Village to EłA: 'Check!'

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Village to EłA: 'Check!'

Maybe even "Check Mate!"

Critical new information regarding Westhampton Beach's defense against the legal assault waged by the East End Eruv Association appeared on the Village Website earler today... and if anyone has seen that vantz Marvin Tenzer recently without a face full of crow feathers, it's only be­cause he has yet to figure out what's happened.

(In fairness, Tenzer isn't the only one flapping his gums and making threats. There's white shoe Robert Sugar­man: "Attorney Warns Quogue Village Not To Reject Eruv Application.")

If the courts concur with the analysis by the Village's at­torneys, it's game over for E³A and the handful of obser­vant Orthodox Jews seeking to establish a symbolic boundary encompassing Westhampton Beach and parts of Quogue and Southampton Town by using the poles owned by Verizon and Long Island Power Authority.

And the best part of it? It has nothing to do with religion or any First Amendment issues... it's a matter of New York State law.

The Village's position involved extensive research through more than a century's worth of documents involving Southampton Town and Westhampton Beach, and franchise agreements with communications company Verizon and its predecessor New York Telephone.

Also examined were franchise agreements with LIPA, suc­cessor to LILCO, and predecessors Patchogue Electric Light Company and Riverhead Electric Light Company.

The Village's brief is fully articulated in a "Reply Memo­randum" dated April 26, 2012.

The key point is #4: "As a Matter of State Law, Plaintiffs1 Lack Authority to Carry out their Purported License Agree­ments" because the franchises, one which dates to 1910, are very specific about how the poles may be used.

A lechi, required by Orthodox law to physically define an eruv, is, quite simply, not one of the enumerated per­mitted uses.

Interestingly, another involved entity uncovered in the old documents, is the United States Coast Guard, to whom the Village granted a franchise to [re]construct the poles destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938.

That agreement, assigned in 1952 to New York Telephone, also reinforces the Village's position.

The huge law firms against which the Village is more than holding its own, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Debevoise & Plimpton and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, are big-time, multi-national and v-e-r-y expensive, and the question must be asked: who exactly is funding this assault on Westhamp­ton Beach?

It's difficult to imagine that either of the utilities are using their own customer's money to pay for this lawsuit, so cui bono?

And if you don't think it's an assault on the Village and its residents, then no one has paid attention to testimony given by E³A principal and Hamptons Synagogue President Morris Tuchman on June 13, 2011.

Asked on cross examination by Attorney Brian S. Sokoloff3:

"[W]hat the structures are that comprise the southern boundary of the eruv in my client the Village of Westhampton Beach?"

...Tuchman stated:

"[T]here are houses and there are fences that run on the south side of Dune Road and Halakhah2. Pursuant to Jewish law, there are circumstances where houses so close to each other and with fences that are there for the front yards can form part of the eruv."

It is E³A's intention to use private property lines and fences to demark their eruv on Dune Road.

That seems to me more than a little presumptuous... and maybe even fighting words to those property owners affected.

  1. In this instance, Verizon and LIPA.
  2. Jewish law.
  3. Special Counsel to the Village in the E³A litigation.


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