Sunday, September 23, 2007

To Vote or Not To Vote

Vote early and vote often.
--Al Capone (1899 - 1947)

Those of you who have been watching from the sidelines as the Heaney/Nuzzi team has been trying to get themselves re-elected may have noticed that a small monkey wrench has been thrown into that particular plan. Nuzzi is not up for re-election this year but his boss, Heaney, is.

Against the backdrop of corruption and favors-for-votes, the local electorate has started to voice their objections to their business-as-usual. While the Southampton Press and Suffolk Life have started to retreat from their almost slobbering support of "Skip" Heaney, there is still some indecision about how to treat either Heaney or Kabot. One reason for that is the fact that while Heaney lost on the Republican line, he still garnered almost half of the vote and still may have Independent Party line. That may translate into "deals."

Knowing Heaney, as many people do, he is busy trying to buy a position with that electorate behind him.

What neither he nor the other Republicans know is -- what the segment of the rest of the local electorate will do come Election Day in November. Many, many people, especially local voters, have had quite enough of the party that Lincoln would throw-up over. He freed the slaves, the Southampton Republicans want to put the immigrants in jail along with property owners.

It is difficult to tell what the rest of the 20,000 or so registered voters will do, as against what the less than 3000 registered Republicans have already done on Primary Day.

With the election nearing in November, the big question is whether the rest of the voters' revulsion of the Republican Party mirrors the revolution in the Republican Party in general.

This is where the candidacy of Jim Henry becomes interesting.

Kabot is a Republican who ran successfully on the Integrity Party line, as did Nancy Graboski - since their own party - which attempted to ditch them in an aborted attempt to support Heaney, rejected them.

Disastrously, that did not work and the Chair of the Republican Party, Marcus Stinchi is starting to circulate his resume. His landscaping business is probably starting to look like a better alternative.

Kabot and Graboski were known to be rejecting the old-boy network and entrenched corruption of the Republican Party. Despite the currently weak musings of the Southampton Press and Suffolk Life (since they practically drooled in lockstop at Heaney's orders), the voters were able to see what was really going on. The fact that the "news" being reported was driven by ad sales that Heaney controlled through the Republican Party, was not lost on readers who have never had much of a choice when it comes to journalism.

The Town Board is currently a muddied waters of candidates at this point.

The Heaney forces, including Drew and Russo are not out but dampened - with Russo having the better chance.

Russo is a local boy in his thirties who is an A.D.A in the Town and who came out of nowhere after hanging his hat with the Party and Heaney. He did respectably well, but ran behind Graboski.

Anna Throne-Holst is entering the fray now and is one of several candidates who will vie for the two slots on the Board.

Although another slot would open up if Kabot were to win as Supervisor -- she could then could appoint another Board member - presumably, of her own liking.

Jim Henry enters the field now as the opposing candidate for Supervisor on the clearly defined Democratic line. While Kabot still has Heaney on her tail, she is now the Republican candidate as well as Integrity candidate.

Henry remains the Democrats choice.

Henry now comes out center stage to permit the voters a clear choice.

That choice appears to be corruption with Heaney, cleaner status quo with Kabot or a different direction with Henry.

The wild card in this election may not be a candidate but a voting block.

New Yorkers have been disenfranchised and have not weighed in on local politics so far. One, because they have not seen a need to do so.

Two, because they don't have the right to vote.

No candidate has seen fit to mention the elephant in the room.

The fact that there are slightly less than 6400 property owners, New Yorkers, who have homes in the Town of Southampton and who could be eligible to vote is a serious reality. This, of course, does not take into consideration the fact that in addition to that there are also many thousands of émigrés from Manhattan who got out of town right after 9/11 who never went back and others who just decided "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." One too many parking tickets while dropping your child off at school can do that.

While they are not seasoned locals, they bring New York values and a lot of political baggage. And, they are not happy about many things that have been going on.

And, one of the things that have been going on is the institutional racism that has now spilled over in a codified set of laws.

That, namely, is the new rental law which criminalizes the act of renting your house without a permit. Everyone, except local cops, firemen and other favorite people, faces fines of up to $15,000 PER VIOLATION if they do not register their house with the Town as of January 1st. The Town wants to know who is in your house, where they work, what their names are, personal information about them and wants the landlord to give the Code Enforcement Police free access whenever they feel like doing a search and seizure.

The Constitution has been suspended in Southampton Town.

They also want the right to arrest you if you don't give them this right.

Since national policy eliminating the rights of immigrants was a failure, the Republicans decided to create a law that could, de facto, accomplish what they wanted - with a badge and a gun. Only this time, they set it up so that they not only could they fine the property owners but could arrest the tenants and homeowners as well.

And, in the process they could milk the real estate industry. Brokers, agents, management companies, national real estate companies - anyone, and everyone associated with the possible finding of a home for "illegal immigrants." And, all of this has been done with the money from property taxes paid by YOU - to use against you.

Heaney, the Supervisor, Nuzzi, Town Board member from Crookhaven, were solidly for this bill which they introduced - and, in fact, pushed it down the throats of the Town Board. Heaney managed this by giving out Preservaton Fund money in places like Hampton Bays for school taxes. Money that was garnered from transfer taxes on real estate sales that was earmarked for the buying of land for open spaces to remain un-developed.

Russo is on board with Heaney and supports the rental law.

The question is, where does Kabot stand on this issue. She is quoted in Suffolk Life as saying that she is against "Vigilantism" but supports the law.

Graboski, now a Town Board member who is running for re-election voted for the rental law.

Anna Throne-Holst, candidate for Town Board was one of the few candidates who opposed this law at the hearing where it was passed.

Jim Henry is on record as opposing this law and clearly sees it as a thinly disguised form of discrimination.

It may be time for New Yorkers to register to vote in this election and make themselves heard. We will keep you informed on the candidates and the issues.

But vote. Register and vote. Do it now.

Download a voter registration form from and mail it in - and, to make the process easier, request an absentee ballot if you have to which allows you to vote from wherever you are as long as you are outside the limits of Suffolk County.

Show up and be counted.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Calm Before the Stormtroopers

What luck for rulers that men do not think.
--Adolf Hitler

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.
--Oscar Wilde

The perfect storm brewing in the Town of Southampton has three components that should upset everyone involved in this year's election for Supervisor and Town Board.

The inimitable style of current Supervisor "Skip" Heaney, who has until now escaped the attention of the New York City media - and instead has the attention and fawning fealty of the two major local publications like the Southampton Press and Suffolk Life - is finally managing this year to come into focus.


Because the combination of huge increases in property taxes; a Draconian rental law that threatens to imprison and fine rental property owners; and threats to the real estate industry in the Hamptons - have culminated in an election that previously would not have been so carefully watched.

The fact that slices of the tax assessed on all real estate transactions, used to fund the Peconic Preservation Fund (set aside to acquire land that will not be developed) - is being used for political purposes by Mr. Heaney -- is only part of the story. That particular ploy, of using money primarily gained from New Yorkers' investment property purchases, is only the tip of the iceberg.

He buys votes from heavily weighted voting communities like Hampton Bays - where bold ploys like promising them big school tax gifts from the Preservation Fund - and then he bites the hand that feeds him by aiming the gun barrel at property owners who pay the bills and the taxes in the first place.

Those whom Heaney has targeted are investors, New Yorkers, rental property owners, non-voting property owners, residents with rental properties, senior citizens with auxiliary apartments, single parents with income apartments or units, and real estate companies who rent or manage real estate for clients. The real estate companies, especially, are being targeted since it is the main business and source of income for the entire Hamptons economy. Sales agents, brokers and national real estate companies will now be the new cow which Heaney and Nuzzi will try to milk using Gestapo tactics.

In the attempt to retain control of the Town of Southampton, an acquiescent Town Board has passed a law that potentially targets everyone having anything to do with local real estate. That includes the Real Estate industry itself.

While companies like Corcoran are not yet feeling the heat, the new rental law is aimed at them just as seriously as it is at small local companies. Clearly Heaney and the Town are targeting smaller companies to test their strength before they work their way up the food chain.

The fees and fines, both civil and criminal, are aimed at milking the industry by making anyone and everyone involved in renting a property - the target of the Code Enforement Police in Southampton Town.

So, the assault on the Hamptons Real Estate industry may be underplayed by Heaney & Co., as the election rolls around but the effects of the new law going into effect on January 1st are unmistakable.

Real Estate agents and brokers, management companies that handle rental properties, individual owners, attorneys representing landlords or owners and other professionals that are associated with real estate will all be affected. Individuals will be targeted by the Storm Troopers - depending upon whether one is a friend of Heaney (a Code Enforcement hands-off) or a foe (no Get Out Of Jail Free card).

This is a law that aims to do two things:

A. to complete a campaign pledge to eliminate the "Latino problem" by fulfilling a promise to certain Conservative Republican supporters from his hometown in Hampton Bays (where he also has promised Peconic Preservation money), and;

B. raise significant amounts of money by taxing the real estate industry with the threat of criminal sanctions if they don't cooperate.

Here's how all of this works.

The illegal immigrants came to the Hamptons because of the need for cheap, pliable labor. Guatamalens, Equadorians, Costa Ricans, Mexicans, and other Latino workers do most of the landscaping and menial chore work in the Hamptons and need education, health care and housing.

But, housing in the Hamptons has never been cheap. For decades there have been discussions by local politicians about how to provide housing for local residents that they can afford.

The expedient political answer has always been simple - slow down multiple family projects until there's enough money under the table; and, make the zoning so difficult that developers throw their up hands and go away if they can't hire the right (nod-nod, wink-wink) local law firm to get the application approved - or pass enough money under the table at Town Hall.

Typically, multi-family housing projects are a three to five year pursuit - and that's just for the approval.

How successful has multi-family housing been? Most professionals don't remember the last apartment house being built in Southampton.

So, affordable housing has never been a realistic objective. If anything, it has been the source of graft -- but, never a source of housing.

The last lottery for inexpensive single family housing that was built -- mysteriously had a high number of winners who were related to the Supervisor.

The solution found by Latinos and other summer workers (as well as many Summer renters) in the expensive Hamptons housing market became the sharing of housing. People would share expenses and shelter and live as a family. It became the solution to the non-existent affordable housing situation in the Hamptons.

Many rented brand new homes or well-kept older homes. A few rented housing that needed work. Some properties actually needed repairs and maintainence work to be considered safe and habitable. Even fewer properties should not have been rented at all because of their condition.

However, there were laws on the books about noise, parking, garbage, illegal property conditions and zoning violations. These laws were selectively enforced but took too much time to rectify because the Code Enforcement Officers were too busy operating on a "Targeting" agenda. Since Code Enforcement was always a political unit, there was never a need to hire enough people to actually check property and issue notices to correct problems. It was always a unit used to target people, not correct problems. Notices were never used -- only criminal summonses were issued. Get the point?

The Code Enforcement Police were mainly used to target political enemies of Heaney and to satisfy people who wanted Latinos or Summer renters removed from their neighborhood. Proper notification of problems legitimately needing to be corrected and enforcement of the laws on the books took too long and was messy. The dubious constitutionality of targeting certain groups like Gays, Jews, Latinos or Blacks was always a contributing agenda. Which brings us to the situation at hand.

The Final Solution became the Heany-Nuzzi plan to additionallly target the Real Estate industry in order to make everyone involved in the housing process a likely target of criminal prosecution - and FINES. Really BIG fines.

Investigations have shown that the initial phase of that plan is already being implemented. Certain small real estate companies in the Hamptons are now being targeted by the Code Enforcement Police as Heany nibbles at the edges of where the money comes from. The new rental law which allows searches and seizures, warrants and arrests and multiple court appearances with heavy fines is the culmination of the assault on Latinos and on the Real Estate industry. Always follow the money.

Real Estate agents and brokers are now being named in criminal summonses and must appear in court under threat of arrest - if Heaney & Co. suspects that Latinos, Summer people, Gays, Jews, or Blacks are gaining access to housing in areas where his political cronies live. Shades of Guantanamo Bay?

These are the initial moves which has now been signed into law -- before they climb up the food chain of the Real Estate world to where the big money is located. With fines of $3,000 to $8,000 and much higher per violation, per property - you can see the handwriting on the wall.

Napoleon used to conquer for the specific purpose of pillaging and expropriating money to shore up the bankrupt French Republic. It's the same plan -- using the Latinos as an excuse to invade and holding property owners as the hostages.

The fact that this law would all but exempt certain kinds of local fire, police and EMS workers - by virtually eliminating fines to them for their rental property violations - only shows who this vote-getting ploy is really aimed at--non-resident property owners, New Yorkers, Real Estate brokers and agents -- and professionals in the Real Estate industry. In other words - where the money comes from that funds the entire East End.

This law is unconstitutional and it is an illegal and disgraceful example of anti-Latino, anti-Gay, anti-Black, anti-New Yorker, anti-Real Estate industry vote-getting. But, Heaney and Nuzzi have manipulated the local media into making people believe that they are concerned with the welfare of the people they are actually attacking. The ploy is that this law is about protecting tenants from unscrupulous landlords -- you know, those people who rent houses below THEIR cost in an area that will not permit multi-family housing to be built.
It is also a poorly kept secret that the Town sanctioned Section 8 program provides below market income for properties, provides no protection to landlords and often leaves the property destroyed by the tenants who had no investment in the property they occupied.

Heaney and Nuzzi claim that this law is meant to protect poor working people who have rented substandard housing. Do you understand this? Let's review this again.
After running on a campaign pledge which screams out that they will rid the Hamptons of Latinos (illegal immigrants is the buzzword)-- he wants to pass a law to PROTECT THEM! How? By attacking landlords who rent to them.

He'd just as soon kill them - as Police already have done in Quogue.

And, how many Blacks, Latinos, Lesbians or Gays (out of the closet) have jobs at Town Hall or in the Republican Party folks?

Remember, Heaney and Nuzzi are no longer of the party of Lincoln - they are from the party of Senator Craig.

And, now folks if you own property in the Hamptons -- they're coming after YOU -- unless you pay them!
Heaney was investigated for an illegal approval on the Town Board for a cell tower a few years ago. The cash was found on the front seat of a car.
Now, in Town Hall, they want it in the form of a check made out to the Republican Party.

That's how business is now done in the Hamptons. And, if you own property, you're involved whether you like it or not.