Someone's mad as hell!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Someone's mad as hell!

And he's letting everyone at the West end of Dune Road know just how upset he is.

His name is Richard Agins, the attorney who was running unopposed for Village Justice of West Hampton Dunes last week... and lost!

There is precedent for this type of thing, even locally. A lady in Quogue lost her school board seat this way back in the '90s, and father of the current Village Justice, the late Bob Kelly ousted long-time Justice Tom Beasley in a similar manner almost 30 years ago.

In both those incidences, neither incumbent knew what was happening 'til just before the polls closed and it was too late to counteract the opposition.

(My saddest recollection of Tom, also no longer with us, is of him coming into Magic's Pub around 6:45 pm and with an ill-concealed note of desperation in his soft voice, trying to find registered voters to come to the firehouse to cast a ballot for him.)

But hey! As Mr. Agins discovered, that's politics.

In his post-election letter to his "Fellow Resi­dents of West Hampton Dunes," the victim of Mayor Gary Vegliante's "stealth campaign" to install long-time Westhampton Beach Associ­ate Justice Gair Betts, is hollering "foul!," and suggesting serious election improprieties.

Mr. Agins doesn't go into specifics, and alludes to some possible "proxy votes" for Mr. Betts which the actual voters might have been un­aware that they were casting, and asserts:

"[t]his election is already being challenged for many other irregularities and will be pursued until the true facts are before the appropriate author­ities, whether it be the New York State Board of Elections, the Courts or the District Attorney of Suffolk County."

Well, good luck!

While Tuesday night in West Hampton Dunes called to mind the 1957 Haitian election which brought François Duvalier to power... and yes, it might be said that Mr. Vegliante could be ac­corded the title "Mayor-for-Life..." the question remains: Where was Mr. Agins on the night of the election?

When this was addressed in a 'phone interview Sunday morning, Mr. Agins, responded:

"I had a conference in New Jersey that I had to go to, and then returned to my apartment in Man­hattan¹. As far as I was concerned I was running unopposed."

Over-confidence goeth before a fall.

Asked when he learned that this was not the case, he said:

"Nobody knew! I got a 'phone call around 3:00 pm telling me that there seemed to be a write-in cam­paign, but what was I going to do at that point?"

(It occurs that with the polls remaining open another six hours, a signal to sup­porters while en route to the scene might have been in order.)

Mr. Agins also amplified one of his letter's more troubling points:

"I'm being told by people that they know of signed but otherwise blank absentee ballots being turned over to 'Gary's people' to complete and cast. This is something we need to look at very carefully."

On the other side of this is the victorious Mr. Betts who said that he'd been approached by Mayor Vegliante two weeks before the election and asked if he would run for Village Justice on the Beach Preservation Party ticket.

"I told Gary that I thought that it was too late to get on the ballot. He said that he'd like to try to get me in as a write-in candidate, and I said 'Okay.'"

As for the "stealth" aspect of his campaign for Village Justice, Mr. Betts said:

"I don't know that it was all that 'stealth.' I was there meeting people on the day of the election, so I wasn't hiding from anyone."

The West Hampton Dunes Village Justice-Elect also noted that while he campaigning on Election Day afternoon, he didn't see anyone from "the other side."


¹.- In respect to the excited "Scarsdale" utter­ance by Mayor Vegliante's nephew, Mr. Agins was somewhat at a loss. "I have no association with the place. I have a neighbor on Dune Lane who lives in Westchester County, and people sometimes confuse us because of physical similarities."


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