For the second week running...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

For the second week running...

...the Editorial in this morning's Southampton Press Western Edition is what used to be known in the old days as "hard-hitting."

Last Thursday, Editor Frank Costanza took Westhampton Beach's Fire Commissioners to task for not having more and better answers to provide attendees at August 22nd's Fire District Informational Meeting... which was a bit silly as there was really no one there to ask the questions.

(I know... I was there, and Frank wasn't, and his Editorial did not follow the report filed by his reporter Erin McKinley... it wasn't a Q.E.D.)

The thrust of today's Editorial, "The Ghost of Verbeeck," was well considered even if Costanza's "facts" are short on knowledge.

His thesis is that the settlement of the disciplinary action involving former Village Police Officer Michael Bruetsch will allow the retired cop "the last laugh," and he's right!

Instead of being stripped of all privileges and benefits as a retired police officer for "conduct unbecoming" and perjury, Bruetsch waltzed away with a pension and benefits package without ever having to allocute to the actions which landed him in trouble in the first place.

The plus side for the municipality is that he's gone from the police force, and while his co-conspirator Joseph Pesapane is still here, the court of public opinion is still out on whether he has learned his lesson.

Of course, if the then majority on the Village Board, the troika of Joan Levan, Jim Kametler and Hank Turker had been allowed to proceed unchecked, there would have been no disciplinary actions at all, and Bruetsch would still be on the payroll and building more pension time.

Where I take issue with Costanza's Editorial:

  • Characterizing "the missing handgun incident [as] childish and stupid" and a "childish prank," and asserting that such an act "did not warrant Mr. Bruetsch's termination" is at best fatuous!

    There is nothing "childish" about stealing a handgun, and it certainly isn't a "prank." To attempt to dis­miss it as such calls into serious question Costanza's qualifications as an opinion-maker.
  • As for Costanza's "recollections" of the Verbeeck trials, they can't be 'cause, once again, he wasn't here at the time, and if he relied on The Press' morgue files, then they are shockingly incomplete.

    Tom Verbeeck didn't "swindle the Village out of $600,000;" following testimony by the munici­pality's two primary witnesses, then Police Officer Jim Kametler and then Police Chief Conrad Teller, the Village's trial counsel turned to then Mayor Bob Strebel and said, "We need to settle this, now!"

There is irony in Costanza's conclusory paragraph:

"Westhampton Beach can be easily bullied, because it lacks the spine to stand against those who should be penalized for their irresponsible and damaging actions."

It was a little more than five years ago that Mayor Teller criticized Police Lieutenant Trevor Gonce for a lack of cojones because he failed to arrest then-Deputy Mayor Kametler in the notorious 'possum-shooting incident on Oak Street.

It would seem that the tight shorts are on the other torso at this point.


1. Tugboat Bertha said...

This week he took the Village Boards past and present to task. Is his info out of date? Is he misinformed as to the details of the policemen who lied? Would you address this for us please?

I think Editor Costanza was expressing his frustration with the inequity of the resolution.

I suspect that he lacked a clear picture of what actually transpired back in the late '90s with the Verbeeck cases... there were two hearings in which the Village prevailed, and a civil trial which the Village thought prudent to settle part way through.
– Dean

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