Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Shell Game

Once in the racket you're always in it.
--Al Capone

Politics is the only game for adults.
--John F. Kennedy

Next week the results of the Southampton Town election will be announced to the public. Of course, those of you who read this blog will already know what happened. And, you will also understand what to expect going forward.
First, Kabot managed to squeak through to the finish with 53 votes to win the Supervisor’s race.
Second, Throne-Holst won with roughly 200 votes; second only to Graboski’s winning “Independent” run.

All of the Republican Trustees were elected.

This is where it gets interesting.

This electoral process, a little dirtier than usual this time, leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
The first question is “Who controls the government?”

Well, Kabot presumably will find the three votes necessary to appoint her own successor so that when she moves up a notch to Supervisor there will still be four Board members.
Graboski will vote with her and then the trail grows cold.
While Nuzzi is a Republican, he’s a Heaney Republican, not a Kabot Republican. Heaney may actually have something to say about it, playing his hand from the grave, as it were.
Or, Throne-Holst, a Democrat, may decide to begin her career on the Board by being a team player. The decision, of course, depends somewhat upon who the appointment will be. The rumor mill has a woman who has reportedly been Kabot’s consigliere, as being her selection for that seat. This has not been confirmed.

Henry’s viability, of course, going forward, faces some questions. Those who know him knew from the beginning that he intended to win – and intended to run again even if he lost.
In truth, many veteran politicians had serious doubts about his ability this time around and greater expectations for the next round.
In fact, he did much better than expected in this election and only missed the gold ring by a handful of votes.
Republicans argue that if it weren’t for Heaney and Gregor, Kabot would have creamed Henry.
Democrats point out the fact that Gregor took votes away from Henry as well as Heaney; Kabot took votes away from Henry by challenging Heaney; and that residents would have defected from the Republicans en masse, had Kabot not been on the scene.
The truth probably is that Henry and Gregor deprived Heaney of a victory and that Kabot owes Henry as well as Gregor simply for running – and providing the voters with a choice.
Had there been a credible New York vote, had the voter registration and absentee ballots for such a move really been mobilized – Henry would be polishing his shoes for the swearing in ceremony.
But if you are really sick and a political junky, and are fan of Rubik’s Cube, here are some further confusing facts:

Gregor beat Heaney by two votes and Gregor took about 800 votes on the Independent line;
If they had gone to Heaney instead he would have beaten Kabot by over 200 votes;
Gregor beat Heaney but lost in the election;
Heaney would also have beaten Henry;
Kabot would have lost with only 32 percent of the vote but, instead, actually finished first. In any banana republic there would have been a runoff but here she gets to name her own successor and ends up with two votes on the board.
By running, Gregor won the election for Kabot, or more precisely lost the election for Heaney. Someone needs to reward Gregor for a great public service.

The Parties need to learn a lesson from this little joust.

In previous elections, the Democrats were dysfunctional. Now, some believe that the parties are equally dysfunctional.
Democratic candidates helped to support the negative rumors against Henry – which turned some of the Democratic women’s vote against him.
There was a split in the Republican Party caused by the Graboski fiasco (initiated by Zizzigate).
And, there was a plethora of dirty tricks initiated by Heaney and carried out by the Town Attorney Garrett Swenson (rumored to have been fired already by Kabot), the Chief of Police and the Code Enforcement’s rubber gun squad in targeting Kabot’s family.

Only the Integrity Party – the little known, but well-organized group of irregulars who focused upon the talent in this election – came out smelling like a rose.
In fact, with a margin of 53 votes, the official tally of 176 votes from the Integrity Party line, ignoring the Gregor factor – they won the election for Kabot. That fact will not be lost on the new Supervisor.

There’s a long way to go before consensus can be reached and real issues can be addressed.
We have the issue of outrageous taxes for homeowners, reform of the Town agencies to root out corruption and political favoritism to local attorneys and political cronies, and then there is the new Racism Law – also known as the new Heaney/Nuzzi Illegal Immigrant Campaign Law. Otherwise, known as the Rental Law -- taking effect January 1st.
Perhaps the issue of affordable housing will be high on the list of political actions taken. Now is the time for a hard look at small multi-family developments that will provide relatively inexpensive housing for local families, single parents, seniors and young workers.
And, when everyone settles down to business as usual, the new government will have to start dealing with the issue that may decide future elections:

That is the role of tax-paying property owners in Southampton Town government who, for the moment, cannot vote in local elections.

Stay-tuned Rangers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Raid

A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
--Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from
the government and I'm here to help.'

--Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

While the counters are counting, enabling New Yorkers and Hamptonites alike to know who will be the new Supervisor of Southampton, along with the Board Members who assist that person – it is instructive to review some of the tactics that have been used to sway the voters.
As the current numbers line up, without the paper ballots, Linda Kabot, the Republican has 70 votes more than Jim Henry, the Democrat. The incumbent, Patrick “Skip” Heaney follows both of them by between 350 and 400 votes and is unlikely to be able to win regardless of how strong he pulls with the 777 paper ballots remaining.
Rumors have Henry pulling closer to Kabot and despite the predictions by veteran politicians, someone will probably be heading to court to challenge the official results no matter who is awarded the victory.
Rumors that former Legislator, Attorney George Guldi will “steal” the election for Jim Henry have been debunked by the Republicans but both the Southampton Press and the Easthampton Star have, by the form of their questions, implied that he is controlling the vote counting process along with Neil Tiger. When queried about this, their only response was that together they have over 50 years of combined experience in the process of certifying election ballots.
So, it appears that we will definitely know who the winner is by the New Year.

However, “The Raid,” the shameless attack on Linda Kabot in this election is most instructive as to the level of corruption exhibited by the Heaney regime – along with the complicity of the Town Attorney, Garrett Swenson, the Public Safety office (Ms. Kraft), the Building Department, the Town Police, and the Code Enforcement officers – which shows all of us how seriously the almost comical incompetence of these agencies has been corrupted. While they could not enforce the laws on the books properly before, they managed to coordinate a clearly politically motivated attack fairly well.

Essentially, during the final days of the campaign, after Kabot beat Heaney in the Republican Primary, the Town Supervisor called upon almost every level of Town government to coordinate an attack on his opponent – for political gain.
The Town Attorney, Garrett Swenson, Heaney’s “Neanderthal,” as he is known mainly by the female politicians, had a Town investigator visit Kabot’s aunt’s property, Senior Building Inspector Fred Lang issued violations, and the Code Enforcement Police staged a raid supported by a warrant issued by Justice Kooperstein and instigated by Police Officer Badagliacca, who was unable to be reached because he was on vacation.
Now bear in mind that these people worked together to gather evidence and pull this stunt – in order to get a bunch of Guatemalans our of a few rentals units on the Wilkins property that they had known about for almost 10 years. It seems that what set this major machinery in motion was a report that someone set off a firecracker at some point in time.
So, get this, the entire machinery of government, such as it is, coordinated a Putsch – because there were too many beds in a couple of rental cottages.
And, for this, in a Town that talks incessantly about affordable housing but does nothing at all to alleviate the problem, they want to put the owner in jail for a year on each of 12 counts.
The fact of the matter is that we should all thank her for alleviating the shortage of cheap housing so that these people (who clean toilets and rake leaves) don’t have to live in the woods.

The wonder of all of this is that the Southampton Press reported this raid in an article whose headline says “Questions Raised Over Raid” and “Heaney says charges were not politically motivated.”
This is the same newspaper that showed its readers a front page photo of Heaney with a $1.5 million dollar check made out to “Hampton Bays Taxpayers” compliments of the 2 percent transfer tax paid by buyers of real estate in the Hamptons. It was a front-page ad for Heaney that was free.

Well, hello? Let go of Heaney, guys. He lost!
Time to move on with your “news” reports.

Heads need to roll at the bunker. Der Fuhrer is out and it’s time to request some resignations and reassign some of the good old’ boys, give the Chief of Police a loyalty test, move some Code Enforcement officers to the rubber gun squad, demote the Chief Building Inspector, and suggest that Officer Badagliacca go on another vacation.
Justice Kooperstein should reconsider the use of warrants to settle civil matters like evictions that are really part of the hidden agenda of racism.
Perhaps she was simply the Judge on rotation that particular week and may have been threatened by the Police State mentality that Heaney played to so well.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

High Noon

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
--Frank Zappa

While you're saving your face, you're losing your ass.
--Lyndon Johnson

Now that there are only a few days left before the showdown at O.K. Corral, the voters in the Southampton Town election on November 6th are having to weigh their options.

With four major candidates vying for Supervisor in this race, it requires a calculator and a thinking cap to weigh the options and evaluate the risks. Those of you from New York who have switched your residence to vote legally in the Southampton Town election, those residents who follow this blog and read the SoHo Journal, and even those who disagree but want to know what the loyal opposition thinks - read on.

Everyone else can hide in the corner and read the Southampton Press and Suffolk Life for their "news."

Independent and reliable calculations have the numbers on the election running like this:

Henry 32%, Kabot 29%, Heaney 15% and Gregor 12% with the rest undecided.

This goes a long way in explaining why the following unpleasant information has just begun to surface - and why it has not been reported in the local media. With the Southampton Press begrudgingly supporting Kabot (they actually support Heaney but have to show a good face to the Republican rank-and-file because she did, after all, win the Primary.) - Suffolk Life supporting Heaney (unsurprisingly, since Wilmot's kid runs the Heaney campaign) - with Gregor not getting any reliable media support (which bodes VERY well for him in the next election) - and Henry only getting support from news stories and other sources that tell an unpleasant story about Southampton politics under the current Republican control.

The wild card in this election is not Heaney any more, it's Gregor. He has been promised the Independent Party Chair by Frank McKay in Suffolk and his block of votes matters. His comment on all of this is that he is in it to win it. While many believe that his Nader-like position takes votes away from Henry, there is also just as cogent an argument that he steals the Hampton Bays vote, where he comes from, away from the Heaney territory and actually steals from Kabot. While Heaney can't be ruled out with a quarter million dollar campaign war chest, he is unlikely to buy his way out of the bad taste in people's mouths.

The most recent developments are Mike Anthony's (Democratic Committee) $25 million dollar lawsuit served on Kabot two days ago for her negative statements in the Press, causing her to pull a YouTube video considered defamatory and obviously actionable.

Of course, the Press dutifully reported Kabot's remarks and came just before the election. It resembled the million-dollar check ploy on the front cover of the Press when Heaney was seeking to buy the Hampton Bays votes.

But, the real issues for the Southampton voters are not this small town verbal ping-pong. What really is at stake is the level of potential criminality and corruption that has become part of the status quo. That's the Heaney status quo. And, only the voters can decide with the bathwater should go with the baby in this case.

Here you have a Republican Party with ties to a possible bid-rigging scandal involving Sandpebble, the largest construction company in Southampton Town - which has landed a string of building contracts including the Sag Harbor jail, the Southampton Animal shelter, the Westhampton Community Center, the Westhampton Library, the Southampton Village DPW, the Quogue Community Center, the Southampton Tax Assessor's Annex, and the Hampton Bays Community Center.

Sandpebble not only exhausted it campaign contributions in 2005 and 2007, but it has been reported that the owner, Victor Diaz-Conseco, required his workers to contribute to the Republican Party, who were compensated for their $500 contribution efforts. The question is whether this company is just another adjunct funding source to William Masterson's (Highway Department head) -- to award building contracts and paving jobs in return for huge contributions to the Republican Party.

Rumors of bid rigging by subs on some of the biggest construction jobs in Southampton have also surfaced.

Not the least interesting in the local hysteria over illegal immigrants has been the rumor that Marcus Stinchi, the Republican Party Chairman and owner of a local landscaping company has been a supplier of undocumented workers to Sandpebble on some of these building projects - that clearly have the smell of campaign contribution kickbacks.

Heaney knows, but does Kabot not know what Stinchi appears to either not know or does not want to know - where the money has been coming from?

This is an interesting question when we ponder the fact that we have a 51-acre cement plant and waste dump, Westhampton Mining Aggregates, Inc., located in the middle of a "core preservation area" in the Central Pine Barrens. The Town has known about this since 2003 and the leading law firm in Southampton Town represents this company -- and, surprise, surprise, are the biggest contributors to the Town Republican Party.

Has Heaney or Stinchi, or any of the Republicans discussed this issue.

And, has the Southampton Press asked about these issues and any of its debates, which were sponsored by them?

Does the fact that campaign contributions have also been coming in the back door from Feher, Sr. and Jr., Haney, and the Montecalvos, -- indicted donors who have been associated with bid rigging in Brookhaven. Have these donations had any significance for all of the Republicans now running for office - and have they rejected the party's seamy past?

This particular flow of cash is coming from Crookhaven - from whence Mr. Nuzzi, now on the Town Board, has escaped.

Recent articles dealing with the Heaney/Kabot war have focused upon the warrant-raid by the Code Enforcement officers and the Town Attorney's office under the tutelage of, what female politicians have called, "The Neanderthal" (referring to Garret Swenson).

This group of corrupt Heaney worker-bees with guns and badges even hit Kabot's aunt for not having C.O's on a property, which is a preexisting-nonconforming property.

Whatever the significance of suddenly acting on the legal status of zoning on an older property that is common in the Hamptons - it does point out how Heaney works in collusion with the police department and specifically with both the Town Attorney and Code Enforcement to effectively become the Gestapo arm of local government.

Under the circumstances of this Police State infrastructure, the question is -- do any of us want more of the same system that is in place - and whether allowing any of the Republican structure that has been in power for at least 10 years, to continue to rape the residents?

A Police Commissioner that is independent, a neutral Public Advocate that can review resident and non-resident concerns, and a clean sweep of the existing Town government structure may be the only reliable solution.

With campaign contributions coming from corrupt, indicted individuals, a tax reassessment that will now accelerate the flooding of real estate on the market (Summer rental listings are up 100% over last year and foreclosures have doubled) - coupled with the phony illegal immigrant stunts that merely play to local fears with a new rental law - all point to an economy that Heaney and his Republicans have pushed towards recession. Why? Just to get re-elected and keep the cash coming into Heaney and his Republican cohort's pockets. It's that simple.

Even Kabot has found that the local infrastructure is corrupt and responsive to a fascist state mentality.

Jim Henry seems to be the only rational choice for those who want change and who want the corruption bled out of the local government that has its hands in everyone's pockets. From residents with rental units to retirees with an investment property, to minorities and immigrants who need affordable housing - the heavy hand of the existing governmental structure with its corrupt structure of payoffs and campaign contributions needs to be cut off.

In the midst of this campaign mudslinging, as Heaney forces the slide of real estate into the abyss -- raising taxes and instituting a Draconian rental law ensures a new flood of properties will hit the market in the face of criminal charges and huge fines -- augmented by his huge property tax increase. All of this as the stock market is poised to go into freefall.

Boosted by the subprime mess instigated by Wall Street greed and misinformation by mortgage brokers about the products being offered -- the word on the street is that Merrill, Lynch is not simply $10 Billion upside down but that it is more like $50 Billion. Likewise, Citicorp claims that it has written off $3 Billion and hedgefund gurus are saying that it is more likely $75 Billion. Memories of JP Morgan and his bankers who gathered together to forestall a panic by rushing to the floor of the exchange in 1929 to "Buy, Buy, Buy" come to mind. Incidentally, the ploy did not work and the Depression lasted until WWII.

So, the Heaney push to force illegal immigrant workers into the streets by threatening property owners, real estate brokers, retired folks with a rental unit and single moms with an investment house -- like Kabot's aunt --- is just screwing the economy to get re-elected.

The Hamptons is no longer a small town that simply caters to a few rich individuals - it is a rich resort area that has the same microeconomic relevance to large cities with police forces, social service agencies and government accountability. As we head into more difficult economic times, partially due to the incompetence and self-serving financial corruption, it behooves all of us to sweep the office clean, not sweep the debris under the rug.