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257 Comments by Rickenbacker

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'The Hills' Public Comment Period Extended

Tuckahoe Center also had an extended written comment period, two weeks additional I think. " Mar 3, 17 9:50 AM

Lobster Inn Property Goes On The Market

Good luck with that price. Not even in the ballpark." Mar 3, 17 8:10 PM

Southampton Fire Department Raising Money To Restore 1912 Fire Truck

As this truck is important to the village's fire department history in many ways, I'd also like to know if this is the same truck that was involved in the unfortunate accident in 1918 when Nathan Cooper Howell, a department founder, slipped when trying to get on a running board of a fire truck during an Armistice Day parade on Main St. Tragically, he died after being run over by the rear wheel. Anyone know if this is that same truck? Maybe a remembrance can be added to the vehicle?" Mar 8, 17 4:37 PM

Court Orders Southampton School District To Turn Over Farina Materials For Review In Private

So, I'll just go back to my original comments on this case... it's a loser. The Press emphasized the reimbursement of court costs in several articles on this complaint, and, as expected, the court disagreed. So, now the Press, and the Southampton Association, which is splitting the bill (not mentioned in the article above, but should be), are at least now going to have to pay for this self-initiated fishing expedition.

You might still win, but odds are once the judge gets a private look at the information, he will decide the district acted within the terms of their contractual agreement with Farina and that the FOIL law was not violated.

Hopefully, we'll see soon. I'm hoping the Press will report the outcome, either way. " Apr 14, 17 5:10 PM

It's not just someone else, it's the Southampton Association. The same group of people who helped derail the Tuckahoe merger and which consequently has now landed both districts into financial peril.

I'm not defending the district at all. I just think this "noble" act of the Press for a self-righteous "benefit" to the community misses a lot of practical reality when it comes to legal contracts and non-disclosure agreements. The fact that the Press trumpeted its belief as front page "news" that it would get its attorneys fees back was a telltale sign that they may be pretty naive about the whole thing.

While they did get the court not to just say "No", which is laudable, it still doesn't mean the public will see the light of day regarding unproven allegations against Farina. Even the Press's own expert agrees with that aspect of the complaint.

So, I guess a potentially heavily redacted copy of the info may be the way the court ultimately balances the public interest and the private interest, but that will only tell the district that it cannot just reject out of hand FOIL requests, but if it doesn't give what the Press really seems to be after, which is exactly why Farina was let go, and why he was paid off. My feeling is they will get a bun and no burger. " Apr 14, 17 5:49 PM

First, I have no knowledge of what went on with Farina, only the rumor that's out there, which is what I expect everyone else commenting here has heard. And I guess that's my point. The superintendent had a contract to work in the district, and we are not privy to that contract, I suppose, but normally in contracts there are clauses that protect both parties from wrongdoing on either side. However, if one were to believe the rumor, then it was also not an incident that happened on school property or on school time, or in the capacity of Farina as an employee of the district. Which is why, it seems, he was not legally in breach of that agreement.

Additionally, I've not heard that the rumor was ever proven or that it caused Farina to make decisions in the district that were counter to his contract, but that the optics of it were very embarrassing to all involved, including the district. However, since they were under contract, and since it seems there was no legal breach of that contact, the district essentially had to buy him out of the contract to get him to leave. I know that's not exactly what happened, but it is what happened in practical, simple terms.

I don't defend Farina, or the district, and think, yes, maybe the district should have done more due diligence on their choice when hiring. But I would disagree with everyone here who says that it's the public's right to know salacious details on unproven facts about personal matters that apparently did not affect his professional job performance as superintendent, and the disclosure of which could actually be personally and professionally damaging to Farina in the future. Hence, the non-disclosure agreement which the district concurred to as a condition of his resignation.

The flip side of that is if the district had seen that Farina breached his contract due to actual facts, then they would have likely, via the contract, been within their rights to fire him without any severance. Clearly, that didn't happen, so unless you believe the unlikely scenario that the district board was in collusion with Farina to get him a big pay day, then what really happened was a sequence of unfortunate events that led to an embarrassing situation that made Farina's staying at his post untenable, but which contractually did not alleviate the district from their financial responsibility. So, no xtiego, you likely don't have 300,000 reasons to know about the details.

I will say that if anything, the Press may get some sort of ruling that will have precedent with regard to timely and more accurately answering FOIL requests. Both local governments and school districts use the knee-jerk rejection far to often on legitimate FOIL requests. It is time someone warned public agencies that the FOIL is an important duty to the public. For that I applaud the Press effort.

" Apr 15, 17 11:57 AM

Dumb analogy on a number of points. Superintendent is not a company, he is an employee. The school is not your house, it is an entity of collective ownership of the neighborhood. The employee had a contract to perform in that entity, and no one is saying he didn't perform well in that capacity. The issue the entity had was with embarrassing information related to the employee, which did not occur on the entity's time or in the employee's position. But it was embarrassing enough that the representatives of the neighborhood believed he needed to resign, so, since there was no violation of the actual contract, or at least one the representatives felt they could not win in court, they had to settle in a way that both made good on the contract and kept the embarrassing information, an unproven rumor as far as the neighborhood knows, out of public view, or it would hurt the future professional capacity of the employee, which would put the whole neighborhood at risk for a lawsuit where it could lose a whole lot more.

You are correct that the whole thing hurts the children. It was a bad situation, and probably handled as best as the district could do, given the legalities involved.

But you probably are still never going to get a real read on what happened from the district, the court, or the press. Move on and help the board make better decisions in the future. " Apr 18, 17 6:41 PM

No, I think I've been clear saying I don't know what actually happened. And I sort of agree that because of they way the board had to deal with this situation, from a taxpayer perspective, it is sort of like theft. My point is that I don't think we will ever get the actual information that led to the resignation and payout, that either the court will deny public disclosure of the incident or so heavily redact it you won't be able to read between the lines. Especially if the incident that started this was unproven rumor and involves personnel who actually did not violate any district rules or policies - to say otherwise is speculative only.

I'm not saying I have any wisdom on this case at all, I really don't, but from a contractual perspective, and the outcome of the district's decision to pay him out, it would seem to me they had considered these things beforehand. That doesn't make it necessarily information that the public has have big detail on. I do think the district should have been more forthcoming, but I wonder if that reticence was based on good legal merit regarding exposing something that can't be substantiated and opening them up (or us up) to further lawsuits. " Apr 23, 17 11:21 AM

Do you have anything that says he did violate board policies or are you just guessing on that? If he did, why did the district pay him out? The only way I can get my thinking to agree with you is to maybe think the district felt they would be open to a lawsuit from Farina that would cost taxpayers even more money and they chose the lesser of two evils. I have enough faith in the district board to think they wouldn't just politely ask him to go and, oh, by the way, here's this $300k parting gift. Are you that naive?" Apr 23, 17 11:26 AM

Montauk Homeowners Sue Over East Hampton Town Demands To Inspect Artist's Studio

I agree with the above comments. The definition of artist's studio has always troubled me, especially after a house has been sold, potentially to a non-artist. They should be treated like pool houses, as recreational spaces then, unless they can be legally converted to some residential accessory use. " Apr 26, 17 8:37 AM

Possibly that's right, but it's more likely that the final arbiter, the title search, beyond what the listing broker may have known or what the previous homeowners understood, should have flagged this. But since the homeowner that got the artist studio designation in the first place (apparently a few transactions back), was not required as part of the town's original approval for the studio to record the covenant with the County, it never happened, so a title search would not have shown it. The current homeowner shouldn't be held responsible since the code had had several revisions since the original approval and it would seem to be grandfathered in. Just my opinion, and gut reaction to it. Frankly, I think the artist studio designation is too limited and exclusionary, and should be modified. Maybe this case will help that to get refined. " Apr 26, 17 1:13 PM

Michael Bloomberg Reaches Out To Southampton Town Official, Hoping To Revive Discussion Of Tuckahoe Road Reroute

Just say no! This would be a idiotic giveaway of a perfectly public scenic vista to the monied .01%. Not even the 1% gets to play at Shinnecock. " May 3, 17 3:44 PM

Southampton Supervisor Reverses Course, Seeks To Throw Out PDD Law Without Replacing It

It seems very short-sighted that the PDD law would simply be repealed and not replaced or updated. Remember, there was a time where there was thought to be a real need for a zoning mechanism that resulted in the PDD law, not just over one town administration. I don't remember at the time people coming out to complain bitterly about this concept.

So, in my opinion, one town administration just killing it outright may have unanticipated negative consequences down the line. While I would agree that the law, as is, could be tweaked to guarantee or more agreeably specify what community benefits would be derived, this move to kill the law is starting to illustrate a problem in Town Hall. We already know that a Town Board is not obligated to even consider a PDD if it doesn't want to. So, killing the law is simply tying the hands of future town boards, it is doing nothing for the current board, which is clearly against them, and has put a moratorium in place so they can't even be tempted.

Where is the leadership of our elected representatives, not just the spot-polling of the moment that makes for puffy press releases. Where is the long-term strategy, realistic visions, that not only preserve what is good about the town, but looks forward to making the town better in the future.

I'm seeing a pattern with these things. Leadership is not just being led by what the majority thinks at the moment, it is also having the courage to look beyond a pay a duty to service on a vision for the town for future generations. Where is that in the complete repeal of this law?" May 15, 17 10:17 AM

Southampton Town Board Repeals PDD Law On Tuesday

Repeal, and not replace? Probably not a good strategy, town board, especially after previous town boards took pains to pass the PDD law in the first place to address issues that will now surely re-appear. I love the comment above about "intestinal fortitude". Not sure it was ever the law that was the problem, especially considering that town boards do not even have to entertain PDDs they don't like. " Jul 12, 17 10:01 AM

Springs School District Unveils New Building Expansion Proposal

It's time that Springs and East Hampton look toward a merger of some sort. Protecting these individual districts is going to get even more costly. Spatial reasons aside, there must be far better ways of running a district than having tiny districts among larger ones. I know this isn't Springs fault in this case, but we do have 10 districts east of the canal, and there really only should be 3 at most. " Sep 25, 17 1:33 PM

Owner Of Art Deco Auto Shop In Southampton Village Seeks Permission To Demolish The Building

This is one of those examples where historic doesn't necessarily mean in character with the rest of the village, in my opinion. This art deco building (built well after the art deco period, so it seems more novel than historic), while it might well make a cool restaurant, is really, if one is willing to admit it, a sort of an eyesore, no? It's an old car repair and gas station, of which better use for that spot might benefit the village in other ways. Will it be, like two other spots by the corner of Windmill and Nugent, have to be monitored for old gas tanks and oil? Would zoning support a new restaurant given the sewer issue? Seems like a smart move by the owner to get a demo permit. If there is a buyer, they are probably wanting to see if that's possible before a deal can be struck.
" Sep 29, 17 4:48 PM

Village Latch Developers Redraw Plan, Remove Some Elements, Defend Density Of Condo Plan In Southampton Village

This project needs to add itself to the sewer system if it is to get approved at all. " Nov 1, 17 11:34 AM

I don't know if you were replying to me, but to clarify what I meant, the new proposed village sewer system, which incorporates the retail district but just misses this project, is currently something that the Latch project doesn't want to be part of. I"m just saying that as a condition of approval it should be part of any construction of a new village sewer and treatment system." Nov 2, 17 3:11 PM

East Hampton Village Board Clashes With Public Over Amplified Music

First, it is astonishing to anyone who lives here that only East Hampton village has a moratorium on music amplification. Sag Harbor, Southampton, Hampton Bays, Amagansett, Springs, Montauk, just about everywhere around East Hampton Village allows it. It's good for business. These politicians likely think of heavy rock band music when they think of amplification, when this area, other than maybe the Talkhouse, is mostly populated by singer-songwriters and cover musicians with acoustic guitars and the occasional percussion and keyboard instruments. In any bar or restaurant, even a small crowd will drown out unplugged music. In addition, East Hampton Village doesn't have that many establishments that can even support musicians, and the vast majority of them are in the business district. Wake up, East Hampton. We know you are infamous for "getting you for wearing red shoes on a Thursday" - Edie Beale, but that was in the 1970's. Time to come into modern times.
" Jan 20, 18 9:57 AM

Thiele Proposes New Real Estate Transfer Tax To Aid First-Time Homebuyers

You know, I am not a tax hawk normally, as we need taxes to properly run schools and governments. But this is the most idiotic thing I've heard in a while. Why not take 1/2 of the percentage from the 2% transfer tax the CPF collects for this purpose, another tax that Fred designed. There are hundreds of millions in that account on the East End. Why not go back and work that out, and while at it make it more reasonable to use for historic structures, not just open space. They just reworked CPF for water quality last year, so we know it can be done. The concept of helping with affordable housing is laudable, but adding a new tax for it is a non-starter.
" Jan 30, 18 4:42 PM

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming Wants Ride-Sharing Tax To Go To County, Not State

I think it is well established now that if you try to go against disruptive technology or services that mostly provide more efficient service to people you are likely on the losing side of that argument. Rather than hold ride-sharing services hostage to the county's beef with state money (which it is right now), why not try another avenue? Can we get some people in office who can find more creative ways to solve emerging problems than to just build roadblocks that try to maintain the status quo?
" Feb 9, 18 9:50 AM

While I agree with you that no one should be taking cheap shots at Bridget personally, the fact remains that the tactic is like holding a gun to the ride-sharing industry and telling the state that you will not put the gun down until you get the money. Not a good public relations image, frankly. There must be a better, smarter way than that, unless that's just you believe that this is politics, county (gangsta)-style. That needs to change as well, then. " Feb 9, 18 10:44 AM

East Hampton Rental Registry Law Trial Ends In Acquittal

It neither black or white. The EH law is definitely overreach, and I hope a test comes that proves portions of it as unconstitutional (such as the unbelievable requirement that all rental advertisements - which is free speech - carry a government-approved registry number, or the homeowner, publisher, real estate agency, website, can all be held liable by the town). However, rental laws are should no longer be thought of as what they were, mostly nuisances for the homeowner. Instead, recent court cases have held that if the homeowner does not have valid rental permit in a municipality that requires it, when and if a dispute ever arises with a tenant, the court will first look to see if the landlord has a valid rental permit. If not, the courts are saying that the homeowner in effect has an illegal rental and the tenant will win the dispute. This has generated significant back rents awards for tenants, even if the tenant was at fault. So, the rental law is now seen as a homeowner's friend, in addition to the fact that most rental permits are mostly trying to make sure there are safe living conditions, such as pool, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, pool gates, etc. Overreach comes in other places, such as in Sagaponack Village, which requires all the tenant's info as well as an affidavit from the homeowner saying they have given the village code (related to rentals) to the tenant. It's a mixed bag, some good, some not so good, and some just plain ridiculous. " Mar 27, 18 11:20 AM

UPDATE: Schiavoni Withdraws Proposed Moratorium On Development In Aquifer Districts

Wait, wait, wait, does anyone really understand the size and scale of the acquifer protection districts?! Especially the one that runs through almost all of the area north and east of Southampton, North Sea, Water Mill, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack and Bridgehampton? A moratorium would shut down a huge swath of area, as the article states, most of the Town, and would negatively impact the economy. Has anyone estimated the loss of economic activity for that entire area? Are we talking about new construction only, or also renovations, additions, accessory construction? I'm not against looking at water issues, but there are already restrictions in place in the acquifer protection areas for clearing and setbacks. It's not just about clean water and Sand Land, a moratorium could affect a lot more people and businesses if not handled intelligently.
" Jul 18, 18 4:57 PM

No, that's a very simplistic view. My comment would certainly attract someone thinking in the extreme, but I'm pointing to the fact that our economy could be severely affected by a moratorium, and if there has been no discussion of that impact, then more work needs to be done before a moratorium is voted on. " Jul 18, 18 11:09 PM

Petitioners Ask Sag Harbor Village To Preserve Proposed Impound Lot

Hell, why don't they contract with the town (either Southampton or East Hampton) to use one of their lots? Why does the village have to have it's own lot? Is this a thing, now, that villages have to have impound lots. Southampton village created one at Lola Prentice for a few years until residents pointed out it was in a PARK, and they police moved the lot to their own property next door. If Sag Harbor doesn't have an suitable alternative, have they even explored the idea of an existing lot? It's not like the village is hauling a lot of cars, it's a tiny amount. " Jul 24, 18 10:29 AM

Southampton Schools Ordered To Release Bulk Of Farina Investigation Material

Much as I appreciate the power of the FOIA process and the Press's attempt to fight for the right to the information (I think this part of the suit was a worthwhile effort), I think it still remains that as a contractual matter, the Press did not get what it was after. It's going to get some crumbs, but not the actual final investigative report or any identifiers of the people involved. So, you do get to affirm that FOIA requests need to be taken seriously, but you also did not get to probe into private contracts between employer and employee, which was expected by some of us. So then, one question remains: the bold statement early on that the district would be likely be forced to pay your legal expenses. Did that happen? Article doesn't say. " Sep 12, 18 8:11 AM

I may have missed it, but the article was also updated after I posted that comment." Sep 13, 18 12:41 AM

FOIL Documents Show Farina Investigation Targeted Invoices From Girlfriend's Therapy Business

Foolish attempt? How about that it was foolish that we didn't go through with it, as both districts and their students would, are, and will suffer. Thank the Southampton Association, for their short-sighted activism and pure demonstration that they can't see the forest for the trees." Oct 24, 18 10:05 AM

Southampton Town Board Approves Sag Harbor Cinema Development Rights Purchase

I disagree with both of you. The "Community" Preservation Fund always had as one of its goals to protect the history and heritage of the East End. It was never just about open space. There have been numerous projects that have been able to utilize CPF funds in the pursuit of preservation. In the Town of Southampton, that normally happens via an easement purchase, which is what the Sag Harbor group did. You could argue the details that the theatre had burned down, but I think the average person would understand that in the hyper-expensive Hamptons real estate market, the idea of re-establishing a theatre would be a rare thing, and worth preserving what what would have still been there had it not been for a tragic fire that started next door.
" Oct 24, 18 2:04 PM

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