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355 Comments by Publius

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Two construction workers injured in fall after scaffolding collapse in Water Mill

Glad to hear that, and glad to read in the paper that we have resources to give great care." Feb 16, 10 10:28 AM

Westhampton Beach Village Board rejects all seven resolutions pertaining to two police officers

Maybe Ms Martin can check to see whether the Trustees ever changed their December resolution from restore to full duty to return to restricted duty. The story seems to be in error on this point. If order to restricted duty came from Mayor, as it appears from the print article, it is important to know if this will continue indefinitely until the Trustees capitulate and order a hearing, and know what this is costing the Village" Feb 16, 10 7:18 PM

Disciplinary charges were preferred by the Chief of Police already. The Trustees directed him to withdraw them, I think they really meant they were dismissed and it is a matter of semantics.

" Feb 16, 10 10:13 PM

Mr. Wheeler, your reference to "Westhampton Beach Village Law" as a font of authority for the Chief of Police is mistaken.

My citations have been to New York State Village Law which vests authority to suspend an officer pending a hearing, to hold disciplinary hearings, and to punish after a disciplinary hearing in the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees serves as a Board of Police Commissioners, and the Mayor is but one of the Commissioners.

The Mayor has cited section 30 of some 1964 regulation adopted by the Board of Trustees to support his argument that he is in control now.

However, it is the Board of Trustees that has the authority to make and amend those regulations as circumstances dictate. Whether those circumstances are present here remains an open question.

The Press has told us it will not post the full report. I have a great deal of respect for the men and women at the Press, they do a difficult job. However, I know that there are people in our community who can bring a very different skill set to the critical examination of such a report.

As a result, it is not a fully informed public opinion that has been, or will be, weighing in on these issues.

The Trustees and the Mayor will have to sort out their respective rights and duties and seek a resolution of who has the authority to punish the two officers in the absence of a hearing (No One) and whether the Chief of Police or the Mayor can mandate that a hearing be held (Doubtful).
" Feb 17, 10 1:25 PM

Judgment favorable but does not restore Stony Brook Southampton

The link to the August 30th decision is below:


It is a public record posted on the court systems website.

" Sep 18, 10 7:32 AM

Hospitals And Bishop Applaud Supreme Court Ruling; Altschuler Vows To Work For Repeal

Obamacare makes young healthy people buy insurance at community rates so their premiums will pay for aging boomers who have never paid in enough for the benefits they are demanding now that they are becoming decrepit.

I might support it if the rates young people paid reflected accounted for their own health care, but it is designed to make them pay for everyone else too. " Jun 28, 12 8:18 PM

I know, we should ask Nancy Pelosi." Jun 29, 12 7:53 AM

New Affordable Housing Project Pitched For Westhampton

Affordable housing is available when you let market forces match the housing to the income profile of a community. The subprime crisis was created when housing costs were artificially elevated by guaranteeing loans to people who could not afford to pay the mortgages.

When we don't give away property to subsidize housing, then builders will build more modest homes. Or, heaven forbid, people live in an affordable home in another community and commute to work.

Foreclosures also offer opportunities to let market forces reset housing prices in line with the local income profile. But, of course, in the great Democratic state of NY every road block is thrown into that process.

I am looking for an Affordable Home on Fifth Avenue across from the park, what are my chances? If not there, how about Water Mill from whence Ms. Lewis hails?" Jul 17, 12 10:52 PM

Grand Jury Fails To Indict Hampton Bays Man Who Killed Cabbie

Why "Fails" to indict? What does the Press know that the grand jury didn't know?" Jul 18, 12 6:57 PM

New Affordable Housing Project Pitched For Westhampton

Has anyone checked the tax exempt status of "We Build Communities" on the IRS webpage Exempt Organizations Select Check? I can't seem to find it." Jul 19, 12 5:45 AM

Government subsidized "Affordable Housing" is a fraud. It raises property taxes on some making their homes unaffordable, and gives those taxes away to people who are in the government's good graces (in this instance Joe Gazza and players to be named later). Socialism.

It is remarkable that some people think a commute to work is unfair. Look at the Long Island Railroad, it is a commuter train. People travel to where the work is and live where they can best afford to live.

If you want to make housing affordable then reduce the property tax burden. Every home "owner" realizes that, in truth, he only rents from the government because property taxes can escalate and make his home unaffordable and force him to move away.

I always wonder whether not-for-profits like WE BUILD COMMUNITIES (According to the NY Department of State created in November of 2001, and still, apparently, without an IRS tax exemption) is just a front, or created by a well intended but unwitting dupe.

Here, someone with a PO Box in Water Mill has created a corporation and argues that we should have housing in Westhampton so that people who could afford to live in Riverhead or Mastic can move into Westhampton on the cheap. Maybe it is Water Mill that is having trouble getting workers to commute that far so the goal (besides Gazza's) is to set up cheap housing in Westhampton so workers are willing to commute to Water Mill.

Whatever, its wrong to do it." Jul 23, 12 6:55 AM

Judge Dismisses All Charges In Fatal East Quogue Crash

Two teenage boys are out joyriding, yes, acting negligently, and there is horrible crash where one of the two friends is killed. When such conduct carries with it the risk of immediate death and still teenage boys do it, the threat of criminal conviction will not change the conduct. The remedy is not to bludgeon the survivor of the crash in criminal court, there is no remedy.

We have to look to preventive medicine. Why are our cars produced to travel at speeds in excess of 60 mph? Why, with GPS technology available cheaply aren't speeds in cars mechanically governed in residential areas? These are societal questions directed to reducing the risk of such fatalities. The next time it might not be a joy rider that passes away, but someone who was not a participant and not even in the car.

It is too simple to turn to the teenage boy after it is all done and wag the finger. When are the adults in our community going to look to real preventative measures that protect everyone?" Jul 26, 12 8:57 AM

Most In Westhampton Beach School District Will See 6 Percent Increase In School Taxes

If your assessment went down, then your taxes went down, but because on the whole assessments went down then the taxes you thought would go down, won't.

This story is just stirring the pot. Yes, schools have to be careful with the expenditure of tax dollars, but tax assessments have nothing to do with school governance." Oct 10, 12 3:35 PM

This story is not really about school board spending or about the school board anticipating what assessments will be.

Property Assessments simply decide how responsibility for a tax levy will be distributed in a community.

If you find that your tax bill is going up more than your neighbor, then you can take some small solace that the value of your property (at least in the eye of the assessor) did not decline as much as others in the community.

I could join you in objections about school spending, but this story is not that story." Oct 11, 12 12:50 PM

Accounting Errors Prompt Westhampton Beach Village To Hire Attorney To Review Finances

15 months - that says the village's outside accounts didn't catch this.

15 months - that says it was done properly before that, who changed the the way payments were made, and why?

Day in and day out the clerk is supposed to do this job; day in and day out the Mayor is supposed to check the bills; month in and month out the trustees are supposed to oversee the payments. That is the order of responsibility - Clerk, Mayor, trustees.

Notice the Mayor says the Clerk is okay, blames the trustees and votes against them.

Enough already Conrad, we're on to you. " Oct 14, 12 9:05 AM

UPDATE: Sears To Remain In Custody, Orders Of Protection To Be Requested For Children

Assuming for the moment the truth of the allegations.

The accusations present a question concerning mental illness; and the extent to which that mental illness presents a danger to other people.

Our laws are ill equipped to deal with mental illness, mostly because the community at large is ill equipped to deal with mental illness, mostly because we don't really understand it.

I am not so sure this is victimless; we don't let people use our images for commercial purposes without consent, why are private purposes okay? But the prohibitions on commercial use of images is handled with civil remedies, and mental illness is often dealt with most effectivley with civil, not criminal law.

The posts here are all over the place, mine included, mostly because... see above.

" Jan 30, 13 8:27 AM

Westhampton Beach Police Investigate Alleged Teacher Misconduct

There is a remarkable double standard at work here.

I am heartened to see that so many people are fully aware that an accusation is nothing until it has been supported by evidence that has been subject to full scrutiny.

At the same time, every day ordinary citizens are accused, arrested, even jailed on accusations that have yet to be subjected to the scrutiny that many are demanding here for this school teacher.

Is there a reason for the kid glove treatment?

Secrecy is dangerous in a democracy. If we are adults and recognize that there is an important presumption of innocence, then all such information should be available to the public. In some cases a member of the public may have relevant information that could prove decisive.

Just remember the police officer indicted for getting sexual favors from a DWI arrestee, once it became public there was an entire host victims who came forward and there cases were then examined, and corroborating details strengthened the case of the single victim who would have otherwise been alone.

Or perhaps, when there is a person we know who has been accused we will have greater understanding of the plight of the accused and be more willing to insist that reasonable bail be set for all, and that the presumption of innocence be observed in every instance.

...and then maybe there will be justice for all

" Mar 12, 13 9:15 PM

Attorney Accuses Westhampton Beach Village Trustees Of Altering Audit

Looks like they ARE records that should be disclosed -- it fits the category of an external audit.

While somewhat convoluted, the statute below says the Village does not have to disclose stuff the agency has not finished, except external audits....

NY Public Officer’s Law § 87 (2012)

2. Each agency shall, in accordance with its published rules, make available for public inspection and copying all records, except that such agency may deny access to records or portions thereof that:…

(g) are inter-agency or intra-agency materials which are not:
i. statistical or factual tabulations or data;
ii. instructions to staff that affect the public;
iii. final agency policy or determinations;
iv. external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government;…

4… (c) The court in such a proceeding may assess, against such agency involved, reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred by such person in any case under the provisions of this section in which such person has substantially prevailed, [fig 1] when:
i. the agency had no reasonable basis for denying access; or
ii. the agency failed to respond to a request or appeal within the statutory time.

And from the Village Code

§ 134-2. Designation of records access officer.
A. The Village Clerk's office shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations herein and shall designate one or more persons as records access officers by name or by specific job titleand business address, who shall have the duty of coordinating the response to public requests for access to records. The designation of one or more records access officers shall not be construed to prohibit officials who have in the past been authorized to make records or information available to the public from continuing to do so.

§ 134-5. Requests for access to records.
A. All requests for records shall be made in writing.
B. Requests for records shall be honored within five business days of receipt of such request.
C. Requests shall reasonably describe the record of records sought. Whenever possible, the request shall specify dates, file designations or other information that might help in describing the record sought.
D. Should the Clerk fail to provide or deny access to the records sought within five business days of the receipt of such request, the Clerk shall furnish a written acknowledgment of receipt of the request and a statement of the approximate date when the request will be granted or denied. Failure of the Clerk to either grant or deny a request within 10 business days after the date of acknowledgment or receipt of a request shall be construed as a denial of access that may be appealed.

§ 134-7. Denial of access; appeals.

A. The Board of Trustees shall hear appeals or shall designate a person or body to hear appeals regarding denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Law.

B. Denial of access shall be in writing stating the reason therefor and advising the person denied access of his or her right to appeal to the person or body established to hear appeals, and that person or body shall be identified by name, title, business address and business telephone number. The records access officer shall not be the appeals officer.

C. If an agency fails to respond to a request within five business days of receipt of a request as required in § 134-5D, such failure shall be deemed a denial of access by the agency.

D. Any person denied access to records may appeal within 30 days of a denial.

E. The time for deciding an appeal by the Board of Trustees shall commence upon receipt of a written appeal identifying:
(1) The date and location of a request for records.
(2) The records that were denied.
(3) The name and return address of the appellant.
F. The Board of Trustees shall transmit to the Committee on Public Access to Records copies of all appeals upon receipt of an appeal. Such copies shall be addressed to:

Committee on Public Access to Records
Department of State
162 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12231

G. The Board of Trustees shall inform the appellant and the Committee on Public Access to Records of its determination, in writing, within seven business days of receipt of an appeal. The determination shall be transmitted to the Committee on Public Access to Records in the same manner as set forth in Subsection F of this section.

H. A final denial of access to a requested record, as provided for in Subsection G of this section, shall be subject to court review, as provided for in Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
" Mar 13, 13 6:06 PM

Westhampton Beach Teachers Reject Proposed Salary Freeze

Teacher's watch out.

Fool with the educational program, and the district will lose tuition students.

Lose tuition students and you will be in a world of hurt from which the Board of Education can't bail you out. (At about 20K per tuition student you don't have to lose too many before the pain will really be felt).

If you think the freeze is unfair and if you are unyielding, you are setting the stage for the decimation of the district.

Let community members look at the photographs and know who the unionized malcontents are.

" Mar 18, 13 11:08 AM

1. It isn't a "gravy train" tuition students pay their per capita share, no more.

2. If tuition students go, union members will be first cut as class sizes are decreased.

3. Taxes will go up, but that is not as bad as being an out of work teacher.

Union needs to get a real world perspective, or it will get a real world perspective." Mar 18, 13 2:39 PM

20% of the people do 80% of the work. Yes, there are some very hard working, dedicated, teachers who are terrific. These are the 20% in the school system.

The union represents the other 80% of the teachers who only do 20% of the work.

Unions were important when Pinkerton's bashed heads and bosses were out of control. The pendulum swung the other way, and unions got out of control (see Detroit crushed by UAW)

I have great sympathy for the terrific teachers who are indeed underpaid. The union rides on the coattails of the extraordinary teaching value the 20% of the teachers do provide.

Until union contracts are eliminated, the 20 % will never be properly paid, and the 80% will never be properly canned. " Mar 19, 13 9:33 AM

Westhampton Beach School Taxpayers Divided Over Proposed Spending Cuts

The "NOTHING" in return of which you complain is the continued employment of all teachers. Perhaps you are just looking out for number 1, Steve.

I don't agree with the BOE proposal, I would much prefer the retention of all good, productive, forward thinking, teachers; not the superannuated deadwood that dissipate the district's scarce resources while jawboning about how unfairly they have been treated as a group. But, the BOE is hamstrung by NY State Law so I can't really blame them on this one.

Excellent teachers are grotesquely underpaid, but the union does not represent them, and there are not enough of them." Mar 20, 13 8:49 AM

UPDATE: Police Believe Teacher Recorded Students With Cellphone; Released After Posting $25,000 Bail

The U.S. Supreme Court, just like the commenters here, has struggled with how to address evidence of good character. In an 1896 case the Supreme Court stated that evidence of good character could, standing alone, constitute reasonable doubt. Edgington v. United States, 164 U.S. 361, 366 (1896).

Since that time some Federal Circuit Courts have disregarded the Edgington case and have, instead, said evidence of good character could tip the balance in a close case, but does not stand alone as a defense.

In 1988, with the conflict among the Circuit Courts on this question, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to clarify. Spangler v. United States, 487 U.S. 1224. Instead, the Supreme Court did not grant certiorari. Justice Stevens dissented on the denial of certiorari decision and called for the issue to be addressed.

Here, there has been no evidence presented at all, not of a crime and not of good character, we are still at the presumed innocent stage of the proceedings.

Next we see if an indictment is even returned by a grand jury (which only addresses the question of probable cause that a felony has been committed); and only if an indictment is returned do we go further to trial where thel burden proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard.

That is a long way to go before anyone can make any informed comments on the merits of the case." Mar 21, 13 8:44 AM

Group Seeks Southampton Town Zoning Board Approval For Religious Boundary In Westhampton

Table the applicatin pending the determination of the federal court on the pending litigation.

No municipality may violate the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution by permitting the demarcation of a terrritory as belonging to one religious sect or another.

Let the federal court be done with its business first." Apr 5, 13 2:28 PM

It really isn't even about what lechis look like. It is the official designation, on paper, that matters.

Your property deed sits on some microfiche in the County Clerk's Office, it doesn't matter who even knows its there, but it is symbolic of your property right.

An "eruv" that is an area considered to be the extension of the private property of the "observant" is a claim to a property right.

Even if the rest of the community says its imaginary, there are still the observant who will believe it is proprietary and act accordingly.

It's unconstitutional. " Apr 8, 13 9:30 AM

Developer Unveils Plans For Senior Living Community In Amagansett

“the post-World War II generation moving into their silver years”

Boomers take note, you have made your generational sobriquet a dirty word.

What you leave this courntry is an anti-legacy, an enormous debt that will take several generations to correct.

Generations x, y, z... take note; the claim is that the Boomers are only moving into their "silver" years so they plan to be around a lot longer than most.

Time to box 'em and put them on the self with the politicians that fund their demands with more and more public debt.

" Apr 10, 13 8:19 AM

Trustees Want To Bring Former Westhampton Beach Village Clerk Out Of Retirement

It is true that it is a village mayor's prerogative to fill a vacancy in the office of village clerk. Nonetheless, the clerk / treasurer "shall also perform such other duties not inconsistent with his office as shall be determined by resolution of the board of trustees."

The village clerk/treasurer is to serve not only the mayor, but the entire board of trustees.

For the past year the Westhampton Beach Clerk/Treasurer has been put in the untenable position of serving two masters, the trustees and the mayor who could not agree on much.

It will be for the electorate to decide who has been unfairly stubborn in their position.

The Mayor resisted the expanded audit that the trustees requested, and that expanded audit was performed by the regular village auditor. Once the expanded audit was done, and before it was presented to the trustees the mayor admits he called the auditor up over a weekend; not on a business day, on the weekend, and a change was made to that report after he called the auditor. Hmmmm

This newspaper has printed the Mayor's acknowledgement that he paid the Chief of Police for compensatory time when he should not have.

This newspaper has reported that village employees were overpaid by about 20K by the soon to resign village clerk/treasurer. (Honest error, don't blame you for leaving theis village dysfunction, only mistake you made was following the mayor, but you didn't have much choice)

Now the Mayor says three trustees who have identified the errors, and insist they be corrected, should resign. Why?

Because they are the first trustees who have had the audacity to be more persistent than him?

None of the errors have been earth shattering, they should have been corrected, not denied. " Apr 10, 13 9:15 PM

Westhampton Beach Village Audit Report Still A Point Of Contention Among Board Members

Definition of ILLICIT: not permitted : unlawful

The Mayor has already said the payments to the Chief of Police were not proper; the Mayor has finally acknowledged there was a payroll mistake of more than 20K.

Payments made contrary to law were, unlawful, or not permitted.

Rather than deny it, and then fight about it, fix it.

" Apr 11, 13 8:36 AM


You have cited Fred Hager as authority for your position in the past. That speaks volumes.

You seem to endorse the Mayor's conduct and simply don't like challenges to his program.

The Mayor's program: Overpay employees 20K and deny its an over payment until, at village expense proven wrong, then say its small potatoes; improperly pay the Chief of Police for comp time, and when caught just say oops; and keep paying an employee long after she should have been off the village payrolls.

Yes there is a problem in village hall, there has been a long time problem in village hall, and some just want to leave it because it works to their personal advantage.

As far the mess in the police department, always has been, nothing new there. (Ask your buddy Fred Hager) Officer M suspects officer's B & P of hiding his gun; gun later discovered in Officer M's car. Nonetheless, Chief calls in an investigation; that investigation does not resolve question of lost gun, but surprise, surprise, surprise, officers in the Chief's cross hairs are accused of, among other things -- beating the polygraph??

A good Chief of Police would actually devote resources towards investigating crimes actually committed in this village; not this sophomoric locker room garbage. And, he wouldn't be crying too Newsday that the guy who cleans his cesspool makes more than him. I don't think the Chief should be comparing the job of policing Westhampton Beach to cleaning cesspools.

Tucker may or may not ultimately be better than Teller; but it is hard to be worse. " Apr 14, 13 10:01 AM

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