy of the policy I violated. The Library provided nothing because it was a lie. I won my hearing, obtained unemployment benefits, and the "breach of confidentiality was untenable" per the administrative law judge.

The NLRB filed charges of "protected concerted activity" on my behalf. Employees are allowed to say "2-3% wage increases". The Library settled for $25,000, a combination of front and back pay. That was my original number decided with the NLRB, I wouldn't back down because I knew I was right, I was ready to go to court, and the Library settled with me for the $25,000.

The Library settled with a 2nd employee in January as well. On 5/9/15 a third employee was given a substantial settlement. This is under an appointed, insular, private club board.

Also, I "could," "maybe," "conceivably" get into an accident if I get into my car, but I still get into my car. The Board disenfranchised the taxpayer in a monumental way. They denied us the right to vote.

The employees overwhelmingly voted in a union under the appointed board structure, too, so they'd have rights and protections. What does that tell you?

So, the Board is still looking into this? Why didn't they have a town hall meeting and ask the taxpayers what they would like? Why not have a ballot referendum? Residents for a Free Westhampton Free Library tried to do that but we learned that we can't initiate a public referendum on a private corporation. Yes, the Library is a "private corporation" funded by tax dollars. Again, the Board is being disingenuous. They expect us to believe that after they used our money to hire powerhouse labor attorney Richard Zuckerman to prove their premise that an appointed board is the only way to go, after they came out with a 14 page Report on the Selection of Trustees, and have 96 pages of "evidential" backup that they might anytime soon consider moving to an elected board? Come on! We're not idiots.

In addition, the argument that there is a lack of volunteers is absurd. First off, this is America, this is a democracy, we want representation with our taxation, so the number of volunteers is irrelevant. Secondly, how does Tom Moore even know what would happen? The Library has never had elections! Thirdly, aren't we being hypocritical? The same circumstances exist for our Village and School Board elections--but we still have elections!! Hello! How about we appoint the Mayor of WHB Village this year? I say since Maria Moore, Tom Moore's wife, is running unopposed we should employ some sort of appointment process (I'm kidding, but you get the point). Fourth, the Board will say that now we are accepting "applications" for trustee appointments. The Library isn't a country club or a beach club. We shouldn't have to apply to the private club for membership. Also, think about it. This town is so small, political, there's history--do you really think certain individuals who "apply" to be a trustee will honestly get a fair shake? Of course not. Again, we're not idiots.

And why is it okay that Joan Levan, who resigned in October under allegations of power abuses, gets to appoint her successor? Fidel? Raul?

Also, the 3 trustees appointed in October (Moore, Matros, Rosenberg) and 2 of the 3 trustees appointed in February NEVER ATTENDED ONE Library board meeting prior to their appointments. But you know what. Fine. All we're asking for is elections and these appointed trustees are free to run for election. That's a democracy.

I could go on. Please visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information. And VOTE NO tomorrow, Tuesday, 5/17, at the HS for the Library's budget increase. SEND A MESSAGE. NO to trustee appointments! NO to mass accumulations of our tax dollars! Thank you.

" May 16, 16 7:34 PM

I have to weigh in again. The "guinea pig" statement by Tom Moore is incredibly deceitful.

Since July 2015 taxpayers have been calling for an elected board on multiple platforms--Letters to the Editor, a website, a Viewpoint piece, a Facebook page, distributing flyers, writing emails, attending monthly board meetings. We have told the Board multiple times, in a multitude of ways that we are NOT the pioneers if we were to move to an elected board.

The NYS Department of Ed has an Association Library District Model created in January 2005 and updated in July 2009 "available to libraries currently chartered as Association Libraries that do not want to relinquish their “private” status by re-chartering." The model goes on to say that TRUSTEE ELECTIONS should be held and all that is necessary is AMENDING THE BYLAWS. It's simple. We would not be the pioneers. We have blueprints to follow.

The Board knows that 13 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries have elected boards. If horror stories existed, wouldn't they be included in the Library's decree--the "Report on the Selection of Trustees"? The Board chose not to mention the SUCCESSES FOR DECADES of other association libraries with ELECTED BOARDS, and many WITH UNIONS.

The Board also knows--because we've been telling them for MONTHS--about Port Jeff in the 80s, Rogers Memorial in the 90s, etc. Humming along fine for multiple DECADES. Really? We'd be the guinea pigs? Are we trying to hide something? The Board's arguments to remain appointed make no sense. Read attorney Zuckerman's letter on the wflelectedboard website. Even he writes that civil service and prevailing wage would not come into play. But that's what the Board deceitfully says is the case.

Instead the Board of Appointed Trustees obfuscated and put up smoke and mirrors. IF there was ONE REAL PROBLEM that wasn't a "maybe" or a "conceivably" don't you think that would have been the FIRST thing included in their "Report"? Guess what? There's nothing like that in the Report because nothing bad actually exists. Read the Report. It's on the Library's website as well as linked on www.wflelectedboard.org.

In one section the Board, in trying to defend appointed boards, likened the WHF Library to "The American Red Cross, the WHB Historical Society, Peconic Bay Medical Center"--among other entities with appointed boards. Again, we are not idiots. The American Red Cross isn't a line item on my tax bill!! The WHF Library has it's own designated tax line.

(Oh, correction in my first post. The 3rd employee settled for a substantial sum last week--5/9/16. The Library subpoenaed a bunch of us, me included, but the case never went to trial.)

Please VOTE NO to the Library budget increase.
" May 16, 16 9:46 PM

UPDATE: The Library budget increase passed 303-162.

This was the largest NO vote percentage, at 35%, in at least a few years, as far as we can tell.

We believe when the Board of Appointed Trustees begins re-designing the interior space of our not-yet-6-year-old building, and acquiring land for a new parking lot--using nearly $2 million of our accumulated tax dollars (over and above the planned building expansion using Ann Skovek's $1.3 million donation)--maybe people will say "enough." It's a library. Let the Town of Southampton build us a community center with those tax dollars of ours it collects.

Why do 7 unelected Library trustees get to decide how to spend our money? And why is there a large surplus of Library tax dollars? We believe most people aren't informed, and that's unfortunate.
" May 18, 16 7:23 AM

Sandpebble To Be Awarded More Than $750,000 In East Hampton School District Lawsuit

Remember, too, when Hampton Bays votes for a new library that the library's trustees are appointed, not elected, though the library is funded by tax dollars. 13 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries ELECT their trustees. HBays and WH are in the minority. Check out www.wflelectedboard.org for more information. We have a brand new library; our appointed trustees accumulated millions of tax dollars to redesign the interior space, acquire a $1 million parking lot, change the new HVAC system--that's on top of the "building expansion" using the $1.3 million Ann Skovek donation. (This is outlined on the Library's website, in the 11/18/15 board meeting minutes.) We taxpayers want to hear from trustee candidates during an ELECTION how they would like to spend our mass tax surplus. As we remember those who fought and died for our freedoms this Memorial Day weekend, please keep in mind that Appointed isn't American. " May 28, 16 12:04 PM

UPDATE: $15.8 Million Library Bond Referendum Fails In Hampton Bays

Many taxpayers in the Westhampton area have been requesting that the Westhampton Not-Free Library move to an elected, not appointed, board of trustees. (Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information.)

Just to note: Hampton Bays' library trustees are also appointed.

Hampton Bays Library along with Westhampton are association libraries. Though funded by millions of tax dollars, appointed trustees appoint other trustees, as needed. Only 6 out of 19 Suffolk County association libraries still maintain appointed boards.

Appointed isn't American. Our country was founded on taxation with representation. Existing trustees are free to run for election." Jun 11, 16 1:04 PM

HB Proud posed an astute question: "How is it possible that the Trustees are so out of touch with the taxpayers of HB?"

Perhaps because it's an appointed board and not one elected by the taxpayers?

I live in WHB and in reading the articles on the HBays new library building vote, I do respect the fact that many informational meetings were held. Many WH/WHB taxpayers want an elected board of trustees and we requested a public town hall meeting with the Sufflok Cooperative Library System Director present as a neutral, knowledgeable moderator to discuss the pros and cons of elected vs. appointed boards. Request declined. We wanted to put the question out to a public ballot vote--what do the taxpayers want to see? an elected or an appointed board? Request declined. So at least your board tried to hear you.

Our Board used our tax dollars to pay a powerhouse labor attorney to deny us the right to vote for trustees of our taxpayer-funded institution. The rebuke of our right to vote was stunning in its scope and magnitude. You can read more about it at www.wflelectedboard.org.

Only 6 out of 19 Suffolk County association libraries remain with appointed boards. In Nassau County only 1 out of the 5 association libraries remains appointed.

Port Jefferson went elected in 1990.
Rogers Memorial in Southampton in 1996.
Shelter Island in 2011.
Etc. (there are boards that went elected earlier than 1990)

Trustee elections are typically held at the library's annual meeting, on premises. Candidate bios/platforms/ideas are posted on the library's website. It's not difficult. Sitting trustees are free to run for election as well.

Also, to note, if the HB Board President resigns, he gets to appoint his successor. Our WH Library's Board President resigned last October under allegations of power abuses. She got to appoint her successor, who also happens to be the husband of our Village mayor.

Appointed isn't American." Jun 15, 16 2:51 PM

Hampton Bays Taxpayers Speak Up, Reject $15.8 Million Bond Referendum

Perhaps the Board is "out of touch with the community" because they are an appointed board, not an elected board. They appoint each other. The Library is funded by millions of tax dollars, yet there is no true representation with that taxation. Appointed isn't American.

Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information. Taxpayers in WH/WHB have been asking for an elected board since last summer." Jun 15, 16 10:09 PM

While we're on our neighborhood association libraries funded by tax dollars but with appointed boards of trustees (HBays and WH), how about this for wasteful spending and for conflict of interest:

The Westhampton Not-Free Library's Long Range Planning Committee (comprised solely of 3 appointed trustees and the Library Director) issued a report this week. They are "recommending the commencement of the renovation of the first floor of the library."

In 2007 taxpayers approved a bond for a new $7.8 million library. The Library was completed 6 years ago, in June 2010.

Per the Library's 11/18/15 Board Meeting Minutes, appointed trustees are using over $3 million for building renovations and a new parking lot. $1.3 was a donation. (Btw, over $4 million sits liquid in the Library's coffers.) $1 million is being used for land acquisition/parking lot, $625,000 is being used to re-design the interior space. There's even more waste.

Was it poor planning or mismanagement that now the Library has to use more money to renovate a brand new building? The Library is fine!! Personally, I feel deceived and robbed that this much money has accumulated for projects that unelected trustees alone decided on and planned. And the Library Board asked for more money last month at May's budget vote. 35% voted no (we believe the most ever), but we didn't have enough of a comprehensive VOTE NO campaign in place to defeat the budget increase entirely.

A WHB home assessed at $1 million pays nearly $500 in Library taxes. Assessments have gone up for next year. When do we say enough? And we can't even VOTE OUT trustees if we're not happy.

As for conflict of interest. The WH Library's Board President resigned on 10/30/15 under allegations of power abuses. She got to appoint her successor--who is the husband of the WHB Village Mayor. This resigning Board President was our present Village Mayor's campaign manager. The Village Mayor was also an appointed WH Library Trustee, but she resigned in August 2015.

For more information visit www.wflelectedboard.org. There are many posts under the News tab. Appointed isn't American!" Jun 17, 16 1:14 PM

Newcomer Stephen Frano Wins Seat On Westhampton Beach Board Of Trustees

Congratulations Ralph, Steve and Maria.

Voting is an American right and privilege, one that many have fought and died for. Trustees of taxpayer funded governments and institutions should be elected.

Which brings us to the hypocrisy in this Village. Westhampton Free Library Board President Tom Moore, appointed by resigning Joan Levan on 10/30/15, used tax dollars to hire a top tier labor attorney to deny Library taxpayers their right to vote for Library trustees. (Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information.) Read their 14-page April Report on the Selection of Trustees; it's a joke. And our Library would not be "guinea pigs" as Moore has stated; elected association library boards have successfully operated for decades just in Suffolk County alone.

In addition, the Board’s Trustee Application process is a farce. Eric Mirell resigns at the June 15 meeting and by June 16 the Library has already appointed a new trustee? How about publicizing in the newspaper and on the Library’s website the resignation and the fact that taxpayers can submit trustee applications? Mitchell Schecter, who never attended a Library board meeting prior to June 15, is interviewed on June 15 after the public portion of the board meeting and is appointed the next day? It’s still a private club and the Board should be ashamed of themselves thwarting democracy.

I submitted a trustee application on 6/15. I wasn't interviewed.

Tom Moore on his Progress for WHB website can breezily report the Village election results, happy that his wife won an uncontested election. At least there was an election. There are no elections at the Westhampton Not-Free Library Kingdom because a private, appointed board has absolute power with no oversight.

Oh, just FYI, too. The Library's Long Range Planning Committee, comprised solely of three appointed trustees and the Library Director (there are no committees with taxpayers on them), wrote in their half-page report released this week that 1st floor renovations will commence shortly. Our building is 6 years old this month. In 2007 I voted yes to a new $7.8 million building. Is it mismanagement or poor planning that the Library is now doing renovations? Money doesn't grow on trees. And how did so much money accumulate anyway?Read the Library's 11/18/15 meeting minutes for more information.

" Jun 18, 16 9:40 AM

Another New Face Joins Westhampton Beach Library Board

Visit www.wflelectedboard.org to read Eric Mirell's "oops" email, Tom Moore's "apology" that added insult to injury, as well as my reply email highlighting how appointed boards of taxpayer funded institutions thwart democracy. Details are on the Welcome page as well as in posts under the News tab.

In addition, prepare for the renovation of the first floor of our brand new Library. Last week the Library's Long Range Planning Committee--comprised solely of three appointed trustees and the Library Director--put out a Report recommending "the commencement of the renovation of the first floor." This is just the beginning. We've got an attic renovation coming and a $1 million parking lot (who will police the lot for just Library users?). (See the 11/18/15 meeting minutes on the Library's website.)

Personally, I feel robbed. Duped. Deceived. Appointed Westhampton Not-Free Library Boards accumulated our money through the years, raising taxes every year. (A WHB home assessed at $1 million pays nearly $500 in Library taxes annually. Assessments are already up for next year, plus the Library's budget increase was approved--so prepare to pay more $.) After voting yes for the new building, I thought we were done. Is it mismanagement or poor planning that now the Library needs millions more? The new Library cost $7.8 million. Now we need more millions 6 years later?

Why isn't this put out for a vote like WHB HS lights and turf? Why do 7 unelected trustees get to decide how to spend our money that was squirreled away unbeknownst to us through the years? Yes, I respect and applaud saving some money for a rainy day--but this is crazy overboard.

Appointed isn't American. Unless more taxpayers write Letters to the Editor, contact the Board, and attend the monthly Board Meetings we condone a private club." Jun 23, 16 9:37 AM

Westhampton Free Library Looks To Renovate Storage Space

What I’m not understanding is this: We’re concerned about the pollution in our bay. We’re considering a Main Street sewer district to combat pollution problems and to allow for additional businesses to open. But the Library can simply get special exception/exemption credits to allow for more sewage? There was a reason the building wasn’t allowed to be this big in the first place. Maybe Library President Husband Moore should get on the same page as Village Mayor Wife Moore." Jul 21, 16 9:35 AM

Please read the Library’s 11/18/15 meeting minutes on their website: Yes, the $1.3 million Skovek donation is earmarked for Building Expansion—the Attic. However, the appointed Board and the Director are conveniently neglecting to mention other designated monies: Land Acquisition (for parking lot) is $1 million, HVAC replacement is $100,000, and Interior Space Redesign is $623,579.

The additional monies above the donation are primarily accumulated tax dollars. Go to www.wflelectedboard.org and read The Library’s Slush Fund under the News tab.

Also a touch deceitful, no one mentioned that on June 15, 2016, the Library’s Long Range Planning Committee released a report recommending commencement of renovations to the first floor of the Library. That committee is comprised solely of three appointed trustees and the Library Director. (Read Over $3 Million to be Spent Renovating/Expanding Our Brand New Library, also under the News tab on wflelectedboard.org, where a copy of this Report is displayed.)

We’ve been told for years that this was the plan: Move the teen department up to the Attic where it will then be half of the attic (never mind that teens rarely go to the library); move the DVDs that are in the front lobby into the now existing Teen Room; add a boardroom somewhere; put comfortable seating where the DVDs are now; move the Children’s Department staff desks that are in the back of the 1st floor up to comprise one quarter of the attic; leave the remaining quarter of the attic as storage.

After asking the taxpayers to approve a bond for a new building, I now feel duped and deceived that taxes were raised year after year so that $ could accumulate to do additional work on a brand new building.

A WHB home assessed at $1,000,000 pays nearly $500/year on Library taxes alone. I said Yes to a new library. But we don’t need a community center paid for with Library taxes.

Or, maybe I would have more respect for the governing Board if the trustees were ELECTED. It is nothing personal. I am speaking strictly about the governing body as a whole and its method of appointing trustees. Trustees of a taxpayer-funded institution should not be appointed. Appointed isn’t American. The vast majority of association libraries on Long Island have ELECTED trustees (71%), many for DECADES. (Rogers in Southampton since 1996, Port Jefferson since 1990, to name just two.)

When the WHB HS wanted turf and lights, the Board put it out to a community vote. Also, there should also be a referendum asking taxpayers if they want an elected board. But there's no voting allowed at the Westhampton Not-Free Library Kingdom.

Why do 7 unelected trustees (most of them never attending even one board meeting prior to their appointments, with 3 of them appointed by outgoing-resigning-under-allegations-of-power-abuses Joan Levan’s Board) get to decide how to spend our millions of dollars? Ok, so they’re somehow putting it out to the community with focus groups—but the decision to expand/renovate is all their own and appointed Boards have accumulated mass amounts of tax dollars while still raising our taxes year after year.
" Jul 21, 16 12:34 PM

Book Brigade Opens John Jermain Memorial Library

Congratulations to the John Jermain Memorial Library. I wish you much success in your new space. I also applaud the fact that as an association library your Board amended its by-laws in 2004 to change from an appointed board to an elected board. Democratic. Simple. American.

The Westhampton Free Library Board should be elected as well since the Library is a taxpayer-funded institution. Taxpayers have been requesting the change for a year now, but Board President Tom Moore said moving to an elected board raises civil service and prevailing wage issues and our Library shouldn't be "guinea pigs" with an elected board. Look! A dozen years of trustee elections at John Jermain--and no problems with civil service and prevailing wage.

For more information visit www.wflelectedboard.org." Jul 29, 16 1:42 PM

Westhampton Free Library Looks To Renovate Storage Space

See the new post "The Sag Harbor Library's Expansion Led by an Elected Board, Community Leaders and Residents" on www.wflelectedboard.org.

Sag Harbor's Library is an association library like the WFL. The difference is in 2004 their Board amended their by-laws to allow for an elected board of trustees, rather than continue to have an appointed board. It can easily be done and there are minimal, if any, ramifications. No prevailing wage or civil service issues that we know of at the Sag Harbor association library, and they've had an elected board for a dozen years. Why isn't that in your Report on the Selection of Trustees, Appointed by Joan Levan President Tom Moore?" Jul 29, 16 6:04 PM

Architects Float Pair Of Ideas For Westhampton Library Renovation Project

Please visit www.wflelectedboard.org and the Residents for a Free Westhampton Free Library Facebook page for more information.

I attended the 8/17/16 board meeting and listened to the 35.5 minute presentation by H2M Architects. I have it on tape for anyone interested. After the presentation I went to the podium and asked simple, valid taxpayer questions: “Why wasn’t the public informed about this meeting? Why isn’t The Press here? Why did we patrons not receive an email informing us of this upcoming presentation? We receive emails about everything else. Why wasn’t there a poster in the lobby advertising the presentation or a flyer at the circulation desk? To me this shows a lack of accountability and transparency.”

Appointed President Tom Moore replied that this is just “preliminary.” Well, it certainly seemed definitive to me. The presentation was quite detailed, covering lots of bases.

Appointed Trustee Sue Rosenberg also asked why I was “attacking” the board with my relevant, calm and valid questions.

Here we have an appointed board spending millions of dollars without a community vote. Yes, the $1.3 million is a donation and perhaps some can argue that doing something sustainable is a worthwhile endeavor. However, more than just the $1.3 million donation will be used. The board is being disingenuous.

Go to the audits on the Library website. You will see that year after year the Board knowingly receives MUCH more contract district revenue than what they budget they will receive. Though our taxes are raised every year, every year there is a surplus.

I don’t want my tax dollars going to renovate a 6 year old building. I feel duped and deceived that ever more Library tax money was collected from me every year (nearly $500 this year) to now renovate the new first floor, change the new HVAC system, get a new $1,000,000 parking lot when 10 months of the year we don’t need more parking.

And, of course, without question, the employees should come first. I hope the Board is negotiating their contract fairly and in line with what other library employees receive. We love our library because of the people. It’s not about the building. Anyway, the building is brand new!

I hear, too, that our taxes were just raised and the employees haven’t received a penny of it. That is unacceptable.

And, coincidentally, H2M is working on the Village sewer district plan, and I bet they will be the ones selected for our unnecessary Library expansion, complete with sewer credit exceptions/exemptions.

In sum, it’s undemocratic and un-American that 7 appointed/unelected trustees decide how to spend millions of dollars with no community vote. We voted on the WHB HS turf and lights. And, of course, we should ELECT trustees of taxpayer-funded institutions (taxation with representation). Other Long Island association libraries went the way of the elected board in the middle of the last century. Also, the employees should come before the building, especially if they are among the lowest paid on Long Island. In my opinion, we have absolute power corrupting absolutely here in Westhampton." Aug 26, 16 12:55 PM

Suspended Westhampton Beach Police Officer Files Claim, Levels Allegations Of Corruption Against Village And Officials

Notice how Richard Zuckerman of Lamb & Barnosky of Melville is the WHB attorney and the same firm is employed by the WHB Library. Mr. Zuckerman's daughter of the same firm is retained by the Library for union negotiations. And we have elected Village Mayor Maria Moore and appointed Board of Trustees Library President Tom Moore. Too much of my tax money consolidated in one household and with one law firm, in my opinion, especially since Tom Moore is in an appointed position dealing with millions of tax dollars. The appearance alone doesn't sit well with me.

In addition, H2M Architects is working on our Village's sewer district plan, and the same firm gave a detailed 35.5 minute presentation at the Library's 8/17/16 regarding the Library's expansion. The Library's expansion project managed to receive expansion/exception sewer credits. My understanding is that without those credits the Library expansion would not be allowed." Aug 31, 16 6:15 PM

Westhampton Free Library Schedules Pair Of Public Hearings To Discuss Renovation Options

I predict Charlie Palmer will be appointed to the board.

Also, the Library Board is lying. I submitted a trustee application on June 15 knowing Eric Mirell would be resigning at that meeting. On 6/16 Mitchell Schechter was appointed to the board. We were told he submitted an application in April. The Library's website encourages application submission so they have them on hand should the need arise--as it has now.

It's still a private club here in Westhampton Beach. 71% of LI association libraries have elected boards--either through public insistence or board decision alone. Why do 7 appointed trustees alone decide who next to appoint? Taxpayer-funded institutions should have elected boards.

The Westhampton Not-Free Library has a $2+ million annual operating budget and $4+ million accumulated cash sitting in the bank. It's time to say goodbye to the 1897 Charter giving the appointed trustees total power. Back then women and blacks couldn't vote either. The Westhampton taxpayer is still being denied the right to vote so the board is still hand-picking like-minded friends to serve alongside them.

Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information." Dec 2, 16 4:46 PM

UPDATE: As of 12/1 three trustee applications have been submitted, one of them mine.

One trustee vacancy, at least three submitted applications, no taxpayer voting allowed. It's still a private club.

Appointed isn't American when taxpayers are funding the institution with multi-millions of dollars. Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information." Dec 8, 16 8:32 AM

Korean War Veteran Will Be Westhampton Free Library's First Honoree

I think it’s wonderful that the Library is honoring local military veterans. Thank you, Mr. Cuthbert, for your selfless service and dedication to our great nation. We American citizens owe our fortunate lives to you and to all our military. I am very grateful.

Our military fights and many die to protect and promote democracy. They fight for our right to freedom and liberty, for American ideals and values.

So I find it ironic that appointed trustees of a taxpayer funded institution are leading this initiative to honor those who fought for democracy. Fought to topple despots and authoritarian regimes.

The trustees should be elected, like every other taxpayer funded board in our community. The Library is celebrating 120 years—from when it was founded as a “private corporation” with voting rights in the association granted only to appointed trustees. Though many have called for an elected board these last 17 months, the appointed board is denying us taxpayers our right to vote. The board is still living and governing like it’s 1897.

Appointed trustees should walk the talk. Appointed isn’t American and it isn’t 1897 anymore.

Please read my Letter to the Editor, "Clinging to Power," in yesterday's 1/12 edition of The Press. Visit www.wflelectedboard.org and Residents for a Free Westhampton Free Library page for more information." Jan 13, 17 12:24 PM

East Quogue Board Of Education Criticized For Lack Of Transparency

Boards of taxpayer funded institutions should strive for accountability and transparency. For 17 months we've asked the Appointed Board of Trustees of the Westhampton Free Library to list meeting attendees in the minutes and to give, at the very least, a brief synopsis of what each individual discusses during Public Expression. Many libraries, municipalities, Villages, etc. do just that. The Library refuses. So there is no public record that for 17 months multiple taxpayers have been calling for an elected board and have been questioning various finances and spending." Jan 19, 17 2:14 PM

Hampton Bays Library Board Will Seek Taxpayer Approval Of $9.9 Million Renovation Plan In March

You Hampton Bays people are great! I love how vocal, unified, willing and courageous you are to speak up. Our WH Free Library is planning to renovate its 6 year old building with a $1.3 million donation. They're hosting Public Design Charrettes now in January and February--when no one is here (references a comment above). Ok. Maybe fair enough since they're using the one large donation. However, after we WH taxpayers approved a nearly $8 million bond for a new building back in October 2007, the APPOINTED boards of trustees accumulated more TAX dollars that are itemized for capital expenditures on the June 2016 audit--$1 million for a parking lot, $624,000 for Interior Space Redesign, $100k for a new HVAC system. They just added $450,000 of already accumulated tax dollars for Budget Stabilization. I feel robbed. Deceived. And a union went in partly because the employees are objectively among the lowest paid on LI.

It's a library. Not a community center. And maybe my Town taxes can renovate the abandoned Town building on Mill Road by the 7-11 and build a community center. There are many tax redundancies and there is certainly waste.

Btw, Hampton Bays is one of the LI libraries still with an appointed board of trustees, like WH. 17 of 24 LI association libraries have elected boards, some for decades. We elect school, Village, and fire boards--but not our library boards. It's taxation without representation. Appointed isn't American." Jan 19, 17 2:30 PM

They can't change their board. Their board is appointed. Like Westhampton's Library board. There are no elections. The trustees have nearly absolute power with your tax dollars. Only big bond votes and annual budget votes. It's taxation without representation. Only 7 of 24 LI association libraries still maintain appointed boards. Appointed isn't American." Jan 20, 17 9:32 PM

Westhampton Beach Main Street Overhaul Requires Removal Of Dozens Of Trees

Hampton Bays' hamlet revitalization efforts garnered 1200 recent survey responses. The Town of Southampton recently permitted the public to weigh in through an online survey process which yielded 1341 responses--to explore the potential redevelopment of of the Ponquogue Beach Bathing Facility in addition to the two public workshops held in September & November, months when more people are present in the community. Hopefully our WHB Village government is similarly contacting taxpayers, Main Street businesses, and the Chamber for comments and opinions, besides just meetings that many cannot attend for a variety of reasons.
Also, perhaps I've missed it somewhere, but where is the $4.6 million coming from? Taxes already accumulated? An increase in taxes? Grants? I'm all for improvements, upgrades, maintenance--but that's a heck of a lot of $ for not including a new sewer system. On top of the $16 mil for a new firehouse and the new $7.8 million Westhampton Free Library that opened 6 1/2 years ago (with an additional $1.8 of accumulated taxes earmarked for a parking lot, a new HVAC system, first floor redesign--ABOVE Ms. Skovek's $1.3 million donation being used for Building Expansion [see the June 2016 Audit available on the Library's website)." Feb 25, 17 12:11 PM

Thank you:). And that's a shame about the Good Ground Park. And we seem to be over the estimate on costs here already as well. Not including how much it will cost to replace the trees.

I've heard that some pipes will be run for the possible future sewer system. Maybe we should get a cost on the sewer system first? If we can't afford a sewer system, maybe we shouldn't pay to run pipes? A sewer system is tens of millions of dollars. Maybe we need it, maybe we don't. I want to see numbers. Big costs include length of lines to processing plant, the building of the plant, plant operations, etc.

Also, what people may not know is that H2M Architects received the Westhampton Library building expansion contract. The same H2M Architects that just completed the initial Village sewer survey discussed in the article above. I'm a WHB resident. The Village and the Library are separate budgets, separate tax bills. Also, it bears noting, our elected Village mayor and the appointed Library President are wife and husband. I am not in any way, shape or form saying there is any impropriety whatsoever. However, it would look and be best for all if the Library trustees were ELECTED, since the Library is a direct line item taxpayer funded institution. We elect the school, Village & fire boards. We should elect the Library board--not have a self-appointed private closed club.

HBays Library still has an appointed board, too. Only 29% of LI association libraries still remain appointed. That's taxation without representation. Un-American. Un-democratic.

For more Library information visit wflelectedboard.org" Feb 27, 17 3:12 PM

Hampton Bays Library Schedules Meeting To Discuss Upcoming $9.9 Million Bond Referendum

Though 71% of LI association libraries have elected boards, some for decades, simply by having the sitting trustees change the library’s bylaws, both Hampton Bays and Westhampton libraries—though taxpayer-funded—still retain APPOINTED trustees. Speaking of WH, it’s a private, closed club governing the library, operating a multi-million dollar annual budget, with over $4 million cash sitting in the bank, most of it accumulated tax dollars.

No library trustee elections, though you vote for school and fire boards, and Village boards. No overseeing body with any authority. Without elections, where is the transparency and accountability to the public?

In WH, since 12/14/16, three eligible, taxpaying American citizens submitted “trustee applications” to serve on the board (the present method)—and the 6 self-appointed trustees have decided that none of these individuals “meets their needs” or has the proper “temperament.” Can you imagine your local school board denying 3 individuals the capacity to serve? It wouldn’t happen, because there are school board elections. The public decides.

I hear your frustrations. Similarly, the WH Library is expanding its BRAND NEW building, using a $1.3 million donation. Okay, it’s a donation. Why not use it to pay down the building bond? Why is our WH library holding “Public Design Charrettes” in January and February—when no one is here? Eight people attended in January, 3 in February. The February date was also the HS POPS concert. Their next “Charrette” is scheduled for April 15—school break when people go on vacation, and still too early for the snow birds to be back and offer input.

Our SELF-APPOINTED trustees also earmarked $1 million for a new parking lot, and $625,000 for First Floor Redesign and $100,000 for a new HVAC system—taxpayer money, above the $1.3 donation—for a 6 1/2 year old building. It’s a library, not a community center. I already pay Town of Southampton taxes and we have an abandoned Town building on Mill Road in WH that can be some sort of community center. We’re double taxed.

Appointed trustees have absolute power. Appointed isn’t American. Visit www.wflelectedboard.org for more information. My contact information is there as well if you’d like to join forces calling for elected library boards.

(Only 6 of 19 Suffolk County association libraries retain appointed boards—three of them are HBays, WH, and Quogue. Southampton Library went elected in 1996, Port Jefferson in 1990, Sag Harbor in 2004, Shelter Island in 2011, etc.)" Mar 5, 17 11:24 AM

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