Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Matter of Expediency?

Election time is coming around for the Hampton folk.

Some elections may generate more heat than others.

"Skip" Heaney, for example, is generally expected to refill his Supervisor's seat for his last two year term in January of "08.

Although, anything can happen in this best of all possible Hamptons.

However, to give Heaney a run for his money (or Southampton Town's money) there's a newcomer on the block - James Henry - a Sag Harbor lawyer and Harvard Law graduate - who's actually savvy in politics AND has some ethics. He also recently settled a case with the Village of Southampton that permits war protestors the right to march in parades. As a resident of Sag Harbor for over a decade he displays and unusual combination of intelligence, toughness and moral responsibility.

Henry has just recently announced his candidacy and it should be interesting to see what the platforms are for both candidates. Other than an anti-Latino, "round 'em up and run 'em out of town" platform - Heaney may have to profess to stand for something if he winds up being opposed without Hal Ross around to threaten Henry if he doesn't drop out. At least that's what Heaney's "consultant" did to the last two candidates that tried to run against him.

Seems that the Justice Courts in Southampton and East Hampton have been busy. In fact, Southampton Town Justice Court is reputed to be the busiest in the country. Despite that, they cannot seem to get their act together and follow the rules of the Court system - having, for years, defied the requirement that there be at least one evening session per month. Still no word on whether this will ever happen.

Even more important for both courts is the fact that at least two of the judges in each court may have no right to be there. And, that would imply that the warrants, evictions, rulings and decisions, in strict interpretation - are of questionable validity.


Well, it seems that there is this little requirement that one must sign an oath of office within 30 days of being elected or re-elected and file it with the County Clerk, the Town Clerk and the Office of Court Administration. Neither Wilson nor Kooperstein in Southampton nor Cahill and Rana in East Hampton - and Wilson, again, in Southampton Village - have apparently followed those rules. This is not something a judge can just decide to take care of later. Once the deadline is missed, it's over. So, we have Wilson in Village of Southampton and Town of Southampton, Kooperstein in the Town of Southampton as well as Rana and Cahill in East Hampton -- perhaps needing to step down, if the rules are observed.

This little faux pas was discovered by attorney Patricia Weiss of Sag Harbor and apparently Newsday has picked up on this little tidbit and is investigating the matter.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Political gossip also has it that Eddy Burke is the likely Fourth Judge position to be filled in Town Justice Court. Burke was a Pataki choice for Court of Claims but now that Spitzer is Governor, the Fourth judge position is looking more appealing. The numbers work out better too. While Heaney was reportedly holding back on allocating that slot for a friend, previously thought to be Thiele, Burke's political dilemma and optimum retirement benefits combo (a bigger pension from two sources) has Heaney ready to act.

It's nice to have people looking out for you.

Gossip also has it that Marcus Stinchi, the Town Republican Party head, has been targeting businesses in Westhampton Beach where he has his landscaping business. If you piss him off he runs to his friends in the Town and makes life difficult. Stinchi has Houlihan, the current Westhampton Beach Building Inspector (formerly the Building Inpector of Southampton Town) who was imported to Westhampton Beach after there were so many lawsuits filed that former Mayor Bob Strebel did a favor and took him in -- as well as Bridget Napoli, the Code Enforcement officer -- to do his bidding. If Stinchi reports that he doesn't like someone, "Skip" picks up the phone and Houlihan and Napoli go to work. That's not nice. But, at least, now we all know it. It explains a lot of the apparent anti-business sentiment that the current Mayor had wrongly been accused of.

Stay Tuned.