The Special Meeting...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Special Meeting...

...of the Westhampton Beach Village Board which con­vened at 5:00 pm this afternoon was commendable for its brevity, 17 minutes including an add-on Resolution.

Except that fully 11 of those minutes were spent listening to Deputy Mayor Hank Tucker resort to his "Ralph Kramden" "humina, humina humina" act trying to avoid answering a series of direct questions from two Village residents.

With a prefacing remark by Mayor Conrad Teller1 that he would prefer to have the New York State Comptroller's Office come into the Village and decide if its own rules and regulations are being followed, Tucker read a resolution retaining the services of Scott B. Augustine...

"...Attorney and past Village of Bellport Attorney2 and Clerk to review and investigate the financial transactions and records of the Village to assure that the Village Clerk/Treas­urer has and is currently complying with all the policies of the Village, the New York State Comptroller's Office and law of New York State."

(Whew! Copy of complete Resolution.)

Attorney Augustine is to be compensated at a rate of $175/hour with a cap of $5,000.

Under questioning by Planning Board Chairman Victor Levy and the blogger, Tucker danced, feinted and practically fainted from flapping his arms and his gums3:

?

"Exactly what was brought to the attention of the Village Board and what sort of discrepencies were there?"

(The Deputy Mayor's reply was not responsive to the question, and then devolved into babbling along the lines of "The Resolution speaks for itself.4")

?

"What sort of experience does Attorney Augustine have that qualifies him to oversee the New York State Comptroller's Office in this matter?"

(The Deputy Mayor's reply was not responsive to the question, and then devolved into more babbling.)

And that's the way it went... except that at one point, Tucker said for the record that he had spoken to the New York State Comptroller's Office and been told that they were too busy with "school stuff" to take on anything less than "emergency matters" for a municipality.

Under what authority Tucker initiated such a contact is unknown.

The Resolution carried 4-to-1 with Mayor Teller dissenting, and now the taxpayers of Westhampton Beach are on the hook for more legals fees and for what purpose? The firm of Satty, Levine & Ciacco, CPAs, P.C. is already preparing the required audit of the Village.

It should be noted that Attorney Scott Augustine is a Tucker "find," and given that the Deputy Mayor had trouble finding cause to investigate a missing handgun from inside the Police Station, one has to wonder what's really in play with this current maneuver.

But then it should also be noted that the other attendees at the Special Meeting were the Empress of Oneck, former Trustee Joan Levan, and Remsenburg resident and seasonal gadfly Angelo de la Fuente.

O, and Trustee Patricia DiBenedetto spent the last half of the meeting trying to stare me down with her version of the mal' occhio.

Silly girl.

Notes
  1. The Mayor also released a letter detailing the reasons behind his dissenting vote.
  2. There is some question about whether Augustine ever served in that capacity.
  3. Nicely captured by Neil Salvaggio's photo on 27East.
  4. This was repeated several times throughout Tucker's non-stop evasions.

Comments

1. Clamqueen said...

Sorry I missed this. I would have brought the popcorn!

That would have distracted me.
Dean

2. John Romo said...

Ahhhh WHB politics amping up for another run. Oh do I miss it. Makes me wax poetic on the days of Angelo and his lucid and to the point remarks at the podium. Boy do I miss that possum here in Dublin. Have fun with this one, intelligent folks, the inmates seem to be running the asylum once again. Miss ya, Dean.

Looks like you're enjoying the auld sod, Johnny... raise one for us tonight at your local.
– Dean

3. Nutbeem said...

The person who drafted the resolution should know better than to put an apostrophe in the possessive its. Perhaps this person was not educated in Westhampton Beach School District.

Moi, the language pedant, has to think about that each time I type it.
– Dean

4. Jeanne Speir said...

The inmates are running the asylum. This means one of the newest members of the Trustees has fallen into "lockstep" with the "Lightning Party," yes? How appropriate.

(I guess the alleged perpetrator they are chasing isn't on the Library Board nor eating his weight in cookies.)

Ah, and here I'd held out hope Pat and Ralph had enough protoplasm to think for themselves. "Hummina hummina, hummina." Ha! Brilliant and accurate. Is this on tape?

Yes, Dear, but both new-comers ran, and won, on the Lightning Party line.

No, the acknowledged target of this "probe" is Clerk of the Village Rebecca Molinaro. Why? Because she's not one of "them," and clearly Joan Levan is still calling the political shots.
Dean

5. Wingman said...

The blogger immediately resorts to demeaning comments about the Trustees who voted to authorize an independent investigation of certain Village financial discrepancies. It is inferred that the Trustees have initiated some sort of politically motivated witch hunt. He conveniently ignores the fact that all 4 Trustees just voted to appoint the Village Clerk Treasurer to a two year term a few months ago. Thanks to the fair and balanced reporting of The Southampton Press and WH{sic} Patch it has been revealed that 34 Village employees have been overpaid $22,000 during the past 15 months! Is this just the tip of an iceberg? I will look forward to the findings of the investigation, but I will not expect to find them accurately reported on this blog! I recall this blog was also completely silent about the Mayor's give away of lifetime free medical benefits to his political crony Toni Birk and her family, which will ultimately cost the taxpayers millions.

Wingman hasn't been paying attention... except possibly to the whining of Joan Levan or Hank Tucker.

The facts are simple:
  1. The firm of Satty, Levine & Ciacco, CPAs are preparing an audit of Village fiscal practices, as they have for years... until recently it was John Lundy before he merged into SL&C.
  2. The four Trustees decided not to wait for that report, and authorized the hiring of an Attorney to "to review and investigate the financial transactions and records," which would be not only a duplication of effort, but something of a slap in the face of Satty, Levine & Ciacco.
  3. Hank as part of Joan Levan's ruling troika three years ago stone-walled disciplinary hearings of those responsible for the missing Police Department handgun because it would "cost too much money," yet has jumped at the opportunity to needlessly expend more tax dollars even before the auditors have completed their report.
  4. Yes, Clerk/Treasurer Rebecca Molinaro was appointed at the July 2012 Organizational Meeting.

(Why do you think that is? What is to be gained by this maneuver by the Trustees?)

What the two "fair and balanced" articles you reference make clear is that the focus of this is on some action by Clerk/Treasurer Rebecca Molinaro.

Furthermore, Mayor Teller told The Press reporter in the linked article: "Accounting errors have happened a few times in the history of the village...," and those with any instutional memory of Westhampton Beach recall it's happened before, most recently in the Village during FY2009-2010 on the watch of Clerk/Treasurer Kathy McGinnis, and no one has ever questioned either her competency or integrity.

It sometimes happens when a municipality's fiscal year payroll is paid on a bi-weekly (26X) basis. Hell, Southampton Town had the same problem years ago until they switched to a semi-monthly (24X) pay periods.

Tucker and DiBenedetto had this all explained to them, yet they decided to make this political move and have the taxpayers of Westhampton Beach bear the burden.

Now, about this other matter in which you characterize Toni Jo Birk (the name she goes by) as a "political crony" of Mayor Teller, and blather about the Mayor's "give away of lifetime free medical benefits."

You really don't know what's going on 'round here, do you?

I realize that this is your opinion, but it is an uninformed one:
  1. No one "gave" Mrs. Birk anything! She took what was was available to her under the system, and she'll have to address that as such time as she stands for any sort of office again.
  2. It probably hasn't occured to you given your myopic view of matters, but Westhampton Beach politics is a microcosm of George Orwell's "1984." Just look at the shifting alliances and re-alliances of the Village Board over the past seven years, and you should discover that terming Ms. Birk and Mayor Teller "chronies" is a stretch.
O, in respect to "demeaning comments about the Trustees," they were directed primarily at Tucker, a chronic liar who is still carrying Joan Levan's water.

But thanks for expressing yourself here... it's always good to know what the disgruntled uninformed of the Village are flogging mindlessly over the backfence.
– Dean

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