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Resolution To Restructure Natural Resources Dept Fails

Plan sparks heated debate; Board votes 2-2 with one councilman absent.

A resolution offered at the East Hampton Town Board meeting on Thursday night ultimately failed when board members requested more time to discuss the move.

Despite being added to the agenda late, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said the plan came as no surprise to the rest of the town board, as it had been discussed in executive session as early as January.

The resolution to approve the change ultimately failed 2-2. Though Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley are part of a majority-Republican board, Councilman Dominick Stanzione was absent from the dias on Thursday. Democratic Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc had made a motion to table the resolution, which was seconded by Democratic Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, but without support it failed, too.

The situation repeated itself twice throughout the meeting — Resolutions to establish a town audit committee and appoint members, which include two Republican Party members and a resolution for the town to apply for $600,000 in financing to upgrade the sanitary system at the Three Mile Harbor Mobile Park Home also failed. "It got turned down because someone didn't want to talk about it more," Van Scoyoc said after the last resolution.

"I don't object to the concept," Van Scoyoc said of the audit committee. He asked for more time to discuss the appointees. "We have to study it — I forgot," Quigley said.

But the restructuring of the Natural Resources department yielded the most discussion. Audience members, including former councilpeople, said there should have been a public discussion first. Some were under the impression that the planning department was being reduced to just two staff.

In truth, the plan calls for three current members of the planning department to be moved to the new Natural Resources department and combine the town's Natural Resources, Aquaculture, and Community Preservation departments with "a goal of increasing efficiency," according to the resolution.

Former town councilwoman Debra Foster, a Democrat, questioned whether the Sunshine Law had been followed when the board discussed the plan in executive session. Former councilman Job Potter, also a Democrat, agreed. "Any discussion of merging department is clearly not executive session material," he said.

The supervisor said, and Van Scoyoc agreed, personnel were discussed, citing the right to speak behind closed doors.

"This might be a great idea, but previously, we've been burned as a community," Foster said. In 1983, she said Newsday ran a headline, "East Hampton Abolishes Planning Department," and hoped history would not repeat itself. "Everytime there's a Republican majority, they mess with the planning department," she said.

Quigley said the board had restructured the public safety division the same way during the first-half of Wilkinson's administration.

When the board turned to discuss the plan itself, Van Scoyoc said there are some positive aspects to the plan, but there were several issues in need of further discussion. For example, he said he was concerned that land acquisitions would be under the same umbrella as a regulatory body.

Jeremy Samuelson, the executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, suggested the town board talk to the neighboring Southampton Town that tried to do something similar and was sued.

Councilwoman Overby said she felt the town code might have to be changed to support the resolution, though town attorney John Jilnicki had said otherwise, according to Quigley.

Ultimately, the discussion rounded back to why the resolution was presented on Thursday, when it hadn't been included in the initial packet of resolutions presented at Tuesday's work session. Overby said she didn't realize it was coming up for vote until she received "a whoops, this wasn't in your packet email" on Tuesday afternoon.

Quigley opined that the Democratic members of the board keep wanting to put things off and then they never get done, to which Van Scoyoc remarked, "There are other members on this board than you and Bill."

All of the failed resolutions can be reintroduced at a later date.

P. Loke June 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM
" The biggest contributions to the East Hampton Town Republican Committee came from Stanley Arkin of Amagansett, who gave $1,000" East Hampton Star 11/2011 Mr. Arkin a retired securities trader I am sure is a loyal republican but your call him Banker? And Ms Campolo, the outspoken wife of already appointed to a board and transition manager from Wilkinson's campaign. Let's stop the spin, Mr. "factual" politician. This Board of Auditor's is composed of hand selected Wilkinson inner circle. Let's let go of the party politics and get to work for the greater good of the town. Factual - you have gone to the darkside!!
Factual June 12, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Sorry, Mr. Arkin worked for the Investment Banking Co. Salomom Brothers along side Mayor Mike Bloomberg in the 1970' and 1980's. He has also contributed to Democrats and Republicans over the years (ask any local Democrat leader from the last 25 years - not that that should matter). He was quite successful and he is quite brilliant. Carol Campolo has a great resume that dwarfs most people with respect to finance and accounting, which includes working at the New York City Financial Control Board. Most importantly they are professionals who will do a great job as audit committee members because they ARE professionals, with standards and ethics. They are not like "Zach Attack" Cohen and others who cannot separate politics from the public trust. Experienced, knowledgeable and professional - those are the qualities possessed by Arkin and Campolo, and the qualities recommended for audit committee members.
Factual June 12, 2012 at 01:43 AM
By the way, I believe I am on the brighter side. Brighter future for the town and brighter people to serve the town (great young and intelligent Planning Board appointments, Alex Walter as chair of the the ZBA, Ruth Vered on the ARB, Kim Shaw, Pat Gunn, Charlene Kagel, etc., etc., etc.,). A much brighter future for the town for sure.
P. Loke June 12, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Successful and brilliant, securities trader, major contributor to Wilkinson's campaign....public fund accounting experience? NO. Campolo, secretary to the republican party, wife of Don Cirillo- transition manager for Wilkinson-now board appointee, former director of NYC Campaign Finance Committee - politician- yes, accountant, NO. Wasn't the intent of this committee to further independent fiscal audit? And what does the Attorney/Public Safety Officer/Prince of management expertise have to do with budget audit? Just someone Wilkinson wants around to say yes to everything? This is not an oversight committee it is a stacked house.
truth 2011 June 12, 2012 at 09:28 PM
The point of an audit committee is to hold the auditors accountable - which Arkin's and Campolo's financial, accounting and budgeting experience - practical experience - will allow. You can spin all you want but you cannot change the work and professional history of Arkin and Campolo. Is P. Loke a little jealous of people who have real experience and success based on their own skills, merit and hard work? No silver spoons in the mouths of these people.

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