What luck for rulers that men do not think.
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.
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.