July Village Board Meeting

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July Village Board Meeting

Updated 07/06/2011 – 7:56 pm

As is the custom of the Village, Westhampton Beach held its annual organizational meeting this evening and while there was controversy, nothing much happened of any moment.

Appointments were made... including a new Associate Village Justice (from out of the area)... Trustee liaisons were assigned (Deputy Mayor Toni-Jo Birk is the marriage officer for any who wish to plan ahead), and municipal business was conducted.

New Trustee Pat DiBenedetto formally resigned from the Planning Board, and Steve Frano was appointed to fill out the final year of her unex­pired term.

The rough patch began when Trustee Leola "Sue" Farrell read the three initial appoint­ments to the new Ethics Board: Ms. Birk, Carol Matthews and... wait for it!... me.

Trustee Hank Tucker, fairly writhing is his seat, hemmed and hawed before requesting that the appointments be made separately.

(What? No one saw that coming?)

The Birk and Matthews appointments went through smoothly, 5-0, but the third was ap­proved, 3-2, giving a strong indication how things are going to go for the foreseeable fu­ture... the Empress of Oneck may have retired but her spiteful spirit remains in that seat.

After some purchases were authorized and various dates were set, Old Riverhead Road businessman Angelo de la Fuente kicked off the Public Discussion portion of the meeting by interrogating Village Attorney Dick Haefeli about my appointment and what would hap­pen when I started "blogging" about Ethics Committee proceedings.

Of course, that's a non-issue, but something about which Señor de la Fuente, and others, seem to be apprehensive.

It remained for me to take to the podium to straighten the record and express the sincere hope that the Ethics Committee would never have to be convened, telling the two dissenters that if they kept their noses clean, they had nothing to fear.

Neither Ms. DiBenedetto, who is going to be a feisty one, nor her husband who approached me following the meeting, were pleased with my pointed admonition.

Outside Village Hall Trustee Tucker took pains to let me know that his request for individual votes on the Ethics Committee appointments was nothing personal, only procedural.

"I got the list just after 5:00 pm1. I needed time to study it."

In our five minute dialogue in front of several witnesses, I could swear his nose grew a good two inches.

  1. Tucker, however, told Patch that he cast the "No" vote because he did not have time to look over the list of candidates for the seat.
    "I was given the list ten minute{sic} before the meeting. I also felt he wasn't the proper per­son. There is too much contro­versy surrounding him."


1. Old part-timer said...

Well, looks like the bullsh*t starts today. Tucker and his new sidekick. WOW, when will this Village wake up? Good for you, Dean! Congrats on your new appointment.

Having slept on it, it occurs to me that neither Donna Patricia della Bridle Path nor her consort, seemingly an aimiably fellow, are clear on the concept of ethics.

This is not to say that either are "unethical," only that she, since now she serves on the Village Board, needs a better grasp on what "Ethics" are all about. She began her public service in Westhampton Beach at a disadvantage, initially serving on the Planning Board when it was chaired by Ralph Neubauer.

2. Mark Raynor said...

Hi Dean,

After serving as a Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor for 12 years and knowing the workings of Village government, I was quite taken back by the actions of the new Trustee Pat DiBenedetto at last night’s Board meeting. Ms. DiBenedetto was sworn into office at 7:00 pm and by 7:30 pm she was voting "NO" along with Hank Tucker on a resolution for appointments to the Ethics Board that she had just received as a new Trustee. If anything, Ms DiBenedetto should have abstained from the vote as not being familiar with the people she was voting on, or asked to have it tabled so she could get up to speed on the people. Why did Ms DiBenedetto vote in favor of Toni-Jo Birk, in favor of Carol Mathews (do you know her qualifications Pat?) and then "NO" against you? It looks to me that Ms. DiBenedetto was voting "NO" against you because Hank Tucker (Joan Levan) told her to do so. Pat, you should remember that you were elected by the residents of the Village to serve in their best interest, not vote the way someone else told you how to vote. Be an individual and vote how you think the Village will benefit the most. Make your own decisions and either right or wrong you live with that decision.

As far as Mr. Tucker goes, I’m getting a little tired of him always saying that he just received the resolution ten minutes before the meeting. Hank, you use the same excuse when it was the Police disciplinary hearings. Hank, you had several days if not a week before the meeting to know what was on the agenda. If not, you are not doing your job as Village Trustee. You live 100 feet from Village Hall and I assume you have a key, so why not stop by and pick up your paper work so you know what is going on. Do your homework! Start to serve the residents the way you should in their best interest.

One last thing, Dean, to start your Ethics Board, if Mr. Tucker discussed your appointment with Ms. DeBenedetto before the meeting then he should be in front of the Ethics Board, because she was not sworn in as a Trustee and he had no right to be giving any information that is not available to the general public prior to the meeting.

As a matter of personal policy, I try to allow the newly-elected/appointed a little grace period before pulling their pants down on OtBB, and I will try to adhere to that with Ms. D. if I feel it's a matter of unfamiliarity. (Whatever her "NO" vote last evening was about, it wasn't a matter of "unfamiliarity.")

Tucker? Clueless, disingenuous and with a little ring-on-a-string that stretches back to Oneck. He'll never change.

That said, I don't think that his discussing personnel matters with a Trustee-elect, rises to the level of an Ethics Committee violation.

3. Jim Cordo said...

Congratulations Dean!

Thank you... I think.

4. Max Mascia said...


Sounds like I need to get a daily dose of "What's happening Beach" to replace the cartoon section of my local paper!


Do you know, Max, that 26-27 years ago when I was writing my column in The Hampton Chronicle-News about "Hizzoner Robert W. Morgan Jr., 15th and almost final Mayor of Westhampton Beach," that a sizable chunk of readers thought it had to have been a fictional character, that no such person actually existed.

5. Jim Cordo said...

That's funny about Bob Morgan. He was my landlord too. I liked the guy. Is he still around?

Bob passed away a year ago next week.

6. Scarlett said...

We should be so lucky... today's clown does exist!

7. rburg said...

It's insane that a tiny seaside village on Eastern L.I. is so messed up that it needs an "ethics board" in the first place. Since it's there, though, I'm glad you're on it.

Thank you for your vote of confidence, but every village, especially "a tiny seaside village on Eastern L.I.," should have an Ethics Board.

Please don't make me explain why... just the fact that I serve on it pretty much sterilizes OtBB for the subject.

If Hank/Pat understood that, or had clue the first about the nature of "ethics," they would have led the charge to have me appointed to that Committee. (Hank's not very smart and is essentially driven by Joan Levan's petty pique, but Ms. DiBenedetto will figure this out and kick herself for going along with them.)

8. Jeanne Speir said...

One can but hope Ms.DB "gets it." It doesn't initially appear so from her vague, negative comments in the current Press interview.

I was considering writing this invitation as a Letter to the Editor, but let's see if we can keep it local business, while not secretive nor vindictive. The blog seems like a good open venue.

Therefore: an open letter and warm invitation.

Dear Ms. DiBenedetto,

We welcome you to "Chez" Speir. You and Dean can have a one to one sit down to straighten out any questions/misconceptions you may have.

Feel free to bring the husband and kids. We'll keep occupied until you are ready for us.

You look like a competent person to me, and I understand your husband advised my husband that you are the most ethical person he knows. Excellent!

To be a great Trustee, you'll of necessity need to develop a far wider perspective and talent pool to draw from than you have been afforded to date. Ergo, our most hospitable invitation.

Dean's Southampton Press endorsement was spot on.

Have you the individuality to break away from the herd and assess the man for yourself?

A leader sure would. Hope to see you soon.

signed Jeanne Speir

While I was not consulted on this, why not?

9. Tugboat Bertha said...

At her first board meeting Mrs. DiBenedetto seemed already taken over by the pod people. One hopes she'll accept your invitation. If she is indeed a free spirit she will. If she is owned by her mentors she will have to say no or suffer the consequences of their disapproval.

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