So, Mrs. Birk...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So, Mrs. Birk...

...isn't it time you really came clean with us about how the "new" Police Department shift schedules you and the rank 'n' file de­vised and implemented a year ago are working out for the rest of the Village?!?

You were quite directly asked (by ol' pain-in-the-arse me) about this matter at the annual Village Board Organizational Meeting on July 7th, and you rather clumsily flubbed your response, alternately dancing, dissembling and ducking the straight-forward inquiry.

The answer was very simple: police depart­ment overtime is up 51.48% from last year, or $54,528 up from $35,997 in 2007!

And that's not even counting the $24,000 in "double-time" paid to Officers working accrued holidays due to staff shortages.

I mean, I knew you were straining the truth when you twice attempted to deflect the question with:

"We're getting the protection that the Village has come to know...."

To refresh your memory, the question was: "Is the Village getting the same protection now as it did before you changed the shift schedules."

There's something less than fully responsive about:

"The Village is getting the protection and service they have come to know from our police department."

What it said to me was that I wasn't asking the the right question, so you were asked about staffing levels and overtime.

On the manpower issue, you noted that you were down four men from a year ago, two from terminal leave and emergency medical leave, one due to military obligations, and one from assignment to the East End Drug Task Force... okay on the first three, but that task force officer was also there a year ago, wasn't he?

So the more truthful answer is that the Village is down three men from a year ago.

When you were asked how the Village was managing to obtain the same "24/7/365 coverage" as a year ago with that much less manpower, your response was not very articulate.

When I asked you to restate your response in a more lucid form, you got testy¹ and snapped back:

"What did I say, Dean? What did you hear?"

So an attempt to get a straight answer was tried again, and you were asked about the Police Department's overtime figures.

You asserted that you didn't have those figures... which is some pretty shameful stuff from someone parading around as our "Police Commissioner."

Trustee Toni-Jo Birk's "official" Village card, proclaiming that she is the "Police Commissioner."

You then directed me to ask Police Chief Ray Dean that question, and I think that got Mayor Conrad Teller's attention... he knew from his days working under Town Supervisor Marty Lang, politicians can lie but Police Chief's can't.

(And as the Mayor informed both Quiogue nutburger Irene Barrett and ex-Police Officer Fred Hager at the June Monthly Trustees Meeting: "All questions go through me.")

So just when we were about to get a truthful answer, Mayor Teller... who knows what the actual numbers are... interceded just as Chief Dean was getting to his feet to speak, and essentially shut the inquiry down.

It seems that you are not to be trusted, Mrs. Birk, and that's a terrible thing for a Trustee.

Germane to the Police Scheduling Issue

While inspecting the Village Police Depart­ment's overtime records over the past five years under a F.O.I.L. request, it was noted that the top recipient of overtime compensa­tion for June 2008 was Officer Jeff Speer, $2361.90.

This is the same Officer Jeff Speer who was observed sound asleep at 10:00 am on Monday July 14th in Sector Car #113 on the side of Dune Road near Lashley Beach.

Was a time when an officer "cooped" on duty, he picked a less-visible location like Snug Harbor, a cul-de-sac in Stillwaters or the old Village Highway barn on Quiogue.

So, Mrs. Birk... tell us all again about how well the new schedule has been working and what exactly you mean when you say the Village has been "getting the protection and service it has come to know from the Police Department."

A 51.48% increase in overtime?!?


¹.- Two members of the audience noted that Mrs. Birk's hand was shaking when she reached for a drink of water during this exchange. I couldn't see it from my angle standing at the microphone.


1. Bea Ware said...

The game played like this:
Do you have a Trustee?
Go Fish.

You may make light of this if you choose, but the Village of Westhampton Beach is getting hosed. We presently have an administration playing at running the municipality, doing favors for friends, discharging their own agendas, and collecting a benefits package commensurate with a full-time position. And we're all paying for it while a number of the police and public works employees are not not doing the jobs they are well-compensated to perform.
– Dean

2. Pepper Mintz said...

We used to have a full time planner. I wonder what his salary was and what we now pay our planner on an hourly basis. Perhaps another F.O.I.L. could be in your future.

If you're talking about Dave Emilita, I'm not sure he was ever "full time" with the Village... Southampton Town 25 years ago, yes, but I don't think so in Westhampton Beach.

Kyle Collins' rate is a matter of public record, and clearly the current Administration likes what he's been doing. He's a professional, and it's always good to see there's someone competent in the position.

3. WHB Girl said...

Bravo, Mr. Speir! You are keeping them real.

But that I was!

All I can really do is shine a little light into the dark corners they prefer no one know about, and perhaps one day we will have Open Government again. But more people have to care about what actually goes on in the Village.
– Dean

4. Pepper Mintz said...

I have no doubt that Mr. Collins is doing an excellent job. I just wonder at what cost to the taxpayers? Might it be less expensive to have a full time planner on staff?

I dunno... dental benefits and everything?

5. Specialist said...

I guess we can tell for ourselves how well the new Police schedule is doing.

If you look in this week's Southampton Press Western Edition there is a picture of an accident scene in Westhampton Beach. The guy on the left sure does look like the chief of Police.

The Chief of Police out handling an accident. That's something you don't see very often.

I don't think they give that guy enough credit.

Yes, that does look like Chief Ray Dean talking to the driver.

Given a choice between being given "credit" and being left alone to perform his job, I'm betting he'd prefer the latter.

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