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4216 Comments by highhatsize

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Campaign Diary: Debate set for Southampton candidates

One hopes that Mr. Shaw will ask the candidates if they are aware of the multi-million dollar annual cost of the continued employment of more than forty STPD officers beyond their twenty year anniversary retirement date and if they think it appropriate in view of the proposed termination of forty-eight other Town employees.

[Parenthetically, and on a completely different topic which I address here because I know that the editors read these comments, there is a serious flaw in the software of this site. Often, after pushing the, "Submit", button, one's comment simply vanishes rather than being posted, and cannot be recalled. If one has not taken the trouble to compose the post in a word processing program, or saved it before submitting, it is gone for good. This needs to be pointed out to the web designer of the site and fixed, posthaste.]
" Oct 14, 09 3:30 PM

To BOReilly:

It must be more than that. On one occasion, I submitted a post and it vanished, but, since I had saved it, I posted it again and it vanished again. Only on the third try did it make it onboard. In all cases, the reply box with my username appeared at the bottom of the page. Had I not been signed it, it would not have reappeared the second and third time." Oct 14, 09 5:32 PM

I see that Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson are not appearing. Are they unopposed in the election? Even so, they ought to appear. There are many aspects of the operation of the Southampton Town Justice Court that need addressing." Oct 14, 09 5:37 PM

To Terry:

The Southampton Town Justice Court was created in 1972, superseding the Town Justices of the Peace. At that time, due to the population growth in the township, the local government was changed. Previously, the Town Justices of the Peace had also been the Town Board. In ’72, the Town Council was created as a separate elective office; the position of Town Justices of the Peace was eliminated; and the Justices of the Peace became the Justices of the Southampton Town Justice Court.

This history is important in order to understand the situation that prevails with the Town Court today. None of the original Town Court Justices was a lawyer. The last surviving one, Paul Smith, Jr., who lost his seat to Deborah Kooperstein, was a crabber by occupation. The Justices of the Peace didn’t need to be lawyers because their judicial role was limited. They smoothed out local antagonisms and dealt with petty civil complaints and crimes informally. Everything important was referred to the real court, the county court.

However, when the Town Court itself became a real court, the old Justices of the Peace didn’t know the new rules. So, rather than follow statutory rules of procedure, they used common sense, just as they had as Justices of the Peace. Folks who found themselves in the Town Court after having seen, for instance, The Supreme Court of NY, (the lowest state trial court), thought that they had traveled back in time to courts portrayed in movies of the Old West.

It was never a good situation. Court procedure was capricious and justice depended a lot on whom you knew, but it was a small town then and that’s the way small towns operated. (I think that one of the Riverhead Justices back then was an undertaker.)

However, after the last of the old Justices had galloped off into the sunset, the sloppy procedures of the Town Court which they had instituted remained. In real courts with a longer history, incoming judges can hone their judicial skills by asking advice from their colleagues on the bench who were there when they arrived. That doesn’t work in the Town Court because their colleagues all follow the same procedure, or lack thereof, laid down by the Justices of the Peace.

Attorneys practicing today know that the Justices are unsure of their ground and sensitive to the fact. As a result, they do nothing in court that will make the Justices appear foolish on the bench, such as making motions with which the Justices are unfamiliar or pointing out errors. These omissions may result in the attorneys giving incomplete representation to their clients. But the attorneys will be appearing before the Justices again, their clients will not.

The Justices know that this is going on. They also know that these ingratiating attorneys help them keep out of trouble by preventing them from making really bad errors that might evoke censure. Since the Justices have no appropriate experience as judges, they would make a lot. This creates an improper sense of obligation in the Justices towards certain attorneys. There is also a phenomenal amount of extra-judicial contact with attorneys that stretches the bounds of propriety.

This all leads to a very incestuous court. If a court’s procedure is unique and idiosyncratic, the attorney who knows that procedure, even if incompetent, can perform as if he were skilled because he “knows the ropes”. The result is that the Town Court has become the home court of some very bad attorneys who can make a living only because they are familiar with the unusual procedures of the court.

The loser in all this is the litigant. Not the multi-millionaire litigants. If a multi-millionaire loses in Town Court, he simply appeals. Heck, this court is so inferior that you can appeal to three higher courts before a final verdict is rendered. It’s only money. But the average litigant, to whom $15K is a lot, cannot appeal when, contrary to all reason and logic, he loses. All he can do is steam about the plankhead whom he hired as a lawyer and/or the court system that seemed to favor his opponent.

There is a solution to this judicial muddle. The Justices should GO TO SCHOOL to learn how to run a court. The state offers such courses to judges. (The New York State Judicial Institute, [http://www.courts.state.ny.us/ip/judicialinstitute/index.shtml])

This isn’t a complete fix. The standard operating procedure at the Town Court cries out for evaluation and correction. It would be ideal if the NYS Attorney General could send an investigator to the Town Court to observe proceedings and prepare a report itemizing the errors and describing the appropriate correction. But I don’t know that this ever happens other than when criminal behavior is suspected. The Justices aren’t criminals, nor are they stupid. They are simply ignorant. If they knew the right way run a court, they would run it that way.

My next vote for Town Justice will be cast for the candidate who acknowledges the problems with the Town Court and vows to fix them, even if he is a write-in.
" Oct 15, 09 6:59 AM

East Hampton hunter charged for baiting deer

Duck hunters set up their blinds as near as possible to areas where they know that people feed these beautiful animals, (often watching them grow from ducklings to adults over the course of the summer), thereby turning a compassionate act treacherous. Ask realtors about the effect of duck blinds on home sales.

" Oct 16, 09 2:36 PM

Quogue mayor resigns days after pleading guilty to felony fraud charge

I don't know anything about George Motz. A number of posters have spoken of him highly but it is ingenuous to think that he didn't commit the crime to which he has pled guilty.

What I find most interesting is that there is no plea bargain in place. Virtually every guilty plea includes one. Why is he pleading guilty nakedly? He actually could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Would it not be wonderful if his plea without negotiation were indicative of his contrition.

" Oct 17, 09 1:33 PM

Proposed change to Southampton Village code would allow archers to shoot deer on their property

Although it has taken me awhile to think of it, this discussion is moot. This novel deer-culling method would not be covered by the Village's liability insurance. The increased premium to include it would make it the most expensive of all solutions." Oct 17, 09 1:59 PM

Southampton alum Ware inducted into Binghamton Hall of Fame

My congratulations as well, Lester. It's a shame that colleges can't figure out how to continue their wrestling programs in the face of Title IX. There ought to be some discrimination in the legislation between individual and team sports when parity is considered." Oct 17, 09 4:25 PM

Westhampton Beach Zoning Board denies plans for North Mall renovation

North Mall is a zero architecturally. It looks as it it were designed by a draftsman. The artist's rendering of the renovations looks better, but still not good enough. I assume that the developers no longer care much about the proposed renovation considering economic conditions. However, if they come back to the table with a proposal that meets parking concerns, I hope that the Board requires a LOT more landscaping to hide the storefronts and that sea of asphalt from Old Riverhead Road. " Oct 17, 09 4:43 PM

Southampton Village Police cuff man, find no weapon

I don't think that the police were warranted to command the suspect to lie (?) on the ground. They should only have asked him to put his hands up. The suspect's refusal to obey, "a lawful order", was cause to put him on the ground and handcuff him. Searching his car? Depends on where the action took place. Searching his house? No way. " Oct 17, 09 4:59 PM

Proposed change to Southampton Village code would allow archers to shoot deer on their property


The only waiver that MIGHT be valid would be a waiver from all the people in the Village releasing it from liability should they be shot by one of the hunters." Oct 18, 09 11:47 AM

Southampton Town personnel grew while revenues were abundant


The first employees to go when times are lean are those who have no reasonable expectation of continued employment. The above pages from the proposed Town budget show that 27 police officers of the STPD have been retained on full salary beyond the twenty year anniversary date of their employment when they were due to retire.

Were these officers to retire, $3.6M would be freed to mitigate the terminations of other employees.

One hope that this solution will be addressed by the candidates on October 22.
" Oct 20, 09 12:01 AM

Southampton Town will try negotiating with shelter bidder


$3.6M can be freed up in the budge to pay for the continuation of the Animal Shelter and to prevent the termination of Town employees. The above pages from the proposed budget show that 27 STPD officers are being retained on full salary beyond their twenty year employment anniversary when they were supposed, by contract, to retire.

No Southampton politician has mentioned this sweet police ride since a year ago when Linda Kabot suggested that six of these cops, on the advice of the Chief of Police, should be retired. The result was that infamous Town Council meeting wherein dozens of cops in full uniform packed the meeting room and their PBA union leaders insulted the Supervisor. Pusillanimously, the notion was buried.

It is an either/or situation. Either these cops are retained and the shelter is closed, or the cops are retired, (on $100K pensions), and the shelter continues to operate.

On October 22, show your interest." Oct 20, 09 12:14 AM

Youth Services, Criminal Justice Program bear the brunt of Southampton Town Human Services budget cuts


There is $3.6M in the proposed budget for 27 police officers who have served beyond their twenty year employment anniversary when they were supposed to retire. (See above link.)

When the retirement of six of them, chosen by the Chief of Police, was proposed for consideration by Linda Kabot a year ago, the STPD descended en masse on a Town Council meeting, in uniform, insulted the Supervisor, and intimidated the Counselors into burying the suggestion.

Remember this on October 22. The undeserved salaries of these supra-contractually employed cops could go to Youth Services, the Criminal Justice Program, and to all those other Town employees currently slated for the axe.

The Town Council needs no agreement with the PBA to retire these officers, nor does it need "cause". They can simply decline to offer them new yearly contracts in January.

This is, after all, what the cops agreed to when they signed on." Oct 20, 09 12:26 AM

East Hampton Village code amended to allow taller "deer fences"

"Stringing a wire across the top of a fence is commonly called used to deter deer. . ." (sic?)" Oct 20, 09 2:35 PM

Southampton Town will try negotiating with shelter bidder

Your statement is absolutely false. I cannot think of a single city that does not have a department of animal control. The more enlightened ones have the civil animal control department AND an SPCA, as well.

It is an entirely appropriate use of civic manpower and funds if only from the point of view of public safety.

There are millions of dollars of fat in the proposed budget. The Town Council just has to develop a spine and neither the shelter, nor any Town jobs, need be cut for want of funding." Oct 20, 09 11:47 PM

Oddone trial begins; opening statements heard Monday

Looks like a1st Degree Manslaughter conviction. The prosecution will have a hard time proving premeditation or depraved indifference." Oct 21, 09 12:08 AM

Southampton Town candidate debate attracts nearly 200 people


1) Will you retire some of the 27 cops who are working beyond their twenty year contractual retirement date and costing the Town $3.6M year?

2) Will you pledge to vote to retain the Town Animal Shelter even if it means cutting other jobs, (like the supra-contractual cops)?

How about these questions?

The parochial softball questions that were asked were all responded to with answers that can't be checked. "Do you disapprove of higher taxes?" "How do you feel about overdevelopment?" Do you think that it is a good idea to put more affordable housing in Hampton Bays? Dear god, why not ask them what type of tree they would like to be?

One hopes that the newspapermen in attendance on October 22 will ask SOMETHING that will make the candidates take a stand.

Additionally, it was courteous of the candidates for Town Justice to show up, but why weren't they asked any questions? Like, for instance, do you think that it would be a good idea to tell suspects at arraignment for fungible crimes like DUI what the standard sentence for their charge is before they spend thousands of dollars on an attorney who changes nothing?

Oct. 22 will be the last time these candidates will appear together. Please, leave the softball questions at home.

" Oct 21, 09 3:25 AM

Despite cuts, town animal shelter to cost money next year

It is wonderful that compassionate Southampton citizens stepped up immediately when the Supervisor eliminated the Animal Shelter from the Town budget. It makes one proud to be a Southampton resident.

However, their generosity is not needed, and allowing the Shelter to absorb such a masively disproportionate share of the budget cut will make it the victim-of-choice when future economic crises tax the public purse.

Simply, compassionate animal control, paid for by tax dollars, and a permanent division of Town government, is a service that we demand as residents. It has always been so since at least the 1950's. It is no more expendable a governmental function than is public education.

Moreover, other Town employees need not suffer in their stead if we retain the public Animal Shelter, (and ALL its employees. One wonders what considerations led to unfortunate Assistant Shelter Supervisor Christine Russell being singled out for termination.)

The proposed Town budget contains $3.6M for 27 STPD officers who have worked beyond the twenty year anniversary date of their hiring when they were contractually scheduled to retire. If the Town declines to rehire them in January, this savings could fully fund the Animal Shelter and The Youth Services and Criminal Justice Programs, AND most of the Town employees currently scheduled to be axed.

The Town cannot continue this perquisite for the police. When we had millions in surplus, keeping these officers on the employment rolls was a generous gesture that we could afford. We no longer can. In addition, their retirement will leave them in an enviable situation. They will all have $100,000 annual pensions, including full medical benefits, and the credentials to be employed in private security or other public law enforcement organizations. That's not bad.

If you are as astonished at the proposed Animal Shelter closure as am I, show up tomorrow, Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton and tell the candidates that if they intend to vote "No" for the animals, you will vote "No" for them, in just those words." Oct 21, 09 12:16 PM

Southampton Town Board candidates say little about proposed 2010 budget


Obviously, the Town candidate are going have to be pinned to a wall before they will chance uttering an opinion that might offend someone who might vote for them. Tomorrow, Oct. 22, at 7:00 p.m. at Rodgers Memorial Library in Southampton they will face questions from professional journalists as well as the public. We will be voting on these folks in less than two weeks. If they feel that it is, "too soon", to comment on specifics in the budget, that's a shame. THIS is the time that they have to state their positions.

Here are a few questions to which "I" would certainly like an answer:

1) Will you pledge to fund fully the Animal Shelter. Period.

2) Are you aware that 27 STPD officers are still on the Town payroll at $3.6M annually despite their contractual agreement to retire after they had served twenty years?

3) Will you retire some of these supra-contractual officers in order to maintain other city services such as The Youth Program and the Criminal Justice Program and to mitigate the firings of other Town employees.

"Qui Tacet Consentire". Since Sally Pope and Bridget Fleming and James Malone have, "declined to voice opinions on spending proposals in the budget", I will be declining to vote for them on November 3. " Oct 21, 09 12:51 PM

Campaign Diary

Suggested Questions:

1) Are you aware that there are 27 STPD officers on the Town payroll who have surpassed the twenty year anniversary of their employment on which date they were supposed, by contract, to retire?

2) Are you aware that the annual payroll cost of these surpra-contractual officers is $3.6M?

3) Do you intend to vote to decline to rehire some of these officers?

4) Will you pledge to vote to keep the Town Animal Shelter open and fully staffed even if it means terminating other town employees, (such as the 27 cops)?

5) Will you instruct the Town Justices, (or, will you pledge to do so, if you ARE a Town Justice), to inform suspects accused of DUI of the usual sentence for their actions, at their arraignment, before they spend thousands of dollars pointlessly on attorneys?

These are the most pertinent questions that "I" would like to see the newspaper editors ask at the Oct. 22 meeting.

I hope that the presence of professional journalists results in hardball questioning. The proposed Town budget is by far the most important topic of discussion in this election. If candidates refrain from speaking about it, as they did at the Hampton Bays meeting last Friday, I hope that voters will take their pusillanimity into consideration on November 3.

" Oct 21, 09 7:14 PM

Southampton Town Board candidates say little about proposed 2010 budget

To Turkey Bridge:

When Town departments are being closed and Town employees are being fired, the existence of a $3.6M shimmering sea of fat in the budget is too important to be ignored. The most important question that candidates have to answer this year is whether or not they will tap this pool of money. I see no reason why their responses would violate confidentiality but, even were that true, a candidate's position on this question is too important for it to go unanswered.

So far, the only candidate who has indicated her willingness to stand against the STPD on this issue is Linda Kabot. Everyone saw what happened as a result. Answering this question is a gut check of character.

" Oct 22, 09 4:30 AM

Throne-Holst missed campaign finance filing deadline

To Turkey Bridge:

Do you know if up-to-date campaign financial disclosure statements are accessible on the web?

I had wondered why the penalty for failure to meet the deadline was notional. Rather than it being unimportant, I concluded that it was in the candidate's own interest to meet the deadline since failure implies that he doesn't want the public to see the benefactors to whom he is beholden. So a penalty isn't necessary.

However, if the disclosure statement isn't public information from the date of its filing, that notion doesn't fly." Oct 22, 09 5:40 PM

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