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279 Comments by North of Highway

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Some confuse rocket for UFO

Thanks WR - kind of you
plenty of good 'scopes out there - try the Meade website for starters
Plenty of good equipment there for under $200 and even $100
Don't get caught up in magnification - look more for light gathering ability
" Sep 23, 09 9:26 AM

Town housing officials walk out of civics meeting in East Quogue

Come to Hampton West Estates near Gabreski. 161 housing units, 70% owner occupied, 30% rentals. Of those rentals, about 12 are Section 8 - of those 12, there are 8 that are well run by their owners and 4 that are poorly maintained. They stand out like sore thumbs. There are a handfull of non-Section 8 rentals that are margainally maintaned, you'll also spot them right away. these are absentee owners making a lot of money and not putting a dime back into the neighborhood. Affordable Owner Occupied housing to Town rsidents should be the goal, not rentals." Oct 1, 09 9:27 AM

Cut the way too high Section 8 giveaway of up to $2,000+ a month;
All it has done is drive up the cost of rental properties and has established an artificial floor. Once you do that there will be either suitable good rentals around at affordable prices or lower priced housing stock for sale. Section 8 is a landlord subsidy, not so much a renters subsidy." Oct 2, 09 2:00 PM

Aged white wines

That's certainly true about wine from hot areas. I was recently out in Santa Barbara County and up to Solvang and Santa Ynez; the wines for the most part were big at 15.5%+ alcohol and clumsy (that day the temperture was 107F!!!)
A wrong turn and map confusion found be in Lompoc - closer to the ocean, and much much cooler. There I had some wonderful pinot noirs, coming in at 12.8% and really delightful - with great aging potential. Long Island has this same advantage with its coolness!" Oct 2, 09 2:17 PM

Southampton Town deputy supervisor confronts, shoves PBA president over comments about budget

how many ST police personnel make /$100,000+???
and now they want 12 hour tours so they can show up for work less frequently?
You guys do OK - you do a good job and are paid accordingly.
" Oct 3, 09 10:54 PM

OK unions- no cooperation - then Team Kabot is forced to do layoffs - the worst way to go - but she is offering an alternative. Cut the non-sense CSEA and PBA - its either cooporate or layoffs - and you're the blame if that happens- not Kabot.
At least with either furloughs, payroll lag or wage deferrals people - yes your members - get to keep their jobs - and benefits - New York City went through this in the 1970's - the unions balked - and Mayor Beame laid off thousands - including cops." Oct 3, 09 11:08 PM

and thats what they are paid to do - and they do it well.
they should not be a political entity, do your job, you will be well compensated for it.
Stay out of politics." Oct 4, 09 9:50 PM

Town housing officials walk out of civics meeting in East Quogue

There are in my neck of the woods Section 8 recipients who are very hard working and take pride in their homes and either maintain them themselves or have good landlords who do the right thing. There are also some landlords, a few big local real estate names, who do not. The Section 8 program is not administered in a proper manner by Southampton Town as they cannot even tell you how many Section 8 recipients there are in the Town - and by law they don't have to. The whole program hides behind a curtain of confidentiality.
If the subsidized amounts were reduced from their current levels to more reasonable levels two things would happen; 1. rents for non-section 8 renters would also drop and 2, with less profitability some landlords would sell rather than rent, thereby adding to the affordable housing stock. There are properties around for less than $300,000, even less than that in today's market. That stock would see an increase if the subsidy rate was cut." Oct 5, 09 10:57 AM

Southampton Town deputy supervisor confronts, shoves PBA president over comments about budget

Good point Eyewitness
You may remember ATH was all for granting some police officers full retirement benefits when they realized they could not squeeze in 20 years before retirement. It was a free gift to the union - it should have been addressed in collective bargaining and the union should have had to pay for it." Oct 5, 09 12:06 PM

Kabot's proposed $78 million budget will eliminate 48 town jobs next year

The PBA President is wrong - the payroll lag will be repaid as employees leave service, and since they do not leave all at once the additional cost is spread out over many years; its cost is minimal in any given budget year.
This I think is the best Ms. Kabot can do and I sincerely hope the layoffs can be avoided and the unions agree to the concessions; outside of the layoffs these are pretty soft concessions given the times. " Oct 7, 09 2:04 PM

Union leaders like their jobs - they also like to keep them - so it boils down to do I accept these concessions and have my members angry at me and vote me out of office or do I have fewer non-affected members and take the layoffs?
There was a round of layoffs in New York City in 1991 in the Dinikins Administration and I was involved in negotiations with the civilian unions on similar issues like givebacks to save jobs. Every union but one (a union made up of middle managers) opted out and took the layoffs.
Sad to say - all the union buzz about all for one and one for all somehow doesn't play out at times like this." Oct 7, 09 2:23 PM

Southampton councilwoman mulls bids to privatize town animal shelter

Is there some other Town shelter out there that could take the animals from Southampton Town for a fee and continue service? A "contract out" to another government?
I don't think anyone wants to see the employees laid off and the animals euthanized. What a shame." Oct 7, 09 2:30 PM

Kabot's proposed $78 million budget will eliminate 48 town jobs next year

What I'd like the Town to consider is a re-deployment plan for anyone laid off. New York did that in the early 1990's. Vacanies that need to be filled will periodically happen, you can never have a total wage freeze as there are some positions that just need to be filled. A reployment plan will at least give these employees some shot of getting a position. It may not be their original job, it may not be the same pay, but their previous work years will carry over for any seniority, that is no break in service.
In the 1991 NYC layoffs the economic rebound was fairly quick and although I don't recall the exact numbers something like one half found their way back.
This turndown is more severe and that number wiould be less but it seems to be the correct thing to do. Now civil service law may interfere with this as to seniority and pension credit time but its worth an examination." Oct 7, 09 5:07 PM

Her own party rejected her twice - first with Heaney and then this year. The PBA has endorsed ATH - doesn't that tell you something? More of the same." Oct 8, 09 8:26 AM

Familiar face first to cross finish line at second annual Main Street Mile

Run Forest, Run!!!!

4:31 mile is pretty good for your age - keep at it!" Oct 13, 09 10:51 AM

New court date set in Kabot case

Rosemary Woods - do you work in Westhampton Beach now?
Interesting scenario - Linda haters will say she somehow got the "damaging" 4 1/2 minutes erased, while Linda backers will say the missing tape proved her innocence and points to a setup.
You can't make this stuff up!
Meanwhile this becomes the make or break issue while the budget runs amok and the STPD continues to employ individuals who should have retired;
and STPD PBA acts like the Praetorian Guard of ancient Rome, deciding who will become emperor." Oct 14, 09 4:30 PM

Southampton Town had difficulty with head count of workers

I think this current administration has responded in a good way to making the budget prrocess as transparent as possible; I'm impressed with the budget being posted on the Town website - everything is there and hopefully going forward the Town can provide whatever data is needed accurately.
That said, I re-calll the time in the 1970's New York City financial crisis that when asked how many employees were on the City payroll, the City's budget director could not answer the question - he didn't know.
He was promptly fired. Now that's not the case here as its obvious Ms. Wright and staff has done a great job in cleaning up the mess, its the fault of previous administrations who were content to let things roll along as long as the cash kept flowing.
No more of that - its a new dawn." Oct 15, 09 1:34 PM

Buying your own vineyard

I visited Croteaux this past summer on a very hot week day day (there weren't too many this past Summer!) - the setting was very appealing (like visiting someone at their house) and the wines were terrific - I liked rose wines long before they became chic (I was also into Pinot Noir before the movie "Sideways").
I agree it would be great if a big celeb name bought in - I was recently in the Santa Ynez California area and visited Fess Parker Vineyards - yep, the Davey Crocket of my youth. Its still family owned and I had a nice chat with a grandson - seems Fess had the vision to buy up the land years ago when it still cheap - no such luck out on the East End but hopefully the reputation for food friendly wines produced here will spread.
Enjoyed the article!" Oct 16, 09 3:23 PM

Conversation starters from the wine rack

try the gewirtztraminer - big time flavor and bone dry" Oct 16, 09 3:27 PM

Westhampton Beach Zoning Board denies plans for North Mall renovation

What's the vacancy rate at the mall? It seems to be at least a third of the space is vacant, maybe more. What's the point in expanding it?
"Here's Johnny" raises a good point - the entry point for most visitors coming in off the Sunrise Highway is an eyesore. I understand the empty restaurant is owned by John Chih - but the structure has building code problems. The gas station is an eyesore - whats up there? Perhaps the County could do an eminent domain claim and widen the intersection so trucks can turn safely;
At least the burned auto repair structure was torn down - so now we have an empty lot eyesore. Given the speed that the Village moved on getting Waldbaum's to pave their parking lot it looks like the eyesores on Old Riverhead Road will be there for a long time.

" Oct 16, 09 4:46 PM

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

I certainly agree layoffs should be avoided; however the Town has to deal with the unions in terms of pay reduction, payroll lag, or anything else dealing with terms and conditions of employment. Outside of the layoffs the Town was looking for a payroll lag with will provide a one time cash infusion and the delay of an already negotiated wage increase; both of those givebacks are "softies" and do not require too much pain on the part of employees. Hopefully the unions will step up to the plate and do this, but don't count on it. In the meantime the Town has little choice but to use layoffs. " Oct 19, 09 2:39 PM

Audit finds numerous errors in Southampton Town's accounting practices

Its clear that Skip Heaney et al were cooking the books - Ms Kabot inherited this situation and has come up with a credible plan to fix it. Her efforts are clear and they are transparent - the fact that the Town budget is on line and in a very understandable format is an example of this. I think Ms Wright and staff have done a terrific job in bringing all this out. Blame who you want, but the fact remains Ms. Kabot has come up with a viable solution." Oct 22, 09 11:30 AM

Southampton Town Board candidates say little about proposed 2010 budget

Zero based budgeting was a concept I first heard of in the 1970's - as I re-call during the New York City fiscal crisi. While it sounds appealing the idea never really caught on in the public sector. As I recall a few states tried it only to discover department budget preparers would try to add spending to programs, claiming they were under financed to start.
While the private sector has a bottom line (profit/loss) as an indicator of performance, the public sector, which is totally a service provider, does not. The State of Oklahoma for example has been touted as a great example of ZBB, with spending supposedly brought under control. It did for about two years, than costs began to rise as services cou8ld not be provided.. The Oklahoma department assigned for protective services of children saw huge cuts in their spending, and conversely the money the department collected from dead beat dads dropped severely. Its simple, providing some services we deem as responsible (chasing down dead beat dads) are expensive to provide. There are many other examples. ZBB ignores this as it looks solely at the bottom line and in the long run fails in the public sector. " Oct 22, 09 4:32 PM

Throne-Holst missed campaign finance filing deadline

Will ATH agree to the PBA demand that they reduce their appearances from 232 times a year to 155? (Change from 8 hour shifts to 12 hour shifts.)
The Union will say this will save on OT, and it just might - at first - but how about plugging all those holes in 24/7 coverage. That means more hiring and more expenditures.
The PBA endorsed ATH - does she have a position on this? Kabot clearly has opposed it." Oct 23, 09 9:49 AM

You have to be wary of any union proposal that is claimed to save money - they are not in the business of offerering concessions - they are in the business of "more". So lets see, if it will now take 2 officers to cover a 24 hour period rather than 3, does that mean I can reduce the workfoce by one third? Think this will happen?

" Oct 27, 09 12:02 PM

Southampton Town employees protest board over planned layoffs

Perhaps the CSEA shgould agree to foregoing their wage increase in 2010 as Ms Kabot proposed - tie it into reduced layoffs - come on - solidarity forever sounds nice but if the union really wants to do something - folks this a softee giveback. Ms Kabot is doing what she has to do and I'm sure she's not enjoying it. I'm still waiting for ATH to come up with a plan." Oct 28, 09 2:04 PM

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