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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 08, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I cannot believe that Wilkonson and Quigley treat people so rudely. When Quigley started needling with, "I think we need discussion...."after every resolution I was wondering how proud she must be of her juvenile behavior. Maybe if they acted like adults and sought to garner consensus before pushing their own agenda like a board of three instead of five, things would progress more smoothly. Quigley accuses the two Dems of delay tactics and I could accuse her of furthering an atmosphere of paranoia and distrust with her mean spirited retorts and condescending attitude. Wilkinson has had a "hit list" from the moment he took office, this next move cloaked in "organizational efficiency" is nothing more than a further step in his bullying of those he perceives as "against" him in town hall. His arrogance and mean spirited management of our town has done what might well be irreparable damage to the moral and productivity of town workers. And he calls this progress because, of course, he knows what is best!
Lady L June 10, 2012 at 03:05 AM
We elected Wilkinson, Quigley and Stanzione to bring our town budget back into the black and tighten things up at town hall. That means excess must be cut - government jobs are to serve the public, not be a retirement entitlement for political appointees. If that means we must sell of needless, extraneous property, supplies and land, so be it. If we have to reorganize offices of government to make them leaner and more cost & time efficient, that is the right thing for them to do. Placing roadblocks at every turn is not reasonable or prudent.
Factual June 10, 2012 at 05:50 AM
You really can't be serious. The Democrat Town Board members script their actions before each meeting. Everything is planned and choreographed with the Democrat party leadership. Someone should ask Overby and VanScoyac point blank if they meet regularly with the Democrat party leadership to plan strategy and decide what positions to take on issues. And as far as "irreparable damage" to the productivity of town workers? What is wrong with an expectation of performance, productivity and a high work standard? You see it beginning to happen in towns all over Long Island and the County. East Hampton under Wilkinson was just out in front of the kind of reforms that you now see happening in many other places. And as far as consensus and openness - before Wilkinson took office there was never-ever any public comment period at work sessions and resolutions were never-ever reviewed in advance - NEVER - NONE - NADA. I went back and watched the work session from last Tuesday. Two of the items the Democrats said required more discussion took up about 90 minutes of the work session in advance of the Thursday meeting. On the item about the audit group they did not object and had all their questions answered. I guess at their weekly meeting with the party bosses after the work session a decision was made to delay approving the audit group - for whatever reason.
P. Loke June 10, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Maybe the decision to not approve the audit group was because of the people on it. As pointed out at the meeting the resolution to appoint was already done before the discussion on Tuesday. Maybe such an important financial oversight group should be bipartisan and not stacked with Wilkinson "yes" men. Wilkinson, et al. were elected as a negative vote due to the democratic budget mess. What we got was a dictatorship. The budget mess was already well on the way to straight due to Janet Verneille and her quick grasp of the accounting environment mess that according to the state comptrollers office dated way back to when Len Bernard was the Budget officer. Maybe the lack of public comment at work sessions before this administration lent itself to the councilpeople actually working together at work sessions. And before Wilkinson took office people at town hall weren't afraid of being yelled out and sworn at and belittled. You two seem to have drank the Koolaide. All you see is the facade and the propaganda of this "my way or the highway" regime. I don't disagree with the principle of leaner and efficient government and respect good government- that respects people- workers/residents.
Factual June 11, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I just looked at the Comptroller's report on the State Comptroller's website. The report does not even go back to the Schniederman-Bernard years. When Schneiderman and Bernard left at the end of 2003 the Town had a huge surplus - over $8 million in the general fund alone. The comptroller's report picks up things at that point. According to the charts in the Comptroller's report the Town had a large surplus at the end of 2004 of almost $6 million (the end of McGintee's first year). That surplus at the end of 2004 turned into a $7.5 million deficit in the gen fund by the end of 2007 according to the report, and as we found out later went up to $27 mil by the end of 2009. That happened years after the Schneiderman. Nice try Loke - you are the one drinking the Kool-Aid. Beginning in 2005 everything fell apart. The answer offered by McGintee in 2009 when Vernelle came aboard was to construct a phony budget for 2010 that overstated expenditures and intentionally understated revenues (residents were thus overtaxed0, something Wilkinson has pointed out many times if you go back and read the stories. What Wilkinson has done is budget honestly, cracked down on spending, used the correct amount of deficit financing and fixed the problems. The audit comm was discussed by the Town Board - it is right on the Town Web video. The resolution calls for the appointment of a successful banker and a person who held a number of management and accounting positions for the City of New York.
Factual June 11, 2012 at 12:53 AM
By the way, if the Democrats on the Town Board had a problem with those to be appointed to the Audit Committee, then why didn't they raise the problems during the lengthy discussion at the Tuesday meeting? Why did they wait until Thursday night? The answer is because between the meeting on Tuesday and the meeting on Thursday they got their marching orders from the Democrat party leaders. It is a terrible way to govern. You can say whatever you want about Wilkinson, but one thing he is not is a political puppet for party leadership. Ask John Behan. Wilkinson is not a political favor guy. He is his own person, not a marionette on a string for political interests like the two new Democrat Town Board members. And there is more to that story that can be told by some former Democrat Town Board members and why they were no re-nominated. A story for another day.
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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