Me 'n' Ray fuss about Gus

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Me 'n' Ray fuss about Gus

Ray Overton has strong opinions... I'm told (by Ray) that I do as well. And when those views conflict, it can be expected that the key­boards will clatter and words will fly.

The step I am taking, publishing his most recent Comments as an OtBB entry is unusual, but not without precedent here.

Mr. Overton writes:

Dean, I think it is very important that in addition to the complaints that Gus was found to be responsible for, it should also be noted that under an Additional Finding, it clearly states:
"Additional Finding: 38. There is no evidence that the judge committed misconduct with respect to the disposition of any case in his court."
The main focus on these complaints deal with sloppiness and not intent. They do not deal with cases that appeared before his court. They rely primarily on advocating for a few clients for corrected certificates of occupancy, filing letters regarding legal action involving the Village on the regular letterhead of Kelly and Hulme, and is­suing checks supporting the candidacy of Sundy Schermeyer, Skip Heaney and Chris Nuzzi out of the firm account with both names on it. In the cases of the letters and the checks, Gus did not sign those documents.

Again, as stated numerous times in this docu­ment, the focus is on the appearance of impro­priety. Appearance of impropriety is a very subjective measure, one which you will need to consider yourself when it comes to your candi­dacy based upon comments you have made about certain residents/taxpayers of the Village. Will you be able to legislate fairly regarding these folks if you are elected? Will you discon­tinue the blog because of the unfair publicity you may provide certain issues? Will a record of your often strong opinions provide grounds in the future of action against the Village if you are elected. We have to be careful about addressing appearance of impropriety as it is a very broad term leaving things open for varied interpreta­tions. Could it be that Judge Kelly was aware of your blog it rendering his dismissal of Jeanne's ticket and desired to stay out of the crosshairs or was he simply correcting a really dumb ticket that lacked any common sense? This could also present an appearance of impropriety and favoritism.

As far as Town court, I think you need to go sit there for a couple of days. Town court is in no way able to handle any additional case load even with four judges and multiple court rooms.

Gus cooperated with this investigation, accepted the decision of the Judicial Commission and waived any appeal of its findings. Even the Commission recognized that he and his firm have taken steps to correct the problems. At­tempting to make more of this story than is actually stated in the findings is, IMHO, unnecessary.

Ray, your loyalty to your friends is admirable, but has rendered you stunningly myopic.

In your selective reading of the Commission's determination, you somehow missed "Charge II of the Formal Written Complaint," being items 25-29, the capper being:

"Respondent was also aware that he received a share of the fees earned from lawsuits against the Village of West­hampton Beach."

(O, what? You thought I was making a joke about "double-dipping?")

Justice Kelly is salaried by the Village and yet earns fees by his firm suing the Village? That stinks, which is what the Commission thought as well, only didn't couch it in quite those terms.

You also failed to fully read, and comprehend, the 2007 Anderson Representation (items 6-13), in which the Commission found, and to which the defendant stipulated, that he had personally leaned on the Building Department on behalf of a client of the Kelly and Hulme law firm.

(You don't see it that way? Doesn't matter... why do you think it was included in the determination?)

You attempt to "spin" that part of the Commission's determination, writing:

"...advocating for a few clients for corrected certificates of occupancy...."

Are you really that big a fool, Ray, or just pre­tending to be one here in an effort to "spin" this for your friend?

Note item #7: "respondent met with Bridget Napoli, the Village Ordinance Enforcement Of­ficer, and Paul Houlihan, the Village Building and Zoning Administrator, concerning the alleged violations. At the meeting, respondent asserted that the lawn area did not encroach upon the dune and, therefore, was not subject to dune restrictions."

Paul Houlihan, a professional with several dec­ades of experience, made a determination, which interpretation was deemed to be correct by the New York State Department of Environ­mental Conservation.

Want to disagree with him, the proper avenue leads through the Zoning Board of Appeals and then Griffing Avenue in Riverhead, not in ask­ing him to "modify" his determination so his client would have a better shot on appeal.

Only arrogance would attempt to impose one's lay judgment for that of an experienced pro­fessional... but then "arrogance" is a word that one often hears associated with Justice Kelly.

(If'n ya wanna be arrogant, Ray, you'd best be sure of your facts and position.)

The way that you've couched another position you're taking, that the Town Court is over-sub­scribed, seems more like something you've been told rather than actually experienced.

Yes, it's busy, and productive

But the complete 17 page determination is available on-line, and I urge that people read it and draw their own conclusions.

But before anyone can dismiss that document as you are attempting, note the numbers pro­vided on the Commission's Website.(Page 8.)

The Commission handles over 1,500 new com­plaints annually, and in 2008, the most recent year broken out, analyzed 1,923 of them.

  • Preliminary inquiries were made in 354, or 18.4%, of those complaints.
  • Investigations were conducted into 262 (13.6%) of them.

From there formal disciplinary hearings are conducted, and a determination is made as to whether a judge be publicly admonished, censured (sanctioned), removed from office or retired for disability.

Think about it... of all that smoke blown in the Commission's direction, they decided that there was enough fire to follow up and render an admonition to Robert A. Kelly Jr.

Spin that!

On that other matter...

Why you decided to tie any of this into my candidacy for the Village Board, is little more than a not-so-veiled challenge to my own integrity... but I thank you for putting your name to it.

My integrity is not in question here!

You will note that I never fail to make public disclosure any time not doing so might in any way damage that credibility.

Your musings my impartiality are garbage, Ray... I served for almost 11 years on the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, the final six as its Chairman, and that impartiality never once was questioned.

(And for four of those years, I also wrote a weekly column in the Chronicle-News.)

You ask if I will "discontinue the blog because of the unfair publicity" I may provide certain issues.

What "unfair publicity?"

What "issues?"

You're just flinging poo at the wall here, Ray! But you put your name to it so I'll address it.

  1. It's why I make full disclosure, so there's never any hidden agenda.
  2. Both weeklies serving the area have Letters pages and The Press' 27East website allows comments... though it doesn't qualify its authors as fully as OtBB does.

You also ask if "a record of your often strong opinions provide grounds in the future of action against the Village if you are elected."

You're in over your head with this one, likely because you think the E³A has a strong case because of something candidate Sue Farrell said before she became Trustee.

(Hint: check with a competent attorney.)

Your comment about Justice Kelly possibly being "aware of your blog," in dismissing my wife's ticket in consideration of avoiding un­favorable commentary, is absurd!

I thought that you know Gus personally, #1, and, #2, your speculation calls his Judicial integrity into question.

You further express the opinion that:

"Gus cooperated with this investigation, accepted the decision of the Judicial Commission and waived any appeal of its findings."

(Pssst, Ray, he didn't have much choice in the matter if he didn't want to be summarily removed from the bench!)

In closing, you assert:

"Attempting to make more of this story than is actually stated in the findings is, IMHO, unnecessary."

By the same token, attempting to make less of them is disingenuous.

And with this, you can stop peppering OtBB's comments section with your big point that Gus Kelly wasn't found to have "fixed" any cases.

So stipulated.

The rest is what it is and what others elect to make of it.


1. Ray Overton said...

Dean, E-mail me if you would. I think you were missing my point and there were some technical issues that caused my "doubled" reply.

I decline to go the E-mail route, Ray... you wanted... insisted, even... to do this in the open (which is how I like to do things), so we'll stay that way.

I don't think I missed any of your points... I took particular care in reviewing them, then getting a good night's sleep before responding. (Hence the delay in posting your comment[s]).

In essense, your points were:
  1. Gus is my pal and you're picking on him even though the Commission acknowledges that he didn't "fix" any cases from the bench. Never mind the rest of the stuff in that document.
  2. You're making way too big a deal out of this Gus business which is just a lot of hooey anyhow.
  3. You're running for public office and people should know that the stuff you write on your blog means you can't be impartial, and will try to pass ordinances for your own special interests.
You impugned my integrity and insulted my intelligence as well as that of a lot of other people.

Did I miss anything?

O, as anyone who has ever made a comment to OtBB is aware, "technical issues" don't cause "doubled" replies. The captcha process assured that spambots cannot post, only humans who can read and enter the numbers can post. You were anxious to make your "Gus didn't fix any cases from the bench" and was sure that I was shutting you out.

2. Watching Them said...

Commendable for sticking up for your friend, Ray. However, the arrogance that spills off that man is overwhelming.

Which is why the "Aww shucks guys, I didn't know what was going on" excuse doesn't hold much water. IMHO!

Agreed across the board.

3. Ray Overton said...

Okay, we'll go in the open. Its evident you missed the point I was trying to make. I was attempting to point out just how easy "appearance of impropriety" can effect someone, especially when selective evaluation is taken into account. I did not mean to demean your reputation and I am sorry you felt that this was my intent. I just use it as a direct example of the subjective interpretation.

There is no doubt that Gus understood his mistakes and accepted the penalty as recommended by the Commission. Unfortunately, with the unbalanced reporting in your blog, you obviously feel the Commission did not go far enough.

I went through the Commission's website and noted that the vast majority of the investigations that occur are against town and village judges with the vast majority leading admonitions. Whether this is due to the part-time status of many of those judges would require much more lengthy investigation.

I would also like your readers to understand that my reply (I believe #5) on your previous post was sent as a duplicate as I believed my first one was lost in cyberspace. If I had known you were considering your reply, there would have been no need for my subsequent post.

"The unbalanced reporting in your blog?" It seems the only "balance" in which you are interested in, is to spin the Commission's determination in the light most favorable to Justice Kelley.

I provided the link to the full Commission report and highlighted some parts of it which I didn't want lost in the rhetoric and legalese. You felt your views were necessary to provide balance and context, and you were given that forum.

Then when you felt you were not providing adequate coverage of your views, you got pissy and started making accusations. So don't pretend that you sent a duplicate because of "technical issues" or you thought the original "was lost in cyberspace." Your own words, "by refusing to include it in your two articles and in a reply I sent in yesterday...," reveal exactly what you were up to.

I have a suggestion, Ray... launch your own blogspot. You could call it: "Gus the Maligned and Misunderstood," and I promise to never come on there and scoff at you.

And to jump back to one other matter on which you wished to focus: the dismissal of my wife's parking ticket. Perhaps you were right and that's what "Suzanne Kelly" meant in her accusatory comment, "You will stab anyone...." I never considered that there might have been a quid pro quo since Justice Kelly knew this unfavorable report was coming, and that when it was released, I was expected to cough discreetly and look the other way.

Really, never ever occurred to me... which shows just how naïve I am!

4. Crabby said...

Enough already! WAY too much RayO Time here; and he's not getting it. On the blogmeister's part -- really measured and intelligent responses.

No doubt about it, though; you are a pain, Speir, but you're knowledgable, fair, painfully honest, a stickler for facts and procedures pain. This reader is glad you're part of the Village fabric.

More [blush]... I trust that you live, and can legally vote... in the Village.

5. EastEnd68 said...

Enough Ray! There is no "appearance of impropriety;" what Gus did was improper. Gus is a nice guy but he made a mistake. Let's move on.

6. Nobody Special said...

Am I the only one seeing the 800 pound gorilla in the room? The judge was found guilty of "placing the prestige of judicial office and the private interests of the judge and the judge's law firm in direct conflict with the interests of the municipality where he sits." Why should a municipality have a judge whose practices are in direct conflict with the interests of the municipality where he presides?

Even if he takes his name off the litigation papers that are used to sue the Village, doesn’t anyone see a problem where the Judge's law partner is suing the very municipality where the Judge presides under municipal matters?

No, you're not the only one... but we may be in a minority. If you read the story in today's Southampton Press, one can see how Gus Kelly is spinning this dismissively, and it's easier to read that then wade through 17 pages of rhetoric to understand what actually took place, and understand how poorly the taxpayers in Westhampton Beach have been served.

7. Roger Whittaker said...


Um, okay....

8. Roger Whittaker said...

Perhaps your anger at Robert Kelly stems from the fact that your father could never effectively punish those who punished you due to the same arrogance you direct at Justice Kelly... if he in indeed arrogant as your sources say, that's not enough to warrant a terrible situation... and it seems that he has not been accused of improper behavior while running his court... your anger is misdirected at him from your past frustrations with being made a clown of in the father's court.

And your credentials as a head-shrinker?

You have mis-read a great deal... starting with "arrogance."

Again, while Gus Kelly was not accused of fixing cases from the bench, other behavior as the Village Justice as cited in the Judicial Commission's determination is outrageously inappropriate, from his attempts to interfere with the administraion of the Building Department to sharing in the fees generated by the lawsuits his law firm generated while he is in the employ of the Village.

It's all documented in the determination, and if you don't see that, your ethical compass is off-kilter.

O, and for the record, whatever you think you're talking about regarding Robert Kelly's court, or my own father, you're w-a-a-a-y off-base.

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