Ballsy, very ballsy...

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Ballsy, very ballsy... reference to last week's proposal by E³A:

Eruv Proponents Offer Deal To Westhampton Beach Village; Board Is Considering Offer

The "deal," essentially, is: let us do this and out of the kindness of our hearts, we won't sue you for all the legal fees we weren't going to charge our clients in any case.

If the term "extortion" occurs to anyone, duh!

Now it's well-established that anyone can sue anyone else for anything, and sometimes even prevail in court.

But in this instance, in an honest analysis E³A has no legitimate course of action as they never applied to the Village of Westhampton Beach for permission to erect an eruv.

(Hampton Synagogue did make an application to the Village in 2008, but voluntarily discontinued this af­ter the divisive informational meeting that August.)

When E³A first surfaced in 2010, its strategy was to sur­round Westhampton Beach with eruv-defining lechis, and for this they needed permissions from the Village of Quogue and Southampton Town to mount the devices in 11959 and unincorported 11977 Westhampton.

Nothing was required from Westhampton Beach to achieve this, so no application was made to the municipality.

Not that 11978 sat back and took a passive position while this was on-going... the actions were directed at Verizon and Long Island Power Authority, maintainers of the utility poles upon which the religious device was to be mounted.

At the same time the unaffiliated JPOE was aggressively opposing the establishment of an eruv either in or around Westhampton Beach, and went so far as to file a lawsuit against the Village to try to prevent any approval.

And that was a rub... for their legal challenge, former Village Trustee Joan Levan "recommended" Central Islip-based attorney Jonathan Sinnreich...

(According to those close to the matter, JPOE hon­cho Arnold Sheiffer had little choice in the decision; the Dowager Empress of Oneck proposes, everyone else deposes.)

...but Sinnreich wasn't up to the task and when he ran up against U.S. District Court Justice Kathleen Tomlinson and, on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, JPOE's case sank without so much as a bubble.

Judge Tomlinson's upheld decision also undercut the Village's action involving the utility companies, and ef­fectively green-lit the establishment of an eruv.

Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Marc Schneier announced that the eruv was up and operational, never mind that neither OtBB or The Southampton Press could find any physical evidence of one.

With no apparent legal challenges left, both Southampton Town and Quogue Village dipped their colors and acceded to E³A's wishes... in return for the eruvians' promise to not seek legal fees.

All that was left, apparently, was formal recognition by Westhampton Beach for some reason... perhaps because in Hampton Synagogue's original application to the Village in early 2008, it was stressed that permission to establish an eruv was, under Orthodox Jewish law, required from an entity which controlled the roads, the Village, the County or the State.

(No County Executive or NYS Governor was willing to touch that one with a 15-foot Serbian!)

Yet without any decree from either Mayor Conrad Teller or Maria Moore, the eruv is said to be in place and has been for nearly two years!

So what is E³A actually after, bragging rights?

Long-time E³A litigator Robert Sugarman has apparently handed the case off to another Weil Gotshal & Manges partner Yehudah Buchweitz who is presently on point, and threatening to seek "millions of dollars in attorney fees."

The Village Board may decide it is prudent to gulp as dis­creetly as possible and make nice.

It would from a moral standpoint be a Pyrrhic victory for the pro-eruv delegation... they have lied to the citizens of Westhampton Beach from the start, and engendered anger toward, and mistrust of, all things Orthodox.

That will be a tough thing for many to get over for a long time to come.


1. Hampton West said...

You have coherently reported this issue over the years and this post is running on all eight cylinders. My only issue is that "extortion" is a kind word for what has happened.

Try "gonif" a Yiddish word for thief, rooted in the German word gauner, which could mean crook, swindler, trickster, cunning devil, scoundrel and finally thief.

I was describing the action, not the person, but I get your meaning.

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