Sunday, December 30, 2007

Barely Legal in the Hamptons

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
-- Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
-- Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

Once again, the system of justice is being questioned in Suffolk County and in the Hamptons. While it is easy to hurl invectives and make wild claims of police misconduct and prosecutorial immunity in the face of grave injustices, no area harbors the huge amounts of investment for a resort community compared to the property tax influx experienced by the Town of Southampton and its host Suffolk County – and seems to care so little about civil rights.
This week, the New York State Investigation Commission, an agency that reviewed the Suffolk County Police and issued a scathing report of misconduct and actual criminal activity on the part of police and prosecutors, acknowledged that the Marty Tankleff case was under review.
From the inception of this heinous crime and wrongful prosecution to the recent attempts to prevent its re-trial, the Commission has advised that they will conduct in investigation.
Whatever the smarmy facts are that will be uncovered; the fact that D.A. Spota appears to have some personal interest in the case will be an interesting study.
Certainly, review of prosecutorial conduct and clearly unconstitutional behavior will come under more scrutiny if a Special Prosecutor is appointed.

This comes on the heels of the Cicciaro/White case, which will bring Al Sharpton to Riverhead on January 5th. The cast of characters involved in the trial, given the Tankleff fiasco, is just short of amazing for political junkies. Every church and religious group in the Tri-state area (not just African-American) will sign on and make their presence known. This, in an area that has seen very little in the way of demonstrations for the neglect of civil rights.

This sentiment will hopefully reach into the Town of Southampton, where business-as-usual indicates that those attorneys who do business in Justice Court need to be on the same “approved” list as the list which exists in the County’s “Halls of Justice” when it comes to dishing out sentences or dismissals for clients. The Town Attorney, the recently resigned Garrett Swenson, has been backed up by a cast of characters and a specially appointed Assistant D.A., -- who represents Spota's office in the Town court.
Lest we not be naïve, “approved” lists are also a fact of life in the Hamptons, where garnering zoning variances, contracts for Town construction, and, most egregiously, for plea deals or dismissals in criminal cases – for “special” friends of the D.A.’s office or the Town Attorney’s office – are well known but not spoken of in the Press.
Corruption, as NOT reported by the Southampton Press or Suffolk Life, is alive and well in Southampton.

This brings us to the Storm Troopers, known benevolently as Code Enforcement. With a rental law that is about to take effect January 1st, written hastily and unconstitutionally by Garrett Swenson, that brilliant legal mind who was reverently referred to by women in local government as “Heaney’s Neanderthal,” we have years of illegal break-ins (using badges and guns to implement the new disguised anti-Latino policy) to look forward to in our little nirvana – know as the Hamptons.

Whether Code Enforcement, a group of police who focus on housing violations – and who are allowed to carry badges and guns – are more like the Imperial Storm Troopers of Star Wars or the Sturm Abteilung of Hitler’s Third Reich, remains to be seen. The level of intelligence in this “rubber gun squad” (no responsibility for policing real crime) is hardly an issue. When you break into a house at 5 a.m., roust the tenants with “GIF US YOUR PAPERZ” the difference is moot. Can the rousting of Jews be far behind?
For police to break into a house, write up a code violation report about how many people are sleeping there and write a report about which smoke detectors are missing batteries -- in a million dollar house in a resort community -- AT 5:00 IN THE MORNING – can Kristalnacht cannot be far off. Jews, Blacks, Latinos, gays, New Yorkers, Democrats – lock your doors!

The Hamptons, for the last several decades, has been about who has been here longer. The potato farmers who had lived here since the 30’s resented the artists and summer people, until they sold their development rights for millions. The émigrés who moved to Southampton in the 50’s and 60’s had children who now have conveniently forgotten that Black people were being burned out of their houses in Hampton Bays in the 60’s and forced to move to Riverhead for safety.
Even summer people who bought homes in the 70’s have adopted an “I’ve been here since…” attitude.
Lots of cops and firemen from the city moved to Hampton Bays, lived in cheap houses and commuted to Manhattan.
Many in law enforcement and several prosecutors in the Hamptons are from somewhere else. It wasn’t the right wing politics. It was the power and the money. Don’t let anyone kid you about that. And, it was easy money.
While cops were being shot at in the South Bronx, in the 70’s, near where some of us involved with the courts at Probation and Parole on 163rd and River Avenue, linked euphemistically to Fort Apache (the police station) – Southampton Town police were arresting summer people for D.W.I’s – at two and three times the money.
While a drug arrest in the Hamptons consisted of the danger in taking an ounce from a blonde on the beach with her top off, Serpico was being shot in the head by corrupt cops on a Manhattan drug bust. The blonde-bust made lots more for his dangerous assignment.

The focus on civil rights, constitutionality and legality – not to mention prosecutorial misconduct – will now come under further scrutiny. The investigations by the State Commission will be thorough and extensive and there may be a Special Prosecutor, as there should be. But, the lessons from the last investigations that occurred in the 1980’s are that the same people are still involved in law enforcement. The same patterns have emerged.

When the investigators finish their work this time, the cleaners have to come in to do their work. If the investigators work from the “approved” lists and compare pleas, dismissals, contract awards, and special variances – things will change.

And, then they will move on to prosecutorial misjudgments and targets – and, those who implemented the illegal searches and seizures.
Only then, will the real lawsuits begin and spur the interest of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hamptons Tidbits:

The Inn at Quogue recently sold for $8 million and one of the “principals”[who was the old man’s mistress] is being pursued – not for her charms, but for accusations of dipping into funds.

A rumor has surfaced that the Village of Westhampton Beach is seriously considering the purchase of the Dune Deck parcel on Dune Road for $12 million – carrying with it a tax arrears liability of $7 million – to expand its beaches. That's a total tune of $20 million.

One of the Integrity Party’s principals, Bob Olson, is an activist who was a moving force in the Marty Tankleff victory. Not only have he and Darren Johnson been successful in providing Linda Kabot with the margin that gave her victory in the Supervisor election, but also they now have established this new party as a major force for reform in local government.

Snow may be on hold in Riverhead, as the Riverhead Resorts vote is postponed until Jan. 2. In addition to residents objecting to the 350 foot refrigerated mountain, Mr. Sater, of Bayrock is once again a cause for concern.

Resident and
A.D.A. Leonard Lato, ensconced in the Tankleff case as well as the Nursing home matter which has been plaguing Spota’s office, has been “philosophical” about the recent release of Marty Tankleff, according to locals. It should be noted that Schumer and his bloated campaign fund is also suffering the after burn.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Story – Schmucks ‘R Us

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.
-- Charlie Chaplin (1889 - 1977)

Christmas shopping was much more interesting this year.

To instill some sense of responsibility in our children it is sometimes necessary to teach the young ones a lesson. Instead of using a toy for an hour and discarding it, this year we provided an interesting twist.

The racing car actually stopped working an hour after buying it at the toy store. There was no lack of interest in using it – it was just defective. So, instead of putting it in the closet and taking the loss, we drove to the store to replace it.
Granted, it was a week later before we managed to get there, but everyone was feeling proud that we were not just going to accept it and forget about it in the pile of other unused or broken toys. It was a remote-control car that was actually fun to play with. And, we were going to turn over a new leaf.

The fact that the sales receipt was missing, of course, made it much more interesting. But, hey, it’s almost Christmas! Surely, a famous chain of stores catering to children would be accommodating.

Dan, the manager who had no last name – since it’s Corporate Policy not to give out last names (giving you that warm, personal feeling) – looked at the remote control race car which was packed neatly in its original box and with a completely straight face asked for the receipt. There was none.
It was at that moment that we ceased to exist as humans.

Well, then, Dan explained, he could not help us. He walked away.
Expecting this, but not happy about it, we called out again to him and reasoned that the identification from the optical scan on the box, the identification of the exact date it was purchased, and the information about the amount that was paid – should be enough for him to at least be able to check his records and identify this sale. Was it not?

“Sorry” he said. “If you don’t have a receipt, I can’t help you.
“We have no records of cash sales. We only have records of credit card sales.” There is no record of cash. I was incredulous. This was now a learning experience.

“Do you mean that even though you charge sales tax and you collect cash, you have absolutely no record of this transaction? How is that possible?”
He looked directly at us, with an emotionless face that one could see he may have put on a thousand times.
Whoa, we thought. How many defective toys sold for cash could that generate income for? How many customers who pay cash have been down this road before?

This was really getting interesting. We have a batched out tape with – maybe, hopefully, some sales tax – that cannot be located or identified – for a toy that may or may not work – and no way to recover your money or get a replacement. There was no sign over the register that said, “We keep no record of cash transactions” or “Hold on to your receipt since cash transactions don’t exist.” Even better, “Sales Tax is reported only on credit card transactions.” And, I like the one that would say, “Please advise clerk if you’re going to pay cash. Her college fund is dwindling.”

“So, does that mean that we have to sue you to get money back or a replacement??” We thought, well even in Riverhead Small Claims court it would have to cost more than the toy just to get in front of a judge. But, he already had his answer: “You can do whatever you have to do,” said Dan and he walked away. He was well trained in “Corporate Policy.”

“Well, how do we speak to management about this,” we said – and he came back and pointed to two white phones (Khrushchev preferred red for hot lines. Hopefully, those had worked.)
One phone did not work and the other had a weird Verizon recording telling us that the number the manager had actually dialed for us, which was for “Corporate” was a non-working number. Apparently, “Corporate” phone lines were not often used.
Things were starting to get a little frustrating. Not unexpectedly, of course.
This was corporate America at its best.

“Riverhead Police” came the answer on the line.
The officer was actually helpful and said he would come right over – and then, he did. In less than 10 minutes. It was like we were on a movie set. People on the Customer Service line were starting to look at us like we were Alien Humbugs. Voices were raised, blood pressure was bubbling, faces got flushed, and there were uncomfortable stares. Some actually smiled sympathetically as if they had been there, done that, and had gotten the same results. What in the world were we doing, expecting to get satisfaction from minimum-wage workers who had been trained in “Corporate Policy.”

Except, that I was pissed. We had paid good money – in real U.S. Dollars – even if they are nearly worthless compared to the Euro now – and we had gotten bad merchandise. The value of those dollars had not depreciated THAT much in one week. The store probably had no idea that the toy was defective – but they DID know that the toy came from their store. They admitted that in front of the Riverhead Police Officer. I was eager to operate the racing car and show them how it stopped working. The battery was even charged, ready to demonstrate.

By the time the police arrived, everybody was staring at us and many were hoping that the offending ex-customers would be taken out of the store in cuffs for asserting their rights – or, at least the rights that one reads about in political novellas describing America’s freedoms.
It just wasn’t right. You pay cash, they know you bought something at their store and then they refused to acknowledge that they took your money.
And, they were condescending about it as well. Bet you that they would find a video of the transaction if I had lifted a $50 from the till, or tickled the clerk.

The “Store Manager” finally arrived and he told the police that the store had been threatened with a State Sales Tax audit for claiming that they had no record of transaction and that they had a “Corporate Policy.” After all, how did they know whether we really bought the truck?

At that point I was reminded of Jamie Lee Curtis in “A Fish Called Wanda.”
In her scene with Kevin Kline, Curtis is being attacked by Kline’s character – a second story man dressed in black – for calling him stupid – apparently a phrase he had heard before and was very sensitive about.
Curtis says to him: “Oh, I’m sorry. Calling you stupid would be an insult to stupid people.”

I thought, yes, this store manager is right. We could have been lying.
We could have tracked the purchase of people that bought that toy – followed them home and watched to see that it didn’t work and purloined the broken toy – all the while taking note of the day that it was purchased, or even better, stole the receipt for cash. Then, we waited a week and made a lot of noise about the fact that we paid cash, pointed out that the store could check the optical scanner information on the toy – and then called the Police over.
Or, we could have bought it Downtown on Canal Street from an Asian gang for $5 and had it completely re-packaged, and THEN drove to Riverhead to make $39.95 for our troubles. All the while planning to obtain the help of the Riverhead Police.
The possibilities were endless.

The absurdity of the situation was starting to dawn on Mr. Store Manager and he finally said, “Well if I had been asked nicely whether I would make an exception to ‘Corporate Policy’ I might have considered giving store credit.”

Without genuflecting, in my best supplicant’s voice, I repeated his words verbatim back to him. He was obviously thrilled by the lengths that I would go to in order to obtain satisfaction.
The Police Officer was satisfied and we were satisfied. Mr. Toy Store Manager was, well, resigned to making an adjustment to “Corporate Policy.”

Somehow, it seemed, it shouldn’t be so difficult to deal with a giant corporation whose real customers are just kids.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Raid Redux

It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.

Earl Warren 1891 – 1974) )

But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

As many of us sleep, with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, the Storm Troopers are busy preparing to burn the Constitution in Southampton. They are, and will be, breaking into homes under the guise of protecting its occupants.
Several homes in Southampton have recently suffered the same fate as Supervisor-elect Linda Kabot and her aunt - visited by the Heaney-directed Police – on orders emanating from the Town Attorney’s office. While Kabot’s aunt’s experience was mostly political retaliation from a Primary election point of view, the current plan is both a holdover of Heaney (who is still Supervisor until January 1st) and a last gasp of Garrett Swenson the Town Attorney and one of his underlings Michael Sendlenski – neither of whom would answer any questions about the lawfulness or wisdom of their illegal actions. The Storm Troopers are politically motivated by the need to silence any opposition to this new Town policy which is clearly unconstitutional.

It’s breaking and entering with a badge and a gun – to check for smoke detectors. With an order signed by a judge. Can you believe this?

Overall, what is going on is the bureaucratization of institutionalized racism.

It is driven initially by those local residents who have both fallen for the politically motivated hype of those seeking political capital (Heaney, Nuzzi and Republican Conservatives) – as well as driven by the belief that they are supporting “the law.” If we can’t send them back to Mexico, let’s arrest them and whomever harbors them.
Law-enforcement in the Hamptons is a cross between being “moral and right” and having the ability to punish those who don’t agree with you.
That’s the Heaney/Nuzzi way.

So, last week, another group -- Code Enforcement Officer Kauth, Southampton Fire Marshal John Rankin, and a few other characters (after investigation by private Detective David Betts working in the Town Attorney's office) – armed with a Warrant signed by a Southampton Justice Court Judge – broke in to a house on North Sea Road at 5 a.m., handed a Latino woman the papers and then proceeded to roam through the house looking for code violations. This well-coordinated effort found numerous violations, including faulty smoke-detectors and more people in the house than the code enforcers deemed suitable. Then they left. This modus operandi has been repeated numerous times recently.
Would it be safe to say that local residents and Town employees who supported Heaney have not had their homes invaded in the same manner at 5 a.m. with search warrants? To check for smoke detectors?
None of the conspirators in these raids would discuss who ordered them and what their real objectives were. If any of these conspirators named are misspelled, keep in mind that no Town website identifies them or places them out in the light of day. Nixon's "plumbers" acted in the same manner. When you consider the fact that
Marty Tankleff fought for many years to shine the light on Police and D.A. misdeeds, these characters understandably don't want to have to look over their shoulders in years to come as Federal lawsuits bring them to light.

Apparently, by their actions, they would have us all believe that the Building Department is either too busy, too understaffed or too corrupt to be trusted in visiting any property to double-check the certificates of occupancy that have already been issued which permits legal occupancy. Could the Town simply not send a letter to the property owner to arrange for an inspection of any property that had not been inspected within the last 5 or 10 years? And, then, apply the same standard and requirement to EVERY house in Southampton. Not just properties that are rented.
Are they not just as concerned with seniors who live alone and whose carbon monoxide detector may not work properly? The answer is simple – they would all be voted out of office if they treated others this way. And, would they do the inspections at 5 a.m. with badges and guns?
Of course not. That is because they’re not looking to make properties safer or protect immigrants – they’re intending to make the lives of simple hard-working immigrants even more difficult – in the hope that they will leave the Town. Or, they hope to intimidate owners into evicting the people.

Now, folks, let us remember that this did not happen in Venezuela, nor in Chechnya, nor in the good old Soviet Union, nor did it happen in Burma or Indonesia.
No, this happened and is continuing to happen in the Town of Southampton, right here in the good old U.S. of A. And, it could happen to you – if we let it continue. As a matter of fact, count on it. Remember, these guys don’t like New Yorkers, they don’t like Summer people, they don’t like people who share a summer house – and they don’t like the people who currently cannot vote but DO pay all of the bills. That would be YOU. They don’t like YOU. They only want your money. It's not pay-as-you-go, it's you pay --and then -- you please go.
Think about that before you plan on spending some time in the Hamptons next summer. Atlantic City, New Jersey may be a better choice. Come to think of it, so would Coney Island.

As a result of the fact that millions of undocumented Latinos have arrived in our country to work in jobs that Americans do not want to do, and the fact that the national government does not want to deal with the issue – our nation of immigrants wants to force the new immigrants out of their homes.
They want to put children out of schools, deny them medical attention and push people out into the streets or into the woods –- and harass them and harass property owners so that they will refuse to rent property to Latino people. Thereby, the plan goes, to force them back to their countries of origin – whether that be Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador or Panama.

In fact, Congressman Tim Bishop, not a popular figure among Democrats (although he ran as and is identified as a Democrat) met with some local residents recently and cited some interesting bits of information for those who were listening to him.
He pointed out to the local audience at a senior citizen’s center in Hampton Bays that 70 percent of this country’s agricultural workers are illegal immigrants – and that businesses have failed for lack of workers. Americans do not want to do the menial labor that the immigrants are willing to do.
At this meeting, which was intended to hear the grievances of local people, the issue of immigration was discussed.

“They have taken away the jobs of the American people, and we should be going after the people that hire them. I watch Lou Dobbs every night…” said Sara Jeanne Stephani. Another resident, Paul Forthmuller, complained that “My teeth are falling out and I’m a disabled veteran and they get more help than I do.”

Lewis Black would have a field day with those lines – and then perhaps remind these people that this country is entirely populated by legal AND illegal immigrants.
Lou Dobbs and Ms. Stephani should take a few lessons from Jesus Christ, and Mr. Forthmuller should write to Mr. Bush about his shoddy treatment of Veterans.

The answer for many is simply to end illegal immigration, put up a wall between Mexico and the United States (they are actually planning to do this at a cost of $6 million per mile -- no one seems to remember Berlin) – and, most important, round up everyone who is here illegally and send them home.

All fifteen million.

While we cannot solve the problem right here, right now – the answer is not to cut our noses off to spite our own faces. Or, as they say, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But, here are a few realities:

We are either in or going into a recession.
Don’t believe that?
Okay, how about this, then.

Fact: The number of foreclosure auctions in Suffolk County are up 276% over the same period last year – and there is a nearly 50% drop in the number of properties that have sold in that same period. The Hamptons are part of Suffolk County and share these numbers but lag in the severity of what is going on. But, these problems are on the way, big time.
Even high end properties – the multi-million dollar ones that are selling – are automatically receiving offers 20% BELOW the asking price. That’s just for starters.

The current market in the Hamptons, according to many local brokers, is, to put it mildly, dead in the water. Where there used to be a two or three season sales market, there is now only one: from late February to April for rentals and March through May for sales.
It is a shortened real estate market. And it is a smaller real estate market.
Multi-million dollar mansions sell in certain locations like Dune Road in Southampton or the Estate section of East Hampton; $400,000 to $600,000 houses sell in Hampton Bays; and $200,000 houses sell in Flanders. Everything else is a hard sell and may not move for a year or two of difficult, active, open-house marketing. Finding a buyer for a million dollar 5 bedroom house with a pool on a three-quarter acre lot in Southampton is harder than finding a rent-controlled three bedroom apartment for $1000 a month in Manhattan. Brokers are laying off people and contemplating closing offices. Several have gone out of business or have been billed as mergers. The cell phone wielding, blue-tooth ear-pieced, Hollywood Star of the realty world -- driving a new Land Rover to her appointments with clients – is now selling soap in Woodstock. And, these agents left the Hamptons even before the sub-prime meltdown hit. The current situation is not pretty.

Speaking of which, the sub-prime meltdown has made home equity loans, refinances and new second home purchases practically non-existent. LTV’s have dropped, appraisal values have dropped, rates have gone up and some banks have pulled out of the mortgage market altogether. Citibank, WaMu, IndyMac, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America have all pulled back substantially. This has forced some builders to walk away from land contracts and default on hard money loans. It’s not a pretty picture. And, strangely, no one is talking about it yet in the Hamptons. That's partly due to the fact that they do not focus on the bigger picture of where we are headed.

To put it bluntly, the Hamptons market is dead except for the very big money and the small money. Everyone in between is screwed.
There is no liquidity and the adjustable mortgages are forcing up the cost of financing. Houses are now starting to be dumped on the market because they are not affordable even in a normal market.
The fiction about European buyers flocking to New York to buy with cheap dollars versus the Euro – is only temporarily true for Manhattan property. The European banks are stuck with our SIV’s and their banks and hedge funds are on their way into the basement as well. There is fear in the financial markets and clearly they have no answers as to how to deal with this crisis.

So, with this “normal” inventory balloon of unmarketable houses as we enter a serious downtown in the market -- what does the Town of Southampton do to help matters?
It creates an even more onerous market for sales.

To this flooding of real estate, the Town adds pressure on property owners by telling them that they will now not be able to rent properties. A new, draconian rental law takes effect on January 1st.
By harassing owners and threatening them with huge fines and arrest for renting to Latinos – under the guise of a rental law to “protect” tenants from unscrupulous landlords – they are now forcing more properties on the market for sale. If you cannot rent an investment property you have to sell it.
If the purpsose of a law is to make it impossible to rent a property, it must be sold or abandoned.

Since there is no affordable housing to speak of in the Hamptons and no multi-family housing, investment property had been he only form of reliable rentals. It became the affordable housing that the government would not or could not provide.
That too will now evaporate.

As the Constitutionality of the new rental law is challenged while those who object to racism and McCarthyism raise their voices, we must stand by and watch civil rights be trampled. Police operatives and its government seems intent on contributing to the demise of the Hamptons as a desirable resort community.
Jerry Seinfeld needs gardeners, landscapers and cleaning people. So does his architect and builder.

Does Cheryl Kraft of Public Safety do windows? Does David Betts do toilets as well as sell his private detective services to the Town in order to catch these serious criminals? Is Heaney planning to move his fence company to Texas?

And, more important, does Linda Kabot plan on cleaning house?

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Main Event

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
Joseph Stalin (1879 - 1953)

In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.
Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977)

Predictability in politics is neither a good thing nor is it a rational expectation.
After the Kabot win in the Town Supervisor’s race – edging out Jim Henry by a few votes and putting Skip Heaney away with a few hundred votes – the Town Board will now be the focus of the political noise. Despite the calming effective attempted in the Southampton Press description of everyone making nice, things are not simply smooth sailing at the moment. Heaney's public temper tantrums during Board meetings and behind the scenes maneuvering are dragging Nuzzi along and making everyone just a little nervous. Sweet smiles and voices of cooperation are, in part, window-dressing, as they ready for the Main Event come January 2008.

Since Kabot won the race and moves over from Town Board member to Supervisor, there will now be only 3 Board members aside from her – instead of the 4 slots that exist on the Board in addition to Supervisor. Board members have a 4-year term while Supervisor is only a 2-year term.
So there are a few options that have some interesting ramifications.

First, Kabot could do nothing. That’s an attractive option because it appears to not be a political move. Of course, anything that a politician does is a political move – it just doesn’t always appear to be calculated.
Not appointing a replacement leaves the Board with Kabot, Throne-Holst and Graboski – and on the other side of the political fence is former Heaney shill, Chris Nuzzi.
Since Heaney lost the Primary to Kabot, and then the General election, that particular game is not over. Heaney has been giving Kabot a very difficult time at Board meetings while he is still Supervisor and she, still a Board member. Heaney is a sore loser; a petulant child in the parlor game of manners and, more importantly, the plan is to create enough trouble so that he is not out of power. The roots of corruption go deeply into local Republican politics -- and the possibility that the friendly law firms, political connections, job appointments, financial quid pro quos, and outright control of the money – including all of those New York property tax dollars and transfer tax multi-millions (Peconic Preservation Fund) -- which might now be out of Heaney’s grasp – is upsetting to him as well as the Old Boy network. Heaney and Thiele managed to finesse money into the PILOT program and now the schools also get to divvy up some of that Transfer Tax money -- with some cooperation from Spitzer.

Some of the Heaney bureaucracy is already being dismantled. Garrett Swenson, the Town Attorney, one of the architects (at least as far as its public face is concerned) of the Draconian and unconstitutional rental law that takes effect on January 1st – has already started circulating his resume.

The Code Enforcement bureau of the Police Department may have some new members on the rubber gun squad (the fictional squad whose members have been relieved of any authority) – and the Police Chief may be having a fireside chat soon with the new government after “The Raid” that targeted Kabot and her aunt. Too many Southampton Town officials complied with the order from Heaney and Nuzzi to break Kabot's shoes with that little arrangement – which the Southampton Press dutifully reported – in terms that were none too sympathetic. (Republican controlled advertisers intimidated for years by the Republicans were on the mind of the Loucheims, no doubt. And, the fact that Heaney had his hand into their editorial department also didn’t help Kabot.)

The same political targeting that made Kabot the brunt of the only real purpose of the new rental law – political targeting using the immigrants in Southampton as its raison d’etre – remains on the books. It certainly brought home to Kabot and other Board members what the real purpose was of that law which was enacted with her help. Heaney played upon everyone’s basest fears and retaliative fantasies and slipped the law in so that he could buy more votes and use the law to target adversaries.

So, by doing nothing, Kabot would preserve control of the government process with a reformer (Throne-Holst), a Republican with a sense of ethics (Graboski), and Nuzzi – the Crookhaven leftover from the Heaney days whose only current function is to disrupt on orders from Heaney. Nuzzi is likely to be spy and a quisling whose job will be to lay low and then to disrupt, not advance the needs of Southampton residents or non-resident property owners. But, temporarily he will appear to be a team player in order to confuse his adversaries and be ready to support Heaney's hidden agenda.

It may be a pleasant change to have a Board primarily composed of women who have, for years, suffered from the misogyny of the Heaney administration that was memorialized in the behavior of his right hand man, Garrett Swenson – known among female politicians as “The Neanderthal.”
This negative treatment of women has been a familiar strain among law enforcement – from court officers and Code Enforcement, to Police, and to clerical staff – for decades. The off-color jokes have barely been contained even after the election.

Well boys, time to knock it off. Unless you want to leave your equipment hanging on the door on your way out.

The second option is a little dicier.

The Heaney forces would salivate over an opportunity to see Russo appointed.
That mistake would put Kabot right back into the open arms of the old-boy Republicans and would be the nail in the coffin for reform. While it would appease the Party regulars and have Heaney dancing on Main Street, the Town voters would be screwed. While no one knows what Kabot plans to do, that would be a signal that Heaney is still calling the shots and Kabot is trying to buy peace. In other words, nothing will have changed – the whole election imbroglio would simply have been smoke and mirrors, a dog and pony show for the voters.

The third option would entail some new entrant, once speculated to be Ann Nowak, a close associate of Kabot’s and a Water Mill attorney who worked on her campaign. While that may seem to be a neutral decision, it is widely considered to be unlikely, given that Novak has stated openly that she has no interest in the appointment. Since she hasn’t run for office, the political, non-political denial is more believable than usual.

The fourth option is more interesting. Alex Gregor.
Gregor destroyed Heaney’s chance for a fourth term. He not only took out Heaney in the third party run for Supervisor by a few votes, he arguably made it impossible for Heaney to win the General Election by taking some of the Republican votes in Hampton Bays– a location that was strongly pro-Heaney. Gregor has a long memory and his treatment by Town government under Heaney was unforgivable. He was a whistle-blower whose only reason for making complaints was the health of the residents.
He is an environmentalist and an ethical politician who took on Heaney after being defamed over his challenge of Bill Masterson. Masterson is the Highway Department Chief who thus far has escaped the fate of the Crookhaven Federal inquiries, which brought indictments against other bid-rigging paving contract suspects. The well-known habits of bureaucratic functionaries, which brought heavy money into the coffers of the Republicans in Town Hall, was something that Gregor wanted to change. Obviously, Heaney could not let him screw with the money source -- and spread nasty rumors that prevented Gregor from winning.

So, appointing Gregor to the empty slot would be the right thing to do for the Town. He is well respected and neutral. He’s a local that wants balance. He is also someone that returns calls and answers questions. The people like him.

The last option involves calling a Special Election. She could do it with 90 days notice or she could wait until next November’s General Election. While Kabot may or may not know this, she cannot call the election herself but must petitiion the Governor to do this.
Delaying the decision brings criticism; not delaying the decision brings criticism. No matter what she does, she will be criticized.
However, the loudest criticism will come from the Heaney boys who will criticize anything other than Russo’s appointment.
And, then, they will criticize anything and everything she does – until Heaney and his allies’ gain control of the Board again.

Any way possible.

Unless Kabot does what any shrewd politician who takes control of power does.

When New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn first took office she fired everyone and started over with her own people.

Politics is serious business.